When God Starts To Take Things Away

he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder…. (Luke 11:22).

I used to be really big into lifting weights. Honestly, the reason for it wasn’t because it was a hobby so much as it was something that I used to control my fear. Sadly, a lot of our hobbies are just that, tools that we use to comfort our anxiety, worry, and insecurity.
God has been taking me on this journey where He’s been stripping me of the things I trusted in. In fact, I can even see that in this present moment there are things that I am placing too much trust in that I need to release to the Lord Jesus. Things like money and my own abilities.
If you’ve ever prayed for God to make you more like Jesus, don’t be surprised when some things in your life start to fall away. Chances are, you found some kind of false hope in them. Now, God is trying to strip away from you. Possibly a false sense of worth or identity, maybe a false sense of security or hope.
I am learning that a heart at rest, through the test, will find God’s very best. That is His love. God’s peace is found as we let go of our need to be in control, have all the answers and know all the outcomes. It’s found when we learn to abide in the Father. Resting in who He says we are, found only in His word.
As my heart has grown in delight, the voices of worry, anxiety, fear, and control have started to slow down in my life. I’ve started to see them for what they are and call them out for their destruction. As we replace those lies with God’s truth, we find ourselves not in the places or things we’ve trusted in, but in the person who is trustworthy. In His arms, we are safe. He is for us and we can certainly sit quietly with Him, knowing that He is a mighty God who is working all things for our good and for HIs great glory, in Jesus name.
Father, you are so good. Why would I ever doubt you? Why would I ever believe that you are not faithful and trustworthy? I’m done trusting in my own abilities. I”m placing everything I have in you, in Jesus name, Amen.

Your Busy Life is Only Wearing You Out

She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet… (Luke 10:39).
Life gets busy, doesn’t it? Sometimes even chaotic as we dart from one thing to the next, trying with all our might to muster up the energy needed to run from one activity to the next. We expend labor for God, running at high speed, but not stopping to pause and listen to the Lord. We cannot hear Him in the storms or see Him in the valley’s because we’re too busy trying to fix the problems in our journey or work hard for Him to make ourselves acceptable to others that the thought of slowing down actually scares us. Because if we slow down we might lose control, so we keep running, trying to control our lives, but only wearing ourselves out along the way.
As Jesus came to Bethany he stayed at Martha’s house and her sister Mary was there too. Martha busy’s herself with preparations while Mary simply sits at the Lord’s feet. It’s interesting that Jesus doesn’t tell Martha she has chosen something bad, but that He says, “Mary has chosen what is better.”
On this journey God has been taking me on I am learning that my most powerful position is not when I’m running, doing great things for God, but when I’m seated before my father, being encouraged by His love and saturated in His truth.
Stop running so much, it’s only hurting you. Set aside time with your Father. Make rest and quietness before Him a priority in your life. For truly, in doing so, you will find that you are indeed choosing what is better.
Lord, be the joy of my heart. You are better than anything this world can offer. You are a great and mighty God. I have all I need in you. Be my joy, hope, peace, and purpose. I long to rest in your love, in Jesus name, Amen.

A Lowly King, My Own Self-Righteous Heart and the Invitation of God

“If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is”…. (Luke 7:39).

As Jesus was dining at the house of a Pharisee, (a deeply religious, devout Jew) a sinful woman enters into the home. Had Jesus lived His life as just another pious Jew this woman would have never known that she could even approach Jesus, but truly, long before this, Jesus made His own-self lowly so that others would know they could enter into His presence and be received by His love.
Jesus never rejects the poor or the despised. He always welcomes them. He only rebukes those whose faith has become more about a demonstration or a show than a realization of who God is. After all, once we have a right view of God, we see that truly, we too are lowly. Thankfully, He is not a King who despises the lowly, but instead, He is a King who became like one of them.
There is an invitation that our faith should extend to others. It is an invitation that says, “I am just like you, now let us come to the Healer and be made well. Let us find our rest and eternal delight in His love that dances over us. Let us, together, in all our messiness be refreshed in His love.”
Years ago, I too was a Pharisee, putting my faith on display for others to see so that I could be praised. Therefore, I ignored the lowly. I dismissed them and they plight because I had no time to climb into their pit on my way to the top. After a good rebuking from some dear friends, I came to understand that I had my own pit of brokenness.
Thankfully, thanks to their loving rebuke, still, to this day, I have an understanding that my life is no different than the broken teenager down the street who cuts herself. The man who just recently lost his job and the mom who struggles with addiction. We are all in desperate need of the love of God. When I exalt myself, I make Jesus into some ideal that makes Him unattractive and difficult to grasp for those I believe are lower than me. I don’t have to say it with words, I only have to show them through my own self-righteousness that they are too lowly for the King of Kings. Yet, Jesus is not for the spiritual elite. He is for the spiritually broken who know and understand that only He can take their lives and make them brand new according to His love.
Lord, let my life be lived for others to see that they are welcome to come and be changed by your love. I too am a broken sinner, saved by grace who daily needs your love to fill my heart and mind. Jesus, be my eternal joy. Be my hope and my purpose in this life. For truly, all I have is you. Let my heart rejoice and be glad that you made yourself lowly so that someone like me could come to you and be changed by your love, in Jesus name, Amen.

