For the Love of God’s Word

Falling In Love Pic

 

“Truth is a glorious but hard mistress. She never consults, bargains, or compromises.” -A.W. Tozer

 

If I’m honest, I didn’t always love reading the Bible after coming to know the Lord. I had a lot to “catch up” on I guess you could say. It was overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start.

But one thing I did know, I now had this new desire to WANT to learn, only because of the Holy Spirit now living inside of me. This is when I started digging into Bible studies, word studies, and commentaries to learn and study God’s Word.

It wasn’t merely enough just to read Christian books. I wanted more. I wanted more of Jesus. I wanted Him. This is where my love for His Word began. I couldn’t get enough of Him.

I want to look at some verses in Nehemiah to show how the people responded to God’s Word. It is so beautiful. If you have time, look up Nehemiah 8:1-12.

A new character enters the picture in the book of Nehemiah. His name is Ezra, which means helper. He begins reading the Book of the Law of Moses right in the middle of the street.

Nehemiah 8:2 tells us that all who could hear with understanding were there listening. This included men, women, teenagers, and children.

When Ezra opened up the book, the people stood up. This was a posture of reverence for the Word of God.  

Verse 6 is so beautiful, “And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”

They first stood for God’s Word then God’s Word merely brought them to their knees; a beautiful response to the hearing of God’s Word.

 While Ezra was reading Scripture, not everyone understood it at first. For some, this was a time of rediscovery of God’s Word. For others, this was the first time hearing God’s Word.

Verse 7 shows us that there were Levites in the crowd helping people make sense of God’s Word and explaining it in further detail to them. ALL the people wept when they heard the words of the Law.

Ezra tells them not to weep or mourn, do not be sorrowful for this day is holy to our Lord. The joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10).

The people felt sad because they were now aware of their sin, but they could walk in joy because God was doing a great work. (Guzik)

Then they went away greatly rejoicing because they understood the words that were declared over them (v. 12).

I know personally when I am weeping after reading God’s Word it’s because I’ve seen how sinful I am and how merciful He is, bringing me to my knees.

These people were receptive and attentive to God’s Word. They wanted to hear it. Their lives were changed this day after hearing the Word. Only God’s Word was presented. So simple yet so complex.

I’m fearful that in our churches today we are looking for entertainment. When we come to church focused on looking to Jesus instead of looking to be entertained, we will then realize He is all the “entertainment” we will ever need.

The same is true in our daily lives. A life lived with Jesus is the most exciting life you’ll ever live. Each day is a new adventure with Him. Get in His Word. Dive deep into His Word.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

This doesn’t say Scripture is given to make me feel good and happy. It’s for reproof, correction, and instruction.

If I’m honest, I don’t want to be corrected. But correction from God is sometimes what we need.

  • How are we responding to correction from God’s Word?
  • Are we bowing down in reverence to the Lord and falling to our knees, or are we putting up a wall of pride?

 The author of the book, “Missional Motherhood”, gives a description of how we come to God’s Word:

We view it like a vending machine. We just come to it for a little snack, when we just need that “pick-me-up”. But what comes out of those vending machines? Junk.

Sure, it may fill you up for a little while, but after you’re constantly filling yourself up with junk, it doesn’t do your body any good.

We take a machete to God’s Word missing Him altogether. We’re missing Him because we cut up God’s Word to find what we want it to say about our current situation.

We shouldn’t revolve God’s truth around our lives. Our lives should revolve around God’s truth.

 “I love that it was the simple opening of the Word that drew such a gathering  and aroused such a dynamic response of worship. Oh, the simplicity. The Israelites weren’t looking to be entertained, checking their watches to see if it’d hit noon yet. They weren’t critiquing the song selection, examining the children’s program, or bummed that this week’s drama didn’t top the week before’s. I am not taking a shot at any of the many wonderfully different ways we do church. I’m just wondering how many of us would show up for only the reading of the Bible. Is God’s Word no longer enough?”-Kelly Minter

May we fall in love with God and His Word and let it consume us from the inside out.

Cheerleading And The Church: What Do They Have In Common?

I was a cheerleader for 13 years of my life. I was never the best tumbler or flyer, but I had a passion and a heart for cheerleading. In fact, my nickname, Taz, was printed on my senior jersey because I looked like the Tasmanian Devil (if you remember that cartoon) coming out of a full down that I could never master! 

However, that year I did receive the coach’s award because of my heart and passion for the sport – yes, it’s a sport. I’m not even going to go there. Moving on. 

I recently discovered how my time spent as a cheerleader and my short time spent as a believer are quite similar. If you’ll follow along with me, I’d love to share my discovery with you.

