Start Seeing Yourself How God Sees You

Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”….(Matt 13:52).

You are a treasure to behold. Yes, that’s right, you are one of God’s treasures. He longs to show you off to the world as His handiwork, made in His image for the purpose of shining His light and reflecting His grace.
 
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I don’t always believe that truth. That I am a treasure of God. That He sees me and is well pleased. More often than not I feel like a disappointment to God and the problem child.
 
Until we fully embrace the reality that we are a treasure, made by God, we will always live out of what we believe is wrong with us, instead of all the things Christ has said about us. We’ll live in our bankruptcy instead of our sufficiency in Christ. We’ll live trying to prove ourselves instead of trying to project Christ. We’ll live believing the lies that tell us we’re not good enough, we’ll never measure up and God could never use someone like us.
 
Don’t you see though, God has made you with His hand. He knows the numbers of hairs on your head. He knows when you sit and when you rise. He knows you. Isn’t that a wonderful truth? That you are known by God and He doesn’t turn His face away from you, but continues to shower His love upon you?
 
Yes, you my friend are God’s handiwork. A messy piece of art who is being refined day by day under the power of His grace. Let Him show you off today so that you can, with great joy, show others just how God great is, because of who He is making you into.
 
Lord, I am one of your children. What a wonderful truth! You love me deeply. You pull me out of the pit of discouragement. I am your handiwork. May I live in that truth today for your glory, in Jesus name, Amen!

When Life Has Just About Snuffed You Out

 A bruised reed he will not break,

and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out… (Matt 12:20).

Have you ever felt like you were on your last leg? Like maybe life was about to snuff you out as you sat at the bottom of the pit? I’ve been there. When life stopped making sense and one thing kept compiling on another. Life kept sending me one crushing blow after another. I felt like Job, sitting in the dust, wondering what God was doing.
 
Thankfully, even in our deepest moments of pain, Jesus does not snuff us out. The flame of His love for us continues to burn within our hearts if we are wiling to sit in the comfort of His grace. There is good news for the heart that feels done with life. There is even greater news for the life of one who has learned to find their joy and contentment in the Lord Jesus, despite difficult circumstances.
 
You see, we must remember that even though we are but a measly flickering flame, we are still a flame. We are still burning with light. We still have life in Christ and for that, we can praise Him. As we submit ourselves to the giver of life, the breathe that comes from His lungs starts to awaken new life in us. Eventually, overtime, God will restore the broken pieces of our lives. It’s just, sometimes we have to stay a flickering, tiny candle, because He’s still at work.
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Don’t believe that lie that tells you this is it. This is the end and life as you know it is over. In Christ, there is always hope. Even in our dying breathe new life awaits us on the other side.
 
On this side of heaven we will experience much pain and great difficulty, but you see, what God is looking for is not flames constantly on fire for Him, always joyful, always assured, always on it, burning as though they’ve caught the world on fire. No, what He’s looking for are little flames who will trust Him when they are at the end of their rope. Those are the flickering flames He can breathe new life into. Those are the flames whose stories are still being written. Yes, those are the flames who have a story to share with others about what God did in their life when it felt like life was about to give out. They are the true champions for Jesus as they trust Him in some of life’s darkest hours.
 
Be reminded, that there is still life in you as you walk with Christ. No journey is too dark for HIs love to penetrate and no circumstance is too great for His love. You can do this, because of Christ. Press into His grace, it’s awaiting you.
 
Lord, you have never failed me. You are always with me. You see me, you know me and you love me. Even in some of my most painful moments, I was still a little flame burning for you. Thank you for not snuffing me out, but for sticking with me by your grace. May I offer that same grace to others today, through the power of your love, in Jesus name, Amen.

Replaying Your Hurt is Only Stealing Your Joy in Christ

If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you… (Matt 10:13).

Sometimes I allow my thoughts to rest on places that steal away my joy and sufficiency in Christ. I’ll let my thoughts wander to the places and the people in my life who’ve hurt me. I’ll sit for far too long in that moment, which only causes my heart to be carried away towards a place of defeat and negativity.
 
Jesus, quite simply says to His disciples, If a home doesn’t receive you than let your peace return to you. Maybe that’s something you need to hear today, I’m not sure. Maybe, if you’ve been like me, you need to stop going back to that moment in time or season in life when things didn’t go right. When someone hurt you or betrayed your trust. Maybe they said something or said nothing at all and it cut you deep. Look, I get it, but replaying that moment will only steal the peace you have in Christ who makes all things new.
 
