overcome

A husband’s greatest need….is for you not to “need” him.

A husband’s greatest need….

One of the most difficult lessons I have learned in 14 short years of marriage is this-

One of the greatest gifts I can give my husband is to not “need” him.

You see, by nature we are very needy women.  Early in my life, I took great prided in my physical and emotional strength and abilities. When I turned twenty-eight, that facade of inner and outer strengthen was obliterated when I entered into a life long covenant with my husband David. The union of two saints who possessed hearts that groaned daily under the burden of sin and self,  exposed a frailty and neediness I had no idea I had become a slave to.

I needed my husband to be romantic and write notes and send flowers like he did when we were dating, in order to feel secure in our relationship and love. I needed him to come home from work on time in order to ensure my troubled heart that our children and I were the most important thing in his life. I needed him to choose spending time with me/us rather than playing games on the internet and reading articles that weren’t nearly as interesting as I though I was, in order to feel loved and cherished. I desperately needed to see him look away from sultry dressed women as they passed by and to publicly wage bloody warfare against the endless stream of immorality and porn on the internet in order to feel a sense of worth and beauty. I needed him to visibly demonstrate he was a mighty man of God by getting up early and spending time in the word and in prayer in order to rest assured our home was pleasing to God and under His spiritual protection. This “I need” list was massive and dictated my days and my nights. When these things did not happen with the frequency or to the degree I thought they should, I willingly boarded an emotional and mental roller coaster laden with endless hills of self pity, fear, jealousy, doubt, anger, withdrawal….The mood and spirit of our home was unwillingly drug behind the erratic flight of my unstable and distorted coaster called “Neediness” and “frailty.” My peace was determined solely upon my perception of “how” I thought my husband was performing in life both spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  I had no idea how destructive this “neediness” was to our marriage and my life spiritually until God mercifully broke me and then faithfully bound my soul back together by exposing the sinfulness and idolatry of my heart.

Six years into our marriage, on the outside, life seemed perfect.We had a cozy home, three beautiful children, and an uncanny absence of public turmoil or strife in our lives. Secretly I reveled in this. Hearing about the marital/relational struggles of others feed the monster of pride that steadily grew in my heart. A pride that blinded me to a smothering darkness in my life and marriage. Didn’t I deserve a perfect marriage and a perfect husband? I had done it all right, hadn’t I? I had waited 28 years for the right one. I had endured years of loneliness, disappointment, discouragement, and unfulfilled desires. David meant everything to me, but the image of a perfect life meant even more. I was willing to do or not do whatever it took to maintain the image of a perfect marriage. I buried hurts, swallowed back disappointment, and turned my head away from the things my heart screamed were off.

In one fleeting second, God humbled my proud heart with His heavy but loving hand of correction.  My heart was shattered and the facade of a perfect marriage ripped apart. I was not the perfect wife I thought myself to be. My husband was not the perfect man my pride had fashioned and placed as god in my life.  I was insecure and in my insecurity I had looked to my marriage and my husband for purpose, fulfillment, and meaning. Success was measured by the degree to which David met my needs as well as the absence of conflict and strife in our lives. My husbands happiness had been my goal because this was a measurable standard I could wear with pride. I needed my husband to be the perfect husband and father. I needed him to return to our home each evening happy and content. This is what I strove for while denying the failures and spiritual needs in my own life. It was much easier to remain silent, play the part of the perfect wife, and uphold the facade the peace than to address and conquer the spiritual darkness in our lives and in our home.

I needed David to be the perfect husband and father not because this was what was best for him but because this was what was best for me.  If he was perfect I would not hurt. If he was perfect I would not have needs unmet. If he was perfect, I could look perfect too. If I was perfect I could acquire the esteem of others.  I could dress up the outside of Jody and neglect the more painful and ugly Jody inside.

How my life changed…..

After an extremely painful trial in our marriage, I resisted seeking out Biblical counsel for myself and instead spent two years bound in a prison of fear and hurt. I didn’t know how to repair the pieces of my shattered heart but I was desperate for peace and healing. Like the stubborn child who insist on having things their own way, I did what I had always done, I placed the responsibility squarely on my husband shoulders. I decided I needed him to do a, b, and c to repair the broken pieces and bring healing to my life. I needed him to be strong, perfect, and daily reassure me I would never hurt again. This did not work because I was asking my husband to do something he  would never be capable of, perfection.

There is but one person who can accomplish what I demanded of my husband. Somewhere between single life and marriage, I placed my husband and marriage on the throne of my heart. I put a human with a sinful heart in a position only Christ could fill, demanding he play a role only God was capable of.

Sin can not produce holiness, peace can not rise from the ashes of chaos. Disease can not spawn healing. Only the God of Peace can bring peace. Only God the Righteous Judge can be, demand, and make one righteous. Only the Eternal, All Powerful, All Loving God can fill the abyss of a broken and needy heart. My needy heart needed it’s neediness to be reoriented to the one who never disappoints and never fails. It was in this moment of brokenness that God opened my eyes to the truth that my greatest need was Christ. In turn I discovered that my pursuit of fulfillment in Him this was the greatest gift I could ever give my husband and family.

