Why You Need to Make Praise Your Purpose…

_Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your glory all the day._-Psalm 71_8

“Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your glory all the day.”

-Psalm 71:8

This entire Psalm is written from the perspective of an older person having already left the days of his youth. The particular plea we read in verse 8 gives us a great example of prayer that should never leave our lips regardless of age.

How often do we exhibit praise and glory to God in the midst of tiring and trying circumstances? How often do we show the love of Jesus in a traffic Jam, or when we’re angry with the next door neighbor? How often do we allow our mouths to be empty of praise and glory unto Him? If I’m going to be honest, I have to say I can easily forget. I often let the sin of my heart, and the tug-of-war between my flesh and the Spirit of God who dwells inside, to battle more often than needed.

We can’t control everything in life, nor should we try, but there are many choices we can make that might kill our pride, but in the end, sooth our spirits in the form of grace.  And by the way, choosing to kill our pride is needed in order to massacre the sins of our flesh looking to consume us. Humility is the key to grace.

James tells us that God gives grace to the humble. More grace! (See James 4:6)

I’m in need of grace every single day of my life. My prayer is that I will become much better at choosing, even in the midst of life’s difficulties, that my mouth be filled with praise and with the glory of God.

We all face circumstances, some major; some minor, that should cause us to look at Psalm 71:8 with new eyes. Putting death to pride and breathing life to humility isn’t easy, but freeing. It’s a challenging request from our heavenly Father reminding us He is for us, not against us.

May each of us allow our mouth to be filled with praise and glory. May we keep in mind that pride is a killer and humility is grace in the form of CPR meant to give us each, not just eternal life, our best life right now. Your circumstances might be hopeless, but the good news is you serve the God of hope! When we fill our mouths with praise, it’s like administering medicine which opens our eyes to His gift of grace surrounding us every moment.

Bottom line: Every negative circumstance shows glimmers of positivity and hope when we praise the Almighty.

Make praise your purpose!

Love,

Jennifer

Because I Can’t Keep Track of All These “National Days”

Because I Can't Keep Track of All These _National Days_

Silly picture, right? I’m not big on selfies, but I thought (And this is so not like me.) a little cup of virtual coffee might be a nice way to start today. Here’s why…

According to social media, every single day is meant to be known for something. Doughnut day, siblings day, you name it, there is somehow newfound significance to a regular Wednesday. As of my Facebook feed this morning, I’ve been made aware one day too late that yesterday was National Best Friends Day. (C’mon, Facebook, you’re better than that!) It was also National Name Your Poison Day… I’ll let that one go.

I’m an introvert, and so I have a very small grouping of people I trust with my life. They are special to me and if the chips are down, I know where I can go. But guess what? Sometimes I don’t. Often, because of my personality, I like to pretend I’m okay, put on a smile, and not let anyone see what’s going on inside. I’m guessing there are many of you shaking heads in a resounding amen right about now. Am I right? Sometimes, this behavior is necessary. Other times, God is saying, “Step out of your box; my children need each other.”

God in all His brilliance designed relationships. From our relationships with Him, to marriage, to friendship – we have examples all throughout the Bible of beauty right smack dab in the middle of difficulty. We’re made to love, reach out, and steady another human. We are called to influence, share wisdom, be cheerleaders, counselors, cry partners, and crazy joy dancers with others. We are made for each other. We truly can be the hands and feet of Christ.

Maybe you don’t have a group of girlfriends. Maybe you’ve been so apprehensive about putting your own needs and problems out in front that you’ve not even trusted your closest confidant with your heart’s cry. If that’s true of who you are, I want to encourage you to reach out to someone today. You don’t have to share your deepest problems or most intimate secrets, you can just take this average Thursday to let someone else know you’re there for them. In today’s day, it’s easy to make someone aware you’re thinking of them. A simple phone call, text message, email, or social media post will do the job. And, if you’re a super introvert like I tend to be, maybe you can open your Bible and pray a scripture over their lives. I can’t think of a better way to support someone in this life than taking them to the throne in prayer.

I’ve often found that my deepest needs are met in the middle of serving someone else. (Tweet that.)