Instead of looking outside myself and towards those times I’ve been hurt I must focus my attention inward. To the person of Jesus who lives inside of me. I must choose to rest with Him. For truly, He dwells inside of me. As I sit with Him, under the comfort of His shade, the pain of the things that happened are washed away in the grip of His perfect love that dances over me.
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Lord, I surrender. Forgive me when I look outward and not inward to your love that dances over me. I claim the victory that I have in you Jesus and ask for your love and peace to fill my heart, in Jesus name, Amen.

Church Can Be a Very Lonely Place

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love… (Galatians 5:6).

Have you ever sat in a bible study or church service and felt absolutely unknown or unseen? I have. Have you ever wondered if a place like this was safe to share your pain and since you weren’t quite sure it was, you kept silent? Yeah, that’s been me too.
 
Can we all just have a really honest moment together? Sometimes the loneliest places are the ones that are supposed to be the places we are known the most. Except for the fact that sometimes, those places don’t see people, because what they’re looking for is results. When results and “something to show” for itself become the driving force for its purpose for existence, hurting people, whose stories need to be heard get left in the dust.
 
Yes, of course, we have a personal responsibility to open up and be brave enough to share in our brokenness, but the question is, are our church settings providing an open door for others to do so?
 
I can recall sitting in church and bible study on different occasions feeling like my heart was going to run out of my chest because it was screaming from within, “If you only knew my pain! If you only knew what was going on in my life!” You see, I wanted others to know, I just didn’t believe it was welcomed or safe to share. So I would retreat to the bathroom or to some other private place to cry and weep with the Lord over how desperately I wanted to share my story.
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I think pride sometimes gets in the way of our ability to lead in a way that opens the floodgates of transparency in our church settings because brokenness is not something we welcome. Brokeness might keep us from climbing our way to the top and slow us down. But you see, if we as leaders don’t share, it is highly unlikely that those whom we are shepherding will do so.
 
In the book of Galatians Paul reminds the church in Galatia of this one simple truth, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” That’s it, bottom line. This is the most important thing. It’s not our programs. It’s not our sound system, coffee bar or stellar mission trip we run each year. It’s faith, expressing itself through love. Yes, we can have a coffee bar, a sound system, and a stellar mission trip, but if faith expressing itself through love are not the driving forces behind those ministries than we are wasting our time and making church all about us.
 
Selfishness, personal preference, and shallow church have to die if we truly want to be an expression of God’s love to a hurting and dying world. Until we do, the lonely will stay lonely. The hurting will self-medicate and the broken will find healing elsewhere, outside of God’s church. Until we open the floodgates of transparency, we will push people who are hurting away to make room for our climb to the top.
 
Lord, forgive us for making church about us. Forgive us for caring not about people, but about numbers. Forgive us for finding our identity in how great our church programs are, instead of caring well for the people in them. Help us to love the hurting. I know I need your help in that. Help us to make time and create the space for others to share in their brokenness, in Jesus name, Amen.

Impatience….The Result of a Heart that Doesn’t Trust God

but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise…. (Galatians 4:23).

Just be patient, God is working. I know that’s easy for me to say and trust me, I have been the queen of impatience in my life. In fact, I’m fairly certain I’ve got the crown somewhere hidden in a box. Throughout my journey of impatience, I have learned, many, many hard life lessons. Some of those lessons, unfortunately, I had to learn more than once. Mostly because I was too stubborn to actually repent and fully embrace God’s will over my own.
 
Sin has a way of doing that though, doesn’t it? Catching us like a hook and keeping us captive. Instead of practicing patience and waiting upon the Lord we follow the deceptive words of deceit and take the bait. Whenever we take the bait it simply reveals an unsubmitted area of our lives. An area we have believed something wrong about the character of God and about ourselves. You see, if I trust myself more than God, oh boy….I’m in a heap of trouble.
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If I place my own understanding on a higher plane than the King of Kings, well, lets just put it this way, I’m in for a rude awakening. I don’t say this because God is seeking to punish me. I say this because sin naturally leads towards consequences and any consequence I receive in my impatience is all on me. But, that’s such a humbling place to be, isn’t it? The place where I have to face my issues, own them and repent of them. It’s much easier to hide my failures, blame them on something else and press on.
 
One of the most healing things I can do for myself is to own my failures so that I can disown myself and find my true identity in Christ. It’s His character that I need, but I’ll never find it if I’m not willing to grow in humility. I’ll always find myself confident and capable without Him. Until I repent of my self-righteousness I’ll never experience the life-changing power of the gospel over my own self-sufficiency.
 
