Godly Men Who Use Their Strength to Protect….Not to Harm

treat them with respect as the weaker partner…(1 Peter 3:7)

I’m ok with admitting that my husband is physically stronger than me. In fact, not just a little bit, but much, much stronger than me, even on my best days. God has endowed men with strength and this strength is best used towards their wives “with respect.” A man’s strength is for the purpose of protection and provision. To protect a woman from harm and to provide for her, creating a place of safety in the home.
Sadly, sometimes, because of a man’s unhealthy need to display his bravado or protect his ego, he stops protecting women and instead turns his strength towards hurting her or other women in his path. This is one of the saddest realities within the church. Men who do not protect, but instead use their strength to bring harm.
As men seek to lead within the church it goes without saying that they must first lead in the manner of loving, caring for, protecting and guarding those weaker than themselves. This is the honor of a man, to keep women and children close to him, providing for them a safe place that speaks of the overwhelming love of God.
Why do so many children grow up with a distorted view of who God is? Much of that reason is tied to an earthly father who did not display gentleness but instead exhibited anger, living a life of duplicity. Going to church on Sundays, but creating an unsafe place in the home for his wife and children.
Thankfully, my earthly father was immensely kind, gentle and gracious, because of this my view of God is quite positive, but I know there are many out there who have different stories. Stories of pain that shaped their view of God. What these women need is the love of Godly men to show her the safe, gentle, loving side of an Almighty God who offers a place of safety and rest for her soul.
Womanhood is put on display when the heart of a woman trusts her husband as he loves her like Christ loved the church. Women should never submit themselves to abuse, nor should they feel like it would honor God more if they just kept staying. It honors God when we draw healthy boundaries, giving the opportunity for that person to repent, grow and find a new heart through the love of God and support of Godly men in the church who encourage that man towards freedom. Shepherding him towards redirecting his strength in God-honoring ways to bring glory to God and his family.
That woman must choose for herself, wisely keeping herself at a distance for some period of time, to speak life into that man. To believe something good for him. To encourage him towards godliness and always, always, believe in him. She must learn to speak to his honor even when he seems as though he has none.
This is the key God has given women. The key to unlocking a man’s heart that has been plagued by anger, jealousy, fear or pride. Her words hold the healing that God can use to lead him towards repentance. Strangely enough telling that man he’s jealous and prideful doesn’t work, but believing in him and offering words that build up his character and his personhood as a man of God helps him see the spark of God that lives inside of Him. Her words remind him that it can be lit and that he doesn’t have to keep using unhealthy patterns to find his way in this world. He can live freely in the grace of God, not as a perfect man, but as one who is being redeemed.
Not every man will repent, some hearts will stay hard but always believe with all hope in the glory and greatness of God to take a life from the pit and restore it to fullness through the resurrection power of Jesus.
Lord, our world is so broken. We have so much hurt and pain. Please use the church to speak life, hope, and peace into the hurting. Pull men overwhelmed by anger out of the pit and restore them into men of courage, dignity, and gentleness. Use our words as women to restore, renew and speak life, not to tear down or discourage but to believe with all hope in your greatness and for your glory, in Jesus name, Amen.

Heed The Warning Signs…Walk in Freedom

but the simple keep going and pay the penalty….(Proverbs 27:12)

Have you ever had a check in your heart? You know, the ones that nudge at you, that little voice that says, “Don’t go down that path. It’s not good for you.” Now, have you ever ignored that voice? If you have, so have I. God is kind and gracious, He sends up warning signals in our lives to keep us from traversing a journey that would prove to be painful in our lives because of our sin. You see, sin wants to drag me into the pit, convincing me that it is the safest place to be when God says, “I have something better for you, hold up your hand and let me lift you out of that pit.”
I’ll ignore the warning signs because quite simply, I do not trust God. My heart is so wrapped up in my vices that the thought of living without them terrifies me. I cannot see life any other way, other than to keep going the way I always have. The way that feels safe, when in reality, it’s just me, digging myself into a deeper pit.
I hear God’s voice saying to me, “Heather, rest.” But all of my buttons are being pressed, and the pits I’ve dug for myself are trying to pull me back into them. Yet, I hear the Lord say, “Come, sit at my feet.” But I want to keep moving, keep going, keep doing what I’ve always done. That’s just me, living in my comfort zone. The places that feel safe. The place where my amenities and I commune together.
As I release my worries to the Lord Jesus, His peace and joy come upon me. Instead of following my anxiety, which always leads me back into the pit. I’m fighting instead, to sit with God in the spacious place of His rest. The land of His bounty and provision. Yes, a land flowing with milk and honey. A place of joy and prosperity for my soul, away from the graves I have dug for myself and into a land that is spacious and free for my heart to roam in the goodness of God.
Abba, daddy, you are so good to me. Sometimes, I forget that following you is really all about faith. There are times when you ask me to do things that just don’t make sense. May I live with radical obedience. May I live a life that doesn’t make sense, because I believe so much in your greatness. Forgive me for my weak faith. Lord, today I want to sit before you. To hear and listen and learn from you, in Jesus name, Amen.

