Another Update/Road Trippin’ Part 5

I normally try to do a devotional post on Mondays, but last week and this week, I’ve been more in the “update” mode.  Perhaps it’s because I haven’t written all these posts out ahead of time like I did previously this summer.  You may notice that this post isn’t coming out in the 9 o’clock hour, as I aim for my posts to normally do.  That’s because this has been a spur-of-the-moment week this week.  Incredibly spontaneous, it’s been a week juxtaposing “Be still” and “Go”.

Continue reading “Another Update/Road Trippin’ Part 5”

Advertisements

It’s A No Go (7/29)

Hey everyone, so sorry about the delay in getting these notes up! This week at church we continued the theme about chains.  If you missed last week’s notes, you can find them here. Continue reading “It’s A No Go (7/29)”

Guest Post: Hope from Hope for the Animals

I am SUPER excited about today’s guest blogger! She holds a special place in my heart, as she is my youngest sister.  She is mature beyond her years and I love seeing her grow and serving God alongside her.  Recently, God downloaded a word into her about her identity, and it is so powerful! She let me post it today because she believes that this word is not just for her; it’s for all Christians.  This is who God says we are! After you’re done reading, please be sure to check out her blog, which is all about making sure pets are receiving proper care.  She does lots of research to post every week, and is passionate in her love for animals.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Hope from Hope for the Animals”

A Letter to My Best Friend

I see your pain.  And I know if I, being only human, can see your pain, our God surely does too.

I know you.  I know how you’ve fought before and know you’ll fight again.  I know the God we serve and know we surely will win.

I’ve loved you for thirteen years (and counting), but God has loved you since the beginning of time.

My heart breaks at the troubles you’ve had, and I know yours has too, so I thank God He is The One Holding You.

I wish I could make everything better.  I’m not strong enough to carry your burdens but I can drag them to the feet of Jesus and meet you there.

That is what I love about you.  No matter what we have been through, we bring each other back to the Mighty One Who Saves.  We tune our ears to the songs He sings over us.  We sing His praises with our hearts bleeding and our tears falling, our breaths shaking and desperation calling.

We know, This is not The End.  This is the start of Something New, Something Bold, Something We Do Not Yet Behold.  It is the approaching footsteps of God coming through, coming to rescue me and you.  It is the shift in the atmosphere, the Voice of God saying, “I AM.  HERE.”

It is the beating of angels’ wings; Heaven’s Armies all surround us.  The glory of God in the cloud, coming down.  It is not near; it is HERE.  It encamps among us, seeps into us.  It is the Mighty Rushing Wind; it is the River of Life around the bend.

It is us asking, “God, what are You doing here?”

It is Him responding, “Just draw near.”

It is His breath we are breathing, His life we are embracing.  His blood running through our veins, His heart we are chasing.  To do so alongside you is something invaluable to me, all the things you help me see that show me I am not my own.  Thanks to you, I have grown.

So in this time when you are hurt, I beg you to never forget your worth.  Look back at your battle scars and trust that God has not gone off far.

He is here, He is now, He is forever.  He has not left you and He will never.

So in all the things you have to do, take comfort that I AM is in you.

Keep On Keepin’ On: A Letter to a Sister in Christ

I saw the pain in your eyes that day.  You ask me now what that looked like, but there is no one word to describe it.  Fear? Defeat? Agony? Weariness? Hopelessness? Evidence of your pain leaked only from the windows to your soul; every other entrance had been shut down and sealed off.  You were past the point of reaching for help.  Past the point of acknowledging the hope of a rescue.  You were ready to give up.

In fact, I think you already had.

You were trudging along because that’s what is done, but if you fell you wouldn’t have cared to get up again.  It was too hard.  Believe me, I understand.  The road gets so rough you forgot what life was like before your pain.  I had just gotten off that same road, and when God told me to go right back on it to get you, well, my first response wasn’t a “Yes, Lord”!

But how could I not share that there was an end to the road? To share hope was a privilege, yes, but to get to you meant I had to re-live some of the same moments I had just gotten out of.

The verse that I had clung to when I was where you were was Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh without fear of the future.” I loved that verse because I was nowhere near achieving it, but knew I could get there because God was the one in charge of clothing me.  To have strength and be dignified were far from what I felt, and the thought of being able to laugh without fear that I would just be sad again was nearly mythical, it was such a foreign concept.  Yet I clung to the hope that one day I could be like the woman the verse was talking about.