Why I Give More Power to People Than God

Fear of man will prove to be a snare…(Proverbs 29:25).

I give way too much power to people. There are different moments and seasons in life when my heart becomes worried by how someone will react or what they will do, so I’ll stew over the possible results, believing that somehow the end result lays within their hands. This is idol worship at its worst. It is dethroning God from His rightful place of King over all the universe and master of my life.
In my own worry, I have made God into some puny being that lives inside of the world of human limitations. It is wrong to believe that somehow God will be thwarted by human beings and man’s propensity to sin. Sometimes, in my distorted view of God, I give too much power to humans, because I believe their sin is somehow stopping God from His plan for my life.
Although sin, albeit, our own or someone else’s can certainly throw a wrench in the equation and take us down a path we did not anticipate this does not mean that God is now confused on what to do with our lives. Truly, His is sovereign over all creation, trustworthy, reliable and good. We can worship Him because He is God, we can bow to Him because He is Lord and we can serve Him because He is mighty. Sadly though, instead, I often wrestle in my heart to not give in to worry, feelings of defeat and discouragement. There in the bottom of my heart, I long for it to beat for Jesus, but sometimes, it’s bowing to human beings instead. Seeking their approval, waiting for them to propel me down the direction I hope to take and carving the path for me I want to traverse.
Again, this is idol worship at its worst. A misunderstanding of God’s character. A wrong view of Him that only thrust my heart into deep waters where I cry out, “but Lord, what if I drown?!?!” Then I hear the master say, “Oh you, of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Lord, I long to be so close to your heart that I trust so much in your name that I hear no other voices but yours. Abba, daddy, I need your grace. I will not give way to anxiety or fear today, for I know that you are sovereign and that you are good. I place all of my life in your hands. I release control of my life and place it in your Lordship today, in Jesus name, Amen.

That Grudge Your Holding is Only Hurting You

First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift…..(Matt 5:24).

Some of us need to go and be reconciled to someone, but we are either too prideful or resistant to do it because of the stubborn hardness of our hearts. Sadly, there are many, even within the body of Christ who has disdain and hatred towards one another. Brothers and sisters, this cannot be. We cannot, in good conscience, as the body of Christ live in opposition to one another. Truly, we must seek to be reconciled, even when are cut deeply by another.
Forgiveness is at the centrality of the heart of God. He asks us to offer the same kind of forgiveness He has shown us, to others. Forgiveness should never be limited to the actions or non-actions of another. It is hard to go before someone and say, “you have hurt me,” but in the end, it will only help both parties grow if the other is willing to receive it with humility. Chances are, you may have hurt them too and be forgiven as well. If they will not receive you, continue to walk in humility and ask the Lord for grace. Truly, it is only the grace of God that can and will carry us onward and upward in life as we seek to bring glory to our Father in all matters of life. Yet, we should always pray in earnest for reconciliation, especially within the body of Christ.
I know its easy to think, but “how could they” or “this isn’t fair that their life gets to go on and mine is like this,” or “how can they not see what they have done is wrong?” I get it, trust me, I understand the thoughts and feelings, yet there is one heart that I have realized as the biggest issues and it is not someone else’s, truly, it is my own. Until we look inside our own selves to examine how we might need to grow we will always find the greatest fault in someone else.
Before you go and offer your gifts in service to God, seek to be reconciled to your brother or sister whom either you have hurt or who have hurt you. We cannot divorce our Christianity from our duty as Christians to forgive our brother or sister. Jesus makes it quite clear that Christians forgive others from their heart. If you cannot forgive, then we must be willing to ask ourselves if we truly belong to Christ at all.
Lord, I want to be like you. If there is anyone whom I have hurt that I need to ask their forgiveness, please reveal that to me. Lord, I want to be a woman who walks in humility. I have been terribly prideful. Forgive me for my foolish actions. Forgive me for my stubborn heart, in Jesus name, Amen.

