Pumping Up Young People On The Drug Of Faith

I recently read Addie Zierman’s book, When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over. I adore Addie. She writes with such warmth. And though there is a slight difference in age between us, our stories are very similar. We both grew up fully immersed in the Evangelical life.

I could relate to the rituals and cliches of growing up in church. I could relate to the camps and mission trips. And I was all about my youth group friends and youth group crushes.

I could also relate to the disillusionment in my faith I experienced as I got older.

I was sprinkled as a baby, born again when I gave my life to Christ at church camp, and confirmed as a teenager. And I never missed a youth group activity, retreat or mission trip.

When Petra, Newsboys, WhiteHeart, DeGarmo and Key, Audio Adrenaline, and Jars of Clay, hit the radio waves in the ‘80s and ‘90s, that was all I listened to.

The band that rocked my world was DC Talk. Their first cassette (yea, I know, I’m old!), Heavenbound, was the first of its kind. It wasn’t just Christian rock, it was Christian rap! Finally, as a teenager, I could listen to the type of music I loved! And my parents approved.

I was really bummed when in 2000, Toby McKeehan (TobyMac), Kevin Max, and Michael Tate decided to break up and pursue solo careers. According to Wikipedia in 2002, the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music called DC Talk “the most popular overtly Christian act of all time.”

Along with DC Talk, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, and Sandy Patti were also my favorites. Many nights I could be found in my room belting out Sandy Patti songs like, Another Time and Another Place or We Shall Behold Him.

What I remember looking forward to most about youth group were the boys. It was about who was hooking up with who. And youth group retreats were a hotbed of raging hormones.

Aaaahhhh, the magic of the Evangelical childhood.

It was the emotional rush of that last night of camp around the campfire. It was the spiritual high at concerts and during youth group worship. It was the mountaintop experience of summer camps and mission trips that kept me spiritually floating on air. As a youth in the church, Christianity, was one emotional or spiritual high after another.

When I left home and went to college, however, the highs ended and real life kicked in. The faith of my childhood and the world I later encountered were not in sync. They didn’t seem to fit together. They were like two positive ends of a magnet. So I did what most youth group graduates did, and left my faith behind.

Matt Bays expressed similar disillusionment with the faith from growing up in the church in his book, Finding God in the Ruins.

In time it would seem as though we’d all been given free tickets to The Greatest Show on Earth, and then when we arrived, nothing. No popcorn or lions. No ringmaster with a long whip strapped to his side. No trapeze, no high dive, no clowns, and no one being shot out of a cannon. Before we were saved, the preshow was exciting. But once we entered the big top, we found less pomp and more circumstance. We’d been had.

As young people, we were pumped up on the drug of faith. And we had our high. But it didn’t take long to come crashing down. All we knew was a kind of honeymoon phase of our faith. And nobody told us that the honeymoon would end.

Somehow, the message of the gospel got lost in translation for many Gen X’ers like Addie, Matt, and myself. It was one high after another. The Christianity that we came to know didn’t prepare us for a life of following Christ in the real world.

So, what can we learn from my and so many others’ experiences of growing up in the church?

We must be so careful not to pass on a superficial faith to our kids. It is a betrayal of the gospel. There is a misconception that in order to win kids to Christ, we have to misrepresent what it means to follow Him.

We don’t have to hide the truth of the gospel. We don’t have to constantly impress or entertain our youth. The true person of Jesus Christ, Himself, is captivating enough. We don’t need to dress Him up in order to make Him attractive. The gospel, in and of itself, is irresistible when it is truly understood.

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.  Philippians 3:8


I would love to hear what your experience was like growing up in the church. Did it prepare you to carry your faith into adulthood?

Comment and subscribe now and join the conversation!

 

My Vanity Fast and the 4 deceptions of beauty: Part 1

Five weeks ago, I started my second annual summer vanity fast. Woo hoo!

Not vanityfest mind you, . . . . vanity FAST!  (a very important distinction, indeed)

What is a vanity FAST, you might ask? Instead of giving up food, I am giving up makeup for five weeks. Vanity is an area of my life that I have a hard time surrendering to God. 

‘What’s the big deal about not wearing makeup?’ you might ask. Well, makeup is a very big deal for me! Vanity has been a stronghold in my life. I know it. God knows it.

I have depended too much on my looks for confidence and power.

The unassailable fortifications of your walls He will bring down, Lay low and cast to the ground, even to the dust.  Isaiah 25:12 (NIV)

I write this blog post about beauty and identity because I know that I am not alone. What woman isn’t to some degree affected by her perception of beauty? I don’t know any.

We must bring this important issue to light.

Light exposes the true character of everything.   Ephesians 5:13 (GOD’S WORD® Translation)

The messy entanglements of beauty and identity are pervasive in our culture. Too many women are slaves to beauty. We were not created for bondage. We were created for freedom!

Although we were made beautiful and acceptable through the blood of the Lamb, somewhere along the way, we were deceived.

I believe there are four deceptions of beauty. I will address the first two deceptions in Part 1. The second and third deceptions are in Part 2. And Part 3 is a challenge.


1. Vanity can become self worship

Every year, as summer approaches and the t-shirts come out, I remember how white and hairy my arms are. Yep, I said it,  . . . . white and hairy! Ugh!

I look at other women, and they have smooth, beautiful, hairless arms. Can it be that I am the only hairy one?! And, I don’t go to the tanning salon, so until mid-June I am pretty pasty. It really bothers me. I feel ugly, ugly, hairy and white!

I don’t wax my eyebrows. At any given moment I could have a rogue, unplucked eyebrow hair out of place . . . . scandalous!! I refuse to get my eyebrows waxed because it’s one more thing. And, I don’t need one more thing to do for vanity!