Bonding Together 

Throughout the years, community and friendships were built through cheerleading. The bond only got stronger if you were with the same teammates year after year. This happened because we spent so much time together, but it wasn’t always fun and games. 

We had our share of hardships. I remember we were falling apart so much that our coach had to make us stop and reevaluate in the middle of practice, and sometimes, we were even sent home early. 

We bonded over the good times and we bonded over the hard times. Both had to happen for true bonding and unity to take place. 

Trusting Each Other  

We all had the same goal in mind: to win first place. To make that goal a reality, we had to trust one another. Trust came through spending time with one another and having so.many.practices (I’m seeing a trend here).

  • As a flyer, you trusted your bases and spotters were going to catch you.
  • As a base or spotter, you trusted everyone was on the same count.
  • As a team, you trusted everyone was in their right spot at the right time.

Trust is what bonds people. In cheerleading, I’m trusting you because you didn’t let me get hurt. However, if there’s no trust or bond, that’s when things fall apart. When you stop trusting your teammate, it all comes falling down…literally! 

Correcting When Needed

Sometimes working through the hard stuff to accomplish the final goal meant correcting one another. We had the same goal in mind, so we listened to one another’s suggestions rather than resist correction. We saw it like this: if one of us struggled, we all struggled.  

We’d correct one another on an as-needed basis, but sometimes our coach, or an outside coach, would have to work with us. They could see things we couldn’t. We only had an inside perspective whereas they had a different perspective. 

What Does Cheerleading Have To Do With The Church?

The answer to this question: everything. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we should all have one goal in mind: to glorify God. Pointing people to Jesus, making Him our main goal. To make that happen as The Church, we have to work together. 

Hard Work 

Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.” 

My bible has a great explanation of this verse: “Where there is no progress, there are no problems. Some disturbance is necessary for growth and accomplishment to occur.”

We had to work through the hard stuff in cheerleading to accomplish our goal.

Within the context of the church, we have to work through the hard stuff in order to glorify Christ because let’s be honest, it’s sinner serving sinner. No one is perfect. There are going to be problems.

So it’s not a matter of if the problems come, it’s a matter of how you deal with those problems.

The Ultimate Betrayal

You also have to trust your fellow believers within the church. If you can’t trust those closest to you, it’s all going to come crashing down. But ultimately as believers, we trust God!

Sometimes we can put too much trust in others and not enough trust in God.

Jesus had someone within His ministry that He couldn’t trust: Judas. But Jesus didn’t treat him any differently. If He did, then the disciples would’ve known who Jesus was talking about when He said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” (Mark 14:18)

Instead, all the disciples began to be sorrowful and each said “Is it I?”. Think about it: if Jesus treated his betrayer, the one He knew He couldn’t trust, any different then surely the others would have suspected Judas right off the bat.

“Oh, yeah. He kind of gives Judas the cold shoulder. He talks differently to him than he does to us. Surely He’s talking about Judas.” But that never happened. Sometimes when someone betrays you, it will be difficult to NOT treat them differently. But remember, keep the main goal in mind! 

I’m sure at some point or another someone has betrayed you in some way, but how you respond reveals your character.

I’ve been betrayed, but what I have to remember is that I’ve ultimately betrayed God. I can’t stay focused on someone else’s betrayal when I have my own betrayal. I betray Him when I put anything before Him, and sadly I do this more often than I’d like to admit. 

I have to keep running and turning back to Him and He welcomes me with open arms (Luke 15:11-32). So if someone betrays me, if someone betrays you, welcome them back with open arms. 

Putting The Pieces Together

Just like there are different roles within the cheerleading team, there are different roles within the church (1 Cor. 12:12-31). One role is no more important than the other. Each part has to work and move together. We are one body, the body of Christ.

We also have to accept correction as-needed — either by other believers or the Holy Spirit — to accomplish our main goal: glorify God. 

Keeping The Main Goal The Main Goal

If you have a passion and a heart for Jesus, keep the main goal the main goal. As The Church, we’re all cheering for the same team: Team Jesus! 

We also need to focus on strengthening our bond with Jesus, trusting Him with our every need, and taking course correction from Him as-needed. 

The early church in Acts 2 shows us what it is to model a healthy church:

“…Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:44-47)

At the end of practice, we’d always have a huddle. I’d love to huddle in with you right now, but let’s huddle in with God and tell Him some things: 

  • What is the main goal in (of) your life?
  • What are some ways you can bond with your brothers and sisters in Christ?
  • Do you have trust issues within the church? If so, what is a healthy, biblical way to deal with it? How are you trusting God?
  • What areas of your life need correcting?

How Long, O Lord?

