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spiritual growth

trusting God to be God

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Do you ever wear a garment of worry over loved ones and their decisions?

Have you ever found yourself carrying burdens of someone else’s life that aren’t yours to carry? Do you tend to live anxious about someone else’s opinion of you?

A truth that comes around now and again since I became a follower of Jesus is this: You are not someone else’s Holy Spirit.

Meaning: you are not meant to be God in someone’s life. You are human, and you have limits. But like Matthew 19:26 says, God has none (hallelujah, thank you, all praise to You, God).

“My over-caring shows up when I try to fix everything for everyone. I want to take away everyone’s pain. It is as if I want to be their savior. Recently I realized that when I try too hard to make it all just right, I’m really attempting to play God. It wears me out and sends me into overload. At the same time, it robs those I love from learning the lessons God wants to teach them. I might even stand in the way of them coming to know Him personally. That thought makes me sad. I understand what perfectionistic-overload means for me: It’s when I try to go beyond my human limitations and do what only God and the other person can do together. It is then that I experience exhaustion and self-doubt. Changing the way I relate to the people around me puts me squarely into unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory.” Joan Webb

There was something going on at work, a serious Holy Spirit heart tug, and I was on the fence about being obedient. A few days later I decided to trust, and walking out a conversation feeling nauseas I felt God impress, Trust Me with other people’s opinion of you.

Then, with some family stuff going on, my husband insightfully said, “You never know what God is teaching them.” I’m thankful he said that, because I’m the type to run around in circles, wanting to cry at the stress or brokenness of a situation, word vomit until people are confused, and then regret multiple things and go to sleep asking God to forgive me. Just being honest. There’s no way for me to know God’s agenda for someone else’s spiritual growth or how God plans to show His power in their life.

I was catching up with a good friend who was sharing something similar she is learning with her 4 year old. She said something like, “I can instruct, love, guide, discipline, but I can’t change her heart. It might someday create waves in our family, but God is going to have to meet her, and she with Him, to change and be made new.”

It’s like Joan says above, “I understand what perfectionistic overload means for me: it’s when I try to go beyond my human limitations and do what only God and the other person can do together.”

And I realize, isn’t that better?

God is infinitely better and enough for each of us. He knows exactly what we need precisely when we need it.

Man, have I been seriously getting this wrong. Over-caring, over-reaching into a place that only God can go.

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younger me, don’t live so afraid.

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Lately, I’ve had reason to look back into my middle and high school years and self. And those are the words that come to mind:

Girl, don’t be so afraid.

This past weekend we celebrated my only niece’s 13th birthday with a blessing brunch, we dubbed it. My encouragements (things I would’ve told my 13-year-old-self today) to her were:

  1. You don’t have to be everyone’s best friend, and not everyone will like or love you, and that’s okay.
  2. You will never regret choosing Jesus and His way of doing things, over the temptations, tendencies, and promotions of the world.

In all honesty, I walked through middle school and early high school years timidly, paralyzed with fear of making a mistake or being thought of as out of the culture-loop. I was insecure about my appearance because I was afraid of being confident and feeling beautiful exactly as I was, believing the lie that comparison was better. I was afraid of letting the weight of who I was – my hopes, dreams, quirks, passions, interests – bear on those around me, for fear that I’d be judged or put on the spot.

I didn’t idolize the ‘popular group,’ or even want to be one of them, but I did want to blend in, and be someone other people wanted to be around. 

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thoughts from a sick day

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I write this post from my couch.

Where I’ve been sitting for the past 8 hours.

Surrounded by books, pillows and blankets, a tea mug, a water glass, and tissues.

Yes, I have a cold, with a fever attached.

Although seriously bummed I couldn’t go about my normal day, for it was full with a need for productivity and a fun meeting over God’s Word, Holy Spirit has been teaching.

First, I struggle with sitting still. I’m fidgety, restless, and almost always multi-tasking.

“We often use outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises.” Henri Nouwen

In the quiet is where I experience His presence, because He doesn’t shout over the television. On a day like today, stillness is where I encounter Him. Reading His words, I am refreshed, and challenged.

Second, a friendship with Jesus means honesty with Him.

This is a lesson I learned earlier this year.

“God insists on artless transparency to enable Him to mold me into a woman of grace and beauty, a woman who listens and hears and knows Him down deep… When I confess my flaws, my guilt, my failures, my frustrations, to God, He takes the softest washcloth to my mess and bathes me in beauty. I lean into His warmth, breathing in the scent of Him, wanting more.” Diane Comer

It took multiple circumstances, and Holy Spirit’s gentle convicting, to help me see that I’m not honest with God. It’s a funny idea, though, since He knows my thoughts long before I think them. I held things in own strength, pretending for appearances, weighed down by legalistic guilt and fighting spiritual battles on the grounds of deeds. 

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experiencing God in everything

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Loving God with all our mind means that our thinking is wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things. John Piper

It’s amazing how uncluttered and settled my heart becomes when I savor Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.

