Month: April 2012

A to Z: Overcoming Insecurity

Insecurity

1. Not sure or certain; doubtful

2. Inadequately guarded or protected;unsafe

3. Not firm or fixed; unsteadyLacking stability; troubled

4. Lacking self-confidence; plagued by anxiety

When I was a teen, I came across a story in the Readers Digest I will never forget. The setting was a small village in the Middle East. In this village lived a handsome young man who’s family was both wealthy and prestigious. His presence caused quite a stir among the single women when it was announced that he had begun the search for a bride.

This town was filled with many beautiful women. Some of these beauties possessed great wealth of their own, while others could claim only beauty. This town was the home of another figure. She walked with hunched shoulder. Her eyes remained fixed sullenly upon the ground as she shuffled silently by. She was the brunt of the scorn and criticism of all the other single women in the village. When speculation and wagers rose regarding the lucky bride this man might chose for a wife, the name of this dejected girl was never suggested, unless it was to make  her the brunt of a cruel and heartless joke.

The record for the largest price any father in the village had ever received for a daughter, included four camels. Would this man’s offer equal this? Weeks passed and soon word got out that the man had made his choice. For days the single woman eagerly spied from behind their windows, in the hopes they might see this dashing young man approaching their tent. They diligently searched their father’s eyes for any clue that he had been the honored recipient of a generous  marriage proposal.

For days whispers of “Did you hear?” or  “Do you know who?” flew from household to household yet the name never surfaced. Then a mysterious woman arrived. She appeared to be a stranger yet she looked vaguely familiar. She was gracious and beautiful, commanding the attention of everyone she met. She was stunning in every manner, and her eyes brimmed with the confidence and poise of royalty. Word soon got out, this mystery woman was the lucky one chosen by the young man. Who was she? Where did she come from? Wait, isn’t that ……… the villagers began to mutter? Their surprise was replaced with wonder but nothing equaled the astonished reactions when they received the next piece of news regarding the couple. The wealthy, dashing, handsome young man had paid not four but seven camels to make this outcast his bride!

A wise man from the village approached the young couple weeks after their marriage, no longer able to resist the mystery of the seven camels and the woman’s transformation. Why did you offer seven camels for the outcast of the village he asked? The groom smiled and looked lovingly at his bride. I watched my wife go about her life when no one was looking, scorning, or mocking her. I saw a beauty and worth inside that no one else knew existed. She was like a flower not yet bloomed. I paid seven camels for her because I wanted her to know how beautiful, worthy, and priceless her life was. My gift was but water to a thirsty flower, enabling her to thrive and be who she truly was inside, the woman you now see before you.

Insecurity, we all struggle with it in some form or manner. I have struggled with insecurity my entire life. Everyone I met became my personal measuring stick. No matter how spiritual, athletic, friendly, or successful I was, there was always someone better. I was a prisoner to my insecurity, and it transformed me within and without, but not for my good.

Years later, I look back upon those insecure years and realize how distorted my focus on life had become. I was looking to broken and fallen mankind for worth, value, meaning, and acceptance and they could not provide that. The broken can not heal, the sinner can’t save, the unrighteous can’t make righteous, the blind can’t lead.

I was like that hunched and dejected woman in the story who’s life was transformed by the unspeakable gift of a lover. I was bent and marred by sin, yet He looked upon me with love and paid the ultimate price to give me a new life, purpose, and love. He who was Beauty and Holiness, Majesty and Glory, sacrificed His most treasured Son, that I might  be transformed. The day my heart grasped the extent of the sacrifice the King of Glory made on my behalf, my life was transformed. I belong to Him now, not for the price of seven camels, but for the price of His Son. He is my beauty and confidence. His pleasure is now my desire and aim. Because of His love for me, I am learning to overcome my insecurities. Because of His sacrifice, a desire courses withing my heart to please Him, not man. Praise the Lord for His unspeakable and priceless gift that liberates me from the bondage of insecurity. May my life reflect the reality of His Gift and Love for me!

“9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you,

asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will

in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,

 fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work

and increasing in the knowledge of God.