When I’m Drowning and Don’t Like What God is Doing

he drew me out of deep waters…. (Psalm 18:16).
Before I came to know Jesus my greatest concern was myself. I would splash around in a pool of my own needs, wants and desires- drowning in them. Unable to see the needs of others, because I was so focused on myself. Sometimes, I still live in those waters. My selfish heart tries to sneak in and take hold of the new woman that I am in Christ. Attempting to steal the freedom that I have in being a child of God.
If we truly understood the gravity of what God has pulled us out of, we would be overwhelmed with gratitude. The problem is that sometimes we try to take God with us into our own deep waters, wanting Him to rescue us in the way we best see fit. We’re screaming at Him to bring the life preserver in the way we want it, and not thanking Him for the fact that He has rescued us from all sin through the finished work of Jesus. Oh, the magnitude of what Christ has done should shut our mouths from our self-centered demands, but we still act as though God owes us something for our good, pious behavior.
The last time I was drowning, I don’t remember being able to help myself or thank myself once I was rescued. Truly, a heart that is turned towards praise can take what God has given them and rejoice. Their heart can be glad because their maker has given them new life, and removed the burden of sin from their lives.
He has set my heart in a spacious place where He has proven Himself to be a great provider and a mighty God. The problem is that I keep placing expectations on God to do for me what I wish. God does not bow to our bidding, He simply asks us to wait upon Him and receive His good gifts.
If I could be quite honest, sometimes my faith falls into the hands of people and not God. I spend far too much time thinking about how people will respond. Instead of believing in faith that God is in control and that He can work through the hearts of human people. For truly, He can do all things.
Peter walked on water because He saw His rabbi doing it and wanting to be just like Him, he too ventured out on the waters and into faith. The shore feels good. It feels safe, but faith requires us to trust God out on the waters. He will not let us drown there. As we give Him our praise and our devotion He gives us power from on high through the Holy Spirit to live according to His love. We’re no longer drowning, but instead, we’re walking on water, pointing others to the life-changing, sustaining power of the risen Christ that lives inside.
Abba, you are so good. Sometimes, my eyes turn away from you and onto people. Forgive me for how easily I forget about your majesty. Forgive me for neglecting to praise you and turning my thoughts towards what you haven’t provided for me instead. I long to be like you. Make me like you, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

My Issue with Wanting to Be the Center of Attention

Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;…. (Proverbs 27:2).

Yesterday, as I was enjoying time with family, I noticed sin kept creeping into my heart and mind. I had this desire to talk about myself and all the things I’m doing that I feel give me value and worth in the world’s eyes. I wanted people to draw their attention towards me and be impressed by my accomplishments, that in my eyes must have been fairly worthy of praise.
Recognizing this thought as purely selfish and prideful, I took it captive and let it die. Then, began to engage others in questions about their lives instead.
Truth be told, at the root of all of this is insecurity and pride. I see that underneath my desire to receive praise from others is really a misunderstanding of my worth, value and identity. We are not defined by what we do for God, truly, our identity comes in simply being HIs child. The people who are the most influential for Christ are not necessarily those who are “doing the most for God,” writing the most books, conducting the most podcasts or building the biggest church. They are those who have made it a priority in their lives to love others well with the life-changing love of Jesus. They are the people who have opened a door in their heart to let others in to see, taste and experience the love of God.
I think of people like my grandmother who has simply opened her heart in a way that draws people in. Her impact on the kingdom of God has brought about multiplication that is admirable, but she has very little to show for it in the natural realm. Yet, there are grandchildren and great-grandchildren who have been drawn to the love of Christ because she opened her heart and her life as a testimony to Jesus. There lies a spiritual heritage behind her of eternal significance. She has no business she’s built, no books she’s written, but she has something of greater worth than gold. She has an identity rooted in the love of God. She has a life that has been a testimony to Jesus that has inspired so many to walk in the same manner.
When you think about your own heart, do some examination. Seek to put the gifts of others on display and don’t operate, as I have out of an unhealthy need for man’s approval, be ok with simply being a child of God for that is where your greatest worth is found.
Lord, I love you. I know that my identity is not found in man’s praise, for truly, my greatest worth is in being your daughter. May my heart be so wide open that others would be drawn to the Savior that lives inside of me. You, Jesus, must become greater and I must become less, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

The Seductress, The Darkness of the Heart and the Light of Christ

at the time of night and darkness…. (Proverbs 7:9).