I didn’t realize at that time that in order to be clothed in strength, you may have to revisit some of your weakest moments.  In order to be dignified you have to be humbled.  And in order to laugh without fear of the future you have to conquer your past.

When I reached out to help you heal, I didn’t realize how much healing God was going to do in me.  It was the furthest thing from easy.  It was the furthest thing from painless.  Yet it was one of the most powerful things I have ever experienced.

The thought of my hardship being redeemed was laughable to me.  How could even God ever turn it around for good? I could see absolutely nothing good in it, but to see you make it through to the other side was a victory for me too.  It was a redemption for me, to know that my past was not wasted.  To think that God used my story in yours.

So now, as you’ve moved from one hard place to another, let me remind you to think back on where you were.  By the grace of God you’ve come this far, and He will lead you Home.  He’s not giving up on you now! He hasn’t brought you this far to leave you now! You lift your eyes to the Author and Finisher of your faith, who for the joy set before Him, the thought of you being in Heaven with Him, endured the cross, despising its shame, so that one day you may be seated with Him in Heaven.

No part of your story is wasted.  God will work everything together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  Perhaps these seasons of hardships have actually been seasons of preparing you for your destiny? What if God is strategically positioning you in the home that you’re in so that you can stand up and speak (maybe even without being called upon, like Esther) a message that will save those you love? Maybe you’ve been prepared and placed where you are for such a time as this? Maybe this is your time to declare that you are not backing down now.  You are standing up to fight on this spiritual battlefield, and in the name of Jesus you are taking back what the enemy has stolen from you: childhood innocence, years of your life, peace, sound sleep, and more! Today is the day to tell the devil, not today satan! I AM in me makes me enough.  I AM has clothed me in strength to fight and in the dignity to lift my head up again.  I can laugh without fear of my future because God has purchased my past and holds my future in His hands.  He has done the same for you.  No shame or fear can hold you back!

Fix your thoughts on things above (Phil. 4:8)! Keep your head up, and if one day it droops again, remember that God is the lifter of your head (Ps. 3:3) and the strength of your heart (Ps. 73:26).

 

Full Circle: A Letter to My Mentor

Thank you.

Those two simple words could never adequately reflect the depths of my gratitude to you.  I doubt anything ever could.

I wanted to take a moment and let you know that I would not be the same person if you had not come into my life.  I wonder if I would be here at all.  You were one of the few people whose eyes I looked into during that season of my life.

I was so worn.  So weary.  So tired.  But also so afraid.  I was afraid of letting anyone in because I was afraid of having to let them go.  I was too weary to cry for help, and most days too hopeless to lift my head and look around for it.

I would never wish those times on anybody, but I also would not trade them for the world.  They have made me into who I am today, but if it wasn’t for you (and the grace of God) I don’t know that I would have made it to today.

Thank you for listening to God and reaching out to me.  Thank you for inviting me into your home and showing me love.  I needed it so desperately.  To look into your kids’ faces and see how much they loved me, to be accepted and loved, unconditionally and fearlessly, was a precious gift.

I am eternally grateful for the time spent with you and your family.  I learned so much and was so refreshed by time away from my house.  There was a peace and a joy that I experienced with your family that gave my heart strength to keep going.

Saying “see you later” when you moved away was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, because it felt so much like “goodbye”.  And in a way, it was.  It was “goodbye” to sleepovers and park days, to random drop-in visits and to swinging on your front porch.  It was goodbye to being 10 minutes away, because it became over 10 hours away.  It was goodbye to the little things that meant everything.

There’s no denying that’s one of the most brutal goodbye’s I’ve ever said, but out of it I said a lot of new hellos.  They were scary hello’s, no doubt, but they were hello’s just the same.  They were hello’s to finding God’s love in places other than exclusively your family.  Those hello’s made me look for God, and when I did, I found Him in the most unlikely of places.

I found Him in people I didn’t even like.  I found Him in the new.  The new people that needed me to love them just as much as I had needed you to love me.  I didn’t like those people because they reminded me so much of me and what I went through, but as I came to realize that it meant what I went through wasn’t wasted, I also came to love them.

