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Sunday and thoughts

I’m not sure if any of my friends have been going through this, but certain events in my life lately have brought my mind here so many times. I’ve been thinking this a lot.

What is your cost? 

I’ve been a little wounded lately – heart broken about the things I see and know in my heart are real and terrible things, that my people I love don’t see. I’m not writing to rant but I think with the hope someone sees this and has a thought they haven’t had before.

Social media can be good. Its fun to put your thoughts or your photos out there and see how people will respond. Or if you have a following, it can be a platform to show people who Jesus is.

But at what point is there a cost?

Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat – and even Facebook. I can name right now on every one of those social media apps where I’ve seen ads for porn, or nude photos, or people trying to get me to send inappropriate things to them. As a girl, it’s not always tempting, sometimes its just creepy or frustrating. And I have more people blocked than I can count.

I can only imagine that as a guy, if you are spending a lot of time on Snapchat meeting people, or a lot of time on Instagram, browsing the popular page – it must start to cost you.

For girls, typically the cost for us is our self esteem, our view on other women, and our confidence. In our weakness, we give away something sacred for a moment of desire.

For guys, the cost I see is the fight for purity of mind, and the ability to be accountable.

I’m not going into detail on either account of women vs men, but I’ve felt heart broken at how I’ve been affected by the cost of mind and purity through social media. Even though there won’t be any details on this post, I’ve seen the cost and I’ve felt the pain of it in my life.

I feel like we just keep giving ground away that’s ours to stand on. Where do you draw the line at the cost of your life?

For me, rated R movies are not in my planner. If you can watch a movie with graphic sex scenes and nudity, and you bought the ticket, you paid for porn. Some people find that really extreme and I can understand that it might sound that way, but when I think back to what was in PG-13 movies when I was growing up, vs whats in PG-13 movies now….. I cringe for what my kids will see.

For me, Snapchat isn’t on my phone. I’ve felt so much pain in my life through Snapchat without ever even having one . Because it affects the mind of a guy. Girls too, but my heart is broken for the guys in my life and my friends who can’t let go of something that becomes detrimental to them.

If you can’t see where it costs you, ask the Lord to show you. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. It’s hard but it’s freeing.

It honors me and I’m genuinely impressed when I see guys (or girls) that choose not to have Snapchat, or some other app on their phone, for the reason of it being harmful to them.

I’m not trying to drop conviction on here for anyone , I just have all theses thoughts today and am just feeling so broken for what those things have taken from my own life. This blog isn’t well written and probably not moving but it’s honest and hopefully a bit thought-provoking.

 

I am praying for a rebellion against the subtle theft of the devil. He will take things from you that you never meant to give up if you don’t fight for your mind; your life.

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Wherever I go. – Joshua 1:9

I think I see the world differently. Maybe we all think that.

I’ve begun to realize, over the last year, how incredibly ignorant my generation is. We are so caught up in our own presence, completely absorbed with ourselves – our looks, our followers, our likes. We crave attention and recognition. It’s easily addictive because the access to comparison is within reach. We can see everyone else’s numbers – their stats. From likes to friends to followers – we can compare ourselves at any moment. We can base our identity, popularity, beauty, and purpose within a selfie. That leaves us open to false witness – to seeing ourselves as less than we were born to be; to seeing ourselves as more than what we are.

Over the last year the Holy Spirit has began a work in me that I have no explanations for. He has been testing every insecurity in me. And I have battled many. From identity to eating disorders to self worth and the worthiness of myself to others. I have fought many battles. I’ve wanted to move away, quit, and become careless….

But He still comes.

And as time has unfolded, so have my perceptions. The things I thought were right, I’ve been proven wrong. The things I thought I could leave, the Lord has told me to lead.

Jesus has this way of pulling you towards him, and as he does, you begin to see. Really see.

We have such a high tolerance for invasion – of our minds, hearts, and identities. Our quests for validation through social media opens us up to huge amounts of self – rejection.

I’ve seen myself change with social media. I’ve seen myself become less for it.

But I’ve seen people begin to see. To look for beauty in the ordinary and find mystery in at first plain things.

And I see Jesus. I see how he waits for us to look at him. And as we begin to look, we begin to see this beauty and this mystery, and it draws me away from myself.

This year I have learned that life is hard. Being a grown up, giving up things and people for your job and trusting The Lord for friendship and new things – it’s hard. But when you can see a piece of God’s plan for you more clearly, and how he is using your calling for his kingdom, you are humbled.

I found out this year that it’s much easier to have friends when you don’t work full time. I found out this year that being alone can be hard. I found out that 25 isn’t the year you become all – knowing.

But i found out this year that God isn’t done with me. That I’m at the surface of his intentions for me.

I found out this year that my adventure has barely even begun.

Be encouraged, whoever might read this – make your own choices. When no one understands, stand tall. When people question you, trust God. When you are given false wisdom, seek the Holy Spirit. When someone is saying “what is the Holy Spirit telling you? ” and you want to scream because you just don’t know the answer to that, take heart, because he doesn’t stop telling you. He waits. He tells you again.