Don’t get me wrong, I do normally wear make up. I do color my hair, and love it! (Nice ‘N Easy 98 baby!) And I do occasionally lay out in the sun.

However, I refuse to wax my eyebrows, shave my arms (not armpits – I’m not a savage!), paste on fake eyelashes, and go to a tanning salon. I know that if I give in to one more of these beauty rituals I will be worshiping the big ‘V’. . . . Vanity!

And, let’s just call it what it is . . . . it’s worshiping myself!

We all have to draw our line in the sand!

Satan would love for me to take my eyes off of Christ and stare adoringly in the mirror for hours. What better idol is there than . . . . ME?!! And, if I have enough ‘beauty’, I can get other people to worship me too!

After all, according to the late Whitney Houston, the greatest love of all is inside of ME!!

Me, me, me!! It’s all about me! . . .  wait a minute! That’s not right! It’s all about Him. It’s all about God and bringing HIM glory.

I’m on to you, Satan!

Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.   2 Corinthians 11:14

2. Vanity is a distraction

Have you heard of fiber lashes? Or, eyelash extensions? A friend was selling these products a while back. I remember thinking, ‘If I use these products I will probably be more beautiful.’ However, I knew then as I know now, God doesn’t want me to be more beautiful. He wants me to be more like Him

As a Godly woman, beauty is not the end goal, holiness is. Holiness in us brings glory to God. Yet, how much time do we spend focused on our vanity every day verses focused on our holiness?

He has saved us and called us to a holy life.   2 Timothy 1:9

I am a writer and work from home. One day a week I wear my best clothes, paint my toenails, and do my hair. It’s Sunday. For church I get all ‘dolled’ up. Instead of ‘come as you are’ I feel like it’s ‘roll out the red carpet’. It sometimes feels like a fashion show. And I feel as though I have to measure up.

Am I thinking about God and preparing myself for worship as I head to church? Not so much. Has vanity distracted me from truly being the church? Yes. God, forgive me. 

We must ask ourselves . . . . 

Is our beauty distracting us from the ultimate beauty of an amazing God? Are we missing the freedom He offers us because we are too busy being slaves to beauty?

We must surrender our beauty to God and stop wasting time obsessing over it.

And trust me, I know that it is easier said than done.


The second and third deceptions of beauty are discussed in Part 2.

Read Part 2 here

4 Steps to victory; defeating the deceptions of Satan

I deal with a lot of spiritual warfare. Day in and day out I fight. Lies and accusations come hurling toward me like arrows over a castle wall. The enemy knows just where to aim to penetrate my defenses.

I often think of the 80’s song, Love is a Battlefield, by Pat Benatar. However, it is my mind that is a battlefield. At the end of most days, I feel bloodied and beaten.

I have often wondered, where is the victory that we are promised?

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.   1 Corinthians 15:57

I know my God is victorious, and I can be too. So, why do I so often feel defeated?

Putting on the armor

Most Christians are aware of the armor of God described in Ephesians. However, do we know how to use it or put it on? Do we know how to activate the armor? For most of my life I certainly didn’t.

I recently started Priscilla Shirer’s Bible study, The Armor of God. And through it, I am starting to see the light of victory at the end of the tunnel!

One of the women in the Bible study with me is Sally, an extremely gifted Christian counselor. She relies heavily on God’s counsel with her clients. And, she is truly gifted.

One day when she was praying, lies from the enemy started to hit her consciousness. Right away, she started praying a four step prayer to fight these lies.

God showed her how to fight off lies from the enemy and gain victory over them. She gave me permission to share the four steps here.

Step 1: Identify the lie

I remember as a kid, seeing a TV commercial that showed a superhero with his fists confidently on his sides and a cape flowing behind him in the breeze. He would say, “Knowing is half the battle!”

Isn’t that so true?! Knowing is half the battle. I would even say, knowing is more than half the battle. And a lot of people go through their whole lives and never get the ‘knowing.’

One type of knowing is self awareness. There is nothing more annoying than people who aren’t self aware. It is a pet peave of mine. I know that certain things trigger me. I know when I tend to overreact. I know that I can be pessimistic and complain too much. I know the weaknesses in my character.

I am self aware. We all have weaknesses and being aware of them means that we are ‘in the know’.

Another type of knowing is discernment. Discernment is knowing where certain thoughts come from. Are they from God? Or, from Satan? Or, neither?

How do we discern God’s truth from Satan’s lies?

You can learn to discern!

If you have trouble discerning the lies of the enemy, ask God to help you see. The more we pray, the closer we walk with God and the more we study His Words, the more we will have His heart. And if we have His heart, the Holy Spirit will help us learn discernment.

Step one is identifying the lie Satan is using on you.

Step 2: Renounce it in Jesus name

There is one name above all names.  

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,   Philippians 2:9-10

There is no greater name than Jesus. And there is power in His name. So, speak it. Shout it if you have to.

“I renounce this thought in the name of Jesus Christ!”

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”   Luke 10:17

Step 3: Proclaim your identity in Christ

You and I are heirs to the King!

Satan would rather us not realize that we are royalty. He would prefer we not know our position and inheritance. He would like us to forget that we belong to God.

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God   Romans 8:13

Proclaim your identity in Christ. Own it. live it. Nobody can take it away from you. Claim what is rightfully yours.

Step 4: Give thanks

The final step is thanking God for the battle you face and for the victory He will bring you.

“Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Luke 10:19

Thankfulness should be the posture of a follower of Christ. We have so much to be thankful for. We are alive and free because of the cleansing blood of Christ.

Giving thanks to God can do so many things. It can foster worship, it can put down pride, and it can restore peace.

