Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Source of Lies

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
-Ephesians 6:12, NIV

Ladies, pull out the full battle gear and buckle your helmets because this one can be a little hard to deal with.

When you're walking down the hall and just know the girl in the corner is talking about you, who do you blame?
A) her
B) the girl she's talking to
C) the one who corrupted her heart to malicious gossip

When you can't find clothes that fit that your mom passes as "modest" ANYWHERE in the store, whose fault is it?
A) your mom's; she's waaay too picky
B) yours; you should really lay off the midnight snacks
C) the ideas that skimpy outfits are "in", and the one that inspired those ideas

When you look at yourself in a mirror and you just can't seem to make yourself like what you see, who is held responsible?
A) the mirror
B) you; again on laying off the midnight snacks
C) the one who whispers the lies that you're not good enough

Yes, as tempting as it is to throw the blame on someone else for our insecurities, and as easy as it sometimes can be to throw it all back on ourselves, the verse above reminds us of the truth: the girl who's gossiping about you in school is not your enemy. Satan is.
It's really been driven home to me more and more that the Devil is actively conspiring against your perception of self-worth. In other words, he does not want you to feel like a priceless and perfectly formed child of God. He wants you ensnared in the lies and insecurities. He wants you to feel trapped in shame from whatever sins you've committed. Because when you stop seeing yourself the way God created you, it is easy to distract you and drag you away from the things God has intended for your life. To the girl who struggles with her weight, he will say "you are not beautiful". To the girl who became too involved in a relationship before marriage, he will say "you cannot escape your shame". To the girl who feels like she doesn't have any friends, he will say it is because she isn't good enough. Satan does not want you to know that you're beautiful. He does not want you to know that you are loved. Your true, internal beauty points the glory directly to God and he can't stand that. Your security in who you are as a child of God allows you to selflessly and tirelessly pursue the furtherance of God's kingdom and he can't stand that either. Remember who it is you are really fighting! But also remember that you can't win this battle; God must win it for you. Satan will try to drown you in insecurity and sin, because he does not want you to realise that you are already free.

"And haleluiah; we are free to struggle.
We're not struggling to be free!
Your blood bought and makes us children.
Children drop your chains and sing!"
-Tenth Avenue North, "The Struggle"

I know sometimes I feel like I'm drowning in sin. "How can I possibly be beautiful and valuable after all the things I've done?" I ask myself. But this is forgetting that we are ALREADY forgiven and set free! He has redeemed us, and we don't have to give in to Satan's lies.

Are there ways you feel the Devil is trying to drag you down? Let me pray for you. I would love to help lift you up. Hope all of you are having a wonderful day!


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Internal Snapshot

         I was reminded today of something I should have known; something I knew that's been nearly forgotten for a long time. I sat down to watch a movie with my family about a woman--Sarah--who, after years of pain and abandonment, finally discovered redemption in the form of five Amish nieces and nephews looking to her as their only family. I thought it was beautiful, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried because I think tears are beautiful, too, when we shed them for things that really matter. The movie, one I haven't seen for several years, laid open my heart a little bit; we'll call it an internal snapshot.

         First, I wish I could feel love the way the people in the movie do. It's so easy to be moved by someone else finally realising how greatly they are loved, but it's just a story. How often do I feel like my family never has and never will understand? How many times have I wished I was closer to my sisters and brother than I am, but could never find the courage to open up? Eighteen and a half years I've lived with the people I call "mom" and "dad", and still I know nothing about family. And I wish I did.
         Sarah may have felt abandoned by her sister, who left to join the Amish community, but she had so many memories of her sister to look back upon that she never really thought about until she received a call telling her her sister was dead. I'm crying all over again at the thought that we--that I--rarely stop and savour moments, reliving memories of good times and bad ones until the people we care about are gone. As I'm slowly packing up and preparing for a 2,000 mile trip to college, the weight of the things I always wanted to do but never did and can't now is growing heavier every day. I never remember to live in a moment until I've moved on and it's too late.
         I'm jealous of the closeness and the faith of the Amish family. They had no secrets, no lies. They knew each other and they knew God. I spend so much time thinking and talking about love, but love begins first with God and second with family. They prayed with each other and for each other. Far too often, I wish that I could say the same.
         I'm selfishly feeling lonely and unloved. I attended a wedding today in which a beautiful young couple presented themselves before God and the church in a commitment to be one in the Lord. I've always been a writer; I could write myself a million happy endings but I encounter endless frustration trying to see where God is bringing me next. They have each other, but a part of me desperately wonders who I have. I have friends who would do anything for me and a family who loves me, I know. And I'm only eighteen--goodness knows I'm not ready to be married--but parts of me feel so much older than that. But you can't achieve that kind of closeness with friends or with family, no matter how devoted they might be. So I find myself wondering what God will have in store for me, if He will ever bring me the right person because I know a lot of amazing people. But I know in my heart I haven't found him yet.

         There you have it. I know it's kind of a mess; I'm kind of a mess. But sometimes messes can be beautiful, too. And I think the beauty or perceived beauty matters so much less than living a life of meaning. Because in the words of Point of Grace, "Take a few chances; let it all out. You won't regret it, looking back from where you have been 'cause it's not who you knew, and it's not what you did; it's how you lived." -Point of Grace, How you Lived (Turn up the Music)

I ask you to pray for me. Whether you leave me a prayer request or not, I will be praying for you. God bless.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Anyone Here Speak Greek?

         I go to youth group every Tuesday night. Currently, we’re working through a series on prayer, which has really challenged me on a couple of points: one, that praying is one of the hardest things I will ever wrestle with in my walk with God; and two, I need to spend less time doubting my ability to hear God’s voice and more time learning to hear Him better. These two growing revelations led to me sitting on the couch in an empty room reading through the gospel of Mark, wherein I found the story of the woman (identified as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus in John 12) who anoints Jesus with perfume during the Passover. When the disciples chastise her for “wasting” such a precious product, Jesus defends her, saying “‘leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.’” –Mark 14:6, ESV
         A beautiful thing. Other versions translate this as “a good deed” (NASB) and “a good work” (KJV). The original Greek word used in this verse is kalos, a word translated by Strong’s New Testament Lexicon to mean: “good, excellent in its nature and characteristics, and therefore well adapted to its ends” and “beautiful by reason of purity of heart and life, and hence praiseworthy”. This word, which is used to describe an act of absolute devotion, of giving everything to Jesus out of love and faith, is the same word that is used in 1 Timothy 6:12, which calls us to “fight the good fight of the faith”.
         Good. Kalos. Beautiful and pure. We spend all this time looking for beauty in our lives; there it is! Fight the good fight. Fight the beautiful fight. We are being actively chosen and called by God to participate in a lifestyle that is in and of itself beautiful. What other form of beauty do we need?
         So my personal challenge to myself is this: focus on living this beautiful lifestyle, instead of trying to have a beautiful reflection, something that can only be accomplished through prayer, constant involvement in God’s word, and encouragement and support from people who share my commitment. So I’m going to spend the next two-ish weeks going all the way through the gospel of Mark, one chapter a day. That’s my commitment; feel free to check in and ask how I’m doing. If you would like to make a similar two week commitment, leave a comment. I’ll be over on Facebook (see the “Contact Me” page for my Facebook link) posting my favourite verses from each day. I’d love to see yours up there as well!