Tag Archives: victorious christian living

Confessions of a Weakling

Sometimes I get so down on myself that I think God must be really disappointed. My human limitations and weaknesses are just overwhelming to the point I can’t imagine he would be anything but upset with me. Yet, this is not what scripture tells me. Hebrews 4:15 tells me that Jesus understands our weaknesses. In 2 Cor. 12, Paul talks about delighting in his weaknesses, because when he is weak, then he is strong. It doesn’t seem to make any sense in human terms, but it seems that our human limitations are part of God’s way of keeping us humble and dependent on him. The Lord delights in us, and rewards the humble with his salvation and deliverance (Ps. 149:4). I think it would be a lot harder to be humble if I were strong on my own.

So as I sit here day by day moaning and groaning about my shortcomings, I realize should be glorying in them instead, knowing that they are part of his good plan to teach me to cling to him. These weaknesses only become become a problem when 1) I don’t recognize them, or 2) when I make them bigger than God. My tendency is to do the latter, so I have to learn to stop the self-condemnation and use them as motivation to run to him. I need to remember that scripture is filled with flawed people who were used mightily by God. They didn’t suddenly become strong one day, and move into ministry. Instead, their weaknesses were evident even in the midst of their their service. When called by God, Moses argued that he was too flawed, as did Gideon. Elijah panicked and ran off in fear after calling down fire from heaven and defeating the prophets of Baal. David committed adultery and murder, yet repented, and was called a man after God’s own heart. Paul spoke of a thorn in the flesh that God would not take away so that he would not become conceited about the revelations he had received. When he asked God to take away that thorn, God’s response was “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul went on to say that he would boast in his weaknesses, because they were part of God’s good plan.

I have to admit I haven’t learned to boast in my weaknesses yet. Even worse, I imagine that’s probably a pride issue. As much as I’d like to think I’ve overcome all vestiges of ego, I don’t think it will ever leave me completely on this side of heaven. As I sit here contemplating my frailties, and my tendency to beat myself up, I recognize that it’s because I realize that I am not enough. I am not a spiritual giant. When people look to you for guidance, it’s easy to see yourself as some sort of authority or fount of wisdom. The truth is that without him we are nothing, and can do nothing (Jn. 15:5), and that is the reason weaknesses are good. They remind us that it is his strength, and not our own, that is as necessary as breath. I can glory in my weakness, because I realize it drives me to depend on the One who made and loves me.

It really is a wonderful thing that I am not enough! It is wonderful, because if I can receive that truth humbly, it drives me to complete and utter dependence on him. When I am weak, then I am strong, but when I abide in him nothing is impossible (Jn. 15:7). It unleashes his power, and miracles begin to happen. So today, I choose to glory in my limitations and frailties. I will move my focus from self to God, and I know that there I will find the power to overcome all obstacles.

 Oh dear Lord, thank you so much for being faithful even when I fail. Thank you for using my weakness to drive me to my knees in desperation. I need you more than anything! I was created to cling to you (Jer. 33:11). Help me to see that dependence as a good thing, and do not to let me pride tell me otherwise. Lord I truly do “need Thee every hour!” Bless me now as I come to you. Amen

When People Hurt Us

I’ve always loved the story of Joseph in Genesis (37-50), because it is a story of redemption. In fact, I often tell his story to children who have witnessed and experienced domestic violence, because Joseph had some rather traumatic experiences and overcame them. While the world tells us that such trauma sets us up for a lifetime of misery, I believe this account shows that, with God, that does not have to be the case. Joseph entrusted himself to God in spite of his circumstances, and recognized that God’s plan for his life included using the trauma he experienced for good purposes. Even though he was abused, betrayed and suffered severe injustice, Joseph recognized and proclaimed faith in God’s good and loving plan.

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.” (Gen. 45:8)

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Get. 50:20)

Time and time again Joseph recognized God in his negative circumstances. It is obvious that he was hurt by them, but he still acknowledged God’s hand in them all. He could have easily become bitter and angry with God during this time. After all, many injustices had occurred. He had every right to be upset. His circumstances just weren’t fair, but he continued to entrust himself to God.

