Thursday, March 29, 2012

God's Word to the Letter

On Sunday, Pastor Joe (@JoeChampion) shared a passage in his message from 2 Kings 7.  In re-reading the passage from The Message translation I wanted to share a few things that God laid fresh on me.

- The king's advisor saw the word that Elisha spoke come to fruition, but he missed out on that blessing  because of his unbelief.

- The army of Aram ran scared from a sound that meant nothing - they were jumpy, easilly frightened.  When we live a righteous life with God we can walk in confidence.  We don't have to jump at every sound or fluxuation of the economy.  There is no need to run scared, we are always confident that we can stand our ground.

- The lepers came upon good fortune.  And even though, as lepers, they were kept out of the city ( left out, mistreated, judged), they were still convicted to share the good news of their good fortune with the city.  They didn't keep it to themselves.  We have all been mistreated, bullied, disrespected, put upon, but when God's good fortune, good grace comes upon us, it should motivate us to share with all - even those who have hurt us.

- And here's the best part - all the things that God spoke through Elisha came to pass.  "God's Word to the letter." (2 Kings 7:16)

If God has spoken a Word to you, you can trust no matter how much time has passed, that His Word will be fulfilled to the letter.  And if you are struggling with unbelief, ask Him to help you believe.  Ask Him for faith.  Otherwise, you might just end up like the king's advisor who saw the good thing come, but then he missed out on it.  He was trampled to death to be precise.  God wants much greater for us! 

The message translation says:

"God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him." (John 3:17-18)

God loves you so much, and He longs for you to reap all the benefits of being His child.  He paid a high price so that you could. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Learning to be the Light

It is exhausting trying to be perfect!  Believe me, I know.  And no one can do it, I’m told, so why do we try?  Sometimes I think that we hope we can at least convince some people that we are if we look like we have it together for a few shining moments…and we pray someone catches it on camera so we can make that our facebook photo - then we can look perfect all the time even if we don’t get out of bed for the next six months. 

          Who can say when it started or why it happened, but this has been a struggle for me most of my life.  And I felt like if I wasn’t perfect then I was letting others down, most importantly I felt like I was letting God down.  But God was just waiting for the moment when I’d finally have enough of trying to do it on my own or worse, the moment when I finally was incapacitated from the trying.  Unfortunately for me, it was the latter. 

          In this process of God re-training me in how to approach life, He’s shown me that when we stop trying to be perfect or look like we have it all together – we have a lot more energy to make progress toward actually becoming the person that we hope we look like.  Example A (now don’t laugh, this is real stuff folks) – I used to spend so much time getting ready to work out: fussing over whether my outfit matched and my ponytail was just right and my bangs were straightened and even wanting to ensure that I looked slim - but then I would hardly ever actually workout because I didn’t have the time/energy to get ready to work out.  Seriously, to some of you I know this might seem ridiculous, but I really just did not feel confident enough in me to just put on a t-shirt and shorts and throw my hair up and go for a run.  I was afraid people were judging me and I felt self-conscious...these fears were crippling me from daily life functioning. 

          God helped me to realize that I have value right now – just how I am, whether or not I look good, work out, eat healthy, clean my house, etc.  No matter what He is in love with me.  And you too, my friend.  And so, for a time, using example A, I would just throw on the first t-shirt and shorts in my drawer and put my hair in a pony and without looking in the mirror, go for a run.  I’ll be honest, the first time I did it was at night – so no one could really see me that well anyway, but it was still a big step for me!  For some of you this example may seem silly, but you know you struggle with these desires in other areas.  And I had to force myself to do this for a time - grabbing the first thing not looking in the mirror and going.
       As God has worked me, this crazy thing happened, I realized that it’s ok to like a cute outfit to workout, but that even if I look crazy, it’s better to at least workout, and I'll workout a lot more frequently when I’m not so worried about how perfect I look or perform, and then I end up feeling better because I took better care of myself...thus even looking better too!

