Like a lion

1 Peter 5:5-8 New International Version (NIV)

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”[a]

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

IMG_0334Recently, while watching a BBC documentary with our son, I cringed as a scene between predator and prey unfolded before us. A wolf lunged at a herd of caribou, which immediately fled the impending danger. Amidst the chaos of the chase, a young caribou was separated from his mother and became isolated from the herd. For more than a mile, he outran the enemy. Cheering the juvenile on, our son yelled “VICTORY!” as the youngling gained some distance from the hungry wolf. A moment later, however, he tripped over a stone and stumbled to the ground. The fall proved fatal. “Stupid wolf!” our son cried, as he was overtaken by emotion.

Like that young caribou, we all like sheep have run astray (Isaiah 53:6). We leave the protection of our Shepherd and the safety of the sheepfold. By relying on our own strength, we attempt to flee from danger. We become exhausted. We stumble. We fall. We are overcome. We cry, “stupid wolf!” – blaming the enemy for our suffering. But the truth is, sometimes our instinct (sin nature), compels us to run away from God instead of to Him. Pride prevents us from clothing ourselves with humility. We rebel against God, and He opposes us.

Stupid God?

Uh. NO.

Stubborn sheep.

But I have good news!!! Stupid sheep can know the truth, and be set free from stubbornness. As a recovering stubborn sheep, allow me to share a few things that I’ve learned in the sheepfold:

  • God cares for His sheep (Isaiah 40:11).
  • When we are young sheep, we must submit to older sheep – for we have much to learn from their example in the faith. (1 Peter 1:5)
  • We are safer in the sheepfold than when we isolate ourselves. Isolated sheep are easy prey. (Ezekial 34:5)
  • When we are afraid, yet choose to run into the mighty hands of God, we can cast all our anxiety on Him. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
  • We have an enemy, who walks about like a lion, seeking to devour us. But we don’t need to be afraid because our God IS A LION (see Revelation 5:5)
  • We must be alert and watch out for the wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15)
  • When we seek God for rescue no evil will conquer us, we won’t trip on a stone, and we will crush fierce lions under our feet! (Psalm 91).
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God-breathed

2 Timothy 3:16-17 New International Version (NIV)

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 

Just as God breathed life into man’s body in the garden, God breathed life into the men that wrote each verse, chapter and book recorded in the canon of Scripture. Ordinary men were equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit to write an extraordinary love letter to the world.

Woven through the life stories of men, women and children throughout Scripture we learn who God is and who mankind is in relationship to Him. We discover love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. We realize the ramifications of sin. We are introduced to the Savior. We are warned about an enemy.

IMG_2961Each day as we study, the Holy Spirit breathes life and the words on the page become the Word written on our heart. Miraculously, we begin to receive instruction, rebuke, and correction. Through this supernatural training in humility and submission, our lives are transformed by the renewing of our mind. We are made righteous. We are equipped as a servant of God. We are able to do every good work.

If we don’t know the Word (Jesus) by studying the word (Scripture), we are not equipped to do any work. A student who is fully trained will become like their teacher (Luke 6:40). But a student who refuses to be trained, rejects the Teacher and becomes like the one they follow; Satan (John 8:44).

Reading a verse fragment a few times a week on a Bible app or Facebook post with a pretty background picture won’t thoroughly equip you. Would you give your child a handful of goldfish for the week and expect him to be sustained physically? NO! The child would be hungry and eventually, he’d starve to death because of the lack of nourishment. A child cannot live on goldfish alone. He needs the Word of God.

IMG_4461Dear child, if you’ve become malnourished, you cannot serve God. Sure, you may be able to sustain yourself and work for a little while, but the signs of starvation will eventually emerge. You may not notice it – but the people around you will. Your wife may say she feels unloved because you’re too tired to lay your life down for her. Your husband may say that he feels disrespected because you’re too busy to spend time serving him. Your kids may repeatedly disobey you because you’re too preoccupied to deal with their foolishness. The people you lead in the church may keep falling back into the same cycle of sin because you’re unequipped to shepherd their broken soul.

But don’t give up! There is still HOPE. The Good News is still the Good News. You can have abundant life. You can love your wife. You can submit to your husband. You can train your kids. You can lead others in the church. You can do every good work.

All you have to do is choose whom you will serve. God’s mercy is new every morning. Set that alarm on your smart phone to wake up 5, 15, 30 minutes earlier tomorrow. Grab your bible, pen, journal and a cup of strong coffee. Saturate your mind in Scripture. Then…do what it says.

