Well, here we are, waiting with bated breath to learn who won the presidential election. As you wait, be encouraged: God waits too. More
I used to (wrongly) think Christianity was all about what a Christian can’t do. And I don’t think I’m alone in that belief. I recently learned that this post has been my most popular post for the past five years. Every day it has new clicks, so I’ve beefed it up with new content. I’m reposting it here in the hopes that it will help many know Christianity is not defined by what we can’t do, but by what Christ did on behalf of sinners like us! More
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?
That’s the question Typology podcast host, Ian Morgan Cron, posed in an episode I listened to yesterday. I’ve heard a variation of that question before, and it’s such a powerful one! Ian mentioned that he has started a list of what he would do if he weren’t afraid, so I started my list yesterday.
I imagine that when Ian posed that question, he had in mind big feats, like:
- Climb Mt. Everest,
- Write that book, or,
- Start that business.
If I Weren’t Afraid, I Would . . .
But when I face that question head on, ordinary tasks come to mind:
- Pick up a paintbrush,
- Create a Facebook event page,
- Hang a picture frame on a wall,
- Cut a piece of wood with a machine,
- Figure out why the video isn’t working on my computer,
My lack of confidence isn’t a new revelation; marriage to Trevor has revealed just how dependent and helpless I’ve become. (He’s always trying on new hobbies for size; watching YouTube videos and then renovating our house . . . amazing!)
Thankfully, Trevor continues to encourage me, “You can do it.” And slooooowly I’ve started to respond, “I know.”
Goodbye Fear, Hello Freedom
In fact, the other day I was thinking, I’ve given birth. Twice! Oh, and yes, I’ve written a book. But, I’ve given birth . . . twice! In light of that feat, I sell myself far too short. And I’m finally fed up with playing the role of helpless damsel.
So while Trevor practiced his sermon last night (he’s preaching on Mark 14:1-11 this Sunday), I pulled the Knackwurst out of the fridge, fired up the grill, and went for it.
I wonder if you can relate. You don’t have to tell me your answer. But do yourself a favor and ask the question of yourself. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Are you selling yourself short? Are you walking in the freedom Christ purchased for you, or are you still living as a slave to fear?
(Happy Independence Day, by the way!)
I’ve never shared this publicly, but . . . I’ve never been one to “ooh” and “aah” over babies. As a twelve-year-old eager to start earning money, I chose to detassle corn and work on a turkey farm (think hard, dirty, physical labor) rather than babysit. When I did babysit as a favor for my neighbors in my late twenties, I put the baby’s diaper on backwards. And while I longed for marriage for years, I never once dreamed of becoming a mom. First female president of the U.S., sure; mom, no. More
The Bible has a lot to say about those salty drops that run down your cheeks. Here are fifteen truths you need to know about your tears.
- God sees your tears. He doesn’t miss a single one.
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? (Ps. 56:8).
Are you tempted to believe God doesn’t see or care about your pain? If so, how does that line up with this truth from His Word?
2. Praying and tears go together.
“Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears!” (Ps. 39:12).
Are you simply crying, or are you crying out to God?
3. God has been known to act as a result of our prayerful tears.
“Go and say to Hezekiah, thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life” (Isa. 38:5).
What are you pleading with God for? How are you trusting Him to work?
4. When God took on human flesh, He wept, too.
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence (Heb. 5:7).
Do you know that God empathizes with your sadness, ’cause His tears fell too while on this earth?
5. Serving the Lord and tears go together.
“Serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials” (Acts 20:19).
How often does the work you are doing for God lead you to tears?
Today I’m writing over at LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. Catch ten more truths about your tears here. Then I’d love to hear from you.
- Which truths stand out the most to you?
- Did any truths surprise you?
- What did I miss?
You don’t want to be jealous, but you are. You feel overlooked and underappreciated.
- Someone else made the cut for the track team.
- Your coworker got that promotion at Chipotle.
- Your best friend just became class president.
You know these are good things, but still you feel overlooked and underappreciated. I can relate.
A Front-Row Seat
I felt overlooked and underappreciated recently. I was given a behind-the-scenes job that gave me a front-row seat to others being being called up on stage to share their wisdom with others. Inside, instead of celebrating their opportunity, I felt like someone was cruelly twisting a knife in my stomach.
“I can do a great job, too,” I muttered to myself. “I have just as much to offer.”
A couple days later, while sitting on a pew on a Sunday morning, I heard the pastor briefly allude to James 3:13–18. Verses 14 and 15 nailed me to the wall:
If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts . . . this is . . . demonic.