11May you be strengthened with all power,

according to his glorious might,

for all endurance and patience with joy,” Col 1:9-11(ESV)

A to Z: Overcoming Through Hope

Hope

1: to cherish a desire with anticipation
1: to desire with expectation of obtainment
2: to expect with confidence : trust
“To desire with an expectation of obtainment.” This isn’t the same kind of hope used in sentences millions of times every day. “I hope it doesn’t rain”, “I hope I pass the test”, “I hope I get that bike I wanted”. This kind of hope reflects a desire with no guarantee of that desires fulfillment. It is wistfulness tempered by the knowledge that for every prayer for a sunny rain free day, there are others praying for rain, who desperately need rain. This hope drowns in the reality that although I hope for a good grade, I didn’t really study and prepare so I neither deserve it nor will likely get it. This is not the hope I am speaking of.
The hope that enables me to overcome sorrow, pain, grief, fear, and anger is as beautiful and mysterious as its benefactor. It is present in hospital rooms across the world as family encircles a loved one passing into eternity. This hope mingles with the grief and pain of  wives, children, dads, and friends forced to say goodbye long before they ever dreamed or expected. This hope does not banish the gut wrenching pain of love betrayed. It does not erase the pain of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. This hope doesn’t create fairy tail “happily ever after” ending it does something far greater and more powerful. This hope enables the hurt, wounded and bewildered to look past the present, and into the future where the fulfillment of Hope awaits, He who will whipe away every tear and broken heart. This merciful gift called Hope allows the suffering to breath, live, and survive in a world we so often long to escape.
This is not The World We All Want! and deep within our being, is a soul crying out for more. As my heart suffers, yearns, and groans, I am not overwhelmed by these emotions, but rather spurred on by them. My pain and suffering is a stark reminder that there is more. Laying just beyond this world of confusion, turmoil, and disappointment is ForeverThe Lord of Eternity, Forever, Grace, Hope, Belief, and my Atonement  reigns there. In His presence is the absence of pain, suffering, sorrow, and the world my heart yearns for.  My days, moments, and life is in His hands. His heart breaks with mine, and He is exalted when I triumph. Death is not the end, it is the glorious beginning of eternity and forever. This is my hope and expectation. The King of Kings, who conquered sin and death through the wondrous sacrifice of His blameless body on the tree reigns King over chaos. No matter how dark or painful my day may be, He is there.  His Glory, and the Life that awaits me pales in comparison to the momentary afflictions I endure. He is my hope! He is my cherished desire, and expectation, and one day I will see Him face to face. He will wipe away every tear and mend my broken and corrupt heart and soul. He will be my Abba Father, my God, and I will be His!

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

Refrain

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

Refrain

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

Refrain

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Refrain

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
According to his great mercy,
he has caused us to be born again
to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
I Peter 1:3

A to Z: Overcoming Through Grace

Grace

Jody!

Yes, that is my name, placed where the definition of grace should be. No I am not implying I am “Grace“, but rather my life is an example of God’s grace on earth. I have been empowered and enabled to overcome. If your life has been transformed by the Risen One, you can place your name right beside mine. We are grace in action, the evidence of a powerful, loving, and righteous God at work.

God’s grace and mercy have been evident in my life from birth. I was born over three months premature weighing a little over 2lbs and I lived. While quite common now, it was unheard of in the 70’s. Unlike most preemie’s, I had no physical or developmental issues. My lungs, heart, digestive system, and eyes worked perfectly. My older brother, who was born a year before me, was over 3.5 months premature as well but he didn’t make it. Had David lived, I would never have been born! After his birth, David was silently whisked away. My mother told she wouldn’t want to see him, that he was a blob of cells. When she saw me for the first time, she cried because she knew David had been more than a blob at birth and she never got to see him and say goodbye. All this to say, I was granted life when against all adds My life should have ended at birth.

Then there is the exhaustive list of near death experiences and ER trips. Things like falling off the top of a very tall slide and landing headfirst onto the concrete below with not so much a scratch…… well my brother and sister claim that fall “explains everything”, but I adamantly deny any such residual issues. These all pale in comparison to the Lord’s grace in my life over the last 25 years.

As I look back upon my life, I see the relentless pursuit of a Father who loved me and chose me to be His before the foundations of the earth were established. I was, and still am a head strong, bull-headed child, with a selfish and proud heart. I was the bull in the china shop, racing ahead blindly to get, see, feel, know, escape. I can not separate out even a day of my life where the Lord’s presence was not evident, actively working to draw me to Himself.

