overcome

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)

Without Reproach

A Father Who Gives Without Reproach

 I have a significant weakness that stems from verbal “abuse” I experienced as a child. Two to three times a month we took a trip to the “farm” to visit with family. I loved these day yet at the same time I dreaded them. We would romp through acres of wooded farmland with our cousins, playing in tree forts, stick forts, and old rusted out pieces of farm equipment. For a city kid, my grandparents woods was heaven on earth. I loved the farm, but eventually we had to leave the fields and return to the house and it was here fear, confusion, and dread flooded my heart. It may seem silly, but as a child I was terrified to ask for anything or use anything because to do so evoked the wrath of a very broken and sick grandparent. To “need” was intolerable no matter how simple or basic the request and consequently many times I chose to go without to avoid the tongue lashings that followed innocent requests. My siblings and I look back on these moments now and laugh, but as a child simply going to the restroom was traumatic. We didn’t know whether to flush or leave “it” floating. Then there was the ever-present TP dilemma. Did you risk wrath and use any and if so, did you dare use more than three squares? In my grandparents broken way, we were loved, but we learned early on that the love they offered was conditional and subsequently, words of reproach were heard moreoften than words of affection.

Now, more than twenty-five later, I still struggle to ask for things I want, or to let others know when I need help. For years, you could put me in the midst of a company buffet or seminar dinner and by nights end I would leave with an empty belly. I have been to lavish banquets with my husband and had server after server approach me offering the most amazing foods, yet been unable to accept their offerings, though my stomach silently grumbled it’s protest with each plate I turned away. It wouldn’t matter if others around me, including family, are helping themselves to exquisite food, because I would still find my hands hand frozen by my side. The reproach I endured during my childhood days on the farm can paralyse and render me unable to accept “gifts” being offered no matter who is offering them.

A while back, the Lord brought this verse in James 1:15 to mind.

If any of you lack wisdom,

let him ask God,

who gives generously to all,

without reproach,

and it will be given him.

What an amazing and glorious description of a loving Father’s heart toward His “needy” child. I am covered by the love of one who is moved with compassion by my needs. He revels in the opportunities my weaknesses provide Him. He delights in showing himself strong, loving, and capable when I am not. This is the true and perfect love of a Father and parent.

God is working in my heart to transform my view of how a parent responds to the needs of their children. My needs and my requests are met without reproach. I am the daughter of a generous Father who is anxious and ready to give when needed and to gently correct when misguided. He never chides or reproaches me when I come humbly and obediently seeking goodness, righteousness, faith, meekness, power, and wisdom from His hand.

How about you? Do you struggle to be transparent? Are you afraid to be vulnerable and needy before Christ Jesus your Father? Has pride joined forces with insecurity like it did in my life, rendering me not only afraid to ask, but also to proud to admit when help is needed?

Bringing It Home….

Sin breeds and replicates itself in the lives of sinners who resist, flee, or refuse the transforming prower of Christ. Can you imagine the horror and disgust that overwhelmed me the day I heard my grandmother’s voice slip from my lips in response to a simple request from one of my children! I froze in horror and marveled at my selfish response. Oh how I wished I could reign in those unkind words, ment to ensure that my child knew just how inconvenient their request for a cup of water was at that moment in time. “Oh Father forgive me!” was all I could mutter. All my son wanted was a glass of water. He was thirsty, there was no sin, no disobedience, no rebellion in that request. He was simply asking me to be who I was, his mama, the one who is responsible to protect, comfort and provide for him when he can not. Jody, you know what it feels to be punished with cruel and unkind words simply because you had a need! O Lord be merciful on my wicked heart! All Jess wanted was for me to watch her jump on the pogo stick. My beautiful little girl, simply seeking the delight and praise of her mother but I quenched that desire to please with harsh and uncaring words. My Father never sleeps, he never slumbers, and He is never too busy to delight and take pleasure in me

Praise be to God for His mercy and His power, that transforms lives crushed, scarred, and burdened by sin and guilt. Praise be to God that He loved me enough to chastise my heart, not because of need, but because of sin. Praise the Lord for do-overs and second chances, and especially for the unconditional love and forgiveness found in the heart of my children. May I never provide a reason to extinguish that love and forgiveness!

Mom’s, our children are gifts, and we are instruments in the hands of our redeemer. Much of what they learn of Christ their Father will come from our lips and from our actions. As we learn to boldly seek the face of our Father, without fear of chastisement and rebuke, may we also strive to project the same love and care we have received from him.