My Jealousy Is . . . Demonic?
Waaaaaaiiiiiiiiitttttttt . . . demonic?!
Yep. Turns out you don’t have to dabble in the occult to serve the devil’s interests; you simply have to be filled with bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. YIKES!
In James 3:13–18, James exposes true—and counterfeit—“wisdom.” There’s:
- The “real-deal-wisdom” that comes from God and shows itself in humility, and,
- This counterfeit “wisdom” that comes from Satan and shows itself in bitter jealousy and selfish ambition.
If we are truly wise—if we really do have lots to offer others—we will prove it through our “meekness,” our humility (v. 13). But if, instead, we are filled with bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, we prove that we are not nearly as wise as we think we are (vv. 14–15).
We want to walk the path of wisdom, right? We don’t want to dabble with the deeds of darkness, do we? So what can we do the next time we’re feeling overlooked and underappreciated?
The Next Time We Feel Overlooked
He—the Creator and King—willingly made Himself nothing and took on the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7). He—“very God of very God”—was despised and rejected by humanity (Isa. 53:3). He was made perfect through suffering (Heb. 2:10). This, by the way, doesn’t mean He had to be perfected morally; it means His suffering made Him the perfect Savior for broken humanity.
As we remember Jesus, let’s cry out to Him for help to embrace His way of meekness.
As we remember Jesus, let’s cry out to Him for help to embrace His way of meekness. Repent with me of our bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. These are demonic; they bear no resemblance to our older Brother, Jesus. Instead, let’s embrace “the wisdom from above,” that’s “pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). When we do, we will sow “a harvest of righteousness” (v. 18)
How about you? Is your life marked by humility . . . or selfish ambition? Are you pursuing the way of wisdom . . . or the way of the demonic?
A Prayer for the Jealous in Heart
Jesus, You are my merciful, faithful High Priest. You sympathize with me in my weakness, because You too lived as a human being—but perfectly, as I have not. I want to pursue the way of wisdom, but I cannot do it on my own. Help me. As I surrender to Your Holy Spirit in me, transform me into Your beautiful, spittin’ image. I request this for Your glory, my joy, and the good of all those around me. Amen.
To the Overlooked and Underappreciated was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.
At some point this school year you may bump into a girl who outshines you: on the basketball court, in science class, on the piano . . . or maybe with how well she is liked by others and how beautiful she is.
If and when you start noticing that you’re:
- comparing yourself with her
- criticizing her (if only in your thoughts)
- being ungrateful for the gifts God has given you
- minimizing the gifts God has given her
- feeling hatred toward her . . .
. . . you can be glad.
Why? Because this girl’s success is shining the spotlight on the sin of envy in your life. That is a good thing because all sin is a disease that will kill you if left unchecked. Envy will destroy you . . . unless you ask for God’s help to destroy it!
How can you fight back against envy? The key lies in 1 Peter 2:1–3:
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
First, when envy pops up, you and I need to “put it away.” Wage war against it. Confess it as sin to God. Turn away from it and have nothing more to do with it.
Envy will destroy you . . . unless you ask for God’s help to destroy it!
Second, instead of miserably focusing on others’ successes, you and I need to take the “medicine” of the pure spiritual milk of God’s goodness toward us.
Jonathan Edwards does just that in this paragraph (read slowly so you don’t miss these rich thoughts that he wrote way back in the 1700s):
Christ came into the world to deliver us from the fruits of Satan’s envy towards us. The devil being miserable himself, envied mankind that happiness which they had, and could not bear to see our first parents in their happy state in Eden, and therefore exerted himself to the utmost to ruin them, and accomplished it. The gospel teaches how Christ came into the world to destroy the works of the devil, and deliver us from that misery into which his envy had brought us.
When Jesus came into the world, He humbled Himself beyond what we can imagine and gave everything for us. And He did it joyfully. I love how Ed Welch points to Luke 12:32 (“Your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom”) and says, “Fathers can give begrudgingly and kings can give simply because they made an oath, but God gives out of his pleasure and delight.”
Jonathan Edwards says it like this,
The doctrines of the gospel teach us how far Jesus Christ was from grudging us anything which he could do for or give to us. He did not grudge us a life spent in labor and suffering; he did not grudge us his own precious blood; he hath not grudged us a sitting with him on his throne in heaven, and being partakers with him of that heavenly kingdom and glory which the Father hath given him.
As you consider Jesus’ complete lack of pride, envy, and jealousy and meditate on His humble, self-giving love, would you ask the Holy Spirit to remove envy from your heart?
