Convinced

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:38-39


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When Feelings Trump Truth and Peace is Far Off

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I know I’m prone to this. I feel a certain way, and I just want to nurse the feeling. My heart is full of feelings, nothing more than feelings. Truth has to wedge its way into my deceptive heart as my feelings masquerade as truth.

We can’t stop with how we feel. Our feelings are not to rule over us. The Word of God is to rule and guide our feelings and actions. One of the most important truths for me to hold on to when my feelings vie for control of my heart is that I have One who is able to sympathize with my weaknesses, yet without sin. So, I need to draw near to the throne of GRACE with CONFIDENCE (not in what I can do, but confidence in what Christ can do through me, and in what He has already done for me) that I may receive mercy and find grace to help in my time of need.

Here’s some feelings that frequently invade my heart and how I’m learning to bring my feelings under the banner of truth.

Feeling Inadequate

We are all inadequate, that’s why we need Christ, depending on Him working in us, not on our own efforts. It’s easy to see my weaknesses and to tell myself that because I’m weak, I can’t ______. The truth is, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corin 12:10). Therefore, I must grab hold of the grace of Christ so that His strength might work powerfully in me to accomplish His purposes in my life. My strength runs out the moment I exert it. But Christ’s strength is always available and always enough for every task and every act of service.

Feeling No Peace

Sometimes, I try to apply God’s Word, but I just don’t get that peace that’s supposed to come when I immerse myself in the Word. What’s missing? Why doesn’t the peace of Christ rule in my heart? Peace often eludes me when:

  1. I’m anxious, worried or fearful and not taking these things to the Lord in prayer. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
  2. I’m blinded by ingratitude. Sometimes peace doesn’t come because I’m too focused on what I don’t have and can’t do, rather than being thankful for what I do have and for what the Lord has already done. Again “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
  3. I have no desire. I can sulk with the best of ’em and throw crazy pity parties! If I want attention, approval or pity from others, I can gather up my pet peeve, stroke it, feed it, and cuddle it to rest in my heart. If I want peace instead, then there’s an important imperative that should not be ignored from Colossians 3:15 “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts”. It’s the little word “let”. This is an act of will. I have to want it. I can allow worry, ingratitude, resentment, and discord to rule in my heart by nursing wounds. Or, I can let the peace of Christ to take rightful rule over my heart, casting its calming shadow of grace over my soul.

Feeling Weary With Works

Too often, I try to apply God’s Word through works rather than rely on the grace of the Lord. I have no strength of my own that is lasting and sufficient. The more I try to earn God’s favor and the favor of others through works, the tighter my rubber band is wound and it’s only a matter of time before it snaps. When I read God’s commands to me–be this, do that, work this way, love them, hate that, I can find myself frazzled and spiraling into a deep dark pit of despair. I KNOW I can’t do those things He commands, be who He wants me to be, love those He calls me to love if it’s left totally up to me. It’s just not in me. I have too much sin blocking my path. Sins of selfishness, entitlement, anger, lying, covetousness, and so on (see Col 3:5-9). But if I’m led by the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in my life (Gal 5:18, 22-23).  I know that I can do/endure/handle all things through Him who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).

Feeling Physical, Emotional or Psychological Strain

Spiritual Depression hardback book mp3Here, I’m thinking of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who wrote Spiritual Depression. In it, he proposes some general causes of spiritual depression, which are helpful to think and pray through when I’m struggling spiritually. The 5 causes of spiritual depression that he outlines are excerpted by my husband, Thabiti, in his blog post on Spiritual Depression. They are:

  1. “First and foremost I would not hesitate to put–temperament” (p. 14).
  2. “Let us pass to the second big cause–physical conditions” (p. 18).
  3. “Another frequent cause of spiritual depression is what we may describe as a reaction–a reaction after a blessing, a reaction after some unusual and exceptional experience” (p. 19).
  4. “Then we come to the next cause.  In a sense, and in the last analysis, that is the one and only cause of spiritual depression–it is the devil, the adversary of our souls” (p. 19).
  5. “Indeed I can put it, finally, like this: the ultimate cause of all spiritual depression is unbelief” (p. 20).