You may feel ordinary, but Scripture will train you to be an extraordinary man or woman of God. God breathed life into your body when He saved you. God will breathe life into your soul when you study His love letter to the world.

 

Pain, Desire & Struggle

Genesis 3:16-19 (NLT)

16 Then he said to the woman,

“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,

and in pain you will give birth.

And you will desire to control your husband,

but he will rule over you.[a]

17 And to the man he said,

“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree

whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,

the ground is cursed because of you.

All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.

18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,

though you will eat of its grains.

19 By the sweat of your brow

will you have food to eat

until you return to the ground

from which you were made.

For you were made from dust,

and to dust you will return.”

How well I know the curse of pain as a daughter of Eve. All my pregnancies produced physical and emotional suffering in my body and soul. I delivered one daughter without drugs, but ALL our children caused indescribable pain when I gave birth.

How well I know the desire to control my husband. As a newlywed, I believed I was to share “the pants,” in order to rule and reign together as head of the family. In my rebelliousness and brokenness I used my strong personality to gain control… and when my husband attempted to lead, I viciously attacked him with my words.

Then I met Jesus.

Jesus became the curse for me, a sinful daughter of Eve. He died not only to give me eternal life with my Father in heaven, but He also gives me abundant life in Him on earth! No longer am I enslaved to the curse. I am a daughter of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Yet, sometimes, unfortunately….I still listen to that slithering, sneaky snake.

Jesus said in this world, I will have trouble.

Pain will still occur.

Desire to control will still rise up.

But, Jesus.

Jesus.

When I choose to trust Jesus, instead of the enemy, I receive God’s blessing: abundant life! I am comforted in pain. I know that He is in control. I submit to my husband, as unto the Lord. And even if my husband doesn’t love me as Christ loved the church, I feel how wide, how deep, how high, my Father’s love is for me.

cropped-IMG_2982.jpgFor more than 20 years I’ve watched my husband scratch a living. By the sweat of his brow, he has provided food for our family each day. As a son of Adam, the curse proclaimed over his life is different than mine. It affects his work mentality. Mine affects my relationships with him and our children. Regardless, if either of us chooses to submit to the enemy, the same result occurs: death.

If I am deceived, and my husband listens to me, and we both eat the forbidden fruit, spiritual and emotional death separates us from God- and one another.

Does that mean its all my fault?

No.

I am accountable for my sin- not my husbands, not my children’s. Mine.

My husband is accountable for his.

When a husband listens and obeys God’s commands, he finds his identity in the One who formed him from the dust of the earth. His work is not who he is. He is a son of God.

When a wife listens and obeys God’s commands, she finds her identity in the One who formed her from man for man. Her role of mother and wife are not who she is. She is a daughter of God.

Who are you listening to?

Who are you obeying?

Who are you choosing?

I choose life.

I choose the way.

I choose the truth.

I choose Jesus.

Thorns, Cares & Riches

Matthew 13:22 (KJV)

 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Every summer, when I was a little girl, my mother would require my older sister and I to weed “the hill.”

Begrudgingly, we’d wake up in the wee morning hours to avoid the heat of the Southern California sun at midday, put on our garden gloves and start digging & pulling thorns out from the MASSIVE hill. (I may over-exaggerate a bit….but when you’re a kid, everything seems MASSIVE doesn’t it?!)

After several days of digging & pulling, “the hill” would be restored to its original beautiful landscape.

But you know what? By the next summer, we’d be out there digging & pulling MORE stinkin’ thorns!

Ugh.

Such is the case with children of God. We get saved and God gives us a glimpse of the beautiful landscape that He has planned for our lives. We soon discover, however, that as we seek His Kingdom, He begins to reveal hidden thorns that the enemy has planted on our hill! Yet, by His grace, we can believe His promise to deliver us and we can wake up in the wee morning hours, put on our garden gloves, and ask Him to start digging & pulling the cares & riches out!

Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word for cares as merimna: “to draw in different direction, distract…that which causes a care, especially an anxious care.” Cares of the world can be any thorn the enemy plants in our mind that convinces us to believe a lie, instead of God’s truth. We can be distracted and anxious over our marriage, our children, our friends, our position at work, our position in the church- all of which choke out the Word, as people & position become more important to us than our Lord and Savior. Cares believe the lie that without the relationship or position, we won’t be loved or accepted. In short, we’ll be abandoned and alone.

Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word for riches as pluotos: “wealth, money, possessions, abundance…used evilly.” Basically, it’s any tangible thing that we own which was obtained with a greedy heart. Riches believe the lie that God will not provide everything we need. It justifies “wants” as “needs.”