We have a choice people hurt us. We can allow it to make us bitter, and give them power over us, or we can let God make us better and realize he is ultimately sovereign over it all. This is not to say that we shouldn’t get out of an abusive relationship when we can! Scripture is filled with godly people who ran from harm. (See Ac. 9:25 and 1 Sam. 19:10).  Jesus himself escaped harm until it was his appointed time to die (Jn. 10:39). However, even when people do us harm; he has the power to use it for good. No life experience is wasted when we belong to him. I think that coming to understand this is one of the keys to healing from abuse. Our feeble minds cannot see the long-term agenda, but he can.

There have been many times that I thought people had control of my life, but in reality God was still on the throne. I assumed people had all the power, but he wanted me to surrender it, and allow him to use it for my good. That is what he has always done. Many times in my life I have questioned why bad things have happened. I have wished I could go back and do something different so the outcome would be different. I have wished that I could control it all. I have lamented that people were hurting me, and yet when I look back, I see very clearly how God used it for good in my life. No, being abused was not good. Being betrayed by loved ones was not good, but as I entrusted myself to God in each situation, he was so faithful to use all the bad for good. I have a relationship with him that I wouldn’t trade for the entire world. He has been completely faithful in it all.

When I look back at the worst of times, they were also the best of times spiritually. Jesus held me and spoke to my wounded heart in the most awful circumstances. My experiences have been amazing tutors that have worked together for good in my life (Rom. 8:28). I have learned to stop asking why these days, and instead ask, “God, what do you want to teach me in this?” He always shows me, and in due time, he always lifts me back up. What an amazing God we serve!

Thank you Lord that you are sovereign over hurtful people. Even when you allow bad to happen, you always have a redemptive agenda in mind for your children. I praise you that nothing is wasted in your economy, and stand amazed that everything can be redeemed and used for good. This life is but a breath, but you have an eternal agenda that surpasses anything this world has to offer. I can rest in your goodness, even when things seem bad and out of control. In reality, they never are. Amen

Running the Race

Lord, time truly flies. I know that it won’t be long before I am standing in your presence. That is why I cannot grieve long over those who have gone ahead of me. I miss them, but know that they are free from the struggles of this earth and would never want them back here. I will see them in the blink of an eye, and I know that all that counts on this side of eternity are the eternal things—loving You and loving people. Yet, I feel that I am not consistent in anything. Life gets in the way of my best intentions, and though I desire to put You first, the constant demands of life tend to drown out the eternal. I know that much of the problem is just me. Scripture tells me to love You with all of my heart, soul, and strength. That last word hits home as I think about my weak attempts at physical strength training. I may get to the gym once or twice a week, and when I do there’s really no plan. I run back and forth in the water, and use the resistance weights on and off, but there’s no real strategy to achieve my goal. In fact, I don’t even set goals. I see the same problem across the board—from physical exercise, to work, to personal life, to spiritual life. I build no strength, because I lack the self-discipline and consistency needed to build it.

Athletes are consistent. I am consistent with nothing. It takes so little to get me off track. It doesn’t help that my schedule changes from day to day, but that was my choice—a choice that fits my impulsive personality. I hate routine, but it’s quite apparent I need it. Paul often compared the Christian life to competing in an athletic competition. “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore, I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:25-27). Every day of my life feels like an exercise in futility—like beating the air. I call it spinning my wheels. Lord, please help me overcome myself! Help me run with endurance the race set before me, and help me to see the goal! Actually, Hebrews 12:2 tells me I should run it by keeping my eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of my faith. I must look at his example of endurance, and his determination to finish the work the Father sent him to accomplish. Make me resolute Lord. Strengthen me in this weakness of mine, and teach me how to overcome my inconsistent nature. I surrender it to You now. I am desperate for your help! Amen

