Insecurity and Hebrews

So I’ve had this phrase in my head for a few months now and it’s become my prayer for this season.

Love better, serve better.

This is what I want. To love better and serve better. Nothing big right?! Lol.

A couple of weeks ago I really felt led to take a week and fast from lunch. To take my 30 minute lunch break each day and just dive into the word. As I began to pray and to seek God for direction on this time, I really felt like He was leading me to spend this time reading through Hebrews.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking…how does the phrase love better, serve better connect to Hebrews?

I had the same reaction but stick with me. We’re going to get there.

So Monday I go out to my car at lunch and dive into Hebrews 1-2. And God starts to speak.

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭2:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/heb.2.1.esv

Ok God…I’m paying attention. Much closer attention.

Day by day as I read, God began to show me that we weren’t going to be dealing with specific actions and ways to love better and serve better. Nope, we were getting to the heart of the problem.

God was whispering into my fragile, insecure heart…

Beloved it time to learn to love and serve from a place of security. It’s time to learn how to live and love from a place of confidence. Not in yourself but in who I am and who I am making you..

He began to whisper words of security and promise. I began to see the same 2 phrases over and over.

Once for all

For all time

You see Hebrews beautifully explains why Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is superior to the Old Testament way of doing things. You see His one sacrifice secured our redemption for all time. He didn’t have to continually crawl back up on that cross and die all over again. It was enough. It was sufficient. And it was complete.

As I read this and was remind of how incredible the cross was and how big and far reaching the effects of Christ death were, God was reassuring my heart. Reminding me that this deep seated insecurity was not something I was meant to carry. It wasn’t who I truly was. He had chosen me. Adopted me into His family. Redeemed and restored me to a right standing with Him. I am a co-heir with Christ. And my status with Him isn’t temporary. It isn’t dependent upon my ability to do good or make all the right decisions.

It’s permanent.

When I surrendered my life to Christ, I was transformed for all time. I was brought into the family of God. A position that cannot be taken away. I have revived a kingdom that cannot be shaken. I have been made right with God for all time. Eternally secure in my position in Christ. His grace is always there. Mercy new every morning. His love never failing. His sacrifice was made once for all, for all time.

This is my confidence…this is my security. When I allow my identity to be found in Christ, His spirit is on display…I am marked by His love.

 

 

 

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The other side

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Y’all.

God is good.

Not only is He good in nature but He is good to us.

If you had asked me on November 15, 2012 where I’d thought I’d be in 5 years, I would probably have told you that I wasn’t sure I was going to make it the next 5 minutes let alone 5 years….

Truth is, I very much felt like Job sitting in the ashes of this life he had built for himself. Wondering what God could possibly be doing. Where God’s goodness was possibly hiding in midst of my darkest time.

I was shattered and looking around I could see nothing but the pieces of the life I once had. I couldn’t see how God could possibly put them back together. How He could put me back together.

You know, there was this voice that has continually spoken truth into my life I’ve the past 5 years. Well, actually there have been a few but this was one of the loudest. She would remind me that there was an “other side” to this and that our God would be faithful to carry me through.

She was right. There is an other side and the me on that other side is different. Is stronger. Is standing on a faith that is much harder to shake.

See God is a restorer and a redeemer. He takes the broken pieces and ash left behind and doesn’t just bring it back to what it once was…He makes it something more. He makes US something more. Something better. More grounded in our faith. More reliant on Him. Better able to extend grace to others because of the grace He has extended to us through the trials we face.

Comforted so that we can comfort….2 Corinthians 1:4

Building in us endurance, character, and hope…Romans 5:3-4

Cultivating steadfastness aka perseverance/fortitude James 1:3

Friend, there is an other side to whatever you’re going through and if you let God do His thing through this fight…through whatever the trial or circumstances or heartache…the you on the other side will be different. That you will be more like Jesus.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on comparison….

So lately I’ve noticed something with my kids. Whenever I tell one of them that they are smart or cute or funny or even just that I them, it never fails that one of the others will say, “but I thought I was….(fill in the blank)?” So we’ve been having this dialogue in our house and I’ve found myself having to remind them that just because someone else is pretty, smart, athletic, kind, etc, doesn’t mean you aren’t those things. This is the phrase I’ve been using, “Who someone else is and their abilities don’t take away from or diminish who you are and how God has made you.” But then it hit me, is that how I really feel? If I look at my life and examine my thoughts and my heart, does it really reflect that belief?