My prayer is that the Lord would continue to heal and transform my heart, giving me the freedom to seek Him when in need able to ask without fear of reproach. My prayer is that the Lord would humble my proud heart so that I would not hide from my weaknesses nor the love of those he has sent to help me. My prayer is that I would learn to be like Him, reveling in the opportunity to die to myself so that I might serve and love others. My earnest prayer is that my life would be a true reflection of the Father, who has redeemed, saved, and loved me, and that His love would draw others to Himself!

Pants on the Ground…….

No, not the American Idol song, the real thing, with possibly a white pair of discarded undies sticking out of them. If you are a wife, chances are you have seen this combo a time or two…………….or more.

Keeping the Spark Alive



What emotions can an aged white flag, swimming in a sea of denim, in the middle of your bedroom floor, evoke in your heart and mind? I remember many lonely nights when I choked out desperate prayers in between the sobs of a broken heart. These prayers included among many things, words like “Lord, I want a husband to take care of.” No I didn’t specifically ask for dirty Fruit-of-the-Loom briefs to wash, but the role of professional laundry woman was in essence what I was petitioning the Lord for.

So, what changes in our hearts between the single years when we passionately pray for a spouse and seven or forty-seven years later when we are celebrating wedding anniversaries, children and grandbabies? The pant and undies sizes may change, but surly this is not what tips wives over the edge. Why do we get irritated at the sight of something that used to electrify and bring a grin to our faces?

I was listening to a family program a few years back and heard an interesting story. A marriage counselor was sharing that they had been able to accurately guess both the health of a relationship and its future success based on one question. This question was not profound, it was simply, tell me a story about when you and your spouse met, first dated, one of your first memories….. Eyes lit up, and smiles formed on the faces of some couples. They shared stories  laced with love, passion, fun, adventure and wistfulness. The memories of other couples were as favorable. Some rolled their eyes, with a kind of “Well let me tell you,” attitude. These looks of disgust and irritation were usually followed with stories about constant failures, embarrassments, disappointments, and unfulfilled expectations.

There was a moment in time when every one of those married couples stood in front of a crowd, gazing intently into each others faces, hearts struck blind by love. Their wedding day was a culmination of years of waiting, yearning, preparation, discovery, and unbridled love.

What happened after the wedding? Where did that love, excitement, and passion go?

I vividly remember the second or third night of our honeymoon. I had just discovered my husband’s amazing ability to fall asleep in 1.3 seconds flat. We were still in the octopus stage of marriage, trying to figure out how to fit all our hands, legs, faces and such in one bed comfortably. As my husband snored away (Yes it was music to my ears then) I laid awkwardly beside him. With one arm draped over his chest, I listened to his steady breathing and began to cry softly. I was married, and I would never have to say goodbye to David ever again. The marvel of his body, soul, and heart in my life and in my bed overwhelmed me. As I lay there, I never wanted the absolute wonder and awe of this man’s presence to become commonplace to me. I had waited twenty-eight years for him, and I shuddered at the thought that one day I could possibly slip into bed, roll over, and fall fast asleep without my heart leaping with delight by the snoring figure laying next to me. I never wanted to experience a night when I could climb into bed and fall asleep unmoved by the fact the most special answer to my prayers was laying next to me. I wanted my heart to be thrown for a loop every evening I got to fall into the bed with him AGAIN. I wanted a smile of delight to creep across my face every morning when I awoke and found him still there next to me, my soul mate, my best friend, my lover.

That night I cried out to the Lord and I asked him to help me to never forget or let go of the wonder, the feeling of awe, or the passion I had for my husband and our marriage.

Join me tomorrow as I share one simple truth and habit that keeps the spark of marriage alive in my heart.

Living in a World of Uncertainty, Confusion, Chaos, and Pain?

Are you Single & Alone?

Are you married but lonely?

Is your life filled with uncertainty, confusion, chaos, and pain?

Let me introduce to you He who reigns king over chaos & pain!

From the start, Jesus life was besieged by supernatural opposition and satanic chaos. The Lord of Creation sent His Beloved Son into a world marred by sin but his presence did not vanquish the pain and trials the world groaned under, rather for a time, it seemed to heighten and intensify them.

The arrival of Jesus cost Mary and Joseph their reputation and honor. Within years of his prophesied birth, the anguished cries of mothers filled the air in the streets of Bethlehem as the lives of all male babies, ages five and under were slaughtered by a wicked ruler driven by maddness to preserve his kindgom. John, who faithfully proclaimed the arrival of the long awaited Messiah, was cast into prison and beheaded. Many who believed, professed, and followed Him were cast out of the temple and spurned by the spiritual leaders of the day. From the start, pain and anguish marked the path he trod. When the Son of the Heavenly became the Heavenly Son of Man the entire world was turned upsde down, yet none of these days compares to the chaos and darkness that marred the earth on the eve and day of his Crucifixion.