Be encouraged to wait upon the Lord. He knows what He’s doing and trust me, you don’t want to get into a situation like me where it’s almost like you’re challenging God to prove it to you. He’ll prove it and you’ll be left with a very humbled life and let me tell you, that is painful. Sometimes we get mad at God for screwing up our life, when in reality, we were the ones screwing it up all along through our self-sufficiency and need for control. Now that things have exploded, it’s really a question of will we repent and actually start trusting God?
 
Lord, it took me a really long time to get here, but I think I can say, “I trust you.” I trust you with my life, my future, my hopes, and my dreams. I release them all to you and thank you that you are working on my behalf, in Jesus name, Amen.

Find Your Purpose

and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it…. (Matt 10:39)

Have you ever gone searching for your purpose? Wondering what was supposed to become of your life? I have. This has sent me looking for something to do, instead of someone to become. I think we have a gross misunderstanding in the church of what it really means to find our purpose. You see our purpose is not something we do, it’s found in someone we come to know. Yes, that is where our purpose is found, in knowing Jesus.
 
I’ve chalked up a pretty good resume, accomplished some fairly impressive things and have a few pieces of paper that say I’m qualified to do this thing or that. But you see, Jesus took 12 disciples of little repute, who lacked higher education, and the impressive lives we often strive for and invested so deeply into their lives that they changed the world. If you notice, for quite some time, the disciples aren’t actually doing any ministry as they follow Jesus. They are simply getting to know who He is and after doing so, then He sends them out.
 
If you’ve ever wondered what your purpose is supposed to be, stop looking for something to do and start pursuing someone to become in Christ. It took me a long time to get to this place, but I’m recognizing that, truly, my greatest joy and purpose isn’t found in what I do, my bucket list or my great accomplishments for God. No, my greatest joy and purpose is found in being God’s child. This is where truly delight is found as I rest in the Father’s love for me. Yes, love for a redeemed sinner like me who doesn’t always get it right but who is unconditionally loved by her Father.
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Just like the disciples, I want to get to know Jesus first, before I go seeking to find my purpose in the things I do. I want to know Him like a best friend so that I can understand His heart for others and live out of the fullness of His love for me.
 
Lord, you love me, what a wonderful truth. You died for me, what a glorious thing. I don’t deserve it, but you love me still. Jesus, I want to find myself in you. Truly, knowing you are my greatest purpose in this life. For someone who finds too much satisfaction in the things she does, this has been a hard, but wonderful truth for me to embrace. Thank you, Father, for showing me this truth, in Jesus name, Amen.

When My Doubt and Fear is Greater Than My Trust in God

According to your faith let it be done to you…. (Matt 9:29).

I am truly astounded by the simple, yet profound faith of so many people I see in the gospels. With a childlike faith, they believed in the healing power of Jesus and He responded with action to their requests of Him.
 
If I could be quite honest, more often than not, I feel a lot more like Thomas, who doubted, than much of these people who practiced simple faith. I doubt if God can pull through. I press into comforts I’ve always known and I slow my own process of sanctification because I just can’t see how God’s going to make a way, so I delay in responding with a child-like faith.
 
Maybe you can relate with my struggle. The struggle of believing that God is really who He says He is. The struggle that God can really move mountains, raise the dead and conquer my fears. This is where the rubber meets the road in my faith and if I could be quite honest, sometimes I go into panic mode instead of child-like faith mode.
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Especially when things are outside of my control. The Lord is taking me on a deep journey into my heart where I’m being challenged to let go of what I’ve always known to trust Him. Can I be really honest? Some issues of control I’ve held onto so tightly in my life that trusting God with them feels scary or maybe even foreign, because I’ve never truly trusted Him with them. It feels like I’m giving something up that He might not hold with loving care. It’s like I’m believing that maybe He’ll mess it up if I let go of it too much. This is sinful behavior at its worst at work in my own heart and mind that I desperately need God’s grace to free me from.
 
The problem is, I start to feel held captive to my control over these issues in my life and I don’t like it, but since its all I’ve ever known its hard to begin something new. Yet, that’s what I want, because I want to be free in the Lord. I want a renewed heart and mind over these issues of control in my life. I want to see the Lord high and lifted up. I want to trust Him and believe that He is good.
 