Here’s the thing, this mindset is everywhere. Comparison. It runs deep in us as humans, especially as Americans. We are never satisfied, never content. Constantly comparing ourselves to everyone else. Thinking, if I just had what they have…. If I could be as smart as that guy or as pretty as that girl or had the kind of job or car or house or spouse… if I was as ‘godly’ as that person or if God had just given me as much talent as that singer or writer or speaker…

But what if? What if we stopped buying into the lie that who we are, what we have, and how God has gifted us is in any way less than or not enough?

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:4-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God has gifted each of us uniquely. He has given each of us a lane to run in. My gifts, my personality, and my calling are entirely unique to me. Not only that, but God has placed us in this specific time and location so that He can use us to impact those around us. However, just because I’m not as talented as Beyonce or as pretty as Blake Lively or have the platform of Christine Caine or the writing ability of Annie F. Downs (who, btw, if you haven’t read, you need to. Like, now), this doesn’t diminish who I am and what God’s called me to do.

I am, Amanda, and only I can raise my 3 kids to love Jesus. Only I can move in the circles that God has placed me. Only I can leverage my gifts and talents to encourage those around me and bring glory to God. Beyonce can’t lead my team of greeters at Life.Church South OKC the way I can. Annie F. Downs, can’t bring the message God has entrusted me with and can’t write with the unique voice He has given me. Only I can do that.

Now, yes, I realize that if He wanted to, God could use any one and anything to accomplish the things He is using me to do but the point is, He called me. He entrusted and gifted me specifically. Just as He has called and entrusted you. I can’t reach your family and friends like you can. I am not gifted the same way you are. You bring something to the table that no one else does.

It’s like this, we are all on the same track team. Each of us competing in our own event. I might be able to run the 100 meter but you are best at the long jump and someone else on the team is great at the long distance stuff. If I win my event, that doesn’t disqualify you from yours. As a matter of fact, in order for the team to succeed we need to not only give our all in our event but we have to encourage each other as well.

So I’ll ask again, what if?

What if we stopped believing that if we were as good as someone else, then we could really make a difference? Or if we had what so-and-so has then we could be content?

What if, instead, we learn to just be who God has made us to be and to be the best version of that? What if our contentment was in the fact that we are redeemed, made perfect, unique and specifically gifted and most importantly loved by God and we lived out of the abundance of that?

 

But God….

IMG_2497Wow, y’all.  I know, it’s been awhile since I last posted but was mulling around some thoughts and wanted to share.

But God.

These are big words in the bible.  These words typically mark radical change effected by God or a statement of “Things are/were this way, BUT GOD has made them this way”.  Sometimes they are declarations of I lacked this BUT GOD is my ______.

Examples:

You intended to harm me but God intended it for good. –Genesis 50:20

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.—Psalm 73:26

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. –Romans 5:8

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. –1 Corinthians 1:27

When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb.  But God raised him from the dead.—Acts 13:29-30

I was listening to a talk by Christine Caine this morning on the way to work and she kept saying these 2 words over and over but in a totally different context.  This got me thinking.  These 2 words can hold so much power but depending on who’s saying them can completely change the situation.

How many times does it sound more like this in our lives:

But God, I’m not smart enough.

But God, I’m not strong enough.

But God, I’m broken/sick.

But God, I’m no one special.

But God,  I’m a woman/child/too young/too old. 

But God, it’s too hard or too much.

I know mine often sound like this:

But God, I’m just a divorce single mom with 3 kids, limited resources, and limited time.

But God, I’m not good enough.  I’m too damaged.

Moses had a big but God  moment at the burning bush.  God was asking him to go and be his ambassador to Pharaoh and demand that the Hebrews be freed. His response?

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

“Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.'”

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”

But God I’m not enough…

The disciples had a few. Like when Jesus was teaching on the mountain and the people had been there for hours without food. Jesus told the disciples to feed the people and their response? But God there’s not enough.

“When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?”

Or this time…

“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

Their immediate response was but God the waves are too big!

2 word.  2 voices. 2 totally different mindsets.

So which voice do we listen to in those crucial moments?

Do we listen to our but God excuses?

Or do we listen to the Truth of His word?

His but God  changes everything.  His but God takes broken and makes it whole.  It give purpose.  It restores and redeems.

What if our inner dialogue sounded more like this:

I’m not strong enough but God displays His strength in my weakness.

I’m broken but God has made me whole and will use my brokenness.

It’s too hard but God is able to do abundantly more than I can imagine.

I encourage you when you have that moment of doubt–right when you are starting to give your but God excuses for why He can’t or shouldn’t use you, to take that thought captive–Stop right in the middle of that process and remind yourself that, “I can’t but God can.”

 

He took notice….