Can you imagine
the torment and pain Jesus endured during the last 48 hours of His life?

Can you comprehend the crushing force of mental and spiritual weariness that pressed down upon His human shoulders compelling Him to confess to His disciples “My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death”?

Can you see his mentally exhausted body, that knows the worst is yet to come, resting in garden as He prays to His Father “Let this cup pass, nevertheless not my will but Thine be done.”

Look ahead and let your gaze fall upon the rock where he obediently and patiently waits. It is sticky, colored crimson with the first of many drops of blood that He will spill willingly on behalf of mankind?

Can you hear the vulgar sound of the wip as is sails throuth the air just before burying itself deep within the flesh and muscle of his chest, back, and sides?

I marvel at the Love, the Father demonstrates for us, as he holds back the straining legions of stunned angelic warriors wide eyed and repulsed by the sight of the The Son of God, marred beyond recognition.

Can you hear the collective groan of all creation as it bears witness to the rejection of the Son of Man by the Righteous Judge?

Can you hear Jesus scream out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” while His Father turns away disgusted by the condemning sins of the world born in love on the body of the Son in whom He delights?

This was the epitome Chaos!

 He was:

Alone, Missunderstood, Sold Out, Betrayed, Abandoned, Denied, Mocked, Falsely Accused, Denied, Beat, Physically Abused, Paraded, Chided, Denied, Humiliated, Crucified.

YET:

He was IN COMPLETE CONTROL

He willingly stood among chaos, surrounded by sheer confusion and upheaval, YET every time a new figgure accused him, every time another hand struck him, every time a voice rose to proclaim “Crucify him”, He stood there willingly, obediently, gloriously.

He was never withiout power, never stripped of His Diety. He was never afraid and never surprised.

I love how our pastor put it today. Every step he took, from the garden, to the courtyards and secret chamber discussions with Pilate & Herod, were ordained by God. All events leading to His crucifixion were like a great chess match. No matter how skillfully the opposition played their pawns, or how methodically they planned their moves, they could never outplay Him. In fact every move the Sanheidrin made was a move allowed by Christ- planned, ordained, and even foretold. They made no accusition, struck no blows, proclaimed no sentence except what the Holy Righteous, Loveing God allowed.

He reigns amidst Chaos so you don’t have to!

What does Jesus life and story do for you? Is your life chaotic? Are you confused. Look at the list above, do any of the emotions or abuses Jesus went through during His dark night, ring familiar in your heart? Are you alone and suffering in silent pain? Do you feel rejected, abused, abandoned? Guess what, your life and your trials are no surprise to Him. He sees all, understands all. Though man stands haughty and proud, exulting in sin at the expense of others, Christ is Lord of all. You are His Beloved Child. You have not been abandoned. You are not being punished. Do not think it strange my child He whispers. They hated you, they will hate me. Endure for but a little. I am with you. As you pass through this fire you will not be consumed. As you struggle in the flood of waters, you will not drown. Hang to my promise, there is a wealthy place. Your trial, like mine, sometimes deals death to the flesh, brings great sorrow to the heart, yet in those deathblows is life and glory, strength and honor. Not a hair from your head will fall that he does not see. Not one single word or offence can slice into your bleeding and hurting heart without Him knowing, allowing, using your pain to transform you and glorify Himself. What man intends for evil, God takes and transforms into beauty. Because He is God, he can take the most wicked intentions of man’s heart, turning the worst man has to offer into an instrument to produce the most beautiful works of God, healing, and strength.

Will you trust your chaotic and painful life into His hands. He exalted and reigned over sin and death, now let Him be exalted and reign in your pain and suffering. You do not suffer without cause, you do not suffer without a purpose. Cry out as He did years ago in the garden, “Let this cup pass, nevertheless, not your will but mine.”

During the month of February we will have a number of guest bloggers who will be writing on specific areas of pain they have experienced. These will include singleness, abandonment, physical pain and so on. So come back each week to read the stories of these amazing women and the amazing God they serve and Love.

This week, I am excited to introduce Loxlia from Lovelycrumbs. Loxlia will be our guest blogger this week, and will be sharing how the Lord has used a specific pain in her life to draw herself to Him. Be sure and stop by her blog and read her beautiful words of wisdom and hope.

I will introduce the February giveaway with her post so stay tuned for some exciting offerings.