You see, My husband’s greatest need was for me to “not need him”, but instead be possessed, driven, and overcome by my need for God. Our poor husbands are doomed for failure when we insist on placing them in a position they can’t measure up to. My liberation day came when I realized my peace and joy was not dependent upon my husband’s godly integrity, moral victories and spiritual growth. My healing and confidence came when I realized I could experience disappointment, failure, and pain in my marriage and life and still be “okay.” With my focus off my husband and on my own heart, sin, and needs, I found freedom, healing, and peace. A perfect marriage and husband would never bring peace and happiness, but a Jody with an upright and perfect heart toward God could experience and revel in a peace and joy unspeakable. When I could say “whom have I in heaven but Thee and there is none I desire beside thee” then peace, contentment, and joy would rain down. When my heart could echo David’s cry “My soul thirsts for you and my flesh longs for you” then I would experience a strength empowered by a Divinely given neediness, I was meant to experience daily. I was created needy so that I would daily, out of that neediness, peruse the strength of another. So that I would be driven to the throne and to the feet the the Savior who would gloriously and faithfully meet those needs.

What is your greatest need?

Perhaps you are hurting, looking at the shattered pieces of your heart and wondering how or if it is even possible to repair what has been so painfully broken. Has something been taken or withheld? Has your love been betrayed or cast aside? Please believe me when I say “beauty can rise among the ashes”, and “joy can  follow the cries of great sorrow.” Do not look at what or who has brought such pain or grief. Do not place the role of healer in their hands, this is a job they can not shoulder or fulfill.  This is the curse and product of sinful man and why he stands in such contrast with our Savior. Instead look to the only one capable of healing the broken, giving rest to the weary, bringing peace to the troubled. You need a Savior, a Redeemer, a Comforter. Yes God can transform the lives of those who have disappointed, frustrated, and wounded us but healing will never be found solely in another’s transformation but through our own.  You need Christ, not a husband. Your need the Righteous Judge, not a perfect spouse, life, marriage or family.

Jesus cry was “Come unto me and I will give rest”, “Know the truth and it will set you free….I am the truth”, “drink of the water I give..and never thirst” Let your gaze fall upon Him, let your heart rest upon Him. Set your hope and expectation upon He who never sleeps, never falters, who sees all, hears every cry, who is sufficient.

May the God of Peace fill you with peace!!!

Visit The Practice of Love for many uplifting and godly perspectives of marriage and life.

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On the edge of that glad surrender (RVSD 1/13)

On the Water’s edge…..

Free Image of a Boy Fishing on the Beach. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Guide.comI stand on the shoreline with my son, who wiggles about more violently than the worm I just skewered with a fishing hook.  As I attempt to remove slimy worm deposits from my fingers, my boy impatiently scans the lake before him, looking for signs of the hungry fish he has come to catch.  I smile at the energetic five-year old, dancing about beside me. He looks like he is about to pop out of his skin from  excitement.  I hand him the freshly loaded pole, but before I can launch into a “fish hook safety” lecture, a worm whizzes past my cheek plopping into the murky water that laps at out bare feet. Ripples race across the surface of the water like sonar, alerting the unsuspecting fish to our presence. Before the last expanding circles have had time to disappear, my son eagerly begins to reel in his line.

Hold on there Owen, I admonish. You have to leave it out there a while and wait for the fish to bite. He looks at me with a mixture of frustration and disbelief. He does not understand why nothing has happened. He has endured the waiting game for five grueling seconds, and in his opinion, countless fish should be floundering at our feet.

I Peter 5: 6-7 ESV

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God

So that at the proper time he may exalt you.

Casting ALL your anxiety on him

because he cares for you.

The Happy Exchange, that Glad Surrender….

I am not unlike my impatient son. I stand at the water’s edge, my hands filled with the “things” I desperately need to cast from weary shoulders.  I have come with burdens and the need for direction and assurance. I am impatient to rid my flesh of the “old way of life”. My spirit is eager to make a very lopsided exchange with the Father who cares deeply for me.  My son understands a fish is so much better than the slimy worm dangling  helplessly from his pole. I recognize that what He asks for and offers in exchange is so much better than the “things” that collect both spiritually and physically in my cluttered life. As I stand at the water’s edge, hands grimy with the things of this earth, my soul cries out “Father I believe, help my unbelief!”

I am humbled by the fact He is willing to take the little I have to offer and in exchange give what is His in abundance to pour out. Refreshing currents of hope lap at my tired feet as I recall similar visits to this  shore. I recount vivid moments in time when the healing waters of his grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness washed away the black ashes of pain, discouragement, and weariness. Beauty has always emerged from beneath the ashes.My mourning always turned to dancing. Exuberant songs of praise lifted high, the fruit of prayers offered up as sacrafice from a needy heart.

I stand on the shoreline with my Father, impatient for those needed moments of spiritual exchange. He looks deep within my heart, gently admonishing me to let go of the “things” that smother life and energy from my breast.  Some burdens are relinquished with the childlike eagerness of my impatient son. Others are harder to cast away, for I am ever reluctant to relinquish control. Then there are the “things” I have no clue how to sever from my life. The weakness of humanity can be so very frustrating! How easily I forget that I don’t have to be strong. How often I chaff over my inability to conquer on my own.

The ripples of his grace faithfully pull at the sand beneath my weary feet. The foundation I once clung to yields to the faithfulness of His steadfast love and without effort, I find myself drawn one step closer to He who is Peace. The Sweet relief of His unfathomable mercy pours over my parched heart as The Comforter gently whispers, “Remember my daughter, weakness is not a curse, but a window that invites humility as its sacred guest.”  I smile as I Peter 5:6-7 echoes in my mind….. Humility ushers us into that grand arena of opportunity, where room is made for the mighty Hand of God, and where the needy is exalted.