          I read this book “Comfortable in Your Own Skin” by Dr. Debrah Newman, that really helped me in this particular area of body confidence.  She has an exercise where you go through and calculate the number of hours you spend monthly on your appearance (even good things like exercise and skincare), and she talks about a healthy range of time.  Her particular phrase “finding the time to heal” really stuck with me, and I realized that the less time I spent on trying to look well (not just as it relates to my appearance but even trying to make sure my house appeared clean for guests after I just had my second child) the more energy I had to heal and that gave me the energy I need to make progress in the areas that I really desire.

          I began the year with a New Year’s Resolution to avoid looking in the mirror, but God really lay on my heart about a month in that it isn’t looking at my reflection that’s evil.  I did need to stop for a while so that I could regain my sight and focus in on what’s really important, but it wasn't that extreme forever.  So then I changed my resolution to choosing to like what I see in the mirror, but even after a time I recognized that was out of balance too.  I can see that I still have pounds to lose (both literally and metaphorically).    And the Word I believe I heard from God next was profound.  I need to resolve to let go of my desire for perfection and allow God to help me be satisfied with progress. 

Resolve to let go of my desire for perfection and allow God to help me be satisfied with progress.

        The only person who ever was and ever will be perfect is Jesus Christ.  And boasting about your flaws is just a cover up for insecurity too.  We need to get real about where we are hurting so we can help each other, but most importantly so we can bring it to light.  In the light, God can heal it! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Today I read a really candid post from a dear friend of mine that shares some of her own personal pain to help build up the women in her life, and it inspired me.

Living Life One Laugh At A Time!: A thought... or two

She has shared it with me before, but it just struck a deep chord with me, and challenged me to share something personal too. 

She shared some struggles with self-love because of people’s comments about her slim build (she is stunning by the way), and put it in incredible perspective.  Accepting and loving myself has also been a struggle for me, as I think it is for very many women, but the thing I am most particularly embarrassed of may be surprising.

I still remember the first time that I began to feel embarrassed.  I was sitting around a table as a freshman in high school and the girls were talking about what kind of plastic surgery they would have if they could.  I really never remember considering this as an option before.  One girl said she would have a breast enhancement…a chorus of yesses all around the table until all eyes fell on me…”Kandi you better not say that you would, you’re massive”. 

“Massive”, the most terrible word I have ever heard in all my life.  Huge.  Enormous.  And I heard it over and over again.  It’s not nearly as noticeable now, as it was then, because women’s bodies near my age are developed from bearing children, but it still haunts me.  I have always been very busty and I developed very early.

And then the next big attack, a man in my church, who I respected very much told me that I needed to be more careful about what I wore, especially while I was singing in the Praise Band, because I was causing young men to lust after me.  I looked down at my loose fitting cheerleading t-shirt and then out at the other slim girls with their tank tops and I felt humiliated. 

I mean believe me, every summer trying to find a swimsuit, and just trying to find a shirt that is not a turtleneck comes with the anxiety that I might be dressing inappropriately for a God-fearing woman.  And every woman who is not busty feels that she must comment on mine and that it is an appropriate subject of conversation, when I would never say (or for that matter even think about) how “small” hers are.  Women would tell me how my husband is so lucky and how that’s why men are attracted to me and all I could think is that if there were anything attractive about me (b/c I was even skeptical of this) that it must be attractive in a way that causes sin, lust, and jealousy. 

But that is not what God meant for me or you.  Let’s stop putting women down and finding our value in comparison to one another. Things like…

“If I had her body I’d be happier.”

“I’d rather have no boobs at all that have one bigger than another.”

“Pear shape is the worst body type”.

“Thank God I don’t have her ____________”.

“She doesn’t look as pretty without makeup.”

I heard every single one of these exact comments in the last week in casual conversation by women!
Stop it!  Just stop it!  Every last word is poison!  And I mean stop it even about celebrities that we don’t know.  They are women too, flesh and blood, with real hurts and fears and feelings.  God made each of us beautiful, lovely, and yes we have outward beauty, but we have a beauty far greater in that we are created in the image of the Most High God to fulfill His purposes in this world.  We are loved, adored, pursued by the God of the Universe, and we need to start acting like it.