I hate walking around in the dark, but if I could be quite honest, sometimes my heart finds itself parading around in the blackness of night. There are blind spots in my life, fantasies that I love to entertain and places I am tempted to go keeping me wandering about in the shadows.
I have had moments, in my own foolishness where I have thought, “Well, I don’t need to tell anyone about that…I’m just going to keep moving forward.” Sometimes my heart wants to avoid wise counsel because quite frankly, I just don’t want to hear what they have to say.
The enemy is always trying to cover our hearts with shame, darkness, unbelief, pride, and foolishness. Jesus is the light of the world, it’s His love that penetrates our wayward hearts and leads us back towards the road of redemption.
In Proverbs chapter 7 a young man is led astray, giving into the seducing ways of a wayward woman. Quite honestly though, the issue wasn’t the woman, truly, the issue was his heart. He never should have ventured out into the dark. Quite honestly, we have made up our minds before we give into the seducing ways of sin, because we allow our hearts to wander about in the darkness.
If you want to be free from lying, fear, pride, pornography, sexual immorality, or any form of idolatry you must address the issue of the heart. I find, more often than not, the issue in my heart is not exercise, food or work, but its fear, control, and vanity. Lord, forgive me. Until we go deep, pausing within our hearts to set them into the light of Christ we will continue to go out into the darkness, giving into the ways of the wayward woman and all her seduction.
Lord, I long to be like you, sometimes, I’m just afraid. The old me seeks to destroy my newness in Christ. May I set my heart up today in your light and wisdom. Father, forgive me for my foolish heart. Forgive me for walking out into the dark. Jesus, transform my heart through your love and by your word, I pray, Amen.

Let Go of Control: Even if it Costs You Something

Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me….(Esther 4:16).

Before Esther stood before the King, she prostrated herself before God. We must remember that our best efforts are not found standing tall, but in bowing low. In our humility God meets us and fills us with HIs power, enabling us now to go forward, not in self-reliance, but in faith.
Esther was queen, but this wasn’t her identity nor her purpose. Esther was a child of God whose life was submitted to God. Truly, this is where her purpose is found and this is where her actions reveal what she understands about her identity. She goes and fasts before the Lord. You see, fasting releases us from control. It empties us of our self-reliance. At the heart of fasting is an attitude that cries out, “Lord, I need you!”
The best kind of leader sacrifices themselves, not for praise and adoration, but for the blessing of someone else. Esther put her life on the line, not to be adorned, but to simply be a servant. She emptied herself so that God could fill her. She didn’t trust I her own abilities or her beauty, she trusted in what God and only God could do.
I have found myself, in this present season being tempted to trust in my own ability. Believing that somehow my personal resume and giftings will accomplish for me what I hope. However, I am learning that standing tall in my own wisdom is really foolishness, for truly, God exalts the lowly and humble. He calls and raises up. He doesn’t need our help.
The best kind of me is a humble, submissive servant. A servant who has given up her rights to be in control. A servant who lives not for the praise of man, but for the purposes of God, even if that means it costs me something. We cannot, nor will we ever see the power of God on display in our lives if we keep stealing the stage. He’ll shine somewhere else. He’s waiting for us to get low, so by His grace, He can fill us with His power done only through our humility.
Lord, I want to be like Esther. I want to be bold and courageous. I want to live for you. Abba, daddy, I am prideful and self-reliant, but I want to live in reckless abandon to your love. I trust not in myself but in your love. For I know that you are a good, loving and faithful God, in Jesus name, Amen.

Are Your Motivations Pure? Mine Aren’t Always….

 All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD….(Proverbs 16:2).

Yesterday a dear friend asked me a difficult question. It was a simple question, but the heart of it was to challenge me to explore my motivations for why I did certain things. As I sat on the question, my initial response was that there was nothing prideful driving my decision on the matter, but the more I thought about his question later in the day I realized that, if I could be honest, nearly every decision that I make comes with a mixed bag of pure intentions and pride.
I can go in with the very best intentions of the heart, while at the same time, be plagued by a voice that says, “You’re really great, Heather. Seriously, you are really something.” or “Man’s approval is good, ” or “This isn’t of any value unless so and so approves.”
This is the daily battle that we fight as Christians. None of us are exempt from it. I have noticed in my heart that there is an idol there, she is my favorite idol to worship and her name is Heather. Yet, I long for my identity, worth and value to be in Christ alone. I often feel like a wrestler, in a battle against the old self that wishes to be worshipped for her own grandeur.
I am learning the value of humility, truly, this will be a journey I will walk for the rest of my life. Learning how to die to myself, and be made new in the attitude of my mind will be essential for my growth as a Christian.
But, how do we do this? We must always come before God knowing that really, in all honesty, we’re probably entertaining some lie or are being plagued by one. We must be humble enough to admit that the majority of our best thoughts are not centered on the things of God. At least, they aren’t always for me. I want them to be, so I’ll keep fighting, and wrestling with the old self, letting her go to take up Christ and His grace for me. Putting on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
I’ll fight with all my might to take captive every thought and weigh it out before the Lord of glory. Knowing that I have the victory. Understanding that as I immerse myself in the word, I can have joy knowing that the word of God is writing a new song in my heart, guiding me along streams of righteousness for God’s great glory and for my own personal growth.
Lord, I have a long way to go, but I am desperate to be like you. I long to be so immersed in you that I start to think, act and live differently. Jesus, I surrender my thoughts, intentions, and pride to you today, knowing that you are making me new, Amen.