Trust fuels thanksgiving, and thanksgiving activates peace.  -Priscilla Shirer, The Armor of God

We long for peace after the battle. Peace that God has won the day; peace that we have survived the battle; peace that God is on His throne, and therefore, we have nothing to fear.

Peace is the victory.


Thank you God for allowing us to have victory over the deceptions of the enemy!

It’s time to start experiencing victory in Jesus name!

4 Things that I never would have thought of if I made up God

Atheists who argue that God doesn’t exist assume that a human being could have made up the God of the Bible.

I disagree.

I have heard many arguments for the existence of God. However, I have never heard the argument I would make. My argument is that we NEVER could have made up the brilliant complexity that is our God . . . . NEVER!

How do I know God exists? Because He is infinitely more complex and brilliant than I or anyone could have imagined. Our finite, human minds could not have even close to dreamed up a God like ours.


If I made up God, there are 4 things that I would never have thought of.

1. I would not have made up a God whose glory is directly tied to our satisfaction

A god who is indifferent to the satisfaction of his creation seems more likely than a God who goes above and beyond for us. Why shouldn’t God require us to obey him in order to receive love and blessings? After all, humans are cause and effect beings. It makes more sense to us.

However, our God requires very little and gives abundantly. He is good, and He desires good for us. Because God is good, we can be satisfied in Him.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   Jeremiah 29:11

Our God is good, wholly and completely, and He wants good things for us. He wants us to be filled . . . to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:29).

How wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ   Ephesians 3:19

I could never have made up a God in which . . . .

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Psalm 23:5

My cup overflows?! Nope, I would never have made up a God like that! We have a God that goes above and way beyond for us. Why is it necessary for Him to do this? It isn’t.

While everything that He does is for His own glory, according to John Piper in his book, Desiring God,

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

We want God to be glorified and He wants us to be satisfied. It’s mutually beneficial. The way He designed everything is perfect. He goes on to say,

“We get the mercy; He gets the glory. We get the happiness in Him; He gets the honor from us.”

He is so good! And when we live to glorify Him, our lives are transformed. No one would have ever made up a God that was so good.

The more I walk with God, the more I realize that everything he says and does works. Everything that He commands us to do brings Him glory, and in turn brings us the most good.

2. I could not have made up the story of Jesus

Earning our way to heaven seems logical. You get what you work for. The Big Man Upstairs doesn’t need to concern Himself with the tiny inhabitants of this insignificant planet.

We know that grace is freely given through Christ. However, earning our way to heaven seems much more logical.

Christianity is the only religion where God is really God. Because it’s the only one where God saves the people instead of the people saving themselves
~ Why So Many Gods, Tim Baker & Kate Etue

Even if I included a savior in the story of my made up God, it wouldn’t have been one like Jesus.

Jesus Walks On WaterI would not have made up a savior who was a servant of all. Before Christ, the idea of a servant king would have been absurd. Jesus was not who the Jews were expecting.

The Gospel writers never would have made up a savior that washed the feet of his disciples; or, a savior that during most of his ministry didn’t have any possessions or a place to call home; or, a savior that was born to an unwed mother in the midst of barn animals!

Who would make up a savior like that?! Especially if you want people to worship Him!

Even if I had made up a God who sent a savior that was a servant king, I could never have thought up the crucifixion story. No one could have. It’s unimaginable.

Jesus needed to die to save the world. Blood needed to be shed, the blood of a lamb. The horror and miraculous power of the events of Jesus death and resurrection is incomprehensible. No human being could have ever made it up.

The story of Jesus is perfect; it is divine. A finite mind would never have come up with a story of redemption so perfect as the story of Jesus.

3. I could not have made up the concept of Church

Who would ever make up the idea of a group of followers that make up a ‘body’ with the savior as the head? Uh . . . not me! It’s kind of a crazy concept!

As the church, we are part of Him, and part of each other as He is part of us. There is a divine connectedness between us all and our God.

 

 

4. I would not have made up a God who uses suffering to annoint us

I definitely would not have added this on the list if I made up God! I would never have made up a God that would require me to walk through the fire; to face the trial head on; or, to walk through the storm. The fire is hot and it burns. Storms beat us up. Trials push us to our limit and are exhausting.Untitled design (11)

I would make up a religion that included avoiding pain and suffering because that is consistent with human nature. Our instincts tells us to avoid pain at all costs.

When everything in me says ‘go around’, God says, ‘I will get you through’.

Our God perfectly designed us so that we gain when we lose. Through suffering, we receive that which we could not without it.

The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it. ~C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

God knows the human condition. He knows that most humans will not surrender their will in the midst of comfort. And, God does not require that we do in order to follow him. He has made a way. It is called suffering.

It is through suffering that the scales come off our eyes and we begin to really see and know God intimately. Who knew?!


God’s story is beautiful. It’s perfect in every way. It’s divine. It’s brilliant beyond what the greatest storyteller could ever write.

 

5 ways to put God above the American Dream

Suburban America is the easiest place to fall asleep in our faith. The American Dream breeds comfort. And, comfort breeds complacency.

People are so busy dreaming the American Dream, fantasizing about what they could be or have a right to be, that they’re all asleep at the switch.
– Florence King

I grew up in a very affluent suburb of Detroit. It was all about the American dream. Everything around me reinforced this, the media, my school, my parents and even my church.

I felt like I needed to get an education, a job and climb the corporate ladder. I needed to make enough money so I could have a big house in the suburbs. I would get married, have two kids, and a dog named Sparky. I would work for 30 to 40 years in a career and retire comfortably at 65 and do nothing until the end of my days.

If you choose to live differently than that, you will stand out. If you live in middle class America and decide to put Christ first, you will be the weird one. You will be different.

