Nicknaming life.

It just has been so long since I’ve written about what is happening in my life!

This is a new season. My roommates have both moved out of town and I have myself a cozy little one bedroom.

While living alone offers a lot of great benefits, it also offers a lot of higher bills and bigger responsibilities. Oh, and it offers a lot of chance to sit in my sin and pout.

So, as this first month of the first time I am living alone is wrapping up, I am challenged.

Good ole’ Steven Furtick from Elevation Church once again pulled through to bring me hope in this season of life. In a series cleverly titled #deathtoselfie, Furtick tells the story of Jacob and his family. The final sermon on the series was titled “naming rights.” The description reads:

Just because the Bible says God works all things together for our good, does not mean everything feels good all the time. But it’s often our times of greatest struggle that we can gain the most strength and increase our faith. In the final part of our series #DeathToSelfie, Pastor Steven uses the story of Jacob renaming his son Benjamin to show us that, though there are circumstances in our lives we didn’t choose to go through, God has given us the rights to call any circumstance a blessing in His name.

Dang. Do you get it? Rename your situation!

For me, I saw this time of living alone as pretty lonely, and pretty stressful as I stare blankly at a pile of bills I really don’t know how I will manage to pay each month. I saw it as a time of missing community and struggling to find worth in the job I’m not loving at the moment. I saw this time as a time where I’d be forced to face some sins that I forgot about, because now I’m all alone where the enemy attacks me hardest.

BUT I HAVE RENAMED THIS TIME!

Oh friends, it’s so lovely.

This is a time where God is calling out my sin so I can better glorify Him!

This is a time where I can learn to be a good steward of my money and learn to rely on faith that He will provide for my needs, if I am faithful with returning to Him what is already His.

This is a time where yes, I am single, so yes, I can plan my schedule to my own liking.

This is a time where I can learn to trust that God has me in my current job for a reason, so I’ll look for the good in each day.

 

I do hope this time doesn’t last forever, and I think that is okay.

But while we are in our different seasons of life, why don’t we name them something good?

Give this time in your life a nickname you life, not the nickname the enemy’s been using. 

 

Before works (sin series)

As I previously said, I’ve been thinking a lot about sin lately.

It’s overwhelming.

Yesterday, I was brought to tears during the singing/worship time at church. I was reminded of how God feels about me, no matter what I have done, am doing, or will do. Here are some quotes from Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick I also read that struck me deep:

“…every weakness you know about yourself, God knows in greater detail than you could ever imagine. He knows the defect as well as what causes the defect.” (p. 27)

“Before you were born – before any of your defects were apparent to you – they were absolutely apparent to God. That didn’t stop Him from calling your name and setting you apart. He placed you on the earth at a certain time for pre-decided purpose.” (p.27)

“…even when you can’t seem to get your act together, your identity is secure and completely intact. Because in Christ, who you are matters infinitely more than anything you do or cannot do.” (p.27)

Furtick tells the story of Jesus being baptized in Matthew 3:16-17 and the point when He received God’s approval – at the beginning of his ministry, before Jesus had actually started doing anything he had been called to at this point.

Before he had the chance to use works to earn God’s favor. 

It is the same for you and I. God loved us the minute He created us, or probably before, however that time thing works with God.

He loved you and He loved me before we had the chance to try and use our works to “get on his good side.”  I’ll explore this more later, but for today, dwell on this:

20140323-142655.jpg

Snakes.

From the same sermon from Steven Furtick (Elevation Church) I referenced yesterday, we learn something really powerful about fighting fear and the problems that arise as our faith grows.

We know this is true if we’ve been pursuing Christ with our entire being – oh, the enemy fights us harder. As Furtick points out, there are snakes that come out. Paul survives the storm, the shipwreck, and an assassination attempt. But then Acts 28 happens and he gets bit by a snake.

They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. (Acts 28:2b-3)

I have experienced this so many times. As I have tried to seek God more and more, the snakes have come more and more. For me the snakes have been discouragement, doubt, fear, sin, failure, etc. So, what do we do?

But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. (verse 5)

SHAKE THE SNAKE. Paul doesn’t freak out, he doesn’t freeze in shock. He shakes it off, knowing “God didn’t bring me through that shipwreck to let me die from this snake bite.”

“Snakes” will attack you – your faith, your thoughts, your progress. Shake. It. Off. Press on.

FEED THE FIRE. You can get bit, but not be stopped and that is how people will know where your faith lies. Use the snake bite to fuel your fire – to press you on in your faith journey towards God. Fight harder. Fan those flames with the very snake trying to attack you.

2 Timothy 1:6-7 “ For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Like I said, for me a snake is often self-doubt. I don’t think I’m good enough, fit enough, strong enough, have enough faith, funny enough, pretty enough, yada yada yada. I just don’t think I am enough. And I’m not. So I take that self-doubt snake and shake it into my pursuit of Christ and His will for my life – my fire – and I remember I am only enough when I let Christ live through me. So I renounce the lie and declare that I am enough with Christ who gives me strength. Get off me snake, get away from me satan.

Fear.

This post comes from another lesson God has been teaching me through repetition…

First, I think you need to listen to the podcast “Crash the Chatterbox, It Will Happen (Part 3)” from Steven Furtick at Elevation Church.

In Acts 27 Paul is going through a storm and needs to decide “which voice he is going to listen to.” Paul is giving warning on behalf of God. Furtick says, “When you find yourself in a storm, and you will, steer by the Spirit and not by your senses.” He points out how easy it is to steer based on our senses, we do what we feel, we respond based on our feelings. Is this not how we live almost always?