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This verse comes at the beginning of Exodus. At the opening of Exodus, Joseph has died and so has an entire generation. No longer do the Egyptians remember Joseph and the respect he once commanded. The Israelites have grown in number and, out of fear, the Egyptians have enslaved them and forced them into hard labor. Additionally, a decree has gone out that any boy’s born to the Israelites are to be killed. It’s a dark time for the people of God. They are oppressed and no doubt feeling abandoned.

And yet, we have these words at the end of chapter 2….

“God saw the Israelites, and He took notice.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭2:25‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

He…God, The Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the One who holds it all in the span of His hand.

He took notice….

He saw their suffering and struggle and pain. He heard their cries and pleadings. And He took notice.

Oh friend, that you would hear this today….

Whatever struggle you are facing. Whatever hurt is in your heart. Whatever lie the enemy is trying to convince you of. No matter how big or impossible or hard your circumstance is…..

He takes notice.

He sees you. He is with you. He will not leave you alone in the midst of this.

I love this verse in Isaiah…

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

Beloved, you are not alone tonight.  You may be broken hearted or weary or at a loss for what to do. I don’t know your struggle.  But God has taken notice of you and He is holding on to you with His mighty hand. Giving you the strength and help that you need.

One tree hill quotes on loss

I was watching a tv show the other day. Watching an episode I’ve seen several times. In this one scene, 2 characters are having a discussion.  They had both lost spouses and were taking about life after loss. 

Lydia : It’s hard, isn’t it, Learning to live without them? 

Clay : Yeah. It’s hard making new memories, you know, like it’s not fair to them. 

Lydia : I think it not fair to them not to. I mean, they’d want that, wouldn’t they? They’d want to know that we faced their absence with dignity and grace. 

Clay : Yeah, well, the truth is, I’m not sure I’ve been that gracious about any of it. 

Lydia : You’re still here, aren’t you, Still finding your way? That’s about as much grace as anyone can ask

Loss can be immobilizing.  Grief can render us completely numb.  Even years after, there are days and moments that can still knock the breath out of you.  And trust me, breaking down in a fit of tears and heartache and anger feels anything but dignified and graceful. 

This is the time of year I miss mom the most. She would have been 52 today.  Excuse me, 26 (x2). And it’s hard. Missing that person that you should have been sharing life with. I would give anything to just be able to pick up the phone and call her when I’m sad or sick or happy or the kids do something great or funny. 

I love that last line though,

“You’re still here, aren’t you, Still finding your way? That’s about as much grace as anyone can ask.”

She’s been gone 7 years, and I’m still learning to live without her but I know that she would want me to make new memories. To live my life and to love it. To teach her grandkids how to have fun in every moment and how to make the ordinary seem extraordinary. That’s how she lived.  And someday, I will get to tell her a lifetime of stories and we will laugh and cry as we catch up. 

So if you are dealing with grief, remember that you are still here and still fighting to find a way to carry on. You will find it. You will wake up one day and realize that there are more good moments that bad. That although you still miss them, you can still smile and laugh and enjoy life. You can make new memories and in doing so, you will continue on with grace and dignity. 

Quote from One Tree Hill

American Ninja Warrior and the big ‘C’ Church

So last night I was watching American Ninja Warrior with the kids. The love this show, especially the boys. They think it is the coolest thing ever watching people jump and climb and perform feats of strength that seem almost superhuman. I was struck by something different though. 

As we watched, I began to become engrossed in listening to the stories. As a contestant would take the stage to begin their run, they would give some background. Some of these stories were incredible.  Such tales of overcoming loss, grief, disability, illness, circumstances.  Some of them it wasn’t what they had overcome but what they had been using their platform for. How they were making a difference.  You couldn’t help but be moved by their stories and as I watched, I found myself rooting for them to succeed.  

There was one other thing that made an impact on me. The community among the contestants, especially those who had competed before. They were cheering each other on and rejoicing with each obstacle conquered.  They encouraged each other when they didn’t finish the course. The competition wasn’t with each other it was with themselves. To go out and push themselves and do the best they could possibly do.  Leaving everything on the course.

As I sat there it struck me that this was how it is supposed to be with the Church. Sharing our stories of overcoming with each other and cheering each other on. Celebrating the victories and a word of encouragement when we fall short.  Each of us striving to follow Christ and love others to the best of our abilities and spurring one another on to doing the same. 

So when was the last time you shared your story so that others can be encouraged or inspired by what God has done? When was the last time you encouraged another believer? Do you cheer on others in their victories? Or pull them up when they fall? Or do you feel the pull of competition to be better than them?
Just some thoughts…