One day – in some other season – you get to look up and see how far The Lord has carried you, and you’ll see the steps he had ordered you into, no longer seeing dimly – but as if face to face.

God is so good, his arm is not short that it does not reach – his sight is far – he makes his dreams for us and makes them our dreams.

I am so thankful I’ve been through hard seasons and been through times of growth. I have every hope that we all are moving together for Glory. There is no place I would rather be.
In my city. With my people.

Picking Up Jesus

I haven’t had the urge to write like this in so long. But so much has happened lately, and my life is moving so fast. And it seems like the faster it goes, the more i slow down in a way.

I tend to get caught up in my own head…i have this propensity to live inside my thoughts. It’s hard for me to tell any person how i really feel.

Over the past few months, i’ve realized so many of my struggles…and one that breaks my heart is that i have such a hard time opening up. I can fake a smile or just ignore a feeling and i eventually believe myself.

What i’m saying is i can talk myself into not caring. I mean any time you tell yourself anything enough, eventually you’ll probably believe it.

The Lord revealed to me a few months ago, that in hiding myself from everyone else, i had begun to hide myself from him. To this day, one of my biggest struggles with my relationship with the Lord is just telling him how i feel. Telling Him im mad, or sad, or let down, scared, disappointed, excited even…you name it.

Something about my feelings, sharing them, is so personal to me, and through past experiences i came to a point where i was scared to put them out there, even to my Savior.

In showing me that about myself, the Lord put a thorn in me, in a way.

I hated that i was like that. I hated that i trusted him with so much but not really with my feelings. The struggles of others hearts, they were near to me and constant in my prayers. But the struggles of my own heart were hard to talk to God about. Our dialog was limited i guess…

That being said, I’ve been learning so much and im ready to share a little.

I have a great friend in my life who has said “God always sees you at your best” and he reminds me if God can see me at my best, then thats the way i should see others. There is no judgement with that kind of heart.

I have this other great friend who told me once ” You’ll never be able to do anything good enough to make God love you more and you’ll never be able to do anything bad enough to make God love you less.” And while i knew that in my head, my heart needed to hear it. I’m not in some kind of competition, or show. I’m not doing things and acting a certain way to gain God’s affection. I already have that. i always have.

Lately, i’ve had a heart-struggle with courage, and letting go of fear….with allowing God to hold what already belongs to Him. I’ve had to daily beg God to help me give up this situation, this circumstance. And i was frustrated and a little overwhelmed. I was drowning in my own fears in a way. I couldn’t really give them up.

A few nights ago, God gave me a vision. And im not talking anything dramatic. He just gave me this picture of a pool that was being filled with water. And he spoke to me about something i wanted. He told me that, yes, i could jump in now, but the pool is still being filled and the water is still a little too shallow and if i jump its going to hurt. And i wont die, but it will be painful, and it might ruin a great part of the experience for me.

And i took that with stride, but then, as usual, he caught my heart.

He said, Jenny, what if someone else jumps with you, and they experience something painful, and you let them, even though you knew the water wasn’t deep enough yet.

And that’s where he got me, because my God knows me. He knows the compassion i have for people, that i can’t stand the idea of hurting anyone, or someone hurting. Especially because of me.

He told me i’m not full yet, i’m not ready for this thing i want. But one day i will be full, and then ill be ready, and the experience will be good. And it will be worth the wait. And he will give me this and all the desires of my heart.

He told me he has every good thing for me in store. That everything in my life is put in place for a reason, setting me up for that experience. But i have to wait, or i’ll miss out on it.

And i said, Lord…you’ve taken so much from my life in the last year. And i don’t know if i can handle you taking much more. And i swear i felt his touch when he said, no child, i haven’t taken anything from you. Don’t you see? I’ve made all this room in your life, i’ve moved things around, put them in their place. Because something is coming thats big, and i need to make room for it. I’m filling you, so that one day, the water will be perfect and you can jump. And your life will be ready for that.

I am so stubborn. So prideful.

But i’m thankful for this reminder.

My life is not my own. And Thank God i don’t get to make my own plans.

I needed this, this assurance that this thing doesn’t have to be made ready for me, because it is a perfect work of God. But i need to be made ready for this good and perfect thing.

And when it’s hard, when i’m unsure, when i see this promise on the horizon and i can almost taste it, i want to reach for patience. I want to reach for peace. I want to reach for joy. I want to reach for Jesus.

Because i can be sure that when i jump in the water, it wont be with my pride, it wont be with jealousy, i wont be jumping in with selfish ambition, i wont be taking worry, i wont be carrying shame, and i wont be weighed down by fear.

I’ll be ready.

After listening to a podcast someone urged me to listen to, i wrote this. And i can’t stop thinking about something Judah Smith says in it.

He says, ” Jesus is the sum and the substance of all God’s promises because he is both the fulfiller and the fulfillment.”

He was speaking about promises…how do we know what to do with promises that are unfulfilled in our lives and he said “When did we get this thought that we lack anything? i lack no good thing. For every good thing comes from Jesus.”