Can God be our number one while living in suburban America? Absolutely! We can put God first wherever we are.

There are five ways to put God above the American Dream.


1. Create margin in your life

The biggest separation between my family and the culture is our level of busyness. My husband and I decided many years ago that we were not going run the rat race of life. We agreed that we would try to always have margin.

According to Dr. Richard A. Swenson, M.D., margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits.

Margin is not a popular concept in American culture. Middle class Americans esteems those who work way too much and are way too busy. We make busyness an idol. And, I don’t see the church being much different.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:41-42  

I am dumbfounded when I see people at church talking about their multiple jobs and how busy they are. And they’re not just talking about it, they’re bragging. They wear their busyness like a badge of honor.

Create margin in your life. Leave space for God to move. Notice those around you. And always remember that God is number one and people are more important than our schedules.

2. Make God the Lord over your money

If Christ is not Lord over your money and possessions, then He is not your Lord.
-Randy Alcorn

I was very much raised with the American Dream mentality. It was the mentality of more, more, more! Why wouldn’t we buy a bigger house? That would make us happy, right?!

The Bible contains twice as many verses about money as it does about faith and prayer combined, about 2,350! Does money matter? It absolutely does! Money is a tool that God can use to further His Kingdom. In and of itself money is neither good nor bad. But when it is misused, destruction follows.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”   Malachi 3:10

If God is really our Lord, we will not be focused on the comforts of this life, but rather, on our eternal inheritance. If we focus on eternal treasures, we will more likely give our money away rather than spending it on ourselves.

The depth of transformation in the lives of the early Christians was most clearly evident in their willingness to surrender their money and possessions to meet each other’s needs.   ~Randy Alcorn

3. Get out of your bubble

Speaking as someone who was born and raised in the second richest county in the nation and is currently lives in the first, I can say that it is so easy to get stuck in our little bubble. We become out of touch with the ‘real’ world.

It is so easy to become out of touch with the poor and the needy. In the suburbs, you don’t ever have to see them if you don’t want to.

When my husband and I moved to our current home, we vowed not to assimilate into the rich, snobby, elitist culture that is stereotypical of the suburbs. And with the exception of being a Starbucks addict, we have done pretty well. We are definitely the trailer trash of our neighborhood! And, we are proud of it!

Living in the ‘burbs’ can be dangerously comfortable. We must get out of our comfort zone and go to places that need the light of Christ.

I don’t deny that the suburbs need the light of Christ. Middle class Americans are some of the hardest people to share the Gospel with. How do you convince someone who has everything that they need Christ?

Get out of your bubble. Seek out ministries that serve the poor, visit inner city churches, and go on mission trips to places of extreme poverty. Seek out the different and the uncomfortable. That is what Jesus did.

4. Downsize when everyone else is upsizing

My husband and I regret upsizing ten years ago when we bought our house. While it is a typical suburban house, it is more than we need. We could have stayed in our previous house and had more money available to give to Kingdom work.

Was God the Lord of our money then? Would we have made the same decision if He was? Probably not.

Do we love our house? Yes!

Is it comfortable? Yes!

Do we have a lot of extra money to invest in God’s kingdom? Not as much as we could have if we had a smaller house.

5. Don’t worry

Last summer I was out to dinner with a bunch of girlfriends on a beautiful summer evening.  The restaurant was right on the Monan Trail and it was buzzing with activity.

After talking about jobs and kids our conversation turned to current events. (sadly, even though these were all church friends, we rarely talk about God) My friend shared her concerns about ISIS and about how safe, or unsafe, we are in this country. Than, another chimed in with her equal concern with the state of this country and the economy and the current administration.

The world is going to hell in a hand basket. It is, and it always has been. God warned us about how it would be in scripture, and it is all happening. Why are we surprised?

And it is not just in the world, but in the church as well.

There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.   2 Timothy 3:1-5

But, Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4)! Do we believe that?! Either we do, and we walk in confidence with God’s peace, or we don’t and we continue fretting.

We must believe God, not just believe in Him. And, we must take His Word as truth. If you don’t believe that His Word is true, than you will never have peace.

In Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, he describes people who are obsessed with Jesus. He writes, “People who are obsessed with Jesus aren’t consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else.”

God is the God of peace. He tells us not to worry, because He is in control, He is good, and He is able. We must focus on eternity not just the here and now.


Dare to be different than those around  you. Dare to live like Christ instead of living for the American Dream. Be radical for the One who died for you.

Feeling tension with the culture is something that we should experience if we are to be like Christ. If you fit in and are quite comfortable in life, you may want to ask yourself –> Am I putting Christ first?

Freedom for People Pleasers

“I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”
~Ed Sheeran

Recently, I challenged a friend of mine to brake the chains of the ‘shoulds’ in her life. She, like most of us, was overcommitted, overwhelmed, and stressed out. Most of her time was spent on others; taking care of her kids, being a good wife, taking care of the house, and volunteering for things at church and school. She rarely, if ever, did anything for herself. Guilt and obligation enslaved her. She was missing the joy of freedom that living in Christ has to offer.

I gave her homework one day after bible study. The homework was that she had to say breaking_free_by_obscurelilium-d7u0xvyno’ to something that she didn’t want to do, simply because she didn’t want to do it . . . . OR, say ‘yes’ to something that she wanted to do, simply because she wanted to do it. And, she had to do this 3 times before the next bible study.

There was only one rule; there couldn’t be a logical reason to say ‘no’ like a schedule conflict, or she was sick, or because she was just too busy. She had to not do something simply because she didn’t want to do it. Sound selfish? For the Christ follower, its called living in God’s freedom.