Hold Fast to Hope

he has given us new birth into a living hope… (1 Peter 1:3).
Have you ever lost hope as a Christian? I have. Have you ever started to entertain the lie that nothing will change and there’s no sense in hoping for it? Yep, that’s been me too.
I am learning over this journey of faith that the greatest joy I can experience is when I hold fast to hope when life doesn’t make sense. When it seems as though there is no prospect of change, I can believe against all odds because I serve a God who is bigger than my very limited understandings. Truly, He is a mighty God.
Truly, He has given us new birth into a living hope. A hope that is alive for us today, tomorrow and years from now. A hope that does not disappoint, spoil or fade. A hope that offers us unending joy as we persevere. A hope that takes our lives and makes them new. A hope that redeems even the most broken situations in our lives. Yes, even yours.
There have been many times when I have cried out to the Lord, “I believe, help my unbelief!” I know you’ve been there too and maybe you’re there now. Keep holding fast to hope. Keep believing in the full redemption of God. His grace is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose. Truly, He is for you and not against you. Wait, watch and pray, He is working for you. Stand fast in your faith and let your King and Savior fight for you. Great joy is coming! Hold fast to hope!
Lord, you are so good. Why would I ever doubt you? I have so much to rejoice in. Thank you for satisfying me in a sun-scorched land. Thank you for leading my life and for redeeming the places the enemy has tried to destroy. You are truly a mighty God. I praise your name forever, in Jesus name, Amen.

A Shrinking Faith? Take Heart and Persevere

“The righteous will live by faith.”…. (Romans 1:17).

Faith is what God is making new in my heart as I learn to walk with Him. The faith of a child is what can bring great joy to a loving father who longs for us to abide closely with Him. It is His sustaining love that drives us towards hope. It is His joy that carries our hearts when we feel afraid. It is faith that takes us from one step to the other on our journey with God.
When my faith is shrinking it’s because I’m worshipping, within my own heart, a false god. A god with little ability to move the mountains. A god with qualities and limitations much like my own. A god who sits not on a throne, but in the dust.
My weak faith only reveals something inside of me that needs to grow- perseverance. As we persevere faith rises up in us. It becomes something we take great delight in because we know the joy giver. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see. Faith takes us from unbelief and into joy. Joy even in the midst of great calamity. Joy without limits as we learn to trust in Father’s love.
Lord, I trust you! Sometimes life becomes less than ideal, but truly, you are a mighty God who sees all and is full of righteousness, justice, and mercy. Thank you, God, for your holiness. Thank you for your love. May my heart be glad in you. May my spirit rejoice in your love today, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

The Treasure of Your Heart Reveals the Way You’ll Act When Your Impatience is Pushed

The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly…. (Luke 16:8).