And that is what i know is true. All i need is Jesus. He is my provision. He is my sustainer. He is every good and real thing in my life.

Over the past 6 months, I’ve gone through a lot and been in some serious spiritual warfare. I’ll be the first to admit that much of it was self-induced. My stubborn nature tends to allow my carnal to win often and i end up “fighting” with God about who is right. Obviously, that’s a boring fight because I’ll never be the victor in that. That being said. through the last year, the Lord has revealed some really big, really amazing things to me….some of which i prayed for, and some of which the Lord chose to reveal to me purely out of love for me. For that I am thankful because those have been the biggest revelations in my life.

Maybe the biggest thing the Lord has revealed to me up to date is the character of Satan. And don’t laugh because I was the first to say I knew all about Satan a year ago, I could tell you about him up, down and sideways. I knew his games and I could call him out in you, you, and you….but I usually didn’t see him working in myself. That would bring me to lesson # 1. …

I am too defensive. Taking offense gets you into trouble. When you can dish it out to people but can’t take it, you WILL NOT GROW.

I am pretty much a know-it-all. I tend to get on my high horse and think I know more about everything than anyone. And that’s usually about the time God literally snorts with laughter at me and watches as I tumble right off my high horse into the uncomfortable but loving arms of God as He humbles me into obedience. But that’s the thing, God doesn’t force us. He doesn’t MAKE us do anything. But he KNOWS OUR HEARTS.

I’m so arrogant at times that I don’t even know what I need to be asking God’s forgiveness from because I think I’ve got it all down. Sometimes, its hard to pray for God to change how you think, how you view things.

I grew up in church, around it my whole life. I know every Bible story and parable and miracle. I thought I knew it all. But I didn’t and I don’t. I was so full of teachings and preachings, but I had knowledge without understanding.

I Cor 13:12 ” Now we see but a poor reflection as in the mirror; but then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

Knowledge is incomplete without understanding. And understanding comes through humbleness.

I had all this knowledge but I just KNEW things that weren’t even truth. And this is what i want to talk about. I knew from an early age that Satan was sneaky, devious, underhanded, cut throat, scary, and invisible. I knew i couldn’t see or hear him coming. I knew i just found myself in sin all the sudden at times because he worked in me without my knowing it. I knew how Satan was. I knew how he worked. We all know that -right?

wrong.

Satan isn’t like that. Yeah he may be devious, always plotting against God’s kingdom. But let me tell you some things Satan is not.

He isn’t sneaky.

He isn’t subtle.

He isn’t a whisper.

He isn’t a criminal mastermind.

And I can promise you Satan is no one to be afraid of. He is still subject to God’s authority. And thinking back, its ridiculous that up untill 21 years old I was far more scared of what Satan might do to me than what God might do to my enemy.

In Luke 22: 31, the Bible talks about how Satan wanted to devour Peter, but Jesus encouraged Peter telling him that his faith would not fail. Peter was so carnal, but he had enough faith that when it faltered, it did not fail. God KNEW that about Peter.

If you don’t read any of this, or you already know this, hear this: God does not set us up for failure, he sets us up for victory over darkness.

Satan is described as “the bearer of light” He isn’t some shadow we can’t see, in Isaiah 14: 12 he is referred to as the “morning star” –Satan is NOT invisible. He is bright and loud.

In I Peter 5:8, Satan is referred to as our enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” If he is anything like a roaring lion, he definitely isn’t sneaky..pretty sure I’d see that coming.

All my life I had this false perception of Satan. But I was so so so misled.

And don’t get me wrong, he is the master of confusion. But through scripture it is impossible for him to “fool” us. God gives us every opportunity to prepare ourselves and be ready. He tells us that “trouble is coming” but tells us to take heart because Jesus has already overcome the world. God reminds us in Ephesians 11: 6 to put on the full armor of God and ready ourselves for battle. He means the Word.

God has shown me now more than ever just how important scripture is. There is no better defense against Satan than scripture. And let me tell you i FULLY believe Satan cannot stay in your presence when you’re rebuking him aloud with scripture, telling him that he cannot walk where the Holy Spirit dwells and the Holy Spirit dwells in us!

Jesus himself was tempted by the devil and if you look at Jesus defense,( and yes i do say defense because when Jesus walked the earth he was not only all God but all man and just as susceptible to temptation as us)  Jesus combatted Satan with scripture!!

Jesus fasted 40 days and nights. and he was in the desert. no food. no water. And Satan “the tempter” came to him and told him to turn the stones into bread, tempted Jesus to prove himself by jumping off a cliff, and even offered him all the splendor of the world if only he bowed down to Satan. Jesus replies: “It is written: ‘ Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” “It is also written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” “Away from me Satan! For it is written, ‘ Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'”

Even Jesus himself used scripture to rebuke Satan and force him to flee from Him. So we must do that too.

I had this notion for some reason that when i was the weakest, Satan would attack me most. Sounded pretty sensible at the time but God revealed this to me recently…. Satan doesn’t attack us when we are weak, we are weak because we have been attacked. But here’s the thing, our “emotions and feelings” are what Satan attacks. Feelings of guilt, sadness, shame, confusion, hurt….do those sound like feelings God would put on us?? No. Because they aren’t.