“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.”  Galatians 5:1

Blessings abound when we walk with Christ. It is the blessing of freedom. Christ died to set us free; free from the yoke of pleasing other people; free from the yoke of doing everything that people ask us to do; free from the yoke of being responsible for other people. There is nothing greater than freedom in Christ.

I was a people pleaser most of my life.  Never having been shown my true value in Christ, I grew up thinking that it was my job to take care of everyone else. We all had a lot in life, and this was mine.

problem pensive girl at window profile sad black and whiteI had to make people feel comfortable and at ease at all times. I was to keep the peace even when peace was not possible; even when peace was not appropriate. And, it was often at my expense. But, I truly believed that I was expendable. Just take one for the team, I would tell myself . . . . again!

Satan had me right where he wanted me; feeling worthless and being useless. He had me thinking that my only purpose was to empower others. He had been feeding me lies and I was ever so eager to believe them.

I am so grateful that God has set me free by setting me straight! He made you and me for a specific purpose in the Kingdom; something more than catering to the comfort of others; something more than just being a loving and supportive spouse; something more than raising children.

“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.”  Galatians 1:10

My walk with God in the last 20 years has taught me how high and wide and long and deep is His unfailing love. He has been replacing the lies that I believed for so many years with His Word.

Can we say no to our mother? . . . . when the bible says this . . . “Honor your mother and father.” Exodus 20:12

Can we say no to a ministry? . . . . when the bible says this . . . “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” Luke 10:2

Can we say no to our church?  ” . . . . when the bible says this . . . “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God ” Ephesians 4:12-13

Can we say no to our husbands? . . . When the bible says this . . . “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands.” Ephesians 5:22

Yes, we can!

So, who do we need to please? . . . . God.  Who is the only one that we always need to say yes to? . . . . God.  God is the only one that we need to please, and He is already greatly pleased without us doing one single thing!

He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.  Zephaniah 3:17

That doesn’t mean that we can say ‘no’ to those things all of the time. If we are to be obedient to God and His Word, than we must do these things some of the time. But, we are certainly not obligated to do them every time.

People pleasers just want to do the right thing. They are usually caring, selfless people. However, the right thing might be to say ‘no’. We need to be regularly in His Word to be able to discern.

 

Relationships, if they are true relationships, demand judgement and confrontation . . . . to faithfully live our life as a human being–to live as we were created to live–is to live in an open-and-closed relational connection to another.
~Andrew Root

God delights in us. And, He loves us with unfailing love. It doesn’t matter what other people think of us, or what we do. It’s who we are in Christ, or rather, it’s who He is.

My Bible study friend whom I gave the challenge to came back the following week and was eager to tell me what she did. She was like a kid in a candy store, with a grin from ear to ear. She beamed with the glow of freedom!

Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?   Isaiah 2:22

You Have No Power Over Me

One of the toughest parts of an active and effective Christian life is facing spiritual battles.

Our faith grows as we learn more of God’s Word, increase our prayer life and serve others.  We draw near to Him through bible studies and church fellowship. We seek to imitate Jesus’s life by going out in the world to  . . . seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) . Knowing God more intimately causes us to change from the inside out. Our nature becomes more like His.

“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”   2 Peter 1:4

Just when we are closest to God and seeing fruit in our lives . . . . wham! We get knocked down, we are blindsided. We have become a threat to Satan, and he is going to try to take us down!

Satan has many tools in his toolbox. He rubs salt on old wounds, whispers lies to us, shoots arrows of shame, deceives us, and confuses our thoughts.

The enemy knows how to push my buttons, and he knows how to push yours. He knows where he can get a foothold in our lives. He knows how he can be most effective with each one of us. He is cunning and subtle and ruthless.

Attacks from Satan will are more likely to come when we have a good relationship with God and we are doing the work of advancing His Kingdom on earth. Satan abhors the Kingdom of God. He will try anything he can to destroy it. Thank God he never will!

However, when we are wrapped up in ourselves, Satan won’t give us a second thought. Pride and ministry cannot dwell in the same place. When we are consumed with our own lives, our jobs and our families, we tend not to make time for ministry. If we are uninterested in advancing God’s Kingdom, than we aren’t a threat to Satan.

If God is our number one, than advancing His Kingdom is a central part of our lives.

Separating us from the love and grace of our God and Father is Satan’s mission. He may try to take your kids, your marriage, and your joy to accomplish this.  But make no mistake, he wants to destroy your faith! If he can take that from you, his work is done.

Ultimately, Satan wants to destroy our faith!

Brothers and sisters, it is time to FIGHT!  It is time to take a STAND!

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness”  Ephesians 6:13-14

One of Jennifer Connelly’s first movies, if not her first, was The Labyrinth in 1986.  In this labyrinth_movie_image_jennifer_connellymovie, a 15-year-old girl wishes her baby brother away to the goblin king (David Bowie).

She finds herself in a fantastical world filled with strange creatures and dangerous riddles. To save her brother, she must find her way through the labyrinth to get to the castle before midnight or her baby brother becomes a goblin forever.

“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the goblin city,” she says. “My will is as strong as yours.”

The goblin king has a spell over her throughout the journey. When they are finally face to face, the king offers the girl her dreams and everything she wants. “just let me rule you,” he says. All of the sudden it hits her. She remembers the words to break the spell and says,

“You have no power over me!”

“You have no power over me!”

“YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER ME!”

 

At those words the spell is broken, the creatures and the strange world dissolves into a vapor and the girl is free of the goblin king. She finds herself back in her house and the baby is saved.

As I was thinking about the spiritual battles in my life, this scene popped in my head.  When Satan lines up his forces against us, we have the authority in Jesus’s name to say, “Satan, you have no power over me!”

And, don’t say it . . . . shout it!!!