Today, I will unfold my chair and settle comfortably at the water’s edge. I am not sure how long my prayers will dance across marcandangelthe surface. His gift, that sweet exchange between earth and heaven might take place before the ripples have time to fade. Then again the echoes of my longing heart might disappear beneath the surface of His faithfulness, long before I receive His answers. I am here for the long haul. I have no idea if I will receive deliverance from my weaknesses, answers to my questions, or direction in my wanderings. Perhaps today my catch will not be answers, but rather grace sufficient to endure. The moon might rise before I reel in my line, heavy with His Divine exchange. The stars might keep diligent watch with me throughout the night, but one thing I know, I will not walk away from His presence disappointed. I will cast my line into the vast ocean of His abundant grace and mercy and I will wait for that happy exchange, that glad surrender! Worms for fish…grace for the redeemed.

Psalm 39:7 KJV

And now, Lord, What wait I for? 

My hope is in thee.


Covered in Grace

The amazing sunset photo used with permission via: http://www.marcandangel.com/2009/02/25/how-to-make-all-the-difference-in-the-world/
Other Photos used w/ permission:  http://www.clipartguide.com/_pages/0512-0705-1013-3712.html

If God isn’t Sovereign…….

An article hit the news stands last week producing a firestorm of responses from every possible world view and belief system. I have been thinking about the article and the various replies and felt compelled to respond with an observation missing from many of the “Religious” who criticized or rallied to support the declaration made during the interview of a professing Christian singer and songwriter.

 

rgue

 

With that being said, I want to clarify that my response is directed towards Christians. I draw this line because I believe it is futile to argue morality with a person who does not believe in the God who has Saved and redeemed my life. It is foolish to argue with anyone who does not believe in His Sovereign right to proclaim what is sin and what is holiness. I think it is silly for a Christian to expect a professing atheist to adhere to a set of moral standards and way of life when they do not acknowledge or serve the God who decreed them.

 

So, here we go….

 

First off, I can’t begin to fathom the pain, struggle, depression ect. that Vicky has gone through. My observations are not an attempt to downplay or write off her story or her years of suppressed pain. I am not declaring her struggle to be unworthy of consideration and response from the church and individual believers. My response is not a pro or anti-homosexuality statement but rather a statement regarding the error in which professing Christians are viewing God, in both her situation (homosexual struggle) and all others struggles that we find ourselves in.

 

I have never struggled with same-sex attraction. I have no idea what it is like to have affections for someone the same gender as myself after having been taught those affections if given into are sinful. Yet for the thousands of Christians like Vicky Beeching out there, there are thousands more like me who have known and experienced different darkness’s, and our pain is equally unfathomable to the Vicky’s out there. We live in a fallen world, and because sin resides in the heart of every man, woman, and child. Pain, destruction, and darkness hits everyone in many different ways and throughout all seasons of life.

 

Many years ago, my world was crushed and turned upside down. Someone I loved betrayed my love and trust, and in the aftermath, my heart wasdep ground into so many pieces, I believed it impossible to ever be made whole again. I was so broken, I despised my life. I hurt so badly, I just wanted to disappear into a dark hole and never come out again. As a result of the wounds I suffered, I became incapacitated with fear and had emotional and physical panic attacks on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. My seemingly perfect life was replaced with a living hell I could not escape. Not a day passed by that I did not feel the pain and disappointment of my wounds. I had been robbed of so many things and I would never get them back. I did not choose to be hurt nor did I deserve to be hurt, but it had happened, and all I could do was look at the pieces of my broken and bleeding heart and weep.

 

In California, a dear sweet woman I know is battling for her life. Her body is riddled with a monstrous disease that not only robs her of her health, but also the ordinary every day moments and pleasures we all take for granted. She has 3 beautiful children and a loving husband. As she struggles through pain, rounds of chemo, depression, and fear, her mind is racked with anxiety over her family’s future. Every day she is given is a gift, but each day leaves her wondering how much time she has left to enjoy, love, and live life. She was not a bad person before cancer. She does not deserve this pain or this burden, but it is hers to carry.

 

I have a  friend, who had her childhood dream of love, marriage, and family crumble before her eyes. Just weeks into her fairy tale marriage, the man, who had appeared to everyone to be the epitome of godliness, love, and strength, revealed himself to be a verbally abusive, controlling monster. My friend had been a wonderful example to me. She loved the Lord and had faithfully served Him with all her heart during her single years. She had waited and saved herself for her husband. She is a “good woman” and in the world’s eyes, she does not deserve to wake up every day in a living hell married yet lonely and unloved, but this reality is her life

 

There is a godly, humble, loving couple who had their lives turned upside down and their plans drastically altered. A few years ago their 18-year-old son was involved in a car accident that left him mentally and physically handicapped for life. This young man loved and served the Lord with passion and zeal. He was looking forward to college, establishing his ministry, becoming a husband and father. He was an accomplished artist and musician but now he is fed, clothed, and his diapers changed by family and friends. His parents were looking forward to a new season of life as “empty nesters.” After faithfully raising their children, it was almost time for them to enter the season of life when they could fill their days focusing on each other. No more school bills, cooking for boys with bottomless pits for bellies. They were done with sleepless night worrying and praying for their kids as they made the transition from children to adulthood. In a moment, that dream was snatched from them and tragically replaced with one demanding even more sacrifice, heartache, and time. Instead of retirement and trips alone across the world, their situation now demands more time and energy than the first 18 years of all their children’s lives combined. Now they are bound to their home and devoted to the 24 hour daily care of their wheelchair bound son who may never walk, talk, or ever verbally recognize them again. They did not deserve to have their lives and dreams wrecked, but that dream was ripped away and a different one placed in their laps.