On this blog, I tend to get email and Facebook messages over comments. People usually like to share prayer requests privately. And let me tell you, I love hearing from you! Today, though, I thought maybe we can use the comments and encourage each other. Tell a story about a close friend, cheer for someone else, share a cup of virtual coffee together. Is that corny? I think so, but I like it anyway!

I’m not even sure if there’s a way to post pictures in the comment section because my tech skills are lacking. (Shout out to my husband for keeping this blog running!)

Anyway, someone out there needs to hear from you, and you need to hear from them!

Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

-Proverbs 27:17

Happy belated National Best Friends Day!

Love,

Jennifer

PS: Last year, I wrote this post about belonging to community. You might want to give it a read.

 

The Question You Need to Ask God When Dealing with Anxiety…

The Question You Need to Ask God When Dealing with Anxiety

I’m not always certain what triggers anxiety in me. It’s usually the little things rather than the big things. It can come from a noise too loud or a light too bright. Regardless, it comes. Like a fast train headed down the tracks, it has full intent of taking me on a journey. My heart beats fast while my thoughts focus on nothing else but the feeling of a war waged deep within.

I remember being a little girl when it started. I would wake my mom up in the middle of the night and tell her, “I have the feelings in my throat.” What I couldn’t communicate at that young age was I felt as if I couldn’t swallow. It was as if something was blocking my airway, but nothing really was. To this day, if a bad panic attack sets in, swallowing is difficult.

I’ve often felt ridiculous about being plagued with anxiety. I’m healthy, my family is healthy, we have nothing to complain about. Everyone goes through the mud at times, but we always reemerge and clean up well.  Many times I’ve thought, It’s a shame there are people in hospice care dealing with life better that I can. The whole thing causes guilt. And guilt does nothing more than lead to deeper anxiety.

I’ve asked God the famous question, “why?” The truth is, I’m not sure He’s ever answered specifically.  In fact, I’m not sure He’s ever answered that question at all. I’ve pretty much determined  the “why’s” of life are for Him alone and really none of my business. It’s the “How?”question He tends to answer best and most often.

When I ask, “How?” He answers, “Jesus.”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

-John 14:6

Jesus is the how. In every situation Jesus is the answer. Yes, I know, it sounds like a typical cliché Christian remedy with no layer of depth and not one admission to open mindedness. Welcome to the life of a Jesus Lover who knows God can beat any enemy, even anxiety. Having this belief system most certainly doesn’t make me any better than anyone else, and everyone who knows me will tell you I’m nowhere near perfect. The only place my Jesus lover self has an edge is where hope lives.

I’m a hope seeker, and I go to my knees to find it – To find Him.

I don’t battle anxiety nearly the way I used to. However, some days I feel all the old feelings. Today, I’ve been thinking about you who might be feeling panic and anxiety. I’m thinking of you who are waving a white flag of surrender because you feel you have zero control. Well, I’m no medical professional and when I feel it rising up, I often don’t believe I have any control either. And though some may disagree, I don’t think medication is off the table when you’re having proper counseling and medical supervision. However, I need to tell you this: In the middle of your darkest battle, BE A HOPE SEEKER. Don’t stop looking for hope, and don’t let your hope be called anything other than Jesus. Some days are harder than others and if we’re not careful, those days can dissuade us from living our purpose. Anxiety does nothing but work to distract us from hope. It makes us feel as if there’s something terribly wrong, when in actuality, God sent His only Son to make everything right.  No matter what today holds, our ending is victorious.

When we allow anxiety to filter our surroundings, hope becomes distant and freedom doesn’t register a definition. If we are going to battle anxiety with faith, then we must be willing to ask God for wisdom. We have to be patient, ready to take a deep breath and ask the question, how? In most cases, the question “Why?” leads to nothing more than distraction.

How do you deal with anxiety?

Love,

Jennifer

What You Need to Know About Grace…

What You Need to Know About Grace

Earlier this week, I talked about the message of the cross being the power of God. (See 1 Corinthians 1:18) Today, I want to dig into what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9…

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

-I Corinthians 12:9

“That the power of Christ may rest upon me.” I’m excited about those words! I feel stirred in my spirit about that particular sentiment from Paul. It was born out of his affliction, and through it he confirmed something we each need to know: we don’t have to be strong, we don’t have to be perfect, we just have to know that HE is strong and it’s HIS strength that will be made perfect in every weakness we have. It’s not in our power, it’s in the power of Christ that lives in us. (See Romans 8:11) We have the same spirit!