I’ve noticed, over these past couple of days that as I reach out for prayer and ask others to pray for me in my struggle, I sense a renewed freedom. I don’t feel held captive to my fear and need for control when I live a life of honest transparency. Here’s why I think so many of us aren’t transparent, because, maybe just like me, you wrestle with these thoughts of,” I can’t share that, it makes me look like a failure in the eyes of God and others.” Instead of sharing, for the purpose of our own hearts renewal, we stay silent in the halls of our own darkness.
 
If we want to be free we just can’t live this way. We must be wiling to practice a simple, child-like faith, before God and others. Every child, if they have someone they can trust, shares their fears with them. Let’s be like children today and be willing to do the same.
 
Lord, forgive me for not trusting you. Forgive me for thinking that if I’m in control, everything will be alright. Lord, you hold my life, every part of it. Today, I choose to walk by faith and not by my own need for control. I yield every part of me to you and press into your grace because I need it desperately. Renew me in your love, in Jesus name, Amen.

What My Mom Did That Joined My Heart To Hers

by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray….. (Galatians 2:13).

I’ve been thinking a lot about integrity lately. Mostly because of this little one growing inside of me. As their mama, I have a divinely given responsibility to raise them up. I also understand that my life lived will be the greatest testimony to them and their developing heart and mind than any words I utter before them. My actions will speak much louder than any words I could ever say.
 
Have you ever been that person? The one who knew how to say all the right things to impress people with your spirituality but underneath the surface you weren’t actually practicing the righteousness that you preached about? I know I’ve been guilty of this. Portraying to others an image instead of opening my heart to them in a way that shows the true me with flaws, imperfections, and insecurities.
 
I think what I want my child to know is that they have a mom with flaws. I want them to know that their mom, even though she wants to follow Jesus with everything she has, doesn’t always do it right. But, I want them to know that they’re not going to always do it right either and that’s ok. I want them to know that grace is available and that God loves sinners who struggle, just like me.
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The last thing I want for my child to think is that their mom is a superstar because they’ll quickly see that she’s not. I think sometimes we believe that what God wants more from us is our perfection and not living as a hypocrite means we’ve lived the ideal Christian life.
 
I believe what God is looking for is broken vessels who want to be made new. Transparent people who are striving towards the KIngdom, one little step at a time. People who are choosing to be dependent upon their maker because they understand just how screwed up they are without Him. That’s when we truly become people of integrity. Not when we’ve projected the perfect image, but when we start to refect the perfect Father.
 
Maybe what our children and others need to hear from us is, I’m struggling in my walk with Jesus too, so I understand why you’re struggling in yours, but here’s how I’m fighting with God for victory and right belief.
 
I remember, not long ago, my mom did this with me and it was such a powerful moment for me as her daughter. There’s something that happens when we take people into our hearts. It’s beautiful, so please, be willing to take people there. It is a truly wonderful expression of God’s love from you to them. I think sometimes we cling to the lie that says, “but if I share with my children or others about my struggles I will become a disappointment to them.” No, in fact, the exact opposite happens. We become people, real people, who join our hearts closer to theirs as we share in life together.
 
Lord, I long to be like you, but I know I don’t always get it right. I can rejoice that you’re OK with that. I can rejoice that you can handle me in all my messes. You can fill be with your purpose. Lord, as I raise up a little one, I long to be a woman of integrity before them. I want my actions to match my words and my heart to reflect your love. Let it be so, I pray, in Jesus name.

When Others Have Cast Me Out….The Father Holds Me Close

Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy… (Matt 8:3).

Have you ever felt like a huge problem to other people, becoming like a leper to them? Something not to be loved, but instead, something to be scorned and pushed out? I have. The Lord is taking me on this healing journey, helping me see that my identity isn’t found in what people did or didn’t do, but it’s simply found in knowing Him and His love for me.
 
That’s simple to say though isn’t it? The problem that I’m dealing with is that the enemy keeps whispering things into my heart. Things about myself that were done or said during those times when I felt just like a leper; a problem to be disposed of. I can’t help but wonder where God was in those moments. I keep asking Him to show me and I’m learning that sometimes, we have to be willing to get go of what we expected God to do for us and be willing to trust Him with the bigger picture that we cannot see.
 