God doesn’t pull at our emotions, mess with our feelings, plant thoughts in our head. There’s a big difference. Anything good and right is of God. He has no evil in him. Anything negative or impure can only be from Satan, he has no good in him.

Sometimes I am so hard on myself. I don’t want to be a doubter. And when I feel confused, I start doubting. What if this is wrong? What if this isn’t what God has for me? What if this is what God has for me but I just don’t have enough faith? What if im only doing this because it’s what I want and ive tricked myself into thinking it’s what God wants for me? What if im missing out on what God has for me by committing to this thing because I think it’s what God has for me but it might not be….etc. You get the point. I know all that sounds ridiculous but if you’re a Christian and love the Lord you can’t tell me you don’t do the same thing. It’s hard to know the difference between the Lord telling you something and Satan convincing you.

That’s what I’ve always thought. But I’ve realized that it doesn’t have to be that hard. If you’re confused, that is not of God. I know for a fact that I do not serve a God of confusion.

Here’s the thing about Satan…he’s impatient. He isn’t waiting to seduce. He isn’t scheming about how to destroy you. He just attacks you until you don’t allow it anymore. He will only stay as long as he is permitted. And if you keep being victor over him, he will not stay.

Satan’s character isn’t deep. He isn’t profound. He isn’t even in authority. God gave Satan dominion over the earth but Satan has no authority of what is God’s. If I belong to God, and I do, Satan has to gain permission to tempt me, to test me and put me through fire. And the Lord WILL NOT ALLOW SATAN TO TEMPT YOU BEYOND WHAT YOU CAN ENDURE.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

I absolutely love that scripture because it tells me 3 things:

1. I’m not the only person being tempted, and it’s not some kind of special temptation that’s harder or worse than anyone else is being tempted. Its common. I can handle common.

2. If I believe God is faithful, and I do because He declares it, then I can also be sure that I can handle any and all temptation by the devil, and bear it until it passes. And if you say but it’s so hard, then good because God obviously trusts you with a lot- be flattered.

3. Temptation is just a season, it won’t go on forever. So be relieved. God declares to us that he will give us a way out. Temptation, Satan, will come but only for a time, it won’t last, and when it comes, God does not let Satan crush us, he gives us a way out from under it. We don’t have to succumb to temptation at all.

Satan had to ask permission to crush Peter, (sift him like wheat)….he wanted to devour him, but Jesus said no. Jesus prayed for Peter, that his faith may not fall.” Now that is powerful. And encouraging to me!! If Satan had to ask that then, he still must ask now. God doesn’t allow Satan to crush us. He allows Satan to ask things of us, and when he asks, we can choose not to succumb. That just shows me again the love of God. He never pushes, or coerces or forces. He doesn’t give anyone else authority over us. No matter how much i do not deserve it, God gives me every opportunity to choose him. In fact, when in temptation, i think about how much pride God must have in children when we don’t fall to temptation but rise above it and keep our hand out to God, even if we stumble. If God allowed Satan to crush us, God would have no victory…If God forced us to choose him, he would still have no victory. So it’s an even greater defeat of Satan when we have the choice and still choose God’s will for us over Satan’s schemes.

It is so clear to me now that Satan pulls at my emotions, tweaks my feelings. That isn’t God. It’s Satan who plant’s confusion in us, but the good news is, its only whats “common to man” and we don’t have to be burdened by it.

Be encouraged, Jesus tells us in Luke 10: 18-19 “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”

I cling to that knowing that through all the wiles of the devil, I’m not naive to it, I’m not without understanding that I’m being attacked by Satan. God gives us understanding of Satan’s character through our understanding of who is in us. I know that the Holy Spirit lives with me. And if I’m in constant communion with God, then anything outside of purity, goodness, and righteousness is not of God, but Satan.

This may not be easy to understand and it’s definitely not easy to write about. But I know that the Lord chose to reveal Satan’s character to me because the Holy Spirit interceded for me on my behalf. I had no idea just how much fear of Satan I carried in my heart until God so graciously led me to the truth. And now that I see it with new perspective I can say this.

Satan is not to be feared. His schemes are futile. God’s wrath upon the evil of this world far exceeds any fear I have of Satan. Because the Holy Spirit lives in me, Satan cannot dwell here. And because Satan cannot dwell here, he cannot stay. It’s that simple. His temptations are short-lived because he cannot stand to be on Holy ground, and if my temple is kept Holy by my obedience, then Satan will gain no victory by me, and the Lord will trust me as his good servant.

Through Jesus victory over death, we have victory in life. Through Jesus sacrifice on the cross, we have been given grace.

When we rebuke Satan with scripture, and use the Word of God to make him flee from us, Satan cannot take victory. He cannot deceive us. He cannot veil our eyes to the Truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Freedom in the Cross

This is a post I have to write. I literally have no choice but to put this out for the world to see.