To give some background according to 1 Corinthians 12:9, Paul sought the Lord over his thorn in the flesh. None of us know what that really means. We only know that he was fighting some type of battle, whether physical or emotional, we have no idea. It wasn’t clearly defined. Regardless of whatever the “thorn” Paul spoke of was, he went to God three times in prayer asking Him to remove it. Now, for whatever reason, it wasn’t taken from Paul. However, the Lord gave Paul a word: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

I think we often try to rationalize why we shouldn’t fulfill our ministries and go where God calls us.  We think we need to be better, somehow. We don’t think we’re enough. To be honest, it’s only when we try to go without Him that we are not enough. We will always be enough with Him, because He is MORE THAN ENOUGH. We all have physical and emotional hindrances. However, His grace is sufficient. It covers ever imperfection. All glory belongs to Him. Paul realized this and was willing to boast in his infirmities, knowing that God’s grace was enough to cover it all and be the fuel in his ministry.

Now, I know some statements I’m about to make might cause upset or deeper thinking among some of you, but to be honest, I’m okay with that. Paul says in Ephesians 4 that we are to speak truth to our neighbor, so let’s get to it…

I know it’s supposed to be our aim to avoid sin, and, yes, we should. But sometimes we’re going to fall short. Paul says, “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (See Romans 3:23) That’s what makes grace so sweet! If you’re sitting there contemplating if you’re ever going to be good enough, let me say this: God isn’t waiting for you to live a perfectly sinless life, He’s waiting for you to live a perfectly redeemed life. His grace is enough.

We must learn what it is to fall in love with Jesus enough to want to rid ourselves from sin, all while accepting grace for when we fall short. Yet, on the flip side of the coin is this: some of us use the gift of His grace as a reason to continually sin. It’s important we discuss this.

In this society, we tend to prostitute the power of His grace because we want to hold tightly to sin, making no changes, yet still feeling we deserve grace. Forgiveness and grace comes through repentance and change. It comes through an obedience to serve him regardless of our circumstances. Ouch, yeah, I know…

In 1 Corinthians 12:9, Paul was speaking of living a life of grace while living fully for Christ alone.  He was conveying having the grace and power of God regardless of his thorn in the flesh. He knew he would be able to carry out his mission regardless of his infirmities.

We will never be perfect, or ready,  to live out our calling. We will always have some type of “thorn” we are dealing with. Go anyway. Follow Him anyway!

Friend, let the power of Christ rest upon you. His strength will be made perfect in your weakness. Do not be afraid to go where He is leading. And don’t be afraid to examine your heart to see grace in the light of truth. In our own power, made up of our own will, we will never qualify. Here’s the good news: God qualifies us. We can’t do it alone. It has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him. There is hope!

If you’re carrying a burden holding you back from serving God in the capacity He’s called you, then remember the word God spoke to the apostle Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfected in weakness.”

Go with God. Let His Spirit rest upon you. When you fall short, repent, accept grace, and move forward. You have the ability to live a redeemed life free to follow where He leads.

What’s written in the Bible is as much for us as it was for the early church. This word is for you! You can do all things because His strength is made perfect in weakness. Your weakness, my weakness, all weakness.

And all the weak ones shouted, “AMEN!”

Love,

Jennifer

Never Look Back

Never Look Back

When the apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, we can hear the passion in his voice. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved, it’s the power of God.” (See 1 Corinthians 1:18) Can you hear the plea? Do you feel his longing to communicate the importance of this message? He’s saying, “Salvation has come and we will never turn from the power of it!”

If you know anything about the personality of Paul, you know he’s not passive. This is a man who experienced a complete conversion causing total transformation of his life with no looking back. Even in his days of torturing saints, he was well versed in the word of God. In fact, if we were handing out degrees, Paul could have been awarded a Ph.D. in Jewish studies. This man knew the law of God, he just didn’t understand the heart of Him. When he was finally knocked off his horse, being made aware of the call of God on his life, there was no turning away.