“O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ and You will not save.” Habakkuk 1:2

Having Doubts

When we ask the question, “How long?”, we’re implying that there’s a delay, things are taking longer than expected. I can’t help but think of several “How long?” questions in this season of life because “things” are lasting longer than we expected.

Maybe you have questions like: 

  • How long will this last? 
  • How long until an opportunity comes? 
  • How long will this hurt? 
  • How long until a “normal” returns? 
  • How long will relationships go on unrestored? 
  • How long will disunity last? 
  • How long will I be out of a job? 
  • How long until You return?

There was a prophet who asked similar questions. His name was Habbakuk. He asked these questions and took his complaints to God because he carried a burden from all the things he saw. (Hab. 1:1)  

Habbakuk saw a lot of evil and injustice taking place, which made him question God and what He was up to. But through it all, God instructed Habbakuk to write to the people as a way of recording the answers the Lord gave him (Hab. 2:2). Ultimately, it was a message of hope and comfort through the chaos and destruction!

We know he encountered chaos because he labeled what he saw as “violence” (Hab. 1:2). This particular word used here means unjust gain; cruelty; damage; false; injustice; unrighteous, violence done against, and violence dealt with wrongly. (Strong’s) 

He continues to talk with God and then asks “Why?” questions (v. 3 and 14). 

Maybe you’re in a season right now where you’re asking the Lord, “How long?” and “Why?”. When you’re hurt, confused, sad, caught off guard, or when your “normal” is taken away, it’s only natural to ask these questions. 

Waiting Expectantly 

When Habakkuk finished asking his questions, he waited expectantly for the Lord to answer him. “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected.” (Hab. 2:1). 

Did you catch what Habbakuk said at the end? “…when I am corrected.” Not when they are corrected. Because after all, wasn’t he just complaining about the people and the injustice and wrongdoing that was taking place? 

This is when revival can take place: when we start focusing on what’s going on inside of us and stop focusing on the wrongdoing of others.

With so much wrong going on around us, we have to focus on what’s going on inside of us.

A revival took place in the mind of Habbakuk in chapter 3. “O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years!” (v. 2). He didn’t say revive MY work, but YOUR work. “The prayer of Habakkuk shows us that revival is a work of God, not the achievement of man.” (David Guzik) 

He stopped complaining and shifted his focus on all that God was doing. This is the message of hope and comfort. 

Take a look:

  • His glory covered the heavens and the earth was full of His praise. (v. 3)
  • His brightness…(v. 4)
  • His power…(v. 4)
  • He stood and measured…(v. 6)
  • He looked and startled…(v. 6)
  • His ways are everlasting. (v. 6)
  • You divided the earth with rivers. (v. 9) 
  • The mountains saw YOU and trembled. (v. 10) 
  • You marched through…(v. 12)
  • You trampled…(v. 12)
  • You went forth…(v. 13)
  • You struck…(v. 13)
  • You thrust….(v. 14)
  • You walked…(v. 15)

His doubt from chapter 1 turned to faith in chapter 3. He accepted what was to come, believing that God was in control and justice would prevail. He was going to rejoice no matter what!

The Joy Of The Lord 

Take a look at Habakkuk 3:16. What parts of his body are affected after he saw God for who He is?

“The prophet’s heart pounded, his lips quivered, and his legs trembled. Habakkuk was about to collapse from this amazing encounter with God.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary) 

Even though his body was weak, his confidence in God was strong.

If we continue to read the last verses in Habakkuk, we’ll find him rejoicing even through barrenness, famine, and desolation! (Hab. 3:17-19)  

“The prophet found a spirit of faith and joy born out of this deeply traumatic spiritual experience.” (Women’s Study Bible)

As believers, no matter what is going on around us, we can still know joy in the midst of chaos and wrongdoing. “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Neh. 8: ) 

His joy and confidence in God grew because of how God answered him, which only came as a result of his questions and complaints He took before the Lord. His relationship with God was sweeter and more intimate because he was honest about his doubt. 

Let your questions of “How long?” or “Why” lead to a quest with God and He’ll become your joy!  

  • What “How long?” or “Why?” questions do you have right now?
  • Are you sitting quietly and alone with God waiting for answers?
  • How does knowing that joy is birthed from a traumatic spiritual experience encourage you today?

When You’re Covered In Manure, Count It All Joy

And he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ” Luke 13:6-9

I recently finished reading a book called Chasing Vines by Beth Moore. I couldn’t shake the thought of manure in The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree pointed out in this book. It’s so weird to ponder the concept of poop. If you have kids or animals, you’ve dealt closely with poop at some point. Whatever your experience is with it, it’s gross! And whatever crap you’re dealing with right now, it has a purpose according to this parable.