This is not about me. This is about what Jesus has done for me.

I’ve made some horrible choices in my past. I have wrecked things and thrown away friendships. I have challenged God at every turn and pushed him away while asking him why he isn’t taking care of me.

I have put Jesus back on the cross over, and over, and over.

I’ve been the crowd, hating him. I’ve been the pharisees, despising him. I’ve been the guards, whipping him.

I’ve walked away from him, I’ve run away from him, I’ve told him i know best, I’ve told him I could handle it, I’ve told him I don’t need him, I’ve told him he doesn’t understand.

I’ve shunned him and I’ve mocked him, I’ve called him a liar and a fool.

I’ve crucified him.

And after all of that, I opened my eyes.

And there He was.

In my fear, my shame, and my sin, I forgot.

I forgot God’s promises.

The Lord tells me in Psalms that if I am faithful, diligent in seeking God, He too will be faithful to me.

-” Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. ”

That is not meant to say that we will financially prosper, but that whatever we do, if we are being faithful to God then it will be of the Lord, and if it’s of the Lord, then we will prosper in it!

God is so faithful to the faithful. And while I messed up so many times along the way, God has shown me just how faithful He is to me. He came through for me. He came to my rescue. And when I felt the most alone, I never was. When I felt like I was the only one praying, He had others, people I didn’t even know, praying for me. God is so faithful.

His promises are true.

“When I cry unto you, then shall my enemies turn back: this I know, for God is for me. ” – Psalms 56:9

“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

“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” – Isaiah 41:13

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – 1 Cor 15:57-58

“Now thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and through us shows the Savior of His Knowledge in every place.” – 2 Cor 2:14

“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work and preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom.” – 2 Timothy 4: 17-18

“I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”- Psalm 118:17

“But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” – Romans 8: 10-11

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

These are all promises God gives us.

He says he will protect us,

be with us wherever we go,

comfort us,

uplift us,

literally take our hand and help us!

wow.

It’s hard to imagine that God would be willing to do that for me. I’m so worthless in my eyes. I could never do anything good enough, big enough, special enough, to deserve any attention from the Lord, much less deserve saving grace, endless mercy, and unfailing love.

I recently went through a time of confusion in my life. You know the time I’m talking about. I prayed and got no where, never sure if I was praying with an open heart or praying for what I wanted. When I did feel like I had an answer I second guessed myself, wondering if it was God answering me or me choosing to make a decision because I was tired of waiting.

At some point I stopped praying for an answer and I started praying a prayer that went something like this:

“Lord, you tell me this is scripture, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” and I believe that with all my heart. You know me, Lord. You know my heart. And you know my desires. You know my confusion right now. I know that confusion is not of you. But I also know that your Word is true and that you won’t allow me to go through anything I cannot bear but when I do go through a trial you always provide a way out. I’m asking for you to make a way. Give me a way out from under this, Lord. Take this burden from me. Have your way, not mine.”

That was when things changed quickly. A series of events led to God showing me what was right, making a way for me, and giving me strength to get through the fire and to the other side.

At first I could hardly believe God had been faithful. As pathetic as that sounds, to quote the scripture, “I believe Lord, help mine unbelief”…that’s where I was at. I was praying and believing, but Jesus had to help me with my unbelief by showing me just how faithful he is.

I felt so alone in that time. But after, I was amazed. God brought me through it, shielded me from what could have been consuming pain, and literally wrapped His arms around me. He gave me so much peace, filled me with His Holy Spirit, whispered words of love and comfort to me, and pointed me in His direction.

It’s so easy to fall into a habit of wanting God’s power and God’s blessings but not his presence. We, including myself. tend to ask things of God, without actually wanting God present to carry out His will.

In the storm, sometimes we compromise. We want the power of God to control the situation. We want the blessings of God to make the situation good. But we don’t want the presence of God to make the situation right in whatever He sees fit.

I’m looking at it from the other side, and God is slowly revealing to me all that I longed to see during the trial. But it wasn’t the time. I felt like my faith was weak. I felt confused. But if you read nothing else from this, know this:

CONFUSION IS NOT OF GOD. WEAKNESS IS NOT OF GOD.

If I was confused, that did not come from God. If it did not come from God, it came from Satan.

If I was weak, that did not come from God. If it did not come from God, it came from Satan.

I was both. But I kept praying, not even sure what I was praying for at that time, aside from rescue. I was just begging God for help. And throwing His promises at Him, telling him I KNEW he would come through for me.

And God helped my unbelief.

And now I see all that he was doing. He has revealed to me women in my church who were praying when I had no idea anyone knew what was going on.

He has given me wonderful relationships to fall back on, men of God in my life, women of God in my life. My family who has loved me and supported me.

But most of all, God has been SO faithful to me. It literally brings tears to my eyes. He let me fall to learn, but extended a hand to me all in the same breath to pick me up, and guide me once again.

He pursued me so hard, making sure He was never out of my sight. He showed me His love for me. His desire for me. His need for me.

And it is absolutely overwhelming to know my Lord and Savior sees me that way.