When I was a kid I couldn’t wait to open up my Christmas gifts, so one Christmas I went searching to see if I could find any gifts that my mom had hid around the house. As I was sneaking around the home I came across a box with a big giant picture of rollerblades on them, “jackpot” I thought to myself. As I got closer to the gift I realized that yes, this was a gift for me since I had asked for rollerblades that Christmas. However, my excitement quickly turned to disappointment because now the surprise of opening the gift I had been waiting for on Christmas day was gone. The worst thing was, I had done it to myself because of my impatience.
In the parable of the dishonest manager, the master commends his manager for getting him rich quicker, by lowering the debts owed to him. He seems happy that instead of receiving the full amount, he receives a partial amount because he was able to receive the money right away.
Our lives are much like this parable. God has something good in store for us, but because of our impatience, we settle for something less. We rush into a relationship, buy the home of our dreams, but get ourselves into an extremely high mortgage rate. Take the job we didn’t want because we’re too impatient to wait for the right one.  We take matters into our own hands, time and time again because we want what we want and we want it now.
There’s something great God has for us, but we’ve never fully experienced it because we’ve lacked the ability to trust God. Instead, in our impatience, we have acted impetuously never experiencing the fullness of the gift God has in store for us.
It became obvious as the parable played out that the master treasured money. Whenever we act impetuously, its always because of a wrong belief about God that’s tied to fear in our heart, a need to be in control and an unwillingness to sit in the pain of waiting. I get it, waiting is hard, but as we wait, God reshapes our heart and fills us with the gift of HIs mercy.
Lord, you are so good. I trust you in this season of waiting. Thank you, God, that I don’t have to take matters into my own hands, but I can trust you for the end result. Yo love oh Lord sustains me. Where can I go from your presence? Be near and meet my needs Lord Jesus, you are so faithful and I trust you, Amen.

Desert Seasons….Not Defined By Our Failures

As for you, if you walk before me faithfully as David your father did…. (2 Chronicles 7:17).

DId God forget the life that David led? Did he forget that David was not faithful? Did God somehow wipe out his memory of David’s adultery and plot to murder the husband of the woman he impregnated? Did he forget all of this? Obviously, the answer is no, but why then does God say that David, a murderer, and an adulterer walked before Him faithfully?
It is because God does not define us by our failures. He sees something different in us and He calls it forth. He does not shame us, He loves to shower unending grace upon us.
Recently, the devil has been trying to trap me in this thought that God is looking for ways to punish me, so I had better watch my steps because if I don’t walk perfectly before the Lord, punishment is certainly coming. I find myself swimming in thoughts of self-condemnation. Thoughts that try to convince me that God isn’t all that good, He’s not a good, loving, gracious Father. He’s a God of punishment, therefore, I should watch my steps because if I dare make one wrong move I’ll be sure to continue to wander in the desert for much longer.
Yes, we should be careful to walk in faithfulness before the Lord, but there is freedom in our walk with God. Not to do what we want, but to give ourselves grace.
I don’t know where life meets you today, but having walked a bit of my own desert season I’m ready to be out of it. My thoughts keep going to, I must still be in this desert because of my sin! I must have done something wrong, therefore, I need to try walking perfectly, so I can get out of here.
This is such an oppressive place to be. There’s something about the desert seasons that God wants us to see is good for us. It’s the place where we need not loathe in self-condemnation, but instead, bask in the grace of the Lord who promises to never leave nor forsake us. God is doing something bigger. Something that doesn’t feel good at the moment, but if we’d be willing to walk in humility we can see His hand of mercy there as we wait upon Him.
God has done so much for me in the desert. He’s brought so much healing. He’s done unthinkable things that only He could do. Maybe its because I’ve never liked sitting on the sidelines. I”ve never liked being taken out of the game. Yet, as a dear friend said to me yesterday, “Sometimes we’re trying to be Martha and God wants us to be Mary.” To sit still and sit quietly before Him, so that He can teach us. Yes Lord, teach us, we need your wisdom more than what we think we need.
Lord, you are so good. Forgive us when we stray, but help us to live in your grace. To know and understand that there is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Yes, Lord, you love to shower grace upon me. You do not define me by my failures. You love to shower grace upon your children. Thank you that you love a sinner like me. That you see not a woman who is constantly failing, but one who desires to walk faithfully before you, in Jesus name, Amen.