As I loved these people and helped them through their trials (which were eerily similar to mine!), I came to find out that one of them lived one street down from where you had moved from.

It was as if God was saying that not only did my heartache come full circle to heal someone else’s heartache, it was the next street onward.  Forward progress.  I wasn’t stuck in my pain and in missing you, but moving forward.

I still miss you like crazy.  It’ll sneak up on me at times and make me cry.  But I wanted to say thank you for being such a big part of my life, and thank you for following God when He told you it was time to move on.  I’m not the same without you, and I’m so thankful for the times we were together nearly everyday.  Now as we are apart, I’m thankful again, because it taught me to pick myself back up and love again.

God used you to give me hope, love, and life, and now I’m passing those things on to others too.  Thank you for your example to me.  I love you.

 

PS. Now that girl, the one that lives one street down from where you did, is rising up and loving fearlessly too.  She’s ministering to a group of girls and leading them in a study about living loved and overcoming rejection.  What God started with you loving me is still going as girls in my community are learning both how much they are loved by God and how to love others.

Encouragement for Those Struggling with Sin

Awhile back I put together this list of songs, verses, quotes, and sermons that helped (and still help) me when I’m trying to fix my focus on God and get out of a rut of sin or slackness in my relationship with God.  I’m sharing it here so it will all be in one place for you; I hope you find it helpful!

 

Songs:

“Forgive Me” Tenth Avenue North

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEeglv01BCA

“More Than Conquerers” Rend Collective

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2p8_4NbrcKA

“Move (Keep Walkin’)“ Toby Mac

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzYsrAcuS0s

“Lift Your Head Weary Sinner” David Crowder

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hDZ3aNTAR4

“Strong Love” Jon Thurlow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh6MCaN71Dk

“Hello, My Name Is” Matthew West

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdVZ3JdthFM

“Come Thou Fount” Chris Rice

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax_NMWLEb6U

“Need You Now (How Many Times)” Plumb

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ylnx0NA9X4

“How He Loves” David Crowder

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FxaUYjRtkc

“You Are My Hiding Place” Selah

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dR0H0tAYT8

“Shackles” MaryMary

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PfuT-0YAf4

“No Longer Slaves to Fear” Bethel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8TkUMJtK5k

“Greater” MercyMe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXI0B4iMLuU

“I Am Not the Same” Unhindered

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JamKlq7QMw

“Eye of the storm” Ryan Stevenson

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw3zIA1NJU0

“Desert Soul” Rend Collective

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD9xdDNX_hk

“Oh Fear (My God is Near)” Moriah Peters

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5SUYDX9HwU

“Grace Wins” Matthew West

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JXl1czvh7g

“Drops in the Ocean” Hawk Nelson

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZH13wFGffg

“Priceless” For King and Country

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPgSrMOTnqM

“Just Be Held” Casting Crowns

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIZitK6_IMQ

“Loyal” Lauren Daigle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXKG-ooExGs

“You Will Never Run” Rend Collective

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRBvxR3Rc30

“Beloved” Jordan Feliz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgJFUW3VenY

“Day One” Matthew West

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq2Tp3asLU8

“Beloved” Tenth Avenue North

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-Nbt8lCJrk

“Fix My Eyes” For King and Country

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM-Bf9gE0gw

“You Raise Me Up” Selah

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DorNUsi5LE

“Alabaster Jar” Rend Collective

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvN79FGLhZ4

“How Can It Be” Lauren Daigle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wt5X91ciE6Y

“Ever Be” Bethel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhasSpSBdEE

“Testify” NeedToBreathe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDcYsyx2mCg

“Second Chance” Rend Collective

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6RNJ6HDTpU

“Jesus, Friend of Sinners” Casting Crowns

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipwEtvWL_3c

“Same Power” Jeremy Camp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InsifiZxVXU

“One Thing Remains” Jesus Culture

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_KXsMCJgBQ

“Mended” Matthew West

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Otg-5p7qug

“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” Selah

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vmY2ztb5xc

“Trembling” About a Mile

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2oS-k2aH9M

“The Cost” Rend Collective

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEWymdRBHho

“Beautiful Things” Gungor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1spkhp41ig4