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”    James 4:7

Sometimes we are called to be warriors.  Sometimes we have to fight.  There is a time for everything . . . a time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:8).

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,”  Ephesians 6:16-17

In the name of Jesus, you have no power over me!

Spiritual warfare is very real. But praise God that He has given us everything we need to be victorious! He has already won!

We were redeemed when we breathed in the Holy Spirit and became a follower of Christ. And that is all there is to it! No longer does Satan have dominion over us.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,”   Colossians 1:13

He has given us power and authority. What have we to fear?

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10:19

Let’s not be blindsided when the fiery arrows start to fly. Let’s rejoice in sharing the sufferings of Christ! Let’s give thanks when we are a threat to the evil one!

When you feel Satan messing with you, just remember that you are on the winning team. Remember that you are a child of the Creator God. And, remember that authority has been given to you in Jesus’s name.

“at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord”   Philippians 2:10-11

So, get in his face, and tell Satan where to go!

No one is worthy, no, not one

“Have you renounced all confidence in your own moral or religious efforts and turned in faith completely to Jesus to be clothed with His righteousness? If so, you do have eternal life. But do you have it to the full? Are you experiencing both the peace of God that comes with salvation and the joy of God that comes with living by grace each day? If not, you may be saved, but you are living by works.”  -Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace

It breaks my heart when people think that they are outside the grace of God; that they aren‘t worthy of grace. Because, no one is. No one is worthy, no, not one!

 “None is righteous, no, not one;
    no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”   Romans 3:10-12

My brother is very hard on himself.

He is very much like my dad who doesn’t accept failure from himself. ‘Failure is not an option,’ I can hear my dad say. And, as a result, my brother has always set the bar really high for himself.

The problem with that mentality is that we will fail. It is a mathematical certainty. Our fallenness necessitates it.

What if we set the bar so high that we never reach it? We feel like a failure. We end up focusing on what we aren’t doing instead of God’s plan in what we are doing.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   Jeremiah 29:11

Sometimes we need to lower the bar. Possibly lower it a lot! Not because we’re losers, but because we are human beings not gods.  

I have a really low bar, I always have. Having a low bar allows me to exceed it daily because I am reaching for the really high bar set by my precious savior, Jesus Christ. I am not saying that we should all have a really low bar. I am saying that we need to do our best and let God do the rest.

In the wise words of my brother, Greg, “God’s bar is all that matters, and when we don’t reach it, Christ bridges the gap.”

It (Grace) contains the essence of the gospel as a drop of water can contain the image of the sun.”  Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace?

Where would I be without God’s grace? I shudder at the thought!

I know what a wretch I am . . . . believe me!

  • Do I pray perfectly or regularly enough? No.
  • Am I in His Word enough? No.
  • Do I love others enough? NO!
  • Am I focused on making disciples enough? NO!!!!
  • Do I love God enough?! Not even close!!!

But I take His grace and let it cover me. His grace is sufficient for me (1 Corinthians 12:9).

The more that I really understand this ‘grace’ thing, the more precious my relationship with God is to me. And, the more that His Word is becoming my very life and breath.

As I take in more grace, I become more aware of the huge chasm between God and myself! I realize how small and insignificant I am compared to an all-powerful God! The smaller I get in my mind, the bigger He becomes.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
-C.S. Lewis

Therefore, I exalt God and am increasingly grateful for the price Jesus paid for me. I don’t deserve His amazing grace. Not even a little!

There is a difference between receiving grace and making excuses. We know that God doesn’t want us to be lazy. However, we can’t use our shortcomings and imperfections as a reason for not accepting His grace. In other words, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! He is offering you grace, take it.

You don’t have to be the perfect husband/wife.
You don’t have to be able to fix everything.
You don’t have to be the perfect worker.
You don’t have to be the perfect mom/dad.
You don’t have to be the perfect missionary.
You don’t have to be the perfect student.

Just run the race marked out for you.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us  Hebrews 12:1

The weight of the world may be on your shoulders. You may be a ‘people pleaser’ and take care of everybody. So, who takes care of you? You are not the top of the food chain, so let Him care for you and give you rest.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

God says that He is gentle and humble in heart. So, quit beating yourself up and be the treasure that you are!

“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”
-C.S. Lewis

Blessed are the poor in spirit; A Christian perspective on depression

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:1-3

Matthew 5 says, blessed are those who are poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Do we really believe that those who are poor in spirit are blessed? Or do we believe that those who are poor in spirit must be cursed?

People with depression are our modern day ‘lepers’. They are often outcast, and judged. They are also blamed; they must have done something to cause it.

Depression is the three headed monster that no one wants to acknowledge. It might as well be the plague. The words depression and anxiety make us squirm. Our society is much more comfortable with people who have cancer, diabetes or heart disease than a mental illness such as depression.

The Christian community is no different. And we may even be worse. There is as stigma with depression that says that we must be doing something wrong. This was the case even in the story of Job. His friends assumed that he must have done something to deserve such calamity.  

However, even the most devout Christians can suffer from depression. Often times, it is something that happens to us not something that happens because of us. And, we can’t always reason it away.

Brothers and sisters in Christ with depression need compassion, prayer, and love. Using cliches, or giving unsolicited advice, judgments, or opinions can be cruel. We must not be naive about depression. It can happen to the best of us.

My story

At 33, I was sick all time, 40 lbs overweight, depressed and I had no idea why. I had eaten pretty well all my life (so I thought), so why did I feel so crappy all the time? I had exercised 4 to 5 days a week since high school, so why couldn’t I lose any weight? I had 2 beautiful daughters, an amazing husband, a loving church family and great friends, so why was I so depressed?