My child, you did get some athletic training when you were growing up. Remember how you couldn’t wait for baseball season? You practiced every chance you could, because you loved it. The same was true of tennis. Yes, it required self-discipline, but it was born out of a love for the games. Keep that in mind, or you will quickly become legalistic. Everything you do must be born out of love. You must run towards Me, and I will give you the strength you need. I did not make you a “type A” personality, and I intend to use you with the gifts and strengths I have given you. Yes, you must “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God,” but in order to do that you must have Me in your sights. You need only make yourself available to Me consistently. I do not ask for more than that. Do not turn this into a list of requirements, or you will fail very quickly. Run the race because you love Me, and because you love people. Set your goals with that love in mind. Even your physical exercise should be born out of love for Me, and a desire to honor Me in all you do. Make the time and I will do the rest. This means you cannot give in to every demand life throws your way. You must make choices, but that is easy when your priorities are correct. The real battle is choosing what is most important. Put Me first, and everything else will fall in place. I will bring order as you run towards Me. 

Lord, Give Me Eyes to See

Lord, speak to my heart today. Some days I just get so fed up with this world, and long for the Day when you will wipe every tear from our eyes, and live in our midst. Looking at people can sure be cause for discouragement. Actually, looking at myself can be cause for discouragement, and I desire to honor You with my life. So many in this world don’t know You—don’t have any desire to know You. Even worse, sometimes, I think they are led astray by people who claim to know You. I know I was for many years. Bottom line is that You seem to have a small remnant of followers in the world, there are many wolves among your sheep, and the world system is dark and lost. John was right when he said that this world system consists of “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (1 Jn. 1:25).  Nearly every day I see people tying their value to possessions and achievements with no regard for spiritual things. Others seek approval from people and end up wallowing in depression, because people can never give them what they seek. We were made for You, and yet reject You to go our own selfish ways. I am so amazed at your patience. You are the potter and we are the clay. You certainly have every right to destroy it all and start all over again, but in your love and mercy You have chosen to work in our brokenness. In fact, You chose to enter it and become broken yourself in order to redeem those who would receive You. You shine in the midst of the darkness, and put your Spirit in your children as instruments of your grace. It constantly amazes me. I remember how impressed I was at the level of service offered by the churches after Hurricane Katrina versus the Red Cross and the government. People came by the thousands and sacrificed to help. Your light penetrated the darkness, and many were able to see your goodness in the midst of horrific tragedy. I saw so many cases where lives were positively changed forever, because of your church. Those little glimpses of light must be occurring all over the world, and You are in the midst of them all. I need to look at your grand design, and stop worrying about the darkness. Let me shine for You today. Amen

 Little one, my eyes are constantly looking throughout the whole earth (Zec. 4:10), and my purposes will stand. To your eyes the work may seem small, but it will be accomplished—not by might or power, but by my Spirit (Zec. 4:6).  Call to Me and I will answer, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know (Jer. 33:3). I can give you eyes to see. You are looking at things from a human perspective, and are missing the eternal purposes I am accomplishing. Trust that I have a good plan, and simply be obedient to the call I have on your life. I know that right now you are unsure of the direction to take, but continue to seek my face. Do not let shallow substitutes obscure your view; that is, do not allow anything to distract your gaze from Me. If you do,  you will sink, just as Peter began to sink when he started looking at the wind and waves (Mt. 14:30). The waves will continue to crash, and the wind will continue to blow until I bring you into my presence, but walking by faith will hold you up through the storms. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen—the things that are unseen are eternal (Heb. 11:1, 2 Cor. 4:18). Learn to live for the eternal unseen kingdom, and the waves will become as phantoms with no power to move you. If you are discouraged, it means your eyesight is faulty. Let Me give you new eyes to see beyond the fading shadows. For now you see dimly and you only know in part, but one day you will understand it all (1 Cor. 13:12). Until that day, let me lead you, and walk in my Spirit. All things are possible for those who believe. 