An Overwhelming Love

No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly….Psalm 84:11

I love Jesus. I really do. Truly, He is a song bursting forth from my heart. A song of victory and praise. A song of mercy and justice. A song of peace and hope. A song of love that dances over me. A song of victory in the midst of life’s storms. A song of love from His heart to mine. Truly, His love for me is radical, beautiful and glorious. I am so unworthy, yet He sees me fit for such a love like this. Not because of anything I can or could do for Him, but simply because He is a good Father who loves to shower His children with the gift of His love.
There is so much good to see in who God is, it is an overwhelming thought to contemplate the depth of His character. I could stay in it for all eternity and still not grasp the depth and magnitude of who He is. Yet, in my heart, I want to know Him, all of Him, because I have been radically changed by Him. I cannot imagine life without Him. Yet, I know how desperate I am for Him. Desperate to hear His voice. Desperate to know Him more and desperate to have a new heart and mind not directed by sin, but held close by His love.
If God is for me, truly, who can be against me? Although my enemies rise up against me, the Lord is my stronghold, whom shall I fear? Although ten thousand rise up against me, the Lord fights for me. He is always by my side. We need not fear the sorrows of life nor the whispers of discouragement from the enemy. Truly, we can bask in the Father’s love. A love so great that we wouldn’t believe it. A love that sings joy into the hurting and peace into the broken. A love like this is for you and me, because of and through the resurrection of Jesus. Truly, He is a wonderful Savior. Won’t you trust Him today?
Lord, you are so good. You are for me. When the Devil tries to tear me down and throw me into a pit of despair, you are there, fighting for my heart. Yes, you are so good and I can trust you. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for sinners like me. You are such a great God and I love you! Thank you for loving me, in Jesus name, Amen.

Hang Onto Grace, Not Your Hurt

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me…. (John 14:21). 

I hang onto a lot of things. Probably some things I shouldn’t hang onto. Old t-shirts, stuff I bring home from conferences, shoes that were on their last leg a couple of years ago and whatever else I think has just a tiny bit of life left in it.
I’ve also held onto things like hurt, betrayal, and misunderstandings. I have, in the past, kept them in an account, storing up wrong thoughts and beliefs about those who, in my mind, have hurt me deeply. Keeping me from fulling the second greatest commandment given by the Lord Jesus, “love your neighbor as yourself.”
How can we fully love our neighbor if the bank account we’ve created for them in our mind is full of negative, erroneous thoughts about their personhood and character? We can’t. It’s impossible. Therefore, we cannot fulfill the second greatest commandment given to us by our Lord.
Did we ever pause and think that maybe what the people different from us need is not our vehement opinion of them founded in our own pride and self-righteousness, but instead love. Yes, love, founded in the grace and glory of the risen Savior. Love is what changes hearts. I have seen it happen first hand. Condemnation, shaming, finger-pointing, and blame shifting changes nothing, but love, founded in grace and forgiveness can turn even the coldest of hearts.
Today, I need to hold on a little tighter to my Lord’s greatest commandment to love the LORD my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. Then, to act in mercy as I love my neighbor as myself. Maybe like that pair of jeans I’ve been hanging onto forever, I need to start believing that there’s still something good left in the people who’ve hurt me.
People will rise up when you speak into the good that lays inside of them, but they will never rise up for you if you only speak into the parts of their character that has yet to be transformed by the love of God. Maybe God wants to use you as HIs agent to shine HIs love into their hearts, but you keep pointing out in them what needs changing. This is such an oppressive place to put someone in and is certainly not the way God treats us. Be encouraged today that His love for you is great, truly, He is a mighty, mighty God.
As an aside, please do not feel like I’m saying if someone is abusing you that you can’t call out abuse for what it is, please do. Just don’t allow the abuse to define, in your mind, who that person is. Believe something better for them. Believe they can become something different and rise above it. Draw wise boundaries for yourself. Be conscious to let your thoughts about that person stay right and honorable before the Lord. Let love and forgiveness guide you instead of resentment and disdain.
Lord, do not let our hearts be troubled with the worries of this world. We hang onto so much in our hearts that keeps us from loving people. Forgive me for how I have done this. Instead, lead and guide me. I want to be a woman directed by love who helps awaken your love in people. I want to be an agent of that for your glory, in Jesus name, Amen.