Knowing Paul’s knowledge of the Old Testament, he must have been familiar with the story of Lot. That means he knew all about Lot’s wife and her decision to look back. (See Genesis 19) She couldn’t let go of that which ravaged ruin throughout her soul. Not Paul, though, he never looked back. He recognized the message of the cross as the power of God and after some time went on a mission to share that same power.

Maybe you’re wondering who Jesus is and what He came to do. Maybe you have a flicker of understanding, but aren’t really sure. Well, let me tell you that what Jesus came to do for your life, for every life,  is the power of God. His work on the cross doesn’t just demonstrate the power of God, it IS the power of God.  You don’t have to fully comprehend it. I mean, really, can anyone truly understand the mystery of love that deep? You just have to believe it. Belief in Jesus is the starting place for new life. It positions you to experience transformation and opens the door for freedom, healing, and wholeness. Believing is the beginning of a new start. Brand new beginnings bring hope! I don’t know about you, but I need hope to fuel my weary heart. Personally, I make a choice every single day to continue believing. I refuse to turn from the message of the cross. It is the power of God in my life. Friend, It’s the power of God in your life, too.

Be encouraged. There is power in the message of the cross. It never dies, never gets old, never changes. It’s new and fresh to everyone who accepts it, and will always be the source of every victory. It burrows deeply and roots itself inside. The Holy Spirit wants to change you! He doesn’t want to merely demonstrate power in your life, He wants to BE the power in your life. God is good and His power is working for you, to transform every situation, and to give you peace. There’s no need to ever look back. Ever.

Love,

Jennifer

Why I’m Learning to Fear God…

Wisdom from Oswald Chambers

The other day, I read a blog from John Bevere speaking of when he visited a prominent evangelist in prison. He asked the man a question, “When did you fall out of love with Jesus.” The man’s answer was surprising and gave me something to ponder. My jaw actually dropped when I read his response. He said, “I didn’t. I loved Jesus, but I didn’t fear Him.”

Oswald Chambers had this to say, “The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.” 

I can’t shake this topic. It intrigues me because fearing God seems to be what I would call, “The forgotten command.” When people think God they often think love, but do they ever think fear? An honest answer regarding my life: no. I don’t think about fearing the Lord. I know I’m supposed to, but it’s not on my mind nearly as often as the fuzzy feel good thoughts like love, hope, and freedom. After much contemplation, I don’t believe true love, hope, or freedom comes until we learn to fear Him. Ouch! I know; I didn’t like saying that any more than you liked hearing it.

When we think of fear it seems to reawaken memories of pain and heartache. We tremble at the thought of what we are enduring right at this very moment. The word of God communicates, “Do not fear!” It continues to remind us somewhere around 365 times.  And, on the other hand, the word of God also tells us to fear God.

Here’s how I imagine it: We are settled right smack in the middle of modernity. The blip of one single life registers on radar as the tiniest dot imaginable. Unless we reach some sort of celebrity status dazzling the whole world with glitz and glamour, our tiny dot doesn’t even blink. Those of us normal people are merely numbers for population stats and are practically unidentifiable to everyone except those in our own tightly knit circles and communities. (Hey, I thought this post was going to encourage me? Hold on, friend, it’s coming!)

So, located in the middle of modernity, on the map of tiny existences, many of the little human blips have somehow decided to pick and choose what they want to receive from the Bible. They’ve decided to take it in part rather than whole. People want to feel good because there’s so much pain and fear over situations that are uncontrollable. And, to submit to the God who created all would mean we need to fear His hand because choosing to serve God means recognizing His strength and reach. Fearing the power of His hand means denying our flesh. Based on sin nature and the human condition, it’s the hardest part of Christianity. When we choose to say hello to Jesus we are saying goodbye to controlling our own lives. Sometimes that means giving up desires. Double ouch! (It’s going to get better; I promise!)