I went to numerous doctors, none of which could help me. I tried just about all of the antidepressants at one time or another.

At one point, a doctor told me that I had bipolar (which I did not) and put me on Zyprexa. So, my brain pretty much turned to mush.  I might as well have been catatonic.

Another doctor put me on the antidepressant Effexor which is known to increase anxiety, a side effect that she neglected to tell me. This doctor increased my dose each time I told her that I wasn’t feeling any better, and I started having panic attacks.

My body and mind were a wreck and I was spiraling out of control.

A couple of years prior, I had started my own business as a wedding photographer. As much as I loved the work, it was very stressful. During wedding season, the workload was enormous, and the pressure was intense. Between the stress of the job, 2 little kids, severe clinical depression, and the everyday demands of life, I was a ticking time bomb.

My last wedding of the year was in October, so I forced myself to keep it together until then.  As my assistant, who was a good friend of mine, and I walked to the car from the reception hall that evening, I started to sob. The very next day I went to the hospital.

Lights out . . . . I was done.

I never thought that I would find myself in such a place as a mental ward at a hospital. It felt like I was in some kind of Sandra Bullock movie. The door to my room was locked, the walls were bare, and everything had been taken from me. My head was spinning. It was the worst night of my life.

That was almost 10 years ago.

I have been reflecting back on that time because several of my friends right now are dealing with depression. My heart breaks for them.

At the same time, I am almost perplexed.

Each one of these depressed friends are deeply in love with Jesus. These are people that are living out their faith. They are the real deal. They are not people who don’t know the Lord or have necessarily strayed off the path. They are not casual Christians.

It just goes to show that faithful followers of Christ will suffer. Jesus told us that we would.

We don’t belong here. The more we become like Christ, the more separate and set apart from this world we will be. And it is lonely. We know where our home is, and it isn’t here.

We are strangers. We are aliens. We are not of this world.
(Not of This World, song by Petra, 1983)

As I wrote in an October, 2015 blog on Anguish called Jesus Wept, many of the faithful people of the bible experienced deep sorrow and anguish. David, Hannah, Nehemiah, Elijah, Paul and even Jesus.

Then he (Jesus) said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Matthew 26:38

Depression is real and it is dark. Depression looks different for everybody. Only the light and hope that Jesus Christ brings can save us from the darkness.

 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.   John 12:46

In addition to praying for people suffering with depression, this is what I would say to them as someone who has been there.

Don’t accept shame.

Shame is a tool of Satan. He will dish it to you, but, don’t take it. If you are a follower of Christ, shame has no place with you.

“Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”   Romans 10:11

“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.”   Isaiah 54:4

Keep your eyes on truth

The sobering reality for me so many years ago was that medical professionals weren’t going to help me. I had to find my own way to survive the depression.

So, I bought some wall hangings and plaques with scripture on them. I am a visual person and had to get God’s Word in front of my eyes. I knew that I couldn’t trust my feelings and sometimes even my mind, and definitely not the health care professionals. Even in my shattered mental and emotional state I knew that I had to trust God.

I put a wall hanging in my bathroom that pictured Jesus with the lost sheep and the other 99 in the distance (Luke 15:4). It said, Lost no more. I was very much lost, so it was a powerful reminder that Christ would always find me . . . . even in the merky depths of depression.

I also had one that said Be still and know that I am God. The scriptures I chose were ones where God spoke to me and said, just sit there, and I’ll do the rest. I’ve got ya.

The only way that I survived that time was by keeping my eyes on ‘thy rod and thy staff’. It was Psalm 23. I visualized Christ leading me through the valley of the shadow of death. All I had to do was keep my eyes on Him.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of ,the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

The Word of God was no longer just some words on a page. It was life to me. It was my parachute as I plummeted to the depths. I couldn’t have made it without those powerful words, and other scriptures that I placed strategically around my home.

Ask people for help.

There may be a voice inside that will scream ‘no! you can figure this out on your own!’ However, we were never meant to live in isolation. Sometimes we just can’t do it on our own. And the longer we deny this fact, the longer we stay stuck.

When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.   Exodus 17:12

Remember also that when you ask somebody for help, it not only blesses you, but it blesses them. It affords them the opportunity to serve God by ‘loving their neighbor’. Don’t deny others the opportunity to store up treasures in heaven through you.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.   Hebrews 10:24-25

Flush the Formula

In life, A + B does not always = C. There is no equation to life. The only thing that we can count on 100% of the time is God. Following the law does not necessarily keep bad things from happening.

This life is not just. If it were, the formula to have a successful, happy and fulfilled life would work every time. However, it doesn’t. Only eternity, through God, is perfectly just. We either get our reward here, in this life, or in heaven, to enjoy for eternity.

Answers, explanations, or reasons may elude you. Sometimes, as in the story of Job, we cannot wrap our minds around what is actually happening. Depression is complex and comes in many forms. Sometimes causes are obvious and sometimes they are not. We must acknowledge that there are things that we cannot know. So, don’t beat your head against the wall trying to figure it out.

The answer is God

During my darkest times, I pictured myself hanging over the deepest, darkest canyon. God was holding on to me and keeping me from falling to my death and destruction. It was just Him and me, hand in hand. He was all I needed. He saved me . . . again.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”   Lamentations 3:22-24

Recently, my family and I were talking with my mom about her giving and what her passions were. She kept asking us what we thought she should do with her money, and how she should serve God best. We discussed it with her for a while. But finally I had to answer her this way:

“we don’t have the answer. The only way to get the true answer is to ask the One who holds all things together. Only God has the answer. God is the answer.”


 

I cannot give my friends the answer to why they are depressed. Or how to get out of it. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know where the answer lies. God is the answer to everything. God knows my next steps and yours. And He is for us, not against us.