In this parable, a man planted a fig tree, looked for fruit for THREE YEARS and he found none. Then he went to the vinedresser and told him to cut down the fig tree because it was wasting good ground. But the vinedresser told him to wait a year, dig around it, and put MANURE on it! After all that, if it finally bears fruit, good, but if not, then he could cut it down.

What in the world does this have to do with our spiritual life? Well, first and foremost, what kind of fruit are we bearing? Are we bearing any fruit? One way to do this is to ask those closest to us what fruit they are picking off of us, Gal. 5:22. Our brothers and sisters in Christ have good ground to expect some fruit from our lives (Mat. 7:20). Let’s pray we’re ripe for the pickin’!

The man asks about the fig tree using up the ground, some versions say “cumbereth it the ground” (soil). The Greek word used for this description means to be entirely idle, useless, abolished, destroyed (Strong’s). “Those who do not do good commonly do hurt by the influence of their bad example; they grieve and discourage those that are good; they harden and encourage those that are bad.” (Matthew Henry) 

Sometimes we do more harm than good. And if so, repent and never look back! We have a long-suffering, gracious Heavenly Father waiting for us with open arms! (Luke 15:17-20)

The Long-Suffering Of Christ 

The parable doesn’t say that the man came looking for a lot of fruit, he just expected something, anything. The vinedresser — we know who that is! — was long-suffering (fruit of the Spirit). His long-suffering and patience with us lead us to enjoy the gospel on a different level. But when His patience is abused and taken advantage of, there are consequences (Luke 13:9).

His long-suffering, kindness, and gentleness lead us to repentance, to restoration (Rom. 2:4). And if He’s long-suffering, kind, and gentle with us, how much more should we extend the same to others? 

The vinedresser intercedes on behalf of the fig tree as part of his long-suffering. We are fig trees planted in God’s vineyard. Christ intercedes on our behalf (1 John 2:1-2). The vinedresser doesn’t tell him to never cut it down, but to give it another year and then observe what he finds. We must stand in the gap for others. 

Load Up the Manure 

So what must the man do to the fig tree? Dig around and put manure on it (fertilize it). Sometimes Christ has to do a lot of diggin’ around in our hearts, load it up with piles of manure, and over time, we become ripe and people can start plucking away! I don’t really see piles of crap as the perfect foundation for fruit to flow, but God knows what’s best.

If I’m honest, this is where I am in my walk with the Lord. He’s doing a lot of digging around in my heart and it ain’t pretty in there! The digging hurts and it’s exposing (Psalm 139:23-24). But when I let myself be exposed, then He can finally clothe me and cover me in His righteousness, not mine. 

Lord, if this is what it takes for the fruit to bust out of me, then load up the manure. 

If the tree does eventually bear fruit, it will be even better and add to the beauty of the vineyard. The tree will receive a blessing from God (Heb. 6:7) and bring forth more fruit year after year.

Where’s The Fruit?

But what happens when there’s still no fruit? Cut it down. Matthew 3:10, “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Remember, cutting it down was the absolute last resort.

God is always seeking fruit in our lives. What fruit is He finding? Good fruit? No fruit? Bitter fruit? Plastic fruit? He is a good, good Father who is long-suffering with us and wants us to come to repentance. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

So when you’re covered in manure, count it all joy. You never know what will spring forth from all the crap that’s been piled on you!

How Do I Rest?

Rest. That one word we know we all need, but we struggle with actually doing.

I want my heart, mind, and soul to be at rest throughout the day, but that doesn’t always happen.

I found myself working all day, but yet I felt like nothing was getting done. At the end of the day, I was exhausted. My mind was exhausted. I realized my mind and heart were never at rest with the Lord throughout the day.

I listened to a Proverbs 31 Ministries podcast and the gist of it was:

“We don’t rest from our work. We work from our rest.” -Kristin White

I would also say:

I don’t work so I can rest. I rest so I can work.

Y’all, this was a complete mind-shift for me! I have to dismantle something that’s been embedded in my mind: “Once this is done, then I’ll rest.”

We think: work first, then rest. This mindset is not centered around the gospel.

Jesus always did the opposite of the culture.

Our culture tells us to hustle hard so we can play hard. Jesus tells us to stop so we can rest.

The Sabbath

Think back to the order of creation. Genesis 2:3, “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

Maybe you’re thinking, “But didn’t He ‘work’ for six days and then He rested?”.

“God sanctified the seventh day because it was a gift to man for rest and replenishment, and most of all because the Sabbath is a shadow of the rest available through the person and work of Jesus Christ. But every day is a day of rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Every day is specially set apart to God.” (David Guzik)

We observe a day of “rest” on the first day of the week, not the last. We also need to take a closer look at the word “rested” in this verse. Part of the definition means “to cease, celebrate, keep (sabbath)” (Strong’s).