For women, I think we can downplay the role of physical conditions on our spiritual health. We can be so busy caring for everyone else’s needs in our family and friendship networks, that we ignore physical signs that may be indicators to our overall spiritual health. Pay attention to changes in menstrual patterns, excessive weight gain/loss, big mood swings, recurring headaches, nagging discomfort or pain, and so on. When our bodies are not well, it really can affect us spiritually. If we take care of ourselves physically, it can have a positive effect on our spiritual lives.

Each of the above causes could be expanded on at length, so I would encourage you to read this book, gain an honest assessment of which areas typify you when you’re struggling spiritually, and seek the Lord’s aid through prayer and accountability with others in how to combat these issues.

Speak the TRUTH to yourself. Don’t be ruled by emotion. Feelings are nothing more than that, just feelings. Lloyd-Jones would say stop listening to yourself and start speaking the truth to yourself. Our God is good and wise and only does what is good for His people. He delights to do good to us (Jeremiah 32:41) and for us and for His glory. Don’t put words in God’s mouth by speaking lies about God, yourself, or those who have hurt you. The truth is, the Lord has called you to be faithful, to adorn the fruit of the Spirit, to be still and know that He is God, to cast all your cares upon Him, to trust Him, to depend upon Him for everything. What He does call you to do, He gives you the grace to do it, as you work by His strength which works powerfully in you (Col 1:29).

We need to get out of our own heads and start to live out of truth, not our feelings or our hearts. Our hearts are deceptive, and can jump ahead in the battle at any given moment. The war is already won. We just have to stand on the winning side. We’re not alone trying to accomplish His work in and for us. His Spirit is working in us, causing us to live and act according to His purpose, pleasure and will. The peace that too often escapes us comes from spiritual rest, not from human effort (Matt 11:28).

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

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss - Niles, MI

Revive Our Hearts is a ministry dedicated to helping women find freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. They have a wealth of helpful resources to help women grow in our relationship with Christ and for that growth to flow out in loving service to those around us.

One resource I’ve greatly benefited from has been their “30 Day Challenges”. I’ve completed several of these challenges over the years, some of them multiple times! They are always such a balm to my weary and wandering soul, and an encouragement to persevere in my trials and to pursue holiness with renewed passion. They are Scripture-saturated challenges that will encourage your heart. Give one a try for the next 30 days!


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Dirty Old Men and the Scars They Leave Behind

I can still smell his smoke-filled, alcohol-infused breath. I can feel the cactus-like prickles of his beard. One kiss was all he took, but it felt like much more was lost. And it was.

Mr. Piggy, as folks called him, was a scruffy old man, but seemingly harmless. He and his wife owned a makeshift dime store-basically they bought bulk candy and sold it from their kitchen to the neighborhood kids.

I remember the day I skipped down the road, pigtails flying, to buy some candy from Mr. Piggy. Usually there was a gang of us bombarding his back door, spending the change we found under seat cushions or had left over from lunch money. But this day I was alone. As I held out the coins to pay for a Mary Jane and some Dum Dums, Mr. Piggy pulled me to himself, smashed my face into his, and not only took the change, but what he called a kiss. As if to offer a bit of hush money, he placed a couple extra pieces of candy into my hands and told me not to tell anyone. I took the candy, and I didn’t tell anyone. Until now.

Mr. Piggy was a dirty old man. He was nasty, lewd, wicked. What he took from me was much more than a kiss from a little girl. He stole something from me–a bit of innocence, a load of trust, a lot of transparency. Years of guilt followed that 30 second exchange. I should have pulled back. I should have told someone. I should not have taken the hush money/candy. Instead of feeling like a victim, I felt like a participant because I said nothing and did nothing, I felt responsible and dirty.

It was through a tender conversation with my husband that the Lord finally freed me from guilt, shame and fear. As I unfolded my story and shared how dirty I felt for what happened, the Lord used him to uncloud my eyes and help me to see the truth. My experience was real. It was painful. It was haunting. It left scars. It was worse than I realized as a 10 year old, but not as bad as it could have been, and for that, I’m grateful. I know many women and young girls have suffered abuse far greater than what I’ve described here, and I by no means am equating my experience with theirs. My heart grieves for those who have suffered and lived in pain and in secret and in bondage to the sins of others.