If God is for us, who can be against us?  Romans 8:31

In the wise words of my awesome brother, Greg, “Wherever I am headed, either to better days or worse, I know that My Redeemer lives and that He is all I need.” Amen and Amen!

Hope in the age of violence; How should Christians respond to the terror and violence in our country and around the world?

As I was watching Dr. Oz and folding laundry last Wednesday afternoon, ‘Breaking News’ cut in to the station just as the show was ending.

‘Uh, oh,’ I thought. The live video appeared.

It was an all too familiar scene: a public place filled with cop cars and police officers in tactical gear; people lined up coming out of buildings with their hands in the air; paramedics and people on stretchers filling the streets.

What happened in San Bernadino, California is tragic. I can’t imagine the grief and sorrow the families must be going through. Not to mention the fear that the community must be experiencing.

My heart breaks when I hear the story of a school, a mall, or another ‘soft’ target under attack. Those intent on hurting people seem to be targeting common people who were just going about their business. When they got up to go to work that day, they had no idea it would be their last.

I have tried to imagine what I would be feeling if a mass shooting happened in my town. How would I process it?

How would I be feeling if the Wal-mart five minutes from my house was on the news because a shooter was gunning down people there; or, an office building along US-31; or, my church just down 146th street; or, the Regal 17 movie theater where I recently saw Jurassic World.

It could happen anywhere.

To be honest, I don’t know how to feel about another tragedy. I am torn between being filled with  compassion and sympathy and feeling annoyed and angry. I am worn out with tragedy. The whole country is, I suspect.

It seems as though about every week or two we hear about another shooting. In the previous week it was a shooting in Texas. I can still see the face of the gunman with wild hair and a crazed look in his eyes.

And before that was the attack on Paris.

I remember Columbine so many years ago. It was April 20th, 1999. 12 students and 1 teacher were killed after a couple students went on a violent rampage. It was this nation’s first big school shooting where students were killed, at least in recent history.

Our nation was so naive and innocent up until that fateful day.

Gone are the days of feeling like our kids are safe when we send them to school. Gone are the days of feeling safe going to work or to the mall or to a movie or to a concert. Gone are the days when we could drop our kids off at college and know that they would be safe.

Gone is the innocence of the ‘wonder years’ in this country.

Maybe, we as a country were ignorant. ‘Ignorance is bliss,’ they say. Little did we know how drastically our country would change in the decades to come.

I remember the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that occurred on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, when 20 children and 6 adults were killed. It crushed me to my core. I know many people across the nation experienced the same sorrow.

How can this happen?
How could someone hurt little children? . . . . practically babies?!
What is wrong with people?!

And then there is terrorism. The violence in Paris is a sobering reminder that it is not just the U.S. that is under attack, it is the whole world.

No one is safe anymore. Maybe we never were.

So, what do we do with all of this? How am I as a Christian supposed to react to these events? How is the body of Christ supposed to answer to the societal woes of the day?

We could . . . .

  • become depressed and cynical
  • become paranoid and paralyzed with fear
  • get up in arms about politics and foreign policy
  • stick our heads in the sand and pretend these events aren’t happening

As followers of Christ, we cannot let these events make us depressed or cynical. Why? Because we have too great a hope in Jesus Christ our Lord. We have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb! That has not changed, nor will it ever. No matter what we see on the news.

They can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.   Luke 20:36

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.   Hebrews 10:23

We need to show the world that our God is still the Lord of the universe. He is still The Creator, The Healer, The Comforter, The Lover of souls, and the Great I AM. He is unchanging. What a great comfort that is!

“I the Lord do not change”   Malachi 3:6

Neither can we be gripped by fear. God is still on His throne. And He is still the Lord over all.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
   do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.   Isaiah 41:10

He tells us not to be afraid–He’s got this! The world may fall apart, but we are His, and nothing can touch us.

For in the day of trouble
   He will keep me safe in his dwelling;
He will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
   and set me high upon a rock.  Psalm 27:5

Some are called to stand up and work the political/governmental system to bring about change and solutions. God bless those people. I am not one of them.

Those who are, must guard against appearing self-righteous. We don’t have all the answers, so let’s not pretend that we do.

And, for the world’s terrorism and violence, there may not be clear answers. In fact, I am quite sure there aren’t. At least not ones that will likely satisfies us.

God warned us of the trouble to come on this earth. We shouldn’t be surprised.

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.   Matthew 24:6-8

Nor can we just ignore the situation. We must show love and compassion when tragedy strikes. The parable of the good Samaritan tells us that we cannot just walk on by.

Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.   Philippians 2:4

Therefore, I won’t become depressed and cynical. I won’t give in to fear. And, I won’t stick my head in the sand.

So, what is a Christian to do?

The answer is never far from the old rugged cross. Where Christ paid the ultimate price.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,Holy Bible And Rosary Beads
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

The answer lies in knowing who the true victor is. We know how this thing ends. God wins in the end. And God is good. Therefore, good wins!

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 15:57

They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings   Revelation 17:14

We must ask ourselves → “What is God calling me to do in response to the events of the last few weeks?”

Pray. Sometimes that’s all we can do.

I pray when I don’t know what else to do. I pray when there seems to be no answers. I pray when I need the comfort of a loving Father.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”   John 16:33

Our God is a big God. He is way bigger than anything that happens on earth. He has overcome the world! Halleluiah!! Nothing is too big for our God.

Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,  Jeremiah 32:17

Remember this Christmas season that we have good news of a great joy! For all the evils of the world, a baby was born. A Savior, that is Christ the Lord! Because of His great sacrifice and love for us, the things of this world no longer have power over us. Amen!

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.   Luke 2:10-11