Did you catch that, “celebrate”? This is totally just observation, but I can’t help but think that He was celebrating His creation.

So what does biblical rest look like? Let’s look at a verse in the gospel of Matthew.

Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Come To Me

This is an open invitation from Jesus Himself! He tells us to come to Him. You’re either running to or from something. There’s no in-between. I hope you’re running so hard toward Jesus that the enemy chokes on your dust!

Those Who Labor

In this verse, labor means to feel fatigued, to be wearied. Are you growing weary through all of this? If so, take heart. Jesus wants you to accept His invitation and go to Him.

Those Who Are Heavy-Laden

Heavy-laden implies spiritual anxiety, a heavy burden. What are you carrying around that’s heavy? Drop it at His feet.

When I came to Christ, it was like a huge burden had been lifted off of my chest. All the unrepented sin I carried around was too heavy for me. I laid it at His feet that day and walked away light as a feather.

Maybe this is you and you’ve never placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. You know He’s not your personal Lord and Savior. What better time to come to Him than right now! Give Him your whole heart. Give Him your time. Give Him your mind.

Maybe you have placed your faith in Jesus but you’re carrying around a spiritual burden that you don’t need to carry. The weight of the world can grow heavy on our souls.

Jesus says in Matt. 11:30 that His burden is light! If you’re carrying around something that’s heavy, it’s not from Jesus, so release it to the Holy Spirit!

Rest

The word “rest” in Matt. 11:28 means, “originally to make to cease; Tyndale: ease; Wycliffe: refresh. The radical conception is that of relief.” (Vincent’s Word Studies)

Part of this definition says we have to stop what we’re doing (cease). Does this sound like the kind of rest you want?

This part captivated my heart. I need to stop several times throughout the day and reflect on Him and rest in Him.

Are you looking for relief right now? Stop what you’re doing and rest in Him.

As we celebrate Good Friday, remember that Jesus completed the work on the cross. We’re working so hard when He just wants us to rest in what He already did.

Ways To Rest Throughout The Day

I want you to have practical applications. It’s different for everyone, but I’m happy to share what I’m learning and what’s working for me. I have to set aside several times a day to rest my heart, mind, and soul in Jesus.

I can’t just get up and do my “quiet time” and bible reading and be good for the rest of the day. I need Him ALL.DAY.LONG!

In addition to a morning quiet time:

  • Set several reminders throughout the day to quiet your mind (Take 5 to 10 minutes at each reminder to stop what you’re doing to pray, meditate on a verse or a worship song, read the Bible, or whatever works for you. This has altered the quality of my days.)
  • Listen to a podcast or an audible bible while you’re cleaning, doing laundry, or getting ready
  • Work on memorizing scripture
  • Think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, anything of good virtue, anything praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8) (This is something my husband is currently teaching me to do.)
  • Set aside time each day for reading a book on spiritual growth

“May we never be satisfied till we know and feel that we have come to Christ by faith for rest, and do still come to Him for fresh supplies of grace every day! If we have come to Him already, let us cleave to Him more closely. If we have never come to Him yet, let us begin to come today. His word shall never be broken: “Whoever comes to me, I will never cast out.” (J.C. Ryle)

I’m Expecting

If you clicked on this article thinking this was a pregnancy announcement, it’s not. I am NOT pregnant. Now that that’s out of the way…I am expecting THE LORD to move in our lives like never before.

We’re in a season of transition, a season of many unknowns. My husband was the youth and worship pastor at our church. This was his livelihood.

It’s scary to step away from something familiar, comfortable, and safe…especially when there’s nothing set in place when you leave. But the Lord said it was time to continue His work somewhere else.

The answer is simple to many questions we’ve been asked: We don’t know. But what we do know is the Lord has provided in only ways that He could over the past few weeks.

I’m not just talking about monetary provisions. I’m talking about His presence in the loneliness, His peace in the chaos and unknown, and His comfort in the brokenness. He’s provided hope through His Word and encouragement through His people.

We’ve seen him do it before, we know He’ll do it again.

It’s exciting to see Him work and do what only He can do. It’s scary because our future is still unknown and there’s no telling where He’ll lead us.

We don’t know where we’re going, we just know who we’re following.

You’re Out Of Your Mind

Serving Jesus in any capacity doesn’t make sense if you really think about it. Especially to the outside world.

Jesus’ own family didn’t understand what He was doing. They even said he was out of his mind for leaving behind what he was doing to go into ministry!

