When You Really Think About It…

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“…Abraham was only one man when I called him.
    But when I blessed him, he became a great nation.”

Isaiah 51:2

When you really think about it, who we are is because of God’s blessings. Without them we’re just lackluster individuals, living without any zeal for life.

Abraham was just a man. Yet God still called him regardless of how that may have looked to others. Regardless of how others may have seen Abraham…God saw him, loved him and made him a great nation.

It can be easy to think that those who are seen as special, or as a unique kind of person will be given those greater opportunities in life. Why? Because they seem to have the “it” factor. That “special” kind of something that will inevitably take them far in life, because well… that’s who they are.

As read in 1 Samuel 16:7 the Lord said, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

The issue is, we think only some people in life are going to be given those “privileges” to experience life to the fullest. The truth is when we know Jesus we are immediately experiencing more and called to more. If you are wanting more out of life, go get it. We get that by chasing after the heart of the Lord.

Nobody knows you, your heart, or your heart’s deepest desires like Christ.

and “if God is for you, then who can be against you” is something you truly believe…what’s stopping you?

-MN

 

 

Can I Be Honest?

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I am selfish with my “me time”. I don’t need it often, I don’t need very long, but when I need it I’m selfish about it. I think, “I need this time, it’s more important than a two minute conversation with a stranger”, “Don’t make eye contact with people or they’ll want to talk”, or “Finally, time to read my Word and grow with Jesus. But I swear, if someone interrupts these few minutes I have, they are going to regret it”

How unfortunate it is that when I’m yearning to to grow and be more like Christ, those interactions and life circumstances can be some of the moments I fail the most.

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”

Ephesians 4:1-3

As often as I like to think I need alone time to grow in these areas, sometimes when I am being stretched and squeezed the most are greater opportunities to grow like Christ than perhaps an hour in silence. After all, isn’t the goal of that alone time to be more like Christ outside of it?

Sure, I have the head knowledge that this is important but only when I’m on my guard to do so. Only when I am mentally preparing myself to be patient am I willing to be patient. The more I think on it, the more ridiculous it sounds.

I desire to be a humble, gentle, patient, loving person because that’s the example Christ set. However, am I really making every effort like Paul talks about?

I pray that as I am being stretched from day to day rather than letting my heart be like Christ’s when I’m prepared for it I am praying that the Lord gives my heart an actual understanding of love that is patient with those around me at all times.

I can have the head knowledge of who God is but if I do not hide His Word in my heart then my head knowledge will never translate to heart knowledge.

Our everyday speech should reflect words that give life because we have the life giving Word in our hearts and our mouths.

Paul goes on to say, “…Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

Ephesians 4:15-16

Can I be honest?

I don’t always live the life I am called to but I’m a work in progress and I hope that in the times I fail, you’ll see that Christ’s love never does.

-MN

If Good is the Enemy of the Best…

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“I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.”

Isaiah 42:16 NLT

“God, what do I do? I need your help. I’ve been praying for your guidance but I can’t seem to find any direction. I’m afraid of this. I’m not sure if this is good or bad. What does this mean…? This must not be what you want, because I’m afraid of it.”

Fear and a lack of peace are two entirely different things. However, we can often times let fear be what guides our life, acting as the Holy Spirit. Yet, it is not our guide but a crutch masking itself to keep us from being brave.  The Holy Spirit speaks in truth, peace, and love yet we confuse the two, forgetting that God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

God was for Israel, not against them. He said he would smooth out their roads and lead them when they were blind. You can’t lead a blind person if they refuse to follow. However, if you were blind and you knew that the perfect guide was with you at all times… why refuse?

Fear.

God clearly tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Yet, when we are on our faces in fear asking God what to do, we listen to that fear to tell us how to live our lives.

If good is the enemy of the best, then fear is the enemy of power, love, and self-discipline.

What then is to be done about life’s decisions?

You must be able to know that when God is truly guiding you, even when it is scary and unknown before you that does not mean it is bad. This just means you need the faith to trust our guide. The guide who, “…will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6).

Take that fear and throw it out the window, let yourself have child like faith to look fear in the eyes and say, “you are not who my Father says I am. I walk in power, love and self-discipline” Because at the end of the day we know who wins this life and it’s our Christ who was raised back to life.

-MN

Let Yourself Be Offensive

IMG_7970.jpgIMG_7964-2“Dear brothers and sisters, if I were still preaching that you must be circumcised- as some say I do- why am I being persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended.”

Galatians 5:11

Nobody would be offended. The cross is offensive. So those of us who know Christ and know that the cross is offensive, rather than continuing to tell others about it we stay quiet. We don’t want to offend other people because our world won’t allow us to say contradicting things (good or bad) without being ripped apart. Staying quiet is easier and  can keep from causing an uncomfortable situation.

Why do I allow my comfort to be what keeps people from being able to know how well loved they are? Fear. Fear of rejection, fear of not being able to defend my faith, fear of being persecuted… But when have I been persecuted for my faith? When have I so heavily stood up for my faith that I was persecuted for it as Paul is speaking about in Galatians?

It would be easier to not say anything to a stranger and to have a good day by just keeping to myself instead. So that’s what happens, we stay in the comfort of a good day without “troubling” others or ruining our day. I have stuff to do, I have homework, I need to get a good nights sleep and can’t be up late talking with them, I need to get some work done, I just… don’t want to.

They’re excuses and we know it. Worse yet, we’re ok with it. Because it’s comfortable.

But comfort can get boring, and there certainly will not be any growth inside what is comfortable. At least not a comparable type of growth. The type of growth that you can have when pursuing Christ in faith through the uncomfortable places God takes you.