Run headlong into the arms of victory

Run Headlong into the Arms of Victory-
II Chronicles 20

Beyond the base of the cliff is a nation, as thick as stars shinning in the clear night sky. The rhythmic vibrations of the encampment swell as they dance together in symphonic harmony. Vibrant notes explode from their instruments racing to unite with the voices that flood the crisp morning air. Their offerings of praise soar to the throne of heaven born on the wings of angels, who lay them at the feet of their Creator.

This assembly of has not gathered to celebrate a marriage or observe a feast. Spread just beyond their encampment is an immense army. Three nations have formed an alliance, arraying themselves for battle with the intent of slaughtering every man, woman, and child withing their camp.

Hours earlier, the realization of war had enveloped the kingdom in a thick blanket of terror. Fear had swept from house to house engulfing everyone like a plague, but dread was replaced with hope and rejoicing when they received an unexpected promise. After Jehoshaphat their king received news of the advancing armies, scripture says he “feared” and then “set himself to seek the Lord.” V3 In response to the humble reply of their King, all of Judah followed his example. Unified as a nation, they gathered together and cried out to the Lord for Help. II Chronicles 20 records the desperate yet hopeful prayer of a King, condemned to a bloody and violent defeat, unless the heavens opened and Jehovah God came down and intervened on their behalf. Jehoshaphat walked into the center of camp, fell on his face before the Lord, and cried out for mercy. The Lord heard his cry and the Spirit of the Lord came into the midst of the people and the Lord responded, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s….Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them for the Lord will be with you.” V14-17

Now in the early morning hours, Israel has respond in faith to the promise d victory. They have prepared themselves for battle and the King stands in the midst of them with final instructions. “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.”V20 Jehoshaphat then gatheres his entire kingdom together and his next command demonstrates the empowering nature of a faith rooted in power of the true and living God. II Chronicles records that Jehoshaphat “…appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endured forever.”V21

Did you notice to whom the king assigned the task of leading his people into battle? The army has been shuffled to the back of the military procession while those armed with nothing more than the weapon of faith have rush forward. Their battle cry is the praise and proclamation of the beauty and Holiness of the Lord. It is under this banner of faith and praise, not military might,the nation of Judah advances into battle. Fast forward now to the end of this story, one as mysterious and glorious as the beginning. “And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten…and none escaped….and the people came to take away the spoil of them…more than they could carry…and they were three days in gathering the spoil, it was so much…..And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the Lord fought against the enemies of the Israel….”V22-29

Israel was thrust into a conflict they could neither escape or win. With terror in their hearts they cried out to God for mercy and he fulfilled his promise to hear the cry of a humble and contrite nation who calls out to him. He responded to their cry for mercy and gave assurance of divine deliverance. Israel responded to His words of hope with obedience, celebrating and proclaiming the glory of the Lord who would deliver them before they ever set foot onto the battle field. The Lord commanded “Sit still and see”so the king moved their only source of strength and confidence to the back of the line and for once the army was last onto the field of battle. Weaponless, venerable, and weak, those who sang led their nation and the army to the edge of the battle field. As they stood singing, watching, unmoved and empty handed, their enemies were vanquished before their eyes, the spoils of war left for the taking.

We are weak and vunerable. We face battles and enemies we can not escape from or destroy. We serve the same God who delivered the nation of judah and like them, he has a promise for us. He has said when we are weak and afraid, he will be our strength.
II Cor 12:9
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

When we are abandoned, left to face our giants alone, he will not leave us or fail to intervene on our behalf.
Heb 13:5
I will never leavethee, nor forsake thee.

He has promised that trials will come but when we pass through the fire and water, at the end of our struggles and we will find find a wealthy place.
Ps 66:12
Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water:
but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

When we lack and have nothing he tells us to open our mouths wide and he will fill them.
Ps 81:10
I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt:
open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

Victory is ours to claim, death has be swallowed up.
I Cor 15:55-57
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
…But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you have no strength, if your hands are empty, He who filled the depths can fill you. If your heart quakes in fear, your body ravaged with scars from battle, He who healed the sick and made whole the lame, knows your pain and can heal every wound. If you are weary and despair life itself, you are where you need to be. Lift your voice in praise and adoration for “the beauty and holiness of the Lord.” Discard your earth bound weapons and abilities and march to the front line of battle. Sing to the Lord and gaze in wonder as He intervenes on your behalf. Grace will rain down, weary hands will be lifted up, feeble knees will be strengthened, victory is assured, and the spoils of war will be yours.

Lift your eyes to heavens, where the source of your help and strength
Resides, and RUN HEADLONG INTO THE ARMS OF VICTORY!

PSALM 121
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
he that keepeth thee will not slumber.