 

str w mt

 

Personal stories like these are endless. The stories of almost every “Hero of the faith” include periods, if not a lifetime, of great personal tragedy and conflict. As believers, our lives are filled with pain, disappointment, sorrow, and grief. It should not surprise us because Jesus himself told us “In the world you will have much tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

 

 

There is an Author and Finisher of each story above, including my story, your story, and Vicky’s story. No mistakes have been made in any of these people’s lives. God was not out to lunch when Vicky was created, nor was he taking a nap when the young man’s truck was t-boned at the intersection of his home town. The Creator was not distracted with other overwhelming issues when my friend said “I do” to her husband. The presence of death doesn’t signify the absence of God nor does it declare His indifference. My friend who battles cancer isn’t proof God does not exist or that if He does exist He  is a heartless and impersonal God. Suffering does not prove His impotence, lack of judgment, character, or ability, but rather it proclaims with fierceness how greatly He is needed in our lives. If God were not aware, not in charge, not in control, or not sovereign for even a fraction of a second, He would not be God!

 

If we confess and proclaim to serve the Sovereign and powerful Creator of the Universe, we must accept and glory in that Sovereignty during every season of life, including the times of deep sorrow, pain and loss. What we so often forget is, that the Sovereign and Glorious Lord of Creation has the right to choose who, and how, and when He will be exalted, honored, and glorified.  He may choose to bless a man with great talent and riches, allowing that man to glorify him with his excess and prosperous life. Throughout history, the Savior of our souls often chooses a different path for His children, confounding the “wise” as he not only allows, but rather calls His own to suffer. On Sunday, we worship and praise the Savior who sacrificed all on the cross, but so often struggle to understand His call to suffer when we are thrust in the middle of a chapter filled with pain and sorrow.

 

Vicky’s struggle with homosexuality, my broken heart, my friend’s broken body, broken and discarded dreams aren’t a mistake by God, garnering a green light to respond in any way that makes that pain and sorrow a little easier to bear, including sin. If our pain is too heavy to bear or our sorrow too grievous to carry, we do not get to say, it’s too much. We can’t call a press conference and declare God made a mistake in our situation, therefore what he has said to be right and true no longer applies to our life. If God’s Holiness, His Righteousness, His character, (that dividing gulf between himself and man) changes for just one moment in time, for one life, in one situation, He is no longer True, Just Righteous, Holy or God! (Any time the world, who has declared God to not exist, agrees with the declaration that God has made a mistake and changed His mind, we have great cause to pause and consider that view!)

 

Vicky’s life is indeed a grueling battle and her struggle painful, but such is the life of EVERY believer.

 

YET there is something greater than the pain and suffering of all the Vicky’s of the world and it is the Grace of the Savior of the Universe poured out abundantly upon the lives of all He has chosen to allow to suffer

SO THAT He might be glorified.

And so, some suffer for a season, and some most of their lives,

yet He Is LORD!

 

Sadly, right now Vicky can not know or experience that grace, nor can she glory or glorify Him because she has chosen not to trust, obey, and submission to His purpose. Her declaration to herself and the world, that her response to her particular trial is ok will not bring her peace! The great news is that it is not too late for that miracle in her life or ours. By miracle, I do not mean the removal of Vicky’s homosexual desires or the instrument of pain in my life, but rather the astounding, other worldly, God Glorifying testimony of how He has graced her/me/us with the power and ability to say no to the flesh and yes to life a that is fulfilled and victorious despite the ever-present struggle with same-sex attraction/the daily battle to say no to our flesh.

 

Vicky is one of millions who suffer with burdens they never asked to carry,

and burdens the Lord has decided not to remove while they walk this earth.

 

For years I sinned in my heart and mind and with my actions towards the person who had so grievously hurt me. I believed my pain could never go away until they changed and their life was radically altered. Because they did not change, and my hurts remained, I felt justified to do whatever it took to deaden and appease my hurting heart. I begged God to take me out of the situation, I begged God to remove the fear, anxiety, panic attacks, and depression but it remained. My life did not get better by giving into my impulses, rather if got darker and more unsettled. Was God’s refusal to miraculously heal my heart to 100% wholeness, or His failure to change the heart of the person who hurt me proof I didn’t need to change? Was God’s silence a sign I had been left on my own to deal with my pain in any way I could manage? No!!!

 

You see my problem is also Vicky’s problem. It is the problem of all who struggle to obediently submit to the call to carry a burden to heavy for their own shoulders,

 

In the midst of great pain and sorrow, our situation doesn’t change because our hearts haven’t changed, and our hearts haven’t changed because often times, we seek the wrong solution our hearts fixed on the results of sin instead of the sinner itself..

 

prsInstead of asking God to get rid of the “thing” that makes our lives hard, we need to ask Him for grace to accept the trial He has chosen to place in our lives. In death is life, in weakness He is strong. This may seem trite, but there are millions who have suffered unjustly, grievously, and with patience and boldly proclaimed during the storm and after the storm, “It is well with my soul.”