 He has been my teacher, patiently answering my how’s, why’s, and earnest pleas to overcome, endure, and understand. He has been the paddle wielding father, lovingly yet sternly chastising & correcting my sinful heart when I have strayed from the truth. He has been my quiet refuge in the midst of dark turbulent storms of life. He has been my strength when I was so weak and broken I despaired of my very life. He has been the smiling father, joyfully bestowing the best that He has to offer, like His answer to my years of longing and prayer for a husband and companion. He has painted my life with brilliant strokes of loving grace. He has scraped the canvas of my life, purging from it the marred black streaks of sin, death, destruction and hopelessness. He has created beauty from ashes, and transformed the scars of bad decisions and foolishness making them monuments to His faithfulness and steadfast mercy.

He has pursued me with the energy, and passion of a lover, and though marred and scarred by sin, He has loved me and cherished me. I did not and do not deserve his regard, yet He has given it to me with great delight. I confess to you, that had the Lord not loved me, pursued me, corrected me, chastised me, healed me, and poured out His limitless grace upon my life I would be the most despised, wretched, depraved sinner on the face of this earth. I would have been crushed by pride, bitterness, wrath, depression, and a depraved heart and mind.

With His stripes I was healed. With His love I was washed and covered. By His grace I have overcome sin and death. My life is a living testament that God lives, loves, forgives, heals, and can miraculously transform the most wretched of sinners. Praise be to God that He would see fit to intervene in my life and use me as an instrument to demonstrate His power, Love, and Grace poured out onto mankind.

“My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake,
I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

A to Z: Overcoming Through Forever


Forever

1. For everlasting time; eternally
2. At all times; incessantly
Long before this challenge began, I knew what “F” would be. I am reading a book that is amazing, challenging, life changing….. It’s title is, yes you guessed it, Forever. Were I to attempt to summarize my thoughts on this book so far, my blogging challenge would come to an abrupt end due to the fact I wouldn’t be able to get past this word. Paul Tripp summarizes ‘the importance and power found in his book,  Forever: Why you can’t live without it, far better than I could so below I will just include his intro and links to his site where he has an introductory video on the power and importance of forever. My prayer is that you will experience the purpose and power “Forever” grants us to Overcome.
You May Be Suffering from Eternity Amnesia … The Bible assures us that God has placed eternity in our hearts. It tells us we are created for pleasure, wired for joy—all with God at the center. But in a world that is broken and suffering, it’s easy to forget this, living instead with a pack-it-all-in mentality, loading up the here and now with expectations that will only be fulfilled in eternity. Fortunately we don’t have to live frustrating, disappointing lives. Instead, we can take heart, realizing that life doesn’t feel right because it isn’t right. It’s not meant to be—not yet anyway. Paul Tripp points out that having an eternity perspective will enable us to live for something bigger than ourselves and larger than this moment. No longer trapped in the shrunken kingdom of “right here, right now,” we will be able to lead lives of greater significance and peace.Through stories, examples, and biblical teaching, Tripp rehabilitates the notion of an afterlife, not as some vague, ethereal place in which we will someday reside, but as a living, robust reality that Scripture promises.

 

“I have said these things to you,
that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart;
I have overcome the world.” John 16:33(ESV)

A to Z: Overcoming Though Eternity


Eternity

1.  Continuing without interruption; perpetual.
2. Forever true or changeless: eternal truths.
3. Seemingly endless; interminable.
4. Of or relating to spiritual communion with God, especially in the afterlife.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self  is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18(ESV)

Trying to summarize how “eternity” empowers me to overcome was very daunting. My mind swirled with so many analogies & emotions. Eternity is what my soul yearns for, it is life with no more death, endings, goodbyes, and no more physical limits. Immediately, I thought of the verses in 2 Corinthians. These words express perfectly what it is that drives me to overcome here on earth as I press forward with my feet planted in the present my gaze strains, rooted towards the heavens and eternity with Him.
My life is winding down, and there is less of it left today than there was yesterday. While there is a natural inclination to fight for life, and to cling to our days, I find no sadness,  and no despair in the fact my end will come, and that my body will wither away and die. Each day may bring physical death one step closer, but at the same time this death also ushers me to closer to the glorious threshold to eternity.  This life and these moments are not all there is. This life is but an appetizer of things to come, and quite frankly a poor one in comparison of what has been promised “yet to be.”