And, let’s not forget this curveball: the word tells us God is love. (See 1 John 4:8) This means to fear Him would mean fearing love. In the reality of modern society, that seems like a complete oxymoron. But here’s the thing: we’re a messed up society. We’ve somehow adopted faith in what we see rather than what we can’t see, we’ve reinvented our own definition of love, and we roll out the red carpet for feelings rather than faith. Now, if you ask me, that’s the oxymoron! There are women in counseling all over this world because they don’t see their worth. They fear love. When another finally sees their heart and worth, wanting to cover them in love, they run because they don’t know how to accept it. Why? because they don’t know who they were created to be. They don’t understand agape love, which is the love of God. They have faith in what they see when looking in the mirror, and even worse, what they feel when looking in that giant piece of glass rather than faith in the Holy Spirit meant to dwell inside them. To get past what we see on the outside, requires seeing agape love on the inside. Love that only comes from believing in a God who sent His Son to die, rise again, and ascend to the right hand of His Father until the second coming. It’s derived in faith. Through eyes of faith we can all learn to see it. It’s a process. All of us who reject fearing God face the same issues. We run away rather than accept rescue. We’ve all been there.

When we recognize the power of the Holy Spirit inside us, our outlook changes and we understand our blips on the map are on purpose. And to God, every blip blinks. In fact, they flash bright red. He can’t forget we exist. He created us, and the God who designed us leaves nothing He creates!!! (See, I told you this was going to get better!)

The Bible tells us He’s mindful of us. (See Psalm 115) He knows we’re here because He’s right here with us. When we lose our healthy fear in a God who holds the universe, then we begin to fear everything else. Perfect love casts our fear! (See 1 John 4:18) Oswald Chambers was right! We are human; we can control nothing. But this giant God of ours who hears and sees everything, well, He controls it all. He is sovereign.

I understand this opens the door for questions such as, “Why do bad things happen to good, godly people if He, in fact, controls it all?” Well, without writing a fifty page theological paper for you, the answer is sin. We’ve been battling the choices of Adam and Eve ever since they took the first bite. Nothing here on earth will be perfect until we reach the perfect world yet to come: heaven.

Until then, consider this:

  • God knows who you are, so fear Him! (See Psalm 128)
  • God sees you, so choose to see His love living inside you! (See Psalm 139)
  • Don’t allow the power of over-thinking your life and feelings lead to confusion and change your perspective on Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 14:33)

To fear God doesn’t mean we are trembling in a corner somewhere afraid of His hand. It means welcoming conviction, which helps our choices align with His word. It means accepting the power of who He is and trusting His great love to cover everything else. It means having faith in the God who lives inside us, allowing His love to flow grace over every imperfection so we can welcome love from others. It means never wanting to be separated from Him! Ever!

Faith in God overrules every negative feeling regarding who you are created to become! (Tweet that)

John Bevere summed it up this way, “The fear of the Lord isn’t being afraid of God. On the contrary, it’s loving Him so much that you are afraid to be away from Him.” I highly recommend reading his full article here.

What would happen if we lived in a world where everyone had a healthy fear of God? Hmmm food for thought.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

You Don’t Have to Be the Best!

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I’m sitting here this morning completely overwhelmed by tasks on my to-do lists. I decided to write to you, anyway, because I’m wondering what you’re doing and if you feel weighted down as well. Do you?  Also,  when I feel as if I’m drowning, I tend to procrastinate. Here’s what is swirling through my mind: […]

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I Didn’t Know What to Say…

I Didnt Know What to Say._

For two weeks I contemplated a Mother’s Day post. I desperately wanted to write something encouraging mothers to continue seeking Christ for their children. I needed to convey they can climb mountains steeper than the steepest on record. I think I felt stirred to say this because there’s a lot of writers out there trying […]

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For While You’re Waiting…

When You Arent Sure

I often sit down at my computer with a plan in my head of what I’m going to write, and how I’m going to craft it. Guess what? I almost never end up writing what I thought. I tend to be moved in a different direction and then wonder what in the world I was […]

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Teaching Our Daughters to Fight…

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Every single day I look her in the eyes. They are deep blue and filled with the wonder of what’s to come. I see something familiar inside them. She’s called to be bold and brave, stand on a platform and tell others they have worth. She’s only seven, but I already know her gifts, and […]

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