 

This submission involves a transformation of our heart- as our affections are reoriented upon the right person. My life is no longer consumed with and frustrated by the pursuit of self-love and pleasure because HE matters more!

 

This involves transformation of our eyes– as our focus is drawn away from our own lives and struggles, where instead we daily gaze with rapture upon the Savior who Redeemed and ransomed our life from hell.

 

This involves a transformation of our mind– as our spirits are renewed and reoriented to fulfilling no other purpose other than obedience to the call and will of the Father….which is to glorify Him though our lives …..no matter the cost….

No Matter HOW He decides to do this.

For we are called to be HOLY and Joyful, not happy, gratified.

And yet in yielding Joy replaces weeping, beauty springs up from the ashes.

 

 

My prayer is that Vicky, and all Christians presently suffering through their own darkness and pain, will recognize it is not our struggle and our response that is to define and shape us, but rather the Lord of the Universe who ordained both the suffering and the gift of grace to not just endure but also triumph. It is He who defines and shapes our lives, through our struggles and pain.

 

For His purpose not ours,

Through His Ways not ours

For His glory not our own.

 

If you struggle like millions of other believers, take heart, He is Sovereign and in control. He has a plan that will accomplish His will, in His way, for His glory. Liberation of your heart, soul, and mind does not come through submission to the sin, but through submission to the plan and truth of the Savior who loves you enough to let you suffer. Suffering is not a sign God is absent, but rather that He is at work in your life with an amazing purpose in mind, He is going to bring glory to himself through your life. Be less concerned with the removal of the trial and more concerned with the removal of yourself. Get true biblical counseling from Godly,  Biblicaly sound counselors! You were never meant to struggle on your own. The body is there to lift up and edify. If you don’t come, “the Body” can’t help and both you and your brothers and sisters are being robbed of the blessing of Spiritual community. No sin, struggle, hurt or pain is beyond His ability and Grace. The cross was enough!

 

Next time: How God transformed and is transforming my life with Grace.

The Back Story

In writing, there is a term called the “Back-story.” The back-story is simply “background information about a real person or thing that wrtpromotes fuller understanding of it.”

 

As believers, our back-story, in many cases, becomes the cornerstone of our testimony.  Our back story begins with who we were before Christ- lost, blinded, desperate, needy, and dying. Added to that is the defining and life changing moment in time when we experienced merciful and gracious intervention. The day the Healer of our souls opened our eyes and heart  to our desperate need of a Savior. Our back story is the moment He allowed us to see we stood wanton and condemned before the awful and awesome Holy God of Eternity. Our back story was when Glory intervened among depraved humanity, revealing. condemning, ransoming, delivering, and Saving us so we could be who we were created, called, and  destined to become.

 

Unlike fictional work, our back-story is unique in that it is ongoing and will never be complete until Christ returns. At the end of every day, we have actively lived and experienced countless moments that bare witness of a faithful and glorious God actively at work among us. Our back story builds and swells ever moment of our lives, paving the way for the next.

 

Lamentation 3:19-27 says:

19I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

 

What an eloquent summary of the back-story of every believer!

 

At night, when my head hits the pillow, I can and must reflect upon the back-story of the day. It is during these quiet periods of reflection that I am able to see quite possibly what my physical eyes missed during the chaotic moments of the day. For, every second I drew a breath, He was miraculously and glorious present in my life.

 

buildEvery moment of Divine intervention, grace, strength, joy, sorrow, suffering, and Victory, yet another row of “faith” bricks are laid. Each day’s faith bricks building upon the last, and not one line of my story takes place without His presence. He is there holding my life, my back-story, and my life story together. Within the Divine mortar that affirms, confirms, and establishes my life, the King and glorious Creator of the universe takes pleasure in weaving His presence and glory into my meager story, making it His own!

 

This amazing Montage of the Divine intertwined among raw, needy humanity shines more brilliant than the most beautiful of sunsets. Daily, and faithfully He builds, what human eyes can not fathom. Day by day He builds what makes the unseen heart soar and rise above circumstance and sorrow. Brick upon brick, story upon story, faithfulness that binds, grace that transforms, lives consumed by the glory of His love.

 

And from among the ash and the chaos of life His glorious church is built. The many become one. A mysterious and unified body. A million voices crying out in perfect, haunting harmony. Each back story confirming and testifying with the next. A unanimous, faithful, consistent symphony, building upon the every note that swells from hearts overflowing with Divine Grace. No one story rising above another’s, for every story proclaims equally and  gloriously the Sovereign Reign of a Holy God.  And as our voices join with those “Graced” in the past, we beckon and testify to those who struggle tomorrow that He Is, He Was and He will forever be. Those who “know” and have experienced, call out to those yet suffering among the ashes of sorrow, pain, heartache and failure. To these we cry “Lift up your head, He lives, He breathes, and He is here among you. He sits with you among the ashes, He understands your fear, He feels your pain, and He has an answer to the questions you falter to ask”  Our back-story becomes the hiding place for those so broken, battered, and weary they can’t see him though their pain.

 

What is my back-story, you might ask?