But it’s true. He sees all of us as priceless and He desires our love, pursues our hearts.

After all the hurt, I am thankful.

Because I understand so much better how He loves me. I thought I knew before, but God helped my unbelief.

He gave me freedom from my sin.

He gave me freedom from my burden.

He gives me freedom daily in the love He has for me.

He has freed me so completely from myself.

From sin.

And I am speechless..

It’s hard to comprehend that kind of love.

I put Jesus on the cross, every day.

And every day, he keeps me off it.

He took the cross so i wouldn’t have to.

He took death so I would have life.

He took pain so I would have an example.

He took all the world’s sin because He loves me.

And because of that,

He is mine. And I am his.

The power of Christ lives in me because I have freedom in the Cross.

“The Lord is my strength and song and is become my salvation.” – Psalm 118:14

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.”- Jer 17:7

Identity : Who are you?

Last night, after writing a post, I got in the word and
read a passage of scripture I’ve read many times, but as it
sometimes happens, God chose to make a point to me. I was reading
from John chapter 1, where the priests and Levites are asking John
if he is the Christ, and I was struck by the question they asked
John and his response. John 1: 22-23 “Finally they said,
‘Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us.
What do you say about yourself?’
John replied
in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘ I am the voice of one calling
in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ‘ “

I’ve read that
passage many times, but the Lord showed me the value in that last
night.
John was being asked, “Who are you?”
and he could answer, because he knew his identity. He was sure of
his identity in Christ.
John’s reply, that he was the voice
of one calling in the desert, “Make straight the way for the Lord,”
not only was a reference to Isaiah’s prophecy, but a parallel to
his identity in Christ.
That he is like one in the desert,
desperate and thirsty, crying out to the world, beseeching the world
to be ready for Jesus’ coming! To live pure and make ready the
people because salvation is coming!

John knew who he
was, in verse 20 it says, “He did not fail to confess, but
confessed freely…”
The Lord showed me
that I need to make sure my heart is ready, is pure and right,
because Jesus is coming and our identity in Christ is to make the
world ready for that coming! John knew exactly who he was. Without
question he answered. Do you know your identity? Who are you? I can
answer that. Can you?

Being a woman is so complicated when it could be so simple.

The idea of “being a woman” has been dramatized, idealized,
underplayed, and overworked.

Usually, women, including myself, do
one of a few things:

1. Try too hard to be everything a man could
be (God didn’t make women to be like a man, but to compliment men)

2. Want nothing from a man to try to prove we need nothing from men
(God made woman from man, to depend on man and be his helpmate)

3.
Try to act more subdued, to be less of an “emotional burden” (
that’s called suppression and it’s the reason half of the female
population is certifiably insane)

4. Accept the fate of “being a
woman” and basically become a dog, with no intellectual thoughts or
ideas of their own, because a quiet woman is a good woman (NOT
true, look at Esther and Ruth)

None of these things are what beinga woman should be, none of these are true to self.

One of my favorite Christian books for women is Captivated, a popular book
for good reason. In the book, John and Staci Eldredge talk about
the heart of a woman, the things we as women really want. And there
are basically three main things women desire..

– To be romanced

-To be found captivating

-To be able to love the way God made us to without becoming a burden

While those things seem simple, women have been outvoted in all departments. We are rarely ever romanced anymore. Most guys are no longer gentlemen and have no desire to make a woman feel captivating, and few women are brave enough to
love the way we are meant to.

Staci talks about the heart of a woman and says, ” There is something fierce in the heart of a woman.” And she’s right. Women may be quiet or docile but cross
their man, their friend, or their family and it can get ugly. Women
are viewed as such fragile creatures, and granted should be treated
as such at times, but we, as women, are NOT weak!

It’s time we all realized, God made us because Adam wasn’t complete. Adam was in the Garden of Eden, in the presence of our perfect Lord, and was still
lonely. Wow. And the Lord loved him in such a way as to make
someone from scratch, specifically for man….woman. And it was
good and the Lord blessed it and the bond that came with it.

Do you hear me ladies? Men NEED us, WANT us, and most of all were BLESSED
with us. Be proud to be a woman, that is no small thing.

Bethany Dillion wrote a song that says, ” I want to be beautiful, and make
you stand in awe. Look inside my heart, and be amazed. I want to
hear you say, who i am is quite enough. I just want to be worthy of
love, and beautiful.”

All women want that. They want love, and they want beauty. We all want to be the great Beauty of someones story.

But it’s not a physical thing. It saddens me when i see girls who
will give themselves away to be called pretty or wonderful or told
they’re loved, but that is fleeting!

God’s love is perfect and divine, our true romance. He desperately wants us to save ourselves for the man He brings us, to wait until marriage to give ourselves
away.

It can be discouraging at times to wait for a guy when nobody
around you is waiting, but it’s right and good and pure and WORTH
IT.

I have never heard a girl who waited to have sex until marriage
say, “man i wish i wouldn’t have waited.” But I’ve had so many
friends say, “i wish i had waited…”

Being a woman is hard, but being a sacrifice for affection is unnecessary. There are good men out there girls, men of God, and when we are faithful to the Lord,
He is faithful to us! When we honor God with purity, he honors us
with unimaginable blessings!