Let’s take a step in that direction together by focusing on God’s goodness. What good gift has God given you lately? Tell me about it in a comment below.
PS: I’d like to thank my Michigan pastor, Brian Hedges, for his third chapter in Hit List. It helped me immensely as I wrote this post.
When You’re Not Number One was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.
Her subject line caught my eye: “I’m so scared, trying to trust God with my love life.” The email continued:
I read the prayer you wrote on page 85 about relinquishing your desire to be married to God. That scared . . . me. I know what I’m doing isn’t working, but I’m so afraid that if I give God control, He’ll keep me single forever, and my one true desire is to share my life with someone.
I’d love your prayers as I read your book (got it today). I’m trying to trust God with my love life and am so afraid to pray the bold prayers you mention. I do know I need to take a break from dating for a while until I can truly feel God’s love for me and learn to love and respect myself. Thank you for writing it!
In case you don’t have a copy of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl lying around your house, here’s a peek into that journal entry I share on page 85:
God Most High, thank You that You’re committed to giving me Yourself. You don’t want me to find my happiness—nor can I—with anyone or anything less than You. Why do I think I know better than You what I need? I’m miserable in my strivings and resistance against You. Give me the gift of repentance.
I confess my lust toward men and relinquish to You the desire, need, and hope of marriage. I’m sorry for living for guys rather than for You. Break me over this sin, God.
I seem to think my Creator, Father, and King is acting foolishly. I think I deserve more, that I’m pretty good. Who am I comparing myself to, God? Certainly not You. My heart is cold toward You. I want to be in control of my own life. I don’t want You to be Lord of my life—I just want to use You to make me look good.
God, I step down from the throne of my life and invite—no, plead—with You to assume Your rightful place as Lord, as Boss. Forgive me. Thank You that You have.
Take my love, Lord, even though it is barely alive, and fan it into flame for You.
I may have written that prayer, but I get the struggle to be okay with singleness. I really do. It took years of pain and desperation before I was finally willing to pray this “bold” prayer.
I had the same fear she did—that if I chose to trust God with my love life, He would take my surrender as an irretrievable permission slip to withhold my greatest desire from me.
Whether you “give” God permission to be in control of your life or not, He is.
Is that a legitimate fear? Let’s take a closer at her email and explore these fears, shall we? She wrote, “I’m so afraid that if I give God control . . .” This overlooks the fact that God already is in control. Whether you “give” God permission to be in control of your life or not, He is. There is nothing in this universe He does not rule and reign over.
The LORD kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s,
and on them he has set the world (1 Sam. 2:6–8).
Thankfully for us, we don’t serve a cruel God with a sick, twisted sense of humor who takes delight in giving us what we hate. Matthew 7:9–11 tells us just the opposite:
“Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Being in a relationship isn’t a “right” and being single isn’t an accident.
So what does that mean if you don’t yet have what you want? I love how Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth talks about it in Singled Out for Him. She points out that being in a relationship isn’t a “right” and being single isn’t an accident. According to 1 Corinthians 7, both singleness and marriage (the closest human relationship possible) are gifts from a good God who only gives good gifts to His kids. Each gift is to be 1) received with thankfulness and 2) used to bring Him glory. If you are not currently in a committed relationship with a godly guy, you can know that at least for now, it would not be a “good thing” for you.
But don’t take my word for it. (Or Nancy’s.)
Get to know God yourself. You cannot trust someone you do not know.
It’s one thing to hear someone else say God can be trusted with your love life and another altogether to get to know Him until you know that you know that for yourself. Be patient; it’ll be a process. But do pursue Him each and every day. If you’re not sure how to do that, start here.
“My one true desire is to share my life with someone.” It’s a perfectly natural desire to share your life with someone, but is that your one-desire-to-rule-them-all? What are you willing to sacrifice or do for this desire to come true? Do you love the idea of being in love with a man more than you love the Maker of man? If so, you can expect God’s wrath.
The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men . . . For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they . . . exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! (Rom. 1:18–24).
If your desires are more dear to you than God Himself, repent over your misplaced worship.
“He’ll keep me single forever” overlooks the fact that marriage—the most intimate, lifelong, love commitment a human can make—is just a faint reflection of the more wonderful, forever relationship we will have with Christ. He is using this life to prepare us to be His pure, spotless bride. This sentiment shows a very limited view of the here and now at the expense of forever.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:31–32).
As you think about your desire for a romantic relationship, are you focused on living for yourself or for your Creator?