Furtick points out a good distinction between God’s warning and the enemy’s threats:

God will warn you but He will never create worry within you. When God warns you He will give you a specific instruction and it will mobilize you and make you stronger. When the enemy threatens you, he won’t make you stronger, he’ll make your faith weaker. When God instructs you, He’ll give you a specific warning; He’ll show you something, maybe through someone, maybe through a spirit, maybe through His word. And He’ll show you something you need to correct. The enemy will never do that – he’ll just threaten you in a vague way until you can’t even figure out what’s wrong but you just find yourself up at night, worried about things… -Steven Furtick

Furtick points out, “when you ignore God’s warnings you will always suffer loss.” A-to-the-men. I have lived this time and time, and time again. I have heard God’s prompting to move and have ignored Him. And, oh has the loss come.

thevoice

Are you allowing the feelings and emotions of fear driving you? When you play scenarios over and over in your mind that are not even yet (or ever will be) real, you are being driven by fear. Where does that get you? I think this fits in a lot with the lies we allow ourselves to believe, like I wrote about the other day. Fear and lies go hand in hand.

So you not only have to fight the lies, you have to fight the fear. Paul says in Acts 27:22, “But now I urge you to keep up your courage,because not one of you will be lost…” So let go of the fear, fight the lies, and take courage. Paul isn’t focused on the storm, he’s focused on the future God put before him and his faith in God – who He is and what He says.

You have to learn to separate out your courage from your conditions. See if your courage is tied to your conditions, when your bank account goes down, your courage goes down with it. If your courage is tied to your conditions, when a certain relationship in your life starts going down, your courage goes down with it…. Even when my conditions are outside my control, my courage is in my control. ‘You’ve been feeding your fears, and now they’re eating you alive! And now you’re surveying your conditions and you’ve lost all hope…’ Sometimes you can’t fix the situation and all you can fix is your focus.

The storm may rage on. Where is your focus? To me, it seems that faith and courage go hand-in-hand.

focus

 

What are your fears? How are you starving them?

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Joshua 1:9 “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”

Isaiah 44:8 “Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock—not one!”

Luke 1:74-75 “We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.”

Fight the Lies

It is a snowy, icy, cold day here in Ohio on this the 2nd day of March. Normally, I go to church on Saturday nights but last night I chose to babysit some kids and planned to go this morning. I woke up and saw how many churches were closed and decided I’d stay in and watch a podcast from Elevation Church (who I reference all the time because I love the preaching from Steven Furtick). So post sermon-watching from the series related to Furtick’s book Crash the Chatterbox (which I recently started reading but am avoiding continuing until I finish the other book I’m reading), here I sit in my grandma sweater (actually I believe it’s a a man’s sweater… I got it from the thrift store, 3 sizes too big and comfy as ever) pondering all that I heard in Furtick’s sermon and also what I just read in my other book – Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge.

Both talked about lies.

In His perfect Wisdom, God knew I needed to hear about this topic over the past couple days, as I had decided based on His prompting that in March I’d fight for truth and to win the fight inside me. I mean, I know it’s an ongoing battle, but March is about marching off on the right foot (har har).

Crash the Chatterbox the book and the sermon series is about the chatterbox of what we hear going on in our head. We can choose to believe the lies we tell ourselves and the lies the enemy tells us or we can crash it. I haven’t read the book and I haven’t finished the sermon series, but the only way I know to crush the lies of the enemy is with the truth of my Creator.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Eldredge touches on this in her book too. Here are some noteworthy quotes on the topic:

Spiritual warfare is designed to separate you from the love of God. Its goal is to keep you from living in the freedom that Jesus has purchased for you. Satan whispers to us when we have failed or sinned or are feeling horrid that we are nothing or no one. (p 171)

In order to recognize a lie,  we need to know the truth. (p 172)

Descartes famously wrote, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ I would add a fill-in-the-blank in each phrase. I think I am ____, therefore I am _____. I think I am kind, therefore I am kind… (p 171)

Whoa – let’s talk about that last one. She lists lots of positive examples, but I started thinking about the bad things I think about myself. Let me put a real tender one out there as an example:

I think I am unworthy of love, therefore I am unworthy of love.

Yikes. When I started thinking about this, my eyes got big, my heart got heavy, and I even started to feel a little pit in my stomach. Look at the lies I was believing, and in essence, therefore becoming. My heart broke for what I was believing about myself and how ultimately I was becoming those things. It’s like a circular battle, then. You believe it so you become it, you become it and it’s true. It’s no longer a lie you have the choice to believe, it’s the truth of who you’ve become.

Eldredge gives a good example of a prayer to quickly pray for each lie you have believed, and to remember anytime in the future you find yourself believing a lie:

I renounce this lie. I break every agreement I have been making with my Enemy. I renounce the agreement that [I am overwhelmed; I’ll am overhwelmed; I’ll never get free; I hate so-and-so; I am stupid, ugly, fat depressed – NAME IT, and BREAK with it]. I renounce this in the Name of Jesus Christ my Lord.

enemies lies

You can see that picture is from www.daughterbydesign.wordpress.com but it is from the most perfect post about lies and spiritual warfare in your mind. Go read it. I stumbled upon it just looking through pinterest for an appropriate picture or quote, more on this subject. Now I follow her blog and thoroughly enjoy all of her posts!

So here’s the good and bad news, all at once: realizing there is a battle going on is good, now you are able to arm yourself and to fight. That means, however, that as you become stronger and more able to deflect the lies by believing the Truth, the enemy is going to fight you harder. But have faith! Resist the devil and he WILL flee from you (James 4:7)!