 

broken heart He loved me enough to expose the hidden sins of my heart. He cared about the things others couldn’t see, seizing the opportunity sin meant to use for my destruction and instead  used it as an opportunity to lavish upon me His glorious grace.  When I was wounded by the sinful hearts of others, He whispered I am here, I am in control, and it is your heart I will make new. Though I did not understand it then, I see now that He smote me, not to destroy, but to restore. He broke me beyond what man could repair and then He repaired my spirit, soul, and heart in a way only the God of the Universe could. He replaced ashes with Beauty, sorrow for Joy, turmoil with Peace, Anger with Gentleness. Though I was blind, now I see, and what was dead, He brought back to life. Oh look at my life and you will see Him there. Oh to be able to adequately convey what He has put to death in my heart and life.  If only you could see the ugliness and depravity His Spirit works diligently and skillfully to cut away.  He has gloriously replaced a hopeless future, with His glorious Hope!

 

This is my back-story and this is His glory!

 

What is your back-story?

Learning to live with a heart that is broken but a life is not.

Living with a Heart that is Broken, but a life that is not!

Beth Moore at Living Proof Ministries is hosting her women’s summer Bible study. I signed up at Women’s Bible Cafe to join over 600 women who will participate in this study via online and community small groups. We are studying the book of Nehemiah and using Kelly Minter’s book Nehemiah: A heart that can break. 

There is still time to join over 600 dear, like-minded, passionate “Siestas” in Christ. You can follow along personally, join a virtual small group (what I am doing), or hook up with a group in your area. Check out any of the above links for information.

Brokenness isn’t an activity your normal human being would sign up to experience. Everything about the word screams run, but when we are straining to “see the unseen”, and to live for the “Eternal” versus the temporal, brokenness should become our hearts desire and aim.

Over the next few weeks I will post thoughts and insights gleaned from this study. My heart has all ready been blessed as I have joined in prayer with women I have never met, yet feel great love and compassion for. What a powerful image six-hundred women, on their faces before the Lord, crying out for brokenness, evokes!

To ask the Lord to break my heart with the things that break His, is a daring prayer. It is not a self-seeking desire to suffer for the purpose of winning the praise and accolades of man, nor is it an attempt to obtain righteousness through works. The desire to have a heart, broken by God, is a desire to see and feel as He sees and feels. It is a prayer to have myself moved out-of-the-way so I can see and be moved by the pain, suffering, need, and hopelessness of man. A heart, broken by the Spirit of the Living God, is to posses a heart that mourns over the destruction that sin is wreaking in the hearts of fallen man.

 

Today, as we studied the prayer and heart of Nehemiah found in chapter 1:1-5, A verse kept coming to mind:

Psalm 17:15

15 As for me,

I will behold thy face in righteousness:

I shall be satisfied,

when I awake, with thy likeness.

I believe this desire should be the heart and sum of all we strive to do and be as children of God. A broken and contrite heart He will not turn away! Would you be daring enough to embrace the cry, “Lord break my heart?” Can you utter with me. in Your brokenness, let me become Your likeness, and in Your likeness there let me dwell satisfied?

The truth and reality of the fallen world we live in is  that everyone we will be broken.  The question we must ask ourselves is what will we allow to break us, sin or a Savior?

 

Matthew 21:44

And whosoever shall fall on this stone

shall be broken:

but on whomsoever it shall fall,

it will grind him to powder.

The world will crush and break us ruthlessly, our Heavenly Father breaks us with love, compassion and a divine, God glorifying purpose.

Only One can promise fulfillment with abandonment, and bring beauty from ashes. Only one Master can satisfy and fulfill the desires and yearning of the yielded and broken heart.

Lord God Almighty, posses and reign my heart and life. Make is soft so that it weeps when you weep, delights when you
delight, and breaks at what breaks yours. O Father, I shall be satisfied only when I awake with your likeness, when there is less of me for the world to see. Amen

My Prayer for you: Truth

Truth….will set you free

Truth:

We are told to acquire it, no matter the cost, and to never relinquish it once it is in our possession.

Proverbs 23:23
Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

God delights in the man who posses it.

Psalm 51:6
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

God is near the man whose conversation is guided by it.

Psalm 145:18
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

True worship requires it.

John 4:23
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

It brings freedom.

John 8:32
“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

A relationship with the Father is made possible by it.

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

It brings sanctification and cleansing.

John 17:17
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

It holds our faith and everything we believe and confess together.

Ephesians 6:14
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

He demands that truth resides in our inward parts because He is the Truth, and the center of our life is where He delights to dwell. For the lost, afflicted, weak and needy, no other word contains greater meaning, power, hope, or reward? Jesus Christ the Way, Truth, and Life purifies the sin afflicted heart and unshackles the weary and groaning prisoner. Once given free reign within the heart of man, the liberating power of truth ignites the irrepressible worship of the redeemed.

Truth may be intangible and unseen, but it’s fruit and the effect of its presence upon the heart and life of mankind is not. I praise the Lord, because we have seen the truth, and felt its imprint seared eternally upon our hearts, life, and marriage. My prayer for you today has been that you would be empowered by the truth that  brought you liberty, and that you would cherish the truth that transformed your life. I pray that you would cling tightly to it, be guided by it, and live your life according to it. May you weigh every thought, impulse, and decision with the light of Truth. May He guide your heart and mind today and as you seek truth may you find the sweet presence of He who is Truth!

My Prayer for you: Perserverance

Power

Isaiah 40:28-31

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

I am not sure why, but when I think of the word power, the first image that comes to mind is a pink bunny with earphones and a drum. I am sure glad that in real life, my confidence and source of strength and power doesn’t come from a man-made consumable battery or bunny for that matter.