“Stronger” Mandisa

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrcIN54E7Kk

“I Choose Jesus” Moriah Peters

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL2bZfHmsDs

“Call it Grace” Unspoken

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAMU68NTVQw

“The List” Matthew West

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1pQrsUDjDU

“God is on the Move” 7eventh Time Down

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPB9ENSd1Xc

“I Want It All Back” Tye Tribett

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWlMgquVvHg

“Alone” Hollyn ft. TRU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpk9PfOVFQk

 

Sermons:

Don’t Stop on 6—Steven Furtick

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtHIS-frWos

I Am—Steven Furtick

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-MQRrnmET8

How to Love the Mud—Steven Furtick

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xymsHxaLAYE

Hold That Thought—Steven Furtick (Yeah, he’s my pastor 🙂 )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8lE79qWVTA

Fix Your Mind—John Allison

I can’t figure out how to link that specific sermon, but here’s a link to Redeemer sermons, and this one was on 08.16.2015

http://redeemerpc.com/media-sermons/

Hello from the Other Side—Steven Furtick

http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/hello-from-the-other-side/

Beating Burnout—Steven Furtick

http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/beating-burnout/

Find Your Flow—Steven Furtick

I actually don’t remember what this one was about, but I know I probably listened to it 5 times. http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/find-your-flow/

Be the Vessel—Jentezen Franklin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Cjvdhv01hQ

Verses:

Jeremiah 31:3 NLT

“Long ago the Lord said to Israel: ‘I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.  With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”

Philippians 3:14 NLT

“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

2 Timothy 2:13 NKJV

“If we are faithless, He is faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”

Psalm 27:13-14 NLT

“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.  Wait patiently for the Lord.  Be brave and courageous.  Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”

Psalm 69:13-15 NLT

“But I keep praying to you, Lord, hoping this time you will show me favor.  In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation.  Rescue me from the mud; don’t let me sink any deeper! Save me from those who hate me, and pull me from these deep waters.  Don’t let the floods overwhelm me, or the deep waters swallow me, or the pit of death devour me.”

2 Samuel 22:17-20 MSG

“But me He caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out of that clean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning.  They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me.  He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!”

1 Corinthians 1:8 NLT

“He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.”

Hosea 10:12 NKJV

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.”

1 Corinthians 15:57 NKJV

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Psalm 18:19b NKJV

“He delivered me because He delighted in me.”

Joshua 23:10 NKJV

“One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you.”

Zechariah 2:8 NKJV

“For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.”

Micah 7:18-19 NKJV

“Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.  He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.  You will cast our sins into the depths of the sea.”

Isaiah 58:11 NKJV

“The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”

Psalm 18:29 NLT

“In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.”

Psalm 32:5 NKJV

“I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden.  I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.”

Psalm 51:10 NLT

“Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a loyal spirit within me.”

Psalm 55:16-18 NKJV

“As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me.  Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.  He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me, for there were many against me.”

Psalm 119:11 NIV

“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:40-41,58 NKJV

“Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord; let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven.  O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul; You have redeemed my life.”

Romans 12:2 NKJV

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Romans 13:14 NKJV

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV

“No temptation has overtaken except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Galatians 2:20 NKJV

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Galatians 5:16-17 NKJV

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”

Philippians 2:13 NLT

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”

Philippians 3:12-14 MSG

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made.  But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.  Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in any of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward-to Jesus.  I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”

Colossians 3:1-3 NKJV

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

2 Thessalonians 3:3 NKJV

“But God is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.”

1 Timothy 6:11-12 NKJV

“But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

2 Timothy 2:21 NASB

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”

1 Peter 1:13-16 NKJV

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope full upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”

1 Peter 2:9 NASB

“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”

Quotes:

“Admit it.  Confess it.  Own it.  But don’t stay stuck in it.  It’s not who you are.”—Steven Furtick

“What they say doesn’t define who I am.  God loves me with the same love in the middle of my sin as when I’m close in fellowship with him.”—Don’t remember

“When we do meet difficulties and sorrows, they were not meant to stop us but to form the character required for our great harvest in the coming season.”—Beth Moore

“It is better to have the opportunity of victory than to be spared the struggle.” Amelia E. Barr

“I’m too bright to burn out.”—Steven Furtick

“It’s not about competing with others.  It’s about competing with myself.  If everyday I am a step ahead of my old self, I’m winning.”—Don’t remember