No Longer a Slave….It’s Time to Walk Forward in Faith

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed…(John 6:36)

The enemy has been trying to keep me in bondage the last few days. His words seem so convincing and my fear buttons are being pressed with great intensity. Old patterns, deeply rooted are being pressed. I sense God wants to heal, but if I could be quite honest more of what I’m experiencing is not freedom but an exposing of an unsanctified place in my heart. A place that doesn’t trust God. A place where my faith is weak.
Yet, in Christ I am free, no longer a slave to sin, but a freedwoman. Yes, a freedwoman whose heart and mind has been captured by the overwhelming love of God. That is the freedom we must walk forward in if we’re going to make it in this life. The freedom that shouts into our souls, “Come and follow me! Out of darkness, out of shame and into life abundant!”
I believe what I am realizing about Jesus is that He is not safe. At least, He doesn’t feel safe. As I follow Him, more often than not He and I have these encounters with HIm where I feel like the rich young ruler in Mark 10 because Jesus keeps allowing these circumstances in my life that reveal idols still very present in my heart. I’m learning, sometimes slowly, that until I purge them, they will drown me in doubt, discouragement, fear, and anxiety.
We are only as strong as the armor we wear. Until we learn to put on the full armor of God, taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ, we will run from the grace of God and right back into the hands of the enemy.
God split the red sea and Israel had to walk FORWARD in faith. God spoke to Mary and Joseph about the Christ child being born to them and they had to walk FORWARD in faith. Gideon was told that He would defeat the Midianite army with only 300 men and he had to walk FORWARD in faith. Joshua was told to march around Jericho seven times. He had to walk FORWARD in faith.
It’s time lay our comforts down to walk forward in faith. I know when the devil is active in my life because my heart and mind start to be overcome by worry. All of my comforts that I’ve clung to start pressing in on me. Until we learn to let our hearts be at rest in the presence of God as we walk forward in faith, leaving our idols behind, we will continue to walk away from the grace of God. Sit and listen to His voice, put on your armor today and walk FORWARD in faith, knowing that as the peace of God fills your heart, you can be confident that His love and grace will sustain you no matter what life brings your way.
Lord, I put on my armor today. You are a mighty God. Thank you for loving me and sustaining me by your overwhelming grace. You are a mighty God. You don’t always feel safe, but I know that I can trust you. Father, be glorified in my life. I lay it all down in your hands, in Jesus name, Amen.

When God’s People Disappoint You, Let it Go, and Let God Grow You Under the Surface

They sold him to the Ishmaelites for eight ounces of silver…Genesis 37:28

It’s hard being a Christian, especially when we’ve been hurt by other Christians. I know, in my own brokenness I’ve hurt others too. What do we do when we feel like we’ve been unfairly treated, misunderstood or forgotten by others who call themselves followers of Jesus? How do we even begin to wrap our minds around it?
We have to stop trying to figure it out and instead, we must pray for mercy. Until the mercy of God fills our hearts, the whisper of the enemy will always steal our heart away and attempt to build within us a root of bitterness towards God’s people. I feel that root trying to take place in my own heart, so I understand if you’ve been there too.
We must learn to forgive and release our disappointments to Almighty God. He sees them. He’s still in control and He’s still actively working on our behalf. It’s easy to focus on what we feel like God isn’t doing, instead of what He is cultivating in our hearts. You see, God is growing things in us to produce greater fruit in our lives. A lot of HIs work happens underneath the surface and the results are not something we experience right away. Until we learn to abide in His presence, as He tills up the soil of our hearts, we will always find problems above the surface that steal our hearts away.
Today, I want to live below the surface, in God’s garden. The place where He’s growing me, reshaping me and forming new love in me. Today, I’m choosing to flee from any bitterness trying to take root and instead, I’m going to let God shower my heart with grace. So He can expand the garden of His love I desperately need in my heart. Today, I’m choosing to release and forgive those who’ve hurt me. As I do this, God plants them as new seeds of grace in my heart. When I hang on to them and the ways they’ve hurt me, they only become roots of bitterness that steal the good work of fruitfulness God wants to produce in my life.
Don’t grow discouraged when life seems unfair. Release your demands and place your trust in God. Life will get too long if you focus on only what you can see above the surface. Learn to live under the surface, so that God can grow a new heart of love and compassion in you, to the praise of His glorious grace.
Lord, you know my pain, but I also know that I can trust you. I don’t always understand why things happen the way they do. I cannot see the whole plan, but I know that it is good. Today, I release my hurts to you and ask you to sit with me under the surface, water and grow me there for your kingdom, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.