God isn’t just powerful, He is power. The ability to create the universe by commanding it into existence is sheer, raw, unparalleled power! I can barely keep my head from popping off when all three kids clamor at the same time for my attention, yet the God of the Universe can listen intently, personally, and intentionally to every prayer being uttered, by every soul crying out to Him, while at the same time holding all things together by the “Power of His word.

This is my Papa, my Advocate, my Benefactor, my source of Strength and Might, and according to His Word, Power endues to His Children power,  so that they can be renewed, mount up, soar, run, and walk.

Today my Husband, I am praying for the anointing of the power of the Lord upon you. Weather He asks you to fly, run, or simply walk, may you draw upon His Power. I pray you do not get discourage by your own weaknesses and limitations, for in those moments of God ordained humility, His strength flows freely and His grace will rest firmly upon you. I look at you and wonder what the Lord has in store for you, for us. No matter that He asks of you, and where He calls us, His Power will be present. May you follow hard  and finish well, and may your life bring glory and honor to Him as His power is made perfect. Amen

Credits:
Image Credit: M16, the “Eagle nebula”  NASAESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

My Prayer today…..Let His Joy be translated into our strength!

Joy


“…for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:11b (ESV)”

 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,

let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and

let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,

who for the joy that was set before him

endured the cross, despising the shame,

and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:1-3 (ESV)

A Shadows of “Things” to come…

An adulterous and rebellious nation was instructed by Nehemiah, to “Let the Joy of the Lord be their Strength.”  They had returned from captivity and in the presence of all who could still understand their own dialect, Ezra read the law. Most heard the law for the very first time. The horror of their sins against the Lord Jehovah caused them to cry and quake in fear.  Nehemiah told them not to weep or mourn, but to celebrate.

This repentant nation, formerly exiled and in captivity, had newly partaken of the Lord’s forgiveness, grace, and glory. For His glory and pleasure alone, He had restored this adulterous nation. Israel was fickle, prone to sin and rebellion, and they would sin again. They were living proof that  on his own, man can never attain his own righteousness, never become holy, and never live in obedience with God the Righteous Judge. God would remain faithful, but the cycle of sin would continue and Israel would betray His love and faithfulness, justly earning His righteous judgment and punishment…… unless something changed, and changed it would.

The “Thing” that changed “Everything”…

The miraculous redemption story of man from Genesis to Revelation is amazing! Hundreds of years after Ezra and Nehemiah, the Son of God stepped into the lives of the hopelessly lost and the hopeless gazed upon the very face of Hope and Glory.  The Joy Israel had been commanded to draw strength from had come in the flesh. Mercy, Grace, Love, and Hope was poured out upon sinful undeserving mankind, as Jesus Christ, the “Joy of mans desire” hung on the tree. In anguish, yet with great delight, he endured unimaginable torment and the rejection of His Father. This was His Joy, and it is our strength today!

“..Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,

and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,

who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,

despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

It was the Joy of the Lord that led Him to sacrifice His Beloved Son, in order to redeem man. It was the Joy of the Son to submit, with humility and obedience, to will of His Father. With Joy the Father sent His Son, and with Joy, the Son sacrificed. The Joy of our Heavenly Father and the Son in whom He delighted, has given us the strength and ability to overcome. The Joy of our Lord was the amazing redemption story. Israel was told not to weep, but they could never have fathomed the day when freedom, life, liberty, and true Joy would replace the sin induced sorrow of man. Like Israel, our weeping has turned to dancing. The terror of our Righteous God does not make us quake in fear. With boldness and joy  we lift our eyes to the heavens where our Help stands and intercedes. We do not weep, we shout glory and honor and praise be to Him who sits on the throne, for we have been redeemed from His righteous judgment and wrath through the sacrifice of His Son!

Because of the Love and Joy of the Father and Son, we have overcome the evil one. We have overcome death, and sin no longer reigns in our bodies. Is the Joy of the Lord your strength?

Today O Lord, Let the source of David’s Joy be found only in you. May your love and delight in my precious husband, your passion to Glorify yourself through your redemption & transformation of him, become David’s sheer joy and utter delight. Let your joy empower the man you chose before the foundations of the world were formed. May you alone be the source of his strength! Let Joy shroud and cover his spirit, soul, and mind. Let him walk in the power, grace, and strength that is rightfully His because he is yours! Give him Joy Father, Give him strength to endure, persevere, to walk worth of your call! Amen

Hallelujah, For the Joy of the Lord is my strength!!

Praying for my Husband A to Z: F is for Favor

Favor

Psalm 5:12

For you bless the righteous, O Lord;

You cover him with favor

as with a shield

Psalm 84:11

Today I have prayed that my husband would be anointed with favor. Psalm 5:12 has been my heart-song for David. Some have said that Grace is God’s unmerited favor, a gift we do not deserve but are given liberally.

The Heavenly Father has chosen David and called him to Himself. He has called, and then promised that as he calls and leads he also will equips. He has also promised that He will perfect and finish the work He has begun in David’s life, & our marriage & family. So my prayer is that God’s grace would compass David as he works, thinks, interacts, and goes about his day.

 

I am also praying that David would find favor in the presence of his employees, customers, vendors, and all others the Lord brings into his life. His day is filled with much stress as he tries to keep the peace, make customers happy, all while growing and leading his company.