I am learning that when Jesus sees me, He sees His beloved, beautiful and messy daughter who is made in His image. He doesn’t shy away from my messes, casting me to the leper colony, but instead, holds me close to His heart and wraps me in His arms. This is the kind of love the Father has for me. He doesn’t turn away from my messy moments, He loves me deeply in the midst of them. He doesn’t shame me or scorn me for having them, He lovingly woos me to Himself so that I might find the comfort of His love that dances over me.
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You see, people are always going to disappoint us. They’re always going to say and do things out of their own brokenness that will cut us deep and cast to the leper colony. Maybe we’ve treated others this way too, casting them aside because we acted out of our spiritual bankruptcy and uttered hurtful words towards them. Oh, Father, forgive us for our misunderstanding of love. Forgive us for treating people not as a person to be loved, but a problem to push out. We cannot receive what people utter to us in their bankruptcy, instead we must embrace what the Father says of us out of His fullness.
 
I know what you might be thinking though, “Will this person who hurt me ever ask for forgiveness?” If you’ve done your part in seeking their forgiveness for any wrong you may have done to them, know that before the Lord, you are right before Him and them.
 
They may never come to you and genuinely seek your forgiveness for any wrong they have done. Please, let that go. Entrust them to your Heavenly Father who seeks to redeem and restore all things and who watches and waits for you not to throw up your first once more, but instead, to come running into His arms. Yes, this is where He wants you, not on the rooftops shouting about all the wrong done to you, but in the clutches of His embrace so that He can heal you and hold you close, even when you feel just like a leper.
 
Lord, hold me close to your heart and remind me of the love you have for me. When the enemy wants to take me into the past and speak shame into my life over it, I submit myself to you and thank you for your great grace for a sinner like me. Thank you that you see me as your beloved child. A beautiful daughter, made in your image. Yes, may I live in that truth today, in Jesus name, Amen.

Sometimes I Entertain Really Poor Thoughts About Others…

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you….. (Matt 7:2).

Be careful how you treat people. Better yet, be careful how you think about people. I don’t know about you, but at least for me, I’ve entertained a number of negative, ignoble thoughts about people along the way.
 
“They’re so into themselves.”
 
“They’re so incompetent.”
 
“Gosh, they’re prideful.”
 
“They’re not very gifted in that. I could have done better.”
 
“They’re such an immature Christian.”
 
Yeah, pretty gross isn’t it? Truth is, at the depth of all of these thoughts is really just a reflection of the deep pride that rears its ugly head in my heart. The more I have grown in Christ the less I entertain such thoughts, but if I am not careful, these thoughts are sure to take a front seat on how I view the people God has placed in my life.
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Jesus tells us not to judge, because the measure we use to judge others, will be the measure used on us. Can I be really honest? Sometimes, the thoughts I have about others; their immaturity, pride and incompetence really just shows how immature, prideful and incompetent I am. If someone shined a light on my life for long enough and dug a little deeper, they’d certainly find all three of those at work.
 
Maybe our energy for God is so easily zapped because our unity amongst the body is lacking, because we’re constantly entertaining thoughts of judgement towards others instead of entertaining thoughts of grace. Could it be that the power of God among His people is snuffed out, because the fire that God is lighting in others is silenced by the words of someone who believes they are speaking God’s truth into your life? When in actuality they’re just speaking the words of destruction they’ve entertained about you for far too long about you?
 
I’ve seen this happen in my own marriage, when I’ve entertained thoughts about my husband that are negative and not encouraging. It makes it much easier for them to eventually leak out of my mouth and spew discouragement upon him, instead of belief and words of affirmation.
 
Sometimes I think we believe we’re helping people, when in actuality we’re hurting them, because we’re keeping them from their growth in Christ. Instead of allowing people to fail, we keep them from failing by not giving them a more to do, because, out of our need to be in control, we think we can do it better. Therefore, we become leaders who don’t share, but who hoard and control at every turn. This is simply a vain attempt to try and play god, acting as though we, by our abilities that are obviously better than the growing gifts of those around us, can usher in the Spirit’s power.
 
I have learned in my life, that the best place I can find myself in, is a posture of praise towards the Lord for the Kingdom work of others. Should I offer words of growing encouragement to someone in need of some helpful feedback? Not if I haven’t first gained their trust. Certainly, once I have done that, then by all means, speak those words, but do so in love and with great encouragement. We don’t understand just how powerful our words are to someone until we start spewing discouragement over their growth in Christ.
 
Be encouraged today to fight for someone’s growth, not against it. Kill that negative attitude. It’s really just pride that wants to divide God’s church.
 
Lord, forgive me when I have spewed discouragement on others. I want to be like you. I want to speak the truth in love. I want to be a Kingdom worker for you who shares in ministry, no hoards it. God, may I entrust every single moment to you. May my heart be fully satisfied in who I am in Christ. May my thoughts about others lift them up and bring you glory, in Jesus name, Amen.