Our church just finished a sermon series on The Parables of the Four Soils in Matthew 13. Although it isn’t yet summer here in North Carolina (even though some days it feels like it!), the seed that I received from those teachings encouraged me to wake up in the wee morning hours, put on my garden gloves, and dig into the rich soil of God’s Word. I’ve come to realize that the enemy’s thorns will continue trying to choke out Truth to keep His Spirit from producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in my life. BUT, I don’t need to worry, because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. His Spirit will lead me into all Truth. When I seek Him, I will find Him. When I ask Him, He will reveal any cares of this world & deceitfulness of riches that have taken root in my soul. When I confess my sin to Him, He will forgive me. And if that weren’t enough, He’ll even restore my hill to its intended beauty.

Is your life producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any hidden thorns that are choking out His Word. Confess, repent and forgive for believing the lies associated with cares & riches. Choose to trust God in all things- and watch as He restores the landscape of your life into His intended beauty.

Wives, submit

Ephesians 5:22

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

Since the garden, Satan has been deceiving the daughters of Eve. In subtle ways, he twists the Truth to steal, kill and destroy marriages, which are designed to glorify God by reflecting Christ and His Bride, the church.

Wives, submit.

Submit how?

“As you do to the Lord.”

Would our Lord ask us to sin?

No.

Would our Lord ask us to sin in order to cover up our husband’s sin?

No.

When a husband rejects Gods Truth, allowing Satan to fill his heart, he will choose to lie to the Holy Spirit (sin). When a wife has FULL KNOWLEDGE of it (by agreeing with the lie) death will come to them both. Perhaps not physically, but it will come (spiritually and emotionally).

Acts 5:1-11

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

KIM_2050_edited-1.jpgIf a wife remains submitted to the Lord in everything, her husband’s sin will affect her (because they are one), but it won’t kill her. For Jesus is her bridegroom and He will cover her, protect her and rescue her, as she hides and finds rest in the shelter of His wings (Psalm 91). Safe in His arms, she can intercede for her husband, asking the Lord to reveal Himself to him so that he will obey.

1 Peter 3: 1-2

In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives.

Unfortunately, however, not all husbands are won over by the Good News. And sometimes, death must come to the marriage.

I don’t know your story dear sister, but I do know that God loves you and has great plans for you- and your marriage. His design is for you to submit to your husband as you do to the Lord. And His design is for your husband to love you by laying down his life for you, as Christ did for the church. If your husbands sin is physically or emotionally bringing death to you, or your children, please seek shelter from the Most High and ask someone in the church for help.

“Don’t be Afraid, Mary”

Luke 1:30-31, 34-35

30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 

Matthew 1:18-21

18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

An angel did not appear to me while I was engaged, but I have heard the Holy Spirit speak a few promises about our lives together since our marriage took place. Unfortunately, I haven’t always exercised patience and self-control in waiting for that information to be communicated to my husband!

I wonder if Mary had a conversation with Joseph after she heard God’s promise from Gabriel:IMG_1067.JPG

“Joseph, I’m pregnant!”

(silence)

“The Holy Spirit did it.”

“What the what?!?”

“I’m going to give birth to the Son of God.”

“Um…what?!?”

“Joseph- its true! An angel told me…don’t you believe me?”

“Mary, that’s impossible.”

I wonder if Mary felt abandoned and afraid for her future. I wonder if Joseph felt angry and afraid of the scandal. Regardless, being a good man, Joseph broke the engagement quickly and went home. Then, an angel appeared to him in a dream and confirmed the same promise Mary heard – with a few more details. He was to take her as his wife, and name the child she carried, Jesus.

  • Mary heard from God.
  • Joseph heard from God.
  • They obeyed.
  • God fulfilled His promise.

Why don’t I realize that God will do the same for me?

I am afraid.

I don’t trust God, I trust in my current circumstances.

I don’t believe God, I believe the lie of the enemy that says; “it’s impossible.”

I don’t fear God, I fear my husband not hearing and obeying (how self-righteous am I?)

But….. I don’t have to be afraid!

  • I can choose to surrender my soul (mind, will & emotions) to my Father in Heaven.
  • I can choose to trust Him.
  • I can choose to fear Him alone.
  • I can choose to believe in Him.
  • I can choose to declare; “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”

And that obedience will give birth to the miraculous:

  • I will know that HE loves me.
  • I will know that HE is trustworthy.
  • I will know that HE is faithful.
  • I will know that HE will cause all things to work together for good.
  • I will know that HE will fulfill His promises for our marriage.