 

Father, it is true that your grace and favor is upon the life of my husband. You have loved and been intimately acquainted with him from His youth. I have seen your hand upon his life and I ask that your grace, love and favor would not depart. May your favor guide, protect and transform him. Father David deals with so many people and so many high pressure situations every day. Please give him the wisdom, discernment, understanding, and compassion he needs as he works with those you bring into his life. Please give him favor in their eyes, and give him the ability to defuse anger, animosity, physical limitations & weaknesses. Amen

The Hat You Should Never Wear!

The “Hat” you were never meant to wear!

As a daughter of Christ, wife, and mother, there are many roles I am “called” to fulfill. Some mornings I find a yellow hard hat on top my head. You know the “pardon my mess, your tax dollars are at work” kind of days when all you do is “fix things” like broken attitudes & relationships. Days filled with busted toys, skinned knees, and clogged drains.

There are the trench warfare days when I feel like I am wearing a special ops military grade helmet as I leap from fox hole to fox hole, dodging spiritual, mental, and emotional bombardments from the “enemy”. I am a cook, nurse, teacher, peacemaker, chauffeur, and the list goes on. Not every hat I don is difficult or burdensome. I love my sun visor moments! The mornings I can relax on a park bench with a book, sipping a cup of hot coffee while being serenaded by the sounds of my 3 treasures squealing with delight in the warm spring sun.

While many of the “hats” in my extensive collection require personal sacrifice, momentary angst, and occasional hardships, I would not relinquish any of the roles my Father has entrusted to me. Every “hat” the Lord has ever asked me to wear has been accompanied with grace and strength in abundance. It is a truthful saying,

“Faithful is He who has called you who will also perform it.”

Over the past few years, the Lord has opened my eyes to the fact that the source of some of my greatest struggles, defeats, and failures have come when I claimed a hat I was never intended to wear. If you are like me, a sinner saved by grace, chances are this hat has shown up in your collection from time to time, just as it has mine. Perhaps you are wearing this very hat as we speak.

I unwittingly placed this hat on top my of head just the other day as I stood at the kitchen sink, deep in thought. The week had been a rough one for me. I was exhausted and to make matters worse, I had not responded properly to some spiritual warfare that had arisen in my life. Suddenly an old, familiar foe I have battled for years wrapped its icy fingers around my heart and I immediately went into defence mode. I grabbed the bill of the “hat” with the words “Holy Spirit” stitched brightly across the top, tightened the strap, and set about to take control of the situation. To resolve this conflict, I determined that my husband, who was absolutely clueless as to what was bothering me, needed to do a,b, & c, and furthermore he needed to refrain from doing e, f, & g. (The poor guy!)

As my emotions swirled and the dark clouds grew, the voice of my Heavenly Father parted the commotion of my unchecked emotions and fears. With clarity, I heard Him declare with loving rebuke “Jody, you can not make your husband holy. That is my job and the work of my Spirit.” I reached up and pulled the “cap” from off my head, and I handed it to back to the Lord. In despair, I cried out, “But what can I do for him?” Just as clearly as before, the Lord answered me and He said “You can pray for Him Jody.” I prayed, peace flooded my heart, and the burden of a role I was never ment to fulfill lifted from off my shoulders.

The Challenge

The Lord works in mysterious ways! On Sunday I had to work in the nursery, so I missed the a.m. Service. As I prepared lunch after church, I asked my husband about the message and a smile came to my lips when he said it was about praying for others. As David gave me a summary of the message, all I could think about was that special moment in the kitchen when I distinctly heard God calling me to pray for my husband.

I am ashamed to confess this, but of all the “hats” in my collection, the “Prayer warrior” cap is not as worn and tattered as others are. My laundry, sun visor, chefs hat and workout caps are tattered and painted with sweat stains but my prayers cap looks fairly new. This calling to Pray is not a glorious, win the praise of man kind of “hat”. It is a private, selfless, and sacrificial act of love and humility. I feel the hand of the Lord impressing upon my heart the dire need a husband has for the prayers and intercession of his wife. Ladies, we need to pray daily, intently, and purposefully for our husbands, boyfriends, and future life mates. Single ladies do you pray for the man who will one day be your husband?

We can’t change our men, nor can we order their lives so that they never make wrong choices, or never stumble and fall. I can not work and move my husbands heart towards holiness, but the Lord of Creation can. I have to hand over the hat with the words “Holy Spirit” written across it, entrusting the heart of the one I love deeply into His capable hands.  This frees me to accomplish my calling an the one thing I am capable and called to do, PRAY!

Recently I participated in a 26 day blog challenge that was very rewarding. I would like to begin a 31 day A-Z challenge of my own and I wonder if you would consider joining me? You can participate on your own in private, or join in publicly on your blog. I would like to take the next 30 days to concentrate on my husband while developing the discipline and habit of lifting him up to the Lord. Each day I will choose specific things, (mine will correspond to the letter of the day as possible) to bring to the Lord in prayer. As you are led, would you participate in your own way? If you are single, please join us! Oh how I wish I had prayed for David before I knew him. Being a young man in this fallen world is not easy. Satan is a deceiver, a wicked lion who stalks and devours our husbands, sons, pastors, and leaders.

How amazing it would be to have hundreds and even thousands of women around the world lifting up their men to the Lord in humble, loving, God honoring, targeted, specific prayer each and every day. Please join me and if you feel led, pass this along via word of mouth, e-mail, at church, in small groups…..