God is just. I know He will not leave the guilty unpunished (Exod 34:7). I know He will judge the wicked (Ps 73:1-20). I know God is good and just and allows things to happen according to the counsel of His will and purpose, and for the good of those who love Him. I know that I am not guilty. What happened was not my fault. I understand that I was taken advantage of, and I praise God for freeing me from shame and guilt by exposing the evildoer for who he is.

Abuse comes from all ages and genders, to all ages and genders. None of us are immune to the possibility. Many of us are living with its effects, either through personal experience or through the lives of family and friends who have suffered varying degrees and forms of abuse. If you have been a victim of abuse, it’s not too late to tell someone. It’s not too late to get help. It’s not too late for justice to be done, and God promises that justice will be done (Ps 10).

O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
–Psalm 10:17-18


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Friends. How Many of Us Have Them?

I recently had the pleasure of writing an article on friendship for Women of God Magazine. Here’s how it starts:

kristie's bff'sIn the mid-80’s a hip hop group calledWhodini, had a hit song called Friends, where they asked this very question.

Friends. How many of us have them?

Friends. Ones we can depend on

Friends. How many of us have them?

Friends. Before we go any further, let’s be friends!

According to statistics, the average Facebook user has 245 friends. But, are all those we call “friends” today, really our friends? What makes them so? Honestly, I’d say that many of the people on my “friend” list are not those I’d have a particular closeness to, and some are “friends of a friend”. Facebook has helped us out recently. Now we can designate someone as a “close” friend or “acquaintance”, which determines how frequently you receive their news and updates. Even those we call friends, we never really have to hear from because we can hide them. We can even unfriend someone and they’d never know unless they checked their friend list. And with the average friend list of 250, who’s gonna really take the time to do that?

Read the rest of the article at Women of God Magazine. Then browse around the site for more encouraging and helpful articles, book reviews, recipes and more!

 


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Unbelievers Say the Darndest Things

Here’s a conversation I just had with a relative who doesn’t “walk around with a cross under my feet”.

Her: Hey! What you know about that guy–what’s his name? TJ? (speaking of a popular preacher whose name escaped her). Something’s not right about him.

Me: Well, I know a lot of people follow him, but a few things worry me about him. I think he gets some things seriously wrong about the Bible. He considers himself a preacher, but describes himself as a leader, thinker, business man, and then a pastor. If you are a pastor and preacher of God’s Word, that should come first before anything else.

Her: I call him one of those fake preachers. What do you think about Teresa? (speaking of a mutual friend who recently became a Christian and started a church).

Me: I can’t do too much with her either. I don’t think what she’s doing is biblical.

Her: I feel like she’s doing too much. You can’t just jump up and start preaching. You living on a faith that you haven’t even learned yet. You don’t just learn Jesus over night. It takes years–years of practice.

Me: That’s right. Some people jump in there too soon. There was a popular rap artist who did the same thing, and it proved to be too much too soon. You need time to grow as a Christian.

Her: I was at church one Sunday, and the preacher said, “I don’t know much, but I do know the name Jesus.” They thought I was sleep, but I don’t be sleep all the time. You got to be careful throwing words around. That word Jesus is a powerful word. You might know the Bible back to front, but that don’t mean you know Jesus! You can know his name, but do you take his name seriously?

Me: That’s right!

Her: And you know another strong word? Faith is a strong, strong word. People take that word faith for granted.

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”
Romans 1:19


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Learning Submission on I-95

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It was a joy to share with Domestic Kingdom readers, some of the lessons the Lord taught me about submission on I-95! Please add www.domestickingdom.com to your blog rolls, readers/feeds and to your prayers!

Here’s a snippet:

When we moved from Washington, DC we took a long road trip down the coast to visit family along the way and have our car shipped to the Cayman Islands. We were embarking on a new phase of life and ministry together.

After visiting family in North Carolina, we decided to stop in Savannah, Georgia (I wanted to go to Paula Dean’s Restaurant) and also in Orlando, Florida (for Disney, of course).

Weeks in advance, I started asking Thabiti about our travel plans. Should I go ahead and book hotels? Where would he like to stay and for how long? What other stops should we make along the way? His response– silence.

Click here for the rest of the post…