 

Were there no hope of life after death, and no purpose for my life other than what I could attain and accomplish here on earth, I feel my days would be filled with frantic grapplings and relentless empty pursuits. My life would be singularly focused on the goal of attaining things which could only be mine but for fleeting moments in time. Following each conquest would be a deep engulfing sense of discontent and a silent horrifying whisper  “Is that all there was.”
Because Jesus Christ made atonement for my sins, I am fully persuaded and believe, new life, true life awaits me. Because I have confessed Jesus Christ is Lord, and submitted my life to him, spiritual death has taken place followed by a Spiritual resurrection and new life. While I wait for eternity, my goal is to finish well, no regrets, and no waste. I will stand before the Lord of Creation and give account for my days and hours. Though my victories will pale in the light of His Holiness and Beauty, I want something to give him. I want my life to demonstrate that I understood as well as I possibly could, the wondrous and amazing sacrifice He made on my behalf. I will die to myself, and fight every day to overcome, becuase when I stand at the threshhold of eternity, I want to hear the words “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

And do not fear those who kill the body

but cannot kill the soul.

Rather fear him who can destroy

both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28 (ESV)

Celebrate with me!!!!!!

I am celebrating the launch of my new FaceBook ministry page, overcomingloneliness.

Help me get the word out. Everyone who stops by and “likes” the page will be entered in a drawing to win an amazing book by Paul Tripp called Forever: Why you can’t live without it.

If I get over 50 likes, I will add a gift card to the winners restaurant of choice.

 

A to Z: Overcoming Through Death

Death

a : a permanent cessation of all vital functions : the end of life b : the cause or occasion of loss of life

c : a cause of ruin
d: the state of being dead
: the passing or destruction of something inanimate

To say one can overcome through death appears to be the ultimate of oxymorons.  Death implies an end of power,  intellect, ability, and opportunity. When life leaves our soul, the opportunity to overcome exits with it, or does it?

Because I have been cleansed through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, I believe death is but the beginning of truly living and the ultimate act of overcoming. The day I confessed that Jesus Christ was Lord, yielding my life to Him, I died and yet the same instant I was reborn.

When I was buried with Christ, the chains of sin were broken, and the grip of death and damnation defeated. I am a new creation no longer bound by the law that both mandated my ruin but also guaranteed it. “Let not sin reign in your mortal bodies” wasn’t just an unrealistic command, it was a gift and ability won for me at great expense.

Because of His death and my death, I can go to bed every evening, and reflect upon my day, my actions, my failures, and my successes and be filled with hope instead of depression. Each day is an opportunity to overcome. I may stumble along the way, and fail in an area I am striving to master, but with my eyes to heaven I know I am being transformed every day into his likeness.

I look forward to the day heaven and earth pass away, bringing with it the final death-blow to imperfect and corrupted flesh. On that day the need to overcome will come to an end, for I shall see Him face to face and be righteous even as He is Righteous.

   What shall we say then?

Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?

By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus

were baptized into his death?

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death,

in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead

by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:1-4 (ESV)

A to Z: Overcoming through Confession

Confession

1: to tell or make known (as something wrong or damaging to oneself)
: to acknowledge (sin) to God
3: to disclose one’s faults; specifically : to unburden one’s sins or the state of one’s conscience to God
4; to make an acknowledgment or admission (of faults, misdeeds, crimes, etc.)
5. to admit or grant to be true; concede

There is a popular saying that goes something like this, “The first step to recovery, is admitting there is a problem.” In essence, this states that in order for someone to overcome something in their life they have to admit there is an issue, habit, or problem which  has hurtful, damaging, and/or destructive repercussions in their life.

One of the most amazing mysteries of God’s grace is the merciful process by which he removes the scales from the eyes of a man who is condemned to death but doesn’t know it. With the scales removed He doesn’t simply exit the life of the condemned, but instead then offers him the hope of overcoming the very sin which has dammed his soul to eternal death in hell.

 

When man is brought to the realization that his best is putrid compared to the glory and righteousness of God, the horror of his sin and vileness before God may bring him to his knees, but then the hope of God’s salvation & mercy empowers him to boldly confess, and cling to a power that allows him to overcome the very thing that seconds earlier condemned him to an eternity of torment and anguish.