When I relish in the Truth that I am deeply loved, adored, cared for. That I have a rich and valuable purpose on this earth to spread God’s glory.

God is the greatest thing that exists, ever has existed or ever will… for us to glory in anything else, would be sin, as there is nothing greater than God, there is no calling greater than praising God. John Piper

How much sweeter does a moment become when our efforts, desires, and energies are given to Someone outside ourselves.

We are free. Free to love selflessly, free to give generously, free to choose joy instead of discouragement, faith instead of fear.

All of real life is in God.

When I recognize that God is the greatest thing that exists, when I talk to Him as such, when I think about Him as such, it transforms my being.

I will not live and die by the approval of man, but lose myself joyfully in praising God.

I will not be mastered by sinful tendencies, seduced by worldly pleasures, but will stand strong on the rock of God’s promises to fill me up and satisfy me with things much better.

I will not be so easily offended, but will surrender my causes and concerns to a God who knows best.

Father, help me treasure You above everything else.  Please teach me what it looks like to adore You.

Jesus’s longing and goal is that we see his glory and then that we be able to love what we see with the same love that the Father has for the Son. And he doesn’t mean that we merely imitate the love of the Father for the Son. He means the Father’s very love becomes our love for the Son—that we love the Son with the love of the Father for the Son. This is what the Spirit becomes and bestows in our lives: Love for the Son by the Father through the Spirit. What Jesus wants most for Christmas is that his elect be gathered in and then get what they want most—to see hi glory and then savor it with the very savoring of the Father for the Son.

I love the language of Advent. The adoring of Jesus can thrill your heart if you let it. Even though I’ve been a Christian for a long time, I’ve never experienced Him like I am these days. His Spirit has been super gracious is revealing new Truth to me, setting fire in my soul for God. The above quote is from Desiring God’s “Good News of Great Joy” Advent readings.

making choices like Jesus would

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Thanksgiving week this year was full. Full of family, laughter, conversations, shooting guns, being outside, delicious food, a few tears, lots of grace.

I was driving out to my parents’ house asking Father for help. God, please give me wisdom and discernment in my choices. Bless our families with good quality time and rich conversation. Be honored by our words and actions and thoughts. In His goodness, He gave me a visual.

Two sisters, different personalities. Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet while busy bee Martha is frazzled and distracted.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” v. 41-42

The greatest possession is close fellowship with the Lord as our ‘portion’ in life, says the ESV Study Bible. “It will not be taken away from her” — neither now to help Martha in the kitchen, nor for all eternity.

And Father said, stay at my feet, stay close, rest and trust Me. 

Instead of feeling like my mind is distracted and frazzled and busy like Martha, trying to please everyone and make the perfect choice.

Jesus was a man who lived on this earth. He walked, talked, overcame, felt physical needs, spent time with other humans. He valued close fellowship with his Father.

“Jesus came to reveal God to us. He is the defining word on God—on what the heart of God is truly like, on what God is up to in the world, and on what God is up to in your life. An intimate encounter with Jesus is the most transforming experience of human existence. To know him as he is, is to come home. To have his life, joy, love, and presence cannot be compared. A true knowledge of Jesus is our greatest need and our greatest happiness. To be mistaken about him is the saddest mistake of all.”

To experience him and learn about him and know him is transformative.

God is cultivating in me a longing to know Jesus like I know my best friend or my husband.

To wonder about him when doing mundane tasks. To imitate how he speaks to both friends and strangers. To prioritize life as he prioritized life. To learn how he responds well in tricky situations. To love him by my service. To listen to him. To learn his mannerisms and tendencies. To know his heart.

I’m reading a book by John Eldredge called Beautiful Outlaw, about Jesus and his personality. All the quotes in this post are found in the book. It’s an interesting read.

He woos, he confronts, he delivers, he heals, he shoots straight, and then he uses intrigue. He lives out before them the most compelling view of God, shows them an incredibly attractive holiness while shattering the religious glaze.

I’m learning it this way… Holy Spirit is God in us; He is companion, wisdom, comfort, guide, and more. Jesus is our example for life; He lived a life that pleased God. Jesus is our brother to learn from. God is Father; He is creator, judge, powerful.

The purpose of his life, death, and resurrection was to ransom you from your sin, deliver you from the clutches of evil, restore you to God – so that his personality and his life could heal and fill your personality. Your humanity, and your life. This is the reason he came. Anything else is religion.

I sometimes underestimate the power of knowing Jesus as if he was a physical person in my life today. I sometimes underestimate the stories of the Bible.. passages that tell of his expressions, his words, his way of being, his view of the world.

The purpose of his life, death, and resurrection was to ransom you from your sin, deliver you from the clutches of evil, restore you to God – so that his personality and his life could heal and fill your personality.

Forgive me, Father. Thank you, for sending Jesus to live perfectly and die sacrificially.