Mark 3:21, “And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’”

Just before this, Jesus gathered his 12 disciples and the multitudes surrounded them, so much so that they couldn’t even stop to eat a piece of bread (Mark 3:13-20). (It’s important to note that Jesus didn’t respond to their statement.)

Why would Jesus’ own family think that He was out of His mind?

Here are a few thoughts taken from David Guzik:

  • He left a prosperous business to become an itinerant preacher.
  • The religious and political leaders plotted to destroy Him, so his physical safety was in question. (“The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.” Mark 3:6)
  • He picked such an unlikely group of disciples that His judgment could be questioned.
  • But there was one last straw that really pushed his family into this mindset: the pressures of this incredible ministry made Him miss regular mealtimes (For all those with husbands in ministry, I know you can relate!)

“Jesus constantly faced the rejection of the religious and political leaders of the day, and in a way, their hatred of Jesus made sense – He actually threatened their status quo. Undoubtedly, it was far more painful and challenging for Jesus to deal with the way His own people rejected Him. It isn’t easy to be profoundly misunderstood as you try to walk with God.” (Cole)

What Is Faith?

Faith is “… the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT seen.” (Hebrews 11:1). It’s only natural to want evidence. But as Christians, we have to remember that we’re after the supernatural.

Faith is having hope even when you don’t have all the answers or know where you’re going.

“The Lord told Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’” (Genesis 12:1) God didn’t lay out a step-by-step plan for Abram and his family. He just told him to go, or some versions say, “Get out”.

Abraham is mentioned in the Faith Hall of Fame. Hebrews 11:8, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.”

Abraham (Abram at the time) was expecting the Lord to move in a mighty way. He knew God would follow through on His promises.

This is not a testament of our faithfulness by no means. We are found faithless time and time again. This is a testament of HIS faithfulness.

  • Based upon God’s Word, what are you expecting the Lord to do in your life?
  • What does God’s faithfulness look like in your life?
  • Is there something in your life that the Lord is telling you to go, to step away from, or to get out of?

Trust God in the unknown. You’ll be sure to find Him there.

When You Can’t Sing “It Is Well With My Soul”

If I’m honest, I’ve sung “It Is Well With My Soul” and I did not mean it. Sure, sometimes I want to shout it from the rooftops, but sometimes I can barely get the words out of my mouth.

We all go through seasons of life, but maybe in a particular season we just can’t sing this song with a true heart. It’s like it’s winter and you just have to throw on a coat to make it through, just waiting and hoping for spring to come so you can drop your coat.

But that’s not how I want to live my life. I KNOW that’s not how I’m supposed to live my life. I KNOW that’s not the type of life Christ died for.

I KNOW. But do I really? I don’t want to just know. I want to LIVE OUT what I know.

A few years back a friend and I did a study called How’s Your Soul? with a group of college-aged students. That question has stuck with me ever since. We always ask someone, “How are you?”. More than likely their response is, “Good”, or like every wife in America, “Fine”.

But are we really good? Are we really fine? No, Felicia, I’m not. But is the line at Target a good place to spill my heart out to you? Maybe not. Maybe it is. I don’t know. But what I do know is we avoid the question with a generalized answer.

A better question to ask someone is, “How’s your soul?”. That’ll make someone stop real quick in their tracks. That question makes you pause, makes you really think what it means for my soul to be well.

The only way my soul can be well is if, one, I belong to Jesus. Let me stop right here. If you don’t belong to Jesus, if you’ve never come to the point of repentance, realizing you’re a sinner in need of a Savior — and that Savior is Jesus — your soul will never be well because it doesn’t know the One to whom it belongs. There’s no better time to come to know Jesus than the present!

And two, if I’m spending time with Jesus. Only when we truly spend time with Jesus in His Word can the condition of our souls be reflected back to us. It’s like a mirror. We have to see what He’s seeing.

Our souls come from God Himself who breathed the breath of life.

Genesis 2:7 “Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul.”

This, my friends, is where we get our soul from. It can only be well if it’s at home. Adam was a man at the beginning of the verse, but he did not come alive until his soul was awakened. 

“If God’s breath created our souls, then we are literally living on borrowed breath.” -Judah Smith

This is why we long for God and depend on Him. We can’t slow down enough to make sure our soul is at rest.

Look at David’s words in Psalm 131:

“LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.”

David no longer felt torn apart by inner nagging and turmoil, but experienced inner peace according to these verses, and we know what David went through. (Study Bible)

Do you know who else spoke about the condition of their soul? Jesus.

Right before Jesus is betrayed, He goes into the garden to pray. He takes three of His closest disciples with Him during this time. He says, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” (Matthew 26: 38)

Jesus’ words are validated because He knew He would be separated from His Father. He longed for Him. This is what made Him sorrowful. We can’t say the same. This should break our hearts.