 

Were it not for the mercy and grace of God I could not overcome because I would neither see a need to overcome nor a way to overcome. Were it not for God’s steadfast love my pride, anger, and selfishness would consume and destroy my life, family, and marriage. Praise be to God for daily speaking to my heart,  revealing to me the things that dishonor him and damage me. Glory to God for the desire he has placed in my life to die to the flesh so I might live and walk in the spirit. As I confess I am a sinner saved by grace, the glory of the realization of the gift I have been given compels me to fall before Him daily confessing my need for renewal, forgiveness, and his grace poured out upon my life.

 

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
Pr 28:13 (ESV)
Because The Lord of Mercy saw fit to open my eyes, I have confessed, and because I have confessed I have overcome the evil one. Because of Him my life is a daily story of Overcoming.
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
14 I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
I John 2:13-14 (ESV)

A to Z: Overcoming through Believing

Believe

1a to have a firm religious faith b : to accept something as true, genuine, or real
2 to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something
3 to hold an opinion
a  to consider to be true or honest
b : to accept the word or evidence of

Mark 9:23b “…All things are possible for one who believes”

 The varsity basketball tournament my freshman year in high school is a piece of my history I wish I could erase from memory. We were a tiny, private high school team with just a handful of wins so naturally we were scheduled to play the #1 seeded, unbeaten, top ranked school in the county. We never had a chance and we knew it. We were out classed and out of our league. Not a single one of us entertained hopes of pulling off a stunning David vs Goliath upset.  In short we did not believe victory was possible. That evening, our performance provided a beautiful illustration of the importance and power of hope or rather the disastrous results when hope is absent. We didn’t just lose that evening, we got slaughtered by eighty plus points. Our failure was inevitable so we never even put up a fight.


When it comes to the daily battles I wage to overcome, what I believe about myself, and eternity, is critical to my subsequent success or failures. As King David so eloquently wrote “I would have fainted unless I had believed to see the Goodness of the Lord in the land of the Living.”  When my life is besieged by unspeakable sorrows, pain, and turmoil my belief, that there is something better, and something of far greater worth, empowers me, giving me the strength to persevere and to fight. I choose to fight and endure because in the end I know all I suffer through will be “worth it all when I see Jesus.”


I believe this world is not my home. I believe the most precious gift, God’s only Son, was broken and poured out for my sins. I believe that I have been redeemed and ransomed by the Son of God. I believe I am gloriously and complete cleansed, forgiven, and covered by that priceless offering. I believe one day I will see the Creator of the Universe. He will wipe away the tears from my eyes and then point to His nail scarred Son, and say “with His stripes you were cleansed and healed.  I believe I will rule and reign in heaven with Him!


Because I believe in Him, I will fight to overcome, heeding His cry to be holy because He is Holy. Because I believe he equips, empowers, and completes the work He has begun in my life, not only will I fight, I will overcome. One day in the near future I will bow before Him and cast all my paltry victories at His feet. I will cry “my Abba Father, your righteous work in me is done, sin & death has been overcome.”
Even so may it be my Lord and my God!

A to Z: Overcoming Through Atonement

Atonement:

1. satisfaction, reparation, or expiation given for an injury or wrong
a.  the reconciliation of man with God through the life, sufferings, and sacrificial death of Christ
b.  the sufferings and death of Christ
2. Christian Science the state in which the attributes of God are exemplified in man
When I think about “Overcoming“, the first thought that comes to my mind is the actions which have enabled me to overcome. All the mistakes, disappointments, trials, weaknesses, and hardships of life exist because of sin. Were it not for the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross, the ability to overcome would elude me. God delivering up His Son as a sacrifice for my sins didn’t level the playing field, it annihilated it.  He who gave all, owns all. Victory over sin and death was rightfully won by Him. Because of His love and mercy I can say “If God be for us, who can be against us.” This is the banner I march under as I face the adversity and opposition of each day. If sin has been conquered, if the flesh has been put to death, overcoming isn’t just a goal or a hope, it is my reality and my destiny. Praise be to God for His unspeakable gift of atonement and for the healing, peace, life, and power if has brought to my life.  Because He has made atonement for me, I can overcome through Him.