That longing to be loved is an international feeling. We all wish for that, hope for that…that feeling to love and be loved.

Since i was a child my parents would tell me to pray for my future husband, and i have, continuously. I pray that he is a good, Godly man, loving and pure in heart,
everything God has for me. I pray he is protected and cherished and
that he has guarded his heart like i have guarded mine all these
years. I regret none of those prayers. I look forward to marriage
and the blessings it will bring.

But right now, I look forward to tomorrow, to the things the Lord is teaching me, bringing me, challenging me with. Time and time again, I’ve made the mistake of
putting idols, people, things in my life, before my God. And every
time he has to stop me dead in my tracks and say, “Jenny, it’s not
going to work like that.” He patiently waits for me to stop saying,
“Yes it is, watch, ill show you, i can do this.” and say, “Okay
Lord, you’re right, take back control of my life, i can’t do this.”

Girls, pray for your husbands, your futures. They need the
prayers, they need you already. Be pure. Wait and honor your
husband and God with the gift of purity. Don’t be discouraged, we
are made for great things.

Being a woman is wonderful, and a blessing…let God show you just what he can use a woman like you for. (I’ll tell you right now, it’s big)

Don’t put all your efforts into outward beauty. Be captivating inside.

At the depths of your heart be pure.

Be proud to be a woman, it’s an honor.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” – God (Jeremiah 31:3)

Whle reading Crazy Love this morning, a devotional by Francis Chan, I was convicted of the importance we put behind Christianity, but the lack of conviction we demand as Christians. In America, we refer to ourselves as a Christian nation. I think of my family as a Christian family. I view myself as a Christian. But why? I’ve always thought of myself as a Christian but i haven’t always been a follower of Jesus. That’s the part that gets messy, right?

We all want to go to Heaven, no one WANTS to burn in hell for eternity…but so many “Christians” are missing it! It isn’t the title, Christianity IS NOT a title! It’s an action and the sad part is its just become a tag. ” Oh yeah i’m a Christian, i’m a good person, i have high moral values…i volunteer” …well that’s great but that’s not being a follower of Christ, that’s just being a decent human being.

And when i say this, believe me i am preaching to myself. Chan talks about how we ask ourselves “how long should i read my Bible today,” instead of “how long can i read my Bible before i’m late for work?” I can be the first to admit that sometimes i have to force myself to get in the Word, and sometimes i never make it to my Bible for days. That’s the honest truth. But once i get in it, once i get in the Word, i don’t want to get out, i want to sit there and read until i’ve uncovered every promise, every truth God has for me! While that’s an impossible task, it should be what we live for, not what we work for.

But we, as Christians, are human (try not to hold us above that) and we make mistakes. And our God KNOWS WE WILL FAIL, he doesn’t expect perfection, he expects us to choose him when we do fail, to come to Him, ask forgiveness, and pick up where we left off. Being a Christian can sometimes lack in the ego boosting department. There’s a lot of messy times as Christians, it’s hard to get it right BUT, when you are striving for God, you DO get it right!!

But being a lukewarm Christian, you’re doing nothing for God, and essentially just living life as a good person…and being a good person doesn’t get you in to the gates of heaven. I am a filthy, dirty, sinning, shameful human being. While i’d like to consider myself a good person, if God got out the book on all the sin i’ve ever been convicted of, i would be ashamed. So no, we aren’t good people by nature, but God makes us pure again, righteous, and in return we GIVE our lives to Him.

That’s right, i said give, and it is so hard to give up that control, we are “slaves to the god of control” before we find Christ. But once we experience our saving Grace, we are slaves to Christ! He has control of our lives and what a relief that i don’t have to control every situation, every mess, every disaster that life throws my way because Jesus is right there, arm out for me to take as he guides me like the true gentleman that he is, down the path of righteousness! WOW.

Jesus warns us time and time again that no amout of “goodness,” or begging, or lukewarm lifestyles will get us into the gates of Heaven.

In Matthew, Jesus says, ” Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will get into the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven.” (Matt 7:21)

When you look at your life, and compare it to a good person you know, who isn’t a Christian, but a solid good person, if you realize that if you weren’t a Christian, your life would look no different than theirs, then there is a problem.

Chan says, “They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn’t be more wrong.”….this made me stop and think…I’m a “good person,” i don’t curse or swear, i don’t drink, i’m kind to others and i try to help people….but anyone person raised in a good family situation would live that way. That isn’t being a follower, its being a good person.

There’s a big difference between the two, heaven and hell.

If your life wouldn’t look much different if you suddenly stopped believing in God, then you need to change! (preaching to myself)

Jesus said, “take up your cross and follow me”…not, carry everyone else’s cross because it would be kind of you, not help someone cross the street, but FOLLOW him….be more than a good person, be a follower, live Christianity.

“Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”-Luke 14:31-33

Jesus gives an analogy that pretty much sums it all up for me. He says, salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

He isn’t talking about literal salt of course, but the salt within us, the Christianity of our soul, the spirit within us. He means that if we are not living Christianity, if we are not fully changed, LIVING to serve Christ, then our halfhearted “following” of Jesus is useless, and because our “salt” isn’t salty, it will only sicken our soul.

How powerful is that?

We go all out for Christ, live our lives as servants to his Kingdom, or our own lukewarm efforts will sicken our soul, keep us from the glory of heaven.

Thank you Jesus for reminding me today that i’m not living for me, i’m not choosing You but living for myself, but when i choose you, i choose to give myself to You in every way…changing every part of my heart.

It’s not easy, its a daily effort, but we can do it! Don’t be discouraged, we all fail, every day, but we have a God who loves us with a crazy, senseless kind of love. He never fails us, he never leaves us, and His grace and mercy is unending. So i’m going to live my life for Jesus, allow Him to change my life more radically every day, die to myself so that i can live for Him.

Lukewarm might get us a gold star from the world, but it won’t get us into Heaven.

Praise God!! Today has been an amazing day! The Lord has heard my cry, answered my prayers for deliverance and begun a great work in my heart! I have a long way to go, I’m only just beginning this healing, but in my spirit I feel The Great Physician moving through my heart, repairing damage done and restoring me! I’m just in awe of how quickly Jesus scooped me and and wrapped his arms around me once again, lifting my burden from me and giving me a peace in my heart that words can’t describe….thank you Jesus! You show me the love of a savior when I least deserve it! I’m humbled tonight…my God is so in love with me and he just waits for me to run to him…I can’t even get my thoughts out, I’m just overwhelmed with the love I feel radiating through me! Today I got to talk with college students who have been evangelizing all summer on the beach and I was so excited for them and the work they get to do! It’s been a great day and I am so thankful for what the Lord has begun in me….I’m in love with you Jesus. You changed me and I’ll never be the same!!

Deliverance!

Last night i was devastated, just depressed and confused.

What did i do?

You’d think i went straight to the Word, straight to my knees, straight to my deliverer.

But i didn’t…i blogged, i cried, i slept….and not surprisingly, i woke feeling the same way i did when i fell asleep.

But this morning, while reading someone’s blog, i was reminded of some advise a great friend gave me last night….very deep, inspiring advise…

Pray about it, ask the Lord what to do

Profound huh?

Surely, i would’ve thought of that …and i did. For months i asked the Lord to give me the desire of my heart, to make a way for me to obtain what i sought, what i longed for more than anything.

But after a time, i quit praying, i quit trusting in the Lord, and that’s when life got to me.

This morning, after reading another’s blog, it really stuck with me. It really spoke to me.

and told me how wrong i’ve been.

Instead of praying, i cried.

Instead of looking to God, i blamed him.

Instead of allowing him to lead me through it, i pulled away from him.

It’s funny how i seem to do that, when things are great…my relationship with God is mediocre because my life is too good to need his assistance, but when things are bad, i run to him….yet as soon as i quit having faith that the Lord will change my circumstance, i give up, walk away…and …pout?

Today i got in the word, not for hours, but minutes.

I got on my knees, in the bedroom of my condo, and i prayed for the Lord to deliver me from my circumstance, from my pain, from my devastation.

I asked my Savior to save me from my arrogance, my ignorance, and forgive me of my stubborn mind set. I begged the Lord to take my situation from my hands and hold it in his, mold it in his, and make it new, changed. I asked God to change me. Mold me. Make me new.

My heart hurts even as i write this, because i know i failed my Father once again, and in a time where i should’ve had faith in his promises.

But i got off my knees, got in His Word…and he gave me scripture after scripture, promise after promise…

Psalms 32:7

“You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Psalm 33:17

“A horse is a vain hope for deliverance. Despite all it’s great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love.”

Psalm 34:4

I sought the Lord and he answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”

Psalm 34: 17-18, 22

“The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” >>> how could i forget this?

“The Lord redeems His servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in Him.”

Psalm 72: 12

“For He will deliver the needy who crry out, the afflicted who have no one to help.

Hosea 5:15

“And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.”

God knows. He knows our hearts, our inner-most beings. He knows our plan, my plan….and mine would go a lot more smoothly if i gave him my life reigns, if i gave him the opportunity to not only show me all that he has for me, but GIVE me all that he has for me.

A stubborn heart is a snare of the devil. it’s an escape route to the fear we have in giving our lives over to Jesus. We want control because it means we are making all the decisions, which is a much easier thing than allowing a greater Being to make them for us. But where is the faith in that? There is none. It takes no faith to lead your own life, make your own plans….that’s not the faith of a servant.

So i’m starting over, i’m praying, i’m searching the Word, and asking God every second to allow me to give up the reigns. I do not want to lead a life that i wasn’t meant to own.

Make me a servant, Lord. Humble me. Change my heart. Change my life. Teach me to be a woman after Your heart Lord…

I can’t find joy, be happy, and live for myself at the same time.

Change is here.