He was forsaken by His Father so we don’t have to, nor will we ever. We remember His promise, “I will never leave you or forsake you”.

Jesus surrendered to the will of His Father even if it meant separation because He was focused on the bigger picture…eternity.

When I can’t sing “It Is Well With My Soul”, I know it’s because I’m not eternally-focused. My soul is longing to be at rest with Jesus.

Is it well with your soul?

Ezekiel 37:4-10

“Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: ‘Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.’”

“So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Also He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.’”

I’m Bored With Christianity

I’ve been there. It’s not a fun place to be. You go through the motions. You go to church. You read your Bible. You go to bible studies. Nothing.

Coming from someone whose husband is a pastor, no one is immune from this. Yes, even those in ministry.

Something was missing…or rather Someone. The Holy Spirit. I can’t speak from a place of perfection and I’ve-got-this-whole-thing-figured-out. The Holy Spirit has shown me I haven’t relied on HIM.

I am currently reading a book by Charles Stanley called The Spirit-Filled Life. I highly recommend it.

I am going to use Dr. Stanley’s words, “Ask the Holy Spirit to stir up your curiosity.” If we’re “bored” it’s because we’re not aware.

Our awareness of His activity and presence is what needs to change.

Is the Holy Spirit mentioned in your church? How can you follow someone who is not known or mentioned? The Holy Spirit is a PERSON of the Trinity. He’s not an “it”.

“We’ve become so unfamiliar with His ways that we miss His presence.” -Dr. Stanley

If we think the Holy Spirit is a power or force, we will view Him as some sort of divine energy. Um, I’m raising my hand right here because that’s how I saw Him!

The Holy Spirit is defined as having knowledge, will, and emotion.

Knowledge-

1 Cor. 2:11-12- “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

Will-

1 Cor. 12:11- “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”

Emotion-

Eph. 4:30- “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this last verse and never thought of it as an emotion of the Holy Spirit.

He can become grieved, exemplifying emotion.

Take a look at this verse:

John 14:26- “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

He is our greatest help. He is the Helper. He is the one who teaches us and reveals scripture to us.

If you’re at a point in your Christian walk where you’re bored and there’s no revelation from God’s Word, ask Him!!

I love meeting with believers and singing together. I LOVE bible study. But the daily divine interventions when He reveals himself to you in your daily life, nothing can compare to His presence.

He tells us He will never leave us or forsake us. We know that. But have you experienced His presence? Does what you know resonate with how you live? Nothing is more exciting than the Holy Spirit revealing Himself to me.

*some notes taken from The Spirit-Filled Life

My Son Is Not Defined By A Label

My son has recently been diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, and anxiety. If you don’t know what ODD is, it’s oppositional defiant disorder. Before you judge me and think, “you just need to get your kid under control”, he can’t control it. That’s why we’re in behavioral therapy, which has been a great catalyst for him. I’ve seen him mature and grow over the past few weeks of therapy.

Basically when my son feels something, he REALLY feels it. So, when he’s angry, he’s REAL angry. When he’s loving, he’s REAL loving. When he’s excited, he’s REAL excited. 

But that is the beauty and reality of this road we have been chosen to walk alongside him as he discovers how to depend on God: HE IS REAL.

Some days he’ll wake up at 5:45 full of energy and ready to go. GO BACK TO BED! But he can’t control it. My son is fearfully and wonderfully made. I would not change him and the way he is for a second. He is full of life. 

I feel judged…a lot. I feel like a failure…a lot. And as much as I hate to use the phrase, “I feel…”, it’s just the truth. I know I shouldn’t let my emotions dictate my outlook, but if I’m honest, some days I let it get the best of me. 

Rather than people understanding, they compare. THAT IS THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO WITH SOMEONE WITH ADHD. Child or adult. Don’t ever compare them to another child or another adult who does not have ADHD because they don’t have a chemical imbalance that they’re trying to overcome on a daily basis. 

We have homeschooled for the past year and a half, and getting these “results” from the pediatrician solidified my exhaustion and difficulties in homeschooling my son. He is also the most social child I have ever met, so you can see where this has been a struggle for both of us. 

I want to bring awareness to those who do not have a child with ADHD. For the tired, exhausted parent – I mean, what parent isn’t exhausted?! – please offer grace to these children and parents. As Bob Goff states, “Grace seems unfair until you are the one in need of it.” 

I have been so thankful for two friends specifically who have children with the exact same “diagnosis” who have offered me grace, encouragement, and advice. They’ve been there to listen to me vent, cry, and complain. Yes, I’m not proud of those moments. They have helped me more than they will ever know. 

I need to be surrounded with these people.