If faith were easy to share with anybody then we would be doing it more often. But God didn’t allow it to be so easy for everyone because He knew that the uncomfortable parts of life are where we are able to grow the most.

Are you allowing God to grow you in the discomfort? Or are you just complaining about the discomfort?

When a child is crying because they are hungry does the parent just let the complain without feeding them? No, the parent wants the child to eat but unless the child calms down and realizes that they are being handed food their hunger will not be satisfied.

Take that discomfort, the one that comes from sharing Jesus with others and let God give you the fuel you need to keep sharing. Let yourself be offensive.

No More Picking and Choosing

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This is bigger than me.

A sentence I often have to say to myself from time to time when nothing is clear, my patience has run up, and I’m done with the day. My circumstances in life will never be predictable. If anything, the only consistent part of life, are the innumerable inconsistencies.

Sound familiar?

            The hard truth is even when I want to give up, I’m being selfish. When I’m done with loving people, it’s selfish. When I am tired of how people are treating me, I’m only thinking about me.

This is not about me; this is bigger than me.

Often times these unwanted, annoying mishaps, share an obvious commonality
they require me to take myself out of the picture.

The enemy wants me to think I’m the victim and should have my own rights in life. God says I gave up self-rights when I chose to live for Him instead of living for me.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourself”

Philippians 2:3

Is this how I’m living my life? When people bring hurt, mistreatment, and disappointment do I think or treat them as better than me?

Typically, no.

Yet, that doesn’t change what the truth is.

I have a friend who I use complain to about those, “unwanted annoying mishaps” and she would never fail to remind me that I have to die to self.

Of course, the snarky sassy person I am from time to time (ok, more often than time to time) would be quick to say, “I don’t have to die to self, Jesus died for me!”

I can’t have both worlds. Either I live for myself or I live for Jesus. And living for Jesus, means showing others grace and love when I really don’t want to. Jesus never fails to show me grace and love so I can’t pick and choose who I show that to either.

-MN

I Am Guilty

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The past few weeks my mind has been overtaken by the book of Romans. I’m currently going through it with my small group girls and God has been opening my eyes to verses I have read over and over again in a new light.

Unfortunately, before going into this book I had a time of wrestling with God. You know the usual, what He wanted for me vs what I wanted for myself. In the end He won as He always does but it just took a little longer this time by choosing to fight with Him on the matter. I whole heartedly wish I could undo this wrestling match and just let my heart trust God by obeying Him the first time. Regret is a stronghold the enemy uses to keep our minds focused on the past when Christ is wanting to move us forward. Through what I’ve been studying the enemy has been pushing my heart, tugging and tearing into it by trying to keep my focus on what a “disappointment” I am.

Even though the enemy can talk smack to my face and taunt me all day long with regret it does not change who the Word of God says I am.

Romans clearly describes how we are sinners which is something the world itself is tired of hearing. However, it’s hard truth we are all sinners. Yet, immediately after that is made clear Romans says this in 3:24

“Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins”

I may be guilty by nature but because of my faith in Christ, God Himself declares me as righteous. I may have disobeyed God but God does not dwell on that and neither should I. I may not live perfectly but I am seen as righteous because that is who God says I am.

I am not a disappointment, failure, or mistake. I am a child of God, valued, loved, and saved by grace. So rather than focusing on what I wish I had done with my time or my heart I will focus on who God says I am because Christ did not die in vain.

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death”

Romans 8:1-2

Best,

MN

Go On, Cry About It.

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When I was in my early teens God impressed upon my heart that there was a deep amount of compassion within me. At the time I could not grasp what He meant but I knew it was important to loving others.

Merriam-Webster defines compassion as: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

I would never have been able to fully understand this dictionary definition at the age of 14. However, 9 years later I am able to have a better understanding of how this kind of compassion can be played out in my life.

Growing up I did not play well with others.

Period.

I didn’t and I knew it, I wanted to be liked and to have friends. Yet, I wasn’t socially skilled enough to understand that not everyone wanted to be controlled by me.

“So what you’re saying is… fun cannot be forced? Interesting…”

As you can imagine this brought a slur of emotions that I was embarrassed by. In my mind I needed to be strong about everything; school, athletics, emotions, practically anything under the sun.

This carried on until a couple of years ago when I began to question myself…

If God has placed a heart of compassion within me, why do I shut down and out feelings? By keeping myself from vulnerability who does that help?

I was deceived, I thought in order to be considered strong and confident by those around me I would have to defy what the world mocks of women, emotions. Ultimately in my mind that meant crying.

Not wanting to be held down my anyone’s standards in the past couple of years I have been working on, oddly enough, crying.

Rather than shutting down my emotions to keep up an image, if it’s coming I just let it go.

I’ve had to learn that it’s ok to be weak, I cannot be strong all the time. This is why we have God. So that the joy of the Lord can be our strength.

Scripture after scripture entails us that we can rely on the Lord to get through circumstances we are encountering.

We know that Christ is our example for how we should live and even the scripture tells us that Jesus cried (John 11:35). I have found that in the past 12 months I have produced more tears than I think I have my entire life. And guess what? I am very ok with it. I have been able to express how I feel towards God better by getting it out and just crying. As awkward as that can be for me, I have been able to grow in my walk with Christ.

The ones you cry with are the ones who know you best. You’ve let down that wall of insecurities and by being vulnerable you have grown.

 What this boils down to is not only being honest with others but being honest with yourself. When you’re hurt, evaluate it don’t ignore it. Is that pain justified? If so, what are you going to do about it?

Regardless of my ‘pains’ here on earth, I have found that even if they are justified according to the world’s standards… they’re undone by the fact that my life is not my own but Christ’s.

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20