“I’m so afraid.” Three times in her email this woman admitted she was “scared” and “so afraid.” She also said she needed to take a break from dating until she had a grip on God’s love for her. I think she’s on the right track. First John 4:18 says:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Let His unmatched love drive away your fears.
You are perfectly loved by a perfect God; own this. You can know God loves you—not because He gives you everything you want right when you want it, but because He gave up His beloved Son to absorb the righteous wrath of the Father that you deserved for your sin. Let His unmatched love drive away your fears.
How about you? Do you trust God to do a better job than you can with your love life? If not, what can you do today to grow your trust in Him?
If You’re Scared to Trust God with Your Love Life was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.
Why did God give me this feeling?
I have feelings for a guy friend. Feelings that I’ve asked God to take away from me several times, but for whatever reason, He has not. Why did God give me feelings I didn’t ask for? And what does He want me to do?
Short answer: I don’t think He did give you feelings for this guy.
I’m not sure where we got this notion that it’s God’s fault if we feel something we don’t want to feel. James 1:13–15 says:
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Yes, God gave us the capacity to feel, because He made us in His image, and He feels deeply. But I don’t believe He feeds specific feelings into our hearts, like we’d feed a gum ball machine with quarters.
Our feelings ultimately stem from what we’re thinking and believing. Rather than asking God to take away your feelings, examine them the way you’d carefully examine your reflection in the mirror before leaving for school:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:2, emphasis added).
God doesn’t give us our feelings; but we are wise to give our feelings to God. We see the psalmist doing this over and over in the book of Psalms. He pours out his feelings to God, and then he holds his feelings up to the truth of who God is and compares the two.
So the next time you want to blame God for your feelings, first ask yourself:
- When did I start to feel this way? What led me to feel this way?
- What am I thinking and believing that is contributing to this feeling?
- How do my feelings line up with God’s truth? What does God’s Word have to say about what I’m feeling?
Then bring your feelings to God, taking them to His Word and placing them before Him in prayer.
Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear from you. Do you believe that God is responsible for your feelings? Why or why not?
Why Did God Give Me This Feeling? was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.
If I could pick only one verse and frame it in my new home as a constant reminder, I would choose Proverbs 19:11, hands down:
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
Yeah . . . I’m not so hot at living like this.
Oh, I’ve learned how to keep my cool on the outside. That’s easy for me. I’m a stuffer. But on the inside . . . I’m steaming hot and bothered more times than I’d dare admit!
These days, wedding planning has served to show me just how easily offended I am.
Is there a life circumstance that is squeezing the true colors out of your heart?
For example, if someone told me they couldn’t host an out-of-town wedding party guest overnight, it was far easier for me to assume they were selfish and inhospitable rather than remembering that I didn’t have the full picture of their current schedule and assuming they had a good reason for saying no.
Or if someone said they’d charge me more for a wedding service than they’d originally said they would, I assumed they were greedy and using me rather than assuming that they forgot the original price they’d told me.
You might not be planning a wedding right now, but is there a life circumstance that is squeezing the true colors out of your heart?
Do you feel angry? Insulted? Provoked? Offended? Downright mad?
Are you shocked that someone could be so selfish and thoughtless toward you?
Instead of overlooking an offense (Prov. 19:11), are you doing the exact opposite? Slowly circling it, taking it in from every angle?
I wonder how often we’re needlessly offended by perceived offenses—things that aren’t even real offenses!
What if—rather than shining a spotlight on others’ offenses—I sought to uncover my own?
What if, instead, you and I were to give the same attention to our actual offenses toward a holy God?
How many times a day do I live in a way that displeases Him? How many times a day do I ignore Him? Disregard Him? Rebel against the laws He has given for my good?
What if—rather than shining a spotlight on others’ offenses—I sought to uncover my own?
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy (Prov. 28:13).
My God has forgiven me my actual offenses by punishing His perfect Son, Jesus, in my place. As a result, He has removed my transgressions from me, as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12)!
How, then, can I refuse to let go of perceived offenses that others commit against me?
If you find yourself battling offenses like me, here are a few steps you can take:
- Give it to God, again and again, in prayer.
- Remind yourself that you don’t have all the facts. You can’t see the other person’s heart. You’re not the Judge; God is.
- Assume the best of others instead of assuming the worst.
- Get to the root. Why are you so angry and offended?
- Examine your own life. Are you guilty of the very same “sin” you’re accusing your offender of?
I’d love to hear from you. Are you often offended? If so, what do you do? How do you respond—internally and externally?
The Next Time You’re Offended was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.