eyes elightened

The Road to Victory is Paved with Intentional Living

Lord, here I am– one foot in victory, and the other in defeat. Unless I am intentional, I know which way the day will go. I long to walk in a way that pleases You—that is where I find peace and joy beyond human comprehension. So why in the world do I ever allow myself to drift off onto the path of least resistance? I constantly disappoint myself, yet I sense your grace and mercy over my weaknesses. You are so much more patient than I am, and though You have the right to condemn, You choose to encourage instead. Thank You for meeting me here and enabling me to find victory over myself. Thank You so much for your willingness to use imperfect and needy vessels. I stay amazed by that. Right now, I yield myself, and ask You to help me stay yielded. Gently remind me of the power that is mine when I get overwhelmed by life today. Help me rest in You in the midst of turmoil. Thank You so much for your incredible love!

 The mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, yet when planted it becomes the largest plant in the garden (Mk. 4:31). Give me what little you have, and let Me cause the growth. I am working in ways you cannot see, and you must always remember leave the outcome to Me. My grace is sufficient, and I am infinitely merciful, yet I call you to be holy. That means you are to be set apart from the madness of this world, even though you are in the world you are not of it (Jn. 15:19). I know how easy it is for your mind to dwell on the temporary, earthly things rather than the eternal, unseen things (2 Cor. 4:17), and I am telling you that you must make every effort to resist that tendency. Freedom comes from discipline, so discipline your mind and heart. Cast down every imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and take your thoughts captive to be obedient to Me (2 Cor. 10:5). Right now, you are allowing worry to take root, as if you don’t think I will take care of that situation. Let go of it. Give it to Me, for as long as you hold on, I will not take it by force. I see the one you see as hopeless, and I am here to tell you that there is always hope in Me. Put that loved one in my hands. You have no power to change anything, and any efforts you make to help will not be helpful. Your best course of action is prayer and surrender. Leave this child in my hands, and trust Me for the outcome. Do I need to remind you of all the miracles you have seen firsthand in your own life and in the lives of others you used to worry about? Surrender this one to Me my child. I am in control. I am able, and I see. Let your burdens become my burdens, and find rest for your weary soul. Refuse to meditate on worrisome thoughts, and choose to praise Me instead. I inhabit the praises of my children (Ps. 22:3), and miracles happen in my presence. Praise instead of worrying, stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf (2 Ch. 20:17). I am mighty and this battle is mine, so do not try to take my place by carrying a burden that is too heavy for you. Let go. I have it in my competent hands.



2013 Summary

In 2013, things in my personal life seemed to take center stage, so that public ministry was often relegated to the backseat. In December, my mother passed away, and before that she had come to the point of needing lots of extra assistance. God was so merciful, in that she barely suffered. She had bone cancer, but apparently her dementia prevented her from feeling pain up until the end. Not only that, but she never forgot her children, and was cheerful in disposition until she  became too weak to speak about 5 days before she passed. We rejoice that she is now basking in the presence of her Lord.

In December, I also completed my degree in Biblical Counseling  at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) after being a part-time student for 10 years! I cannot tell you the relief I felt in walking across that stage.

In October, I was the keynote speaker for Richland Creek Community Church’s annual women’s retreat in Myrtle Beach, SC. The retreat title was Tracing Roots to Fruits, and I decided to speak on the three topics I see most in counseling: selfishness, bitterness, and fear. We discussed Biblical truths for overcoming all 3 of these “bad” roots that hinder a victorious Christian walk. In the spring, I also taught a class at RCCC entitled “Heart Matters” that dealt with common problems women face, and keys to victorious living. My favorite class is “Knowing God’s Heart.”

Other speaking engagements in 2013 included visiting 2 counseling classes at SEBTS and teaching on domestic violence and emotional abuse. I am passionate about these subjects, and helping the church learn to handle them better, because I have seen far too often the church’s lack of knowledge in this area can make matters worse.  If you are interested in these subjects, I have written several articles and would be happy to share them if you send me your email address.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog, and supporting this ministry.