Not people who will judge and compare my son to their child. Every child is uniquely made, and I’m so thankful God chose me to be his mommy. Sure, it’s been a challenge. But, through it all, I can say God has humbled me like no other through this! 

Before I became a mother, I judged. Yep. I said it. Not proud of that, either. I would see a mom in the store with her screaming kid. “Just take him out already” would be my thought. My mom was in the store one day. While on the phone with her, I heard a child in the background. I told her, “Mom, don’t you judge that momma!” And my mom totally gets it. 

That momma is trying her best to hold in those tears in public. All she is trying to do is get in and get out…just like you. You never know what someone is going through or what obstacle a child is trying to overcome at that moment. 

Now, instead of judging, I go and talk to that mom. I offer any help I can give her during that moment of trying-to-hold-it-together-in-public. 

I do not write this for sympathy or pity. I write this to bring awareness of how you never know what someone is going through and the challenges they are up against. To be a little more graceful to those around you. To be a little more loving and understanding to those around. 

If you or a loved one struggles with ADHD, please don’t ever compare them to anyone else. Know that they are struggling with something they really have absolute no control over…and they’re working through it. 

This diagnosis does not define who my son is. It makes him that much more extraordinary. Seeing life through his eyes changes everything.

Spiritually speaking, we all have ADHD. We get so distracted by the world, we become hyperactive in our earthly lives and our spiritual well-being suffers. We’re looking left and right, getting pulled in different directions, not focusing on the Lord and His ways.

Psalm 119:37, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.”

Psalm 23:2-3, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His names’ sake.”

The only reason why we are able to focus on God is because Jesus never took His eyes off The Father. (Heb. 5:7)

Have you lost your appetite?

Are you in a season of life where you’ve lost your appetite for God? For His church? For family? For people? For ministry? The things that used to interest you no longer interest you anymore.

Hannah was a woman who literally lost her appetite.

1 Samuel 1:7, “So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.”

I homeschool my son and one thing that drives me crazy is his constant desire for food. That sounds bad as I type it. But literally all day long, “I want a snack. I’m hungry.” I’m not exaggerating.

Our pantry makes a noise, so when he opens up the door I can hear it from wherever I am in the house. Next comes the refrigerator. I hear both pantry and refrigerator door shut. “Mom, there’s nothing to eat!”

Ten minutes later, repeat. “Son, what was there 10 minutes ago is still there. The magic food fairy has not yet come to our house to refill our pantry and refrigerator.” (I’m the magic food fairy 🙂 )

Well, in relation to our walk with God and our spiritual growth, the same is true when reading the bible. Most of the time my pantry is not as empty as he exaggerates. It’s just that what he wants – the snacks – aren’t there.

When reading our bible, there’s always something to take away from it, but maybe not exactly what we were looking for. We are looking for that certain “thing” that we can kind of throw in the face of someone. Do you know what I’m talking about?

We take a machete to God’s Word, thinking it doesn’t pertain to our situation, and miss what God has placed right in front of us. We butcher it up, search it out to only look for the “snacks”, something just to get us by, never filling up on the meat.

Hannah had some“thing” in her face every day. Peninnah. Elkanah had two wives: Peninnah and Hannah.

Here we go with the trap of comparison, “Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.” (1 Sam. 1:2) Comparison is the thief of joy! (Theodore Roosevelt) There’s nothing new under the sun (Ecc. 1:9)! This has been going on for a while.

During this time, barrenness was considered a disgrace. It was very important to carry on the name, have descendants, and raise up workers for the field.

For Hannah to not be able to have children, and have someone who could have children, and all of her children right in front of her face every day, I’m sure, was disheartening.

Not being able to have children in and of itself is enough to make one lose their appetite. But then seeing the other woman popping out babies left and right, living in your house, is unimaginable.

“…although the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.” (1 Sam. 1:6-7)

We understand now why Hannah didn’t eat. She lost her appetite for food because she was being provoked DAILY!

Home usually is a safe haven, but her home was where all of her defeat was taking place. It was right in front of her eyes every single moment of every single day.

What does your situation look like? Have you lost your appetite for God because of someone “provoking you”? Have you lost your appetite for God because of ONE PERSON?! Think about that for a minute.

One person affecting the rest of your Christian life. That one person potentially affecting where you’ll spend eternity because you allowed it. Don’t let ONE person hold you back from the abundant life Christ has intended for you!

Jesus didn’t let that ONE hold him back. He was provoked in the wilderness by the Enemy.

Hannah became focused on what she didn’t have.

  • What is holding you back?
  • What are you hungering for?

Hannah eventually ate. Her situation did not change right away, but she did change, through prayer.

That will be a blog for another day 🙂