Christian Living · faith

The Shame and Healing in Wanting 

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

On Facebook I saw a blog post titled Do You Know How to Want? I paused, took a deep breath, and clicked on the link. It was an uncomfortable yet unbelievably cathartic experience. This author knew me. Understood me. I don’t know how to want. But yet, I do have wants. And I did. I left a comment on that post and something said in response struck very deep. 

It’s especially intimidating if you’ve been shamed for wanting in the past. 

I have been shamed. Yes. 

As I was praying I asked God to pierce me. Let the emotions pour out. I pictured myself taking each tear, feeling, and experience and holding it up to Him. 

Abba, take it. 

I started off saying things like I want to write. I already am blogging, but in a greater way. I want my autistic son’s healing. I want my husband’s breakthrough in career advancement. I want to do this to decorate that room. I want to get in shape. I want to learn how to sew (knit, crochet, anything.) I want more time and energy to do it. Etc and etc. 

I sensed God wanted to dig deeper. I wasn’t really getting to the heart of what I wanted yet.  

Then, the volcano happened. No, perhaps just a bursting. It wasn’t explosive. But what poured out was so raw and painful. And healing. 

I want love and acceptance. I want to belong. I want to be valued. Noticed. Appreciated. 

I want friendships. Loyal, godly, loving friends. I want someone to see me at my worst and still think I’m worthy. I want to matter. 

I want support. I’m weary. I want that person that won’t return heartfelt messages to respond. I want that other person that says I’m “obsessive” when I am vulnerable from the weight of my burdens to apologize. To help. I buried those wants. 

Then the truth shocks me… 

Some things to some degree I had or could have had. Other things I wanted weren’t wants. I was believing lies from the enemy. I don’t have to want to matter; I already do. I don’t have to want to be loved. Maybe certain people don’t as I want them to but I am loved. 

My list of wants up to this point were a few desires and a lot of me needing to see my heart and its condition. 

Keep going Laurel… 

God was telling me to press in. I haven’t got it yet. I’m still in the process. This I know now: my wants are really His wants. Before my birth my Creator had works for me specifically to do. He already knew me. Chose me. I have been hardwired for something. I have recently really started learning what it is. But after the gamut of emotions and intensity in prayer, I found myself saying… 

I want to love. I want joy. I want peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self control. 

I want to emulate my king. 

What do I want? There’s many layers to that. At the moment I want Yeshua (Jesus.) I want to know Abba more. Hear Him more. Love like Him more. 

To go back a bit, right now I want godly friendships. I’ve painfully learned some I want do not want me. I pray for them, and look with expectancy at what God has for me. We are not meant to go it alone. Abba knows this. 

Today, I want to ask you what you want? Have you truly given it to God? Do you know what He wants of you? For you?

In asking myself what I want I learned there’s shame, deception, pain, and disappointment. But there’s also healing, hope, and Abba calling me to draw near. 

At this exact moment I’m thirsty for His living waters. I’m content.  

John 4:7-14 ESV A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Christian Living · faith · Warfare

War

Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 

I feel led to share about a very intense, direct attack from the enemy on my family. I now have hindsight and wisdom from Abba on this.

God had put heavily on my heart to reach out to someone to make amends just over two years ago. This was during the fall feasts. Communication progressed and finally as a family we met to reconcile in the Summer of 2016. I was pregnant with my third son at the time. Things were really starting to look up after an incredibly painful season.

There was much peace. My husband was set to be promoted at his job after suffering a lot of mistreatment in the past there. A new person in charge was showing him favor. A few family relationships were patching up. We got an unexpected check from the IRS for overpaying. My oldest son showed signs of improvement (he has severe autism.) A few times when I was out shopping people would pay for my groceries or coffee. It was as if favor and blessing was surrounding us. I was praying as I’ve never prayed before. Then something happened. SOMETHING. 

We do not wrestle against flesh and blood…

Where to begin? I gave birth to my son and developed post partum depression issues. My husband was told an outright antisemitic statement as to why he was denied the promotion he deserved. (Less than a year later they laid off much of the workforce due to losing huge customers.) He lost his job right after my son was born. We got another piece of mail saying after another audit we owe the IRS. My son’s behaviors worsened. A lot. The car kept needing repairs. Things were getting broken.

I battled panic attacks when I hadn’t for many years. A gross misunderstanding led to us being turned away by a church we were reconciling with. Money was tight. We weren’t sleeping at night. I was getting nightmares. And there’s more.

Oh. My. ___

The couple we were reconciling with did make an attempt to help but we had trouble accepting it. They wanted to come over (I offered without thinking) and there was no way I was able to make it work. I was sleep deprived with no help and my son was having meltdowns. I literally one day was sobbing on the bathroom floor. I could almost hear the voice of the enemy say, “Ha! Robbed you again!” I could tangibly cut the intensity of the demonic attack we were under. I was praying at this stage for protection for my family. I was fearful of how far this attack would go. How far would YHVH let it go?

Recently this season was referenced in conversation. I could feel the pain and sensation of the demonic attack. It was terrible. I later prayed. I asked God to help me have a clean heart before Him. Remove any residual bitterness. Show me the lessons. Purge me. Heal me. Help me be a better image bearer. Give me victory. Just speak to me. Anything. And He did.

God’s ways are mysterious 

God has a purpose in allowing these trials. He is refining me for something and building a testimony.  He has never left me and He never will. But the enemy attacks are real. He is teaching me about warfare. Showing me the junk in my own heart. There’s a lot of it.

Today, if you’re going through trials, remember this: God sees. I don’t know why He allows what He does sometimes. But, I do know He tests us. Purifies us. Prepares us. When we can’t understand His hand we must trust His heart. God loves us. He is love. He is good. I cling to those truths. May you also.

This is war. Put your armor on and stay focused on Him.

Ephesians 6:10-17 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Christian Living · faith · Warfare

El Elyon

Job 38:4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” (ESV)

Brace yourself, this blog is going to be raw. I’m not holding back. I debated on being this transparent but decided to as I want to help others.

I’ve done some fasting, prayer, Bible reading, and processing recently. There’s been several things that have hurt or stressed my family. I’ve been weary. It has felt almost like I’m Yeshua (Jesus) in the wilderness (minus being Messiah and starving for 40 days.) My physical body is tired. There’s stress around me. And there’s a very real, tangible demonic attack going on. This verse has never felt more true…

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

A few days ago it all exploded and it wasn’t pretty. My husband expressed some hurt and frustration. He’s weary. Truly my heart goes out to him as he’s trying. My oldest son’s autism issues seem to continue worsening. School has had to call poison control. I’m praying the safety remodeling in his room holds up (so far so good.) I’m tired. Right now I’m facing my middle son likely having some kind of diagnosis (they’re thinking autism.) He’s high functioning. But still. Sigh. We can’t go to the same church or socialize much as a family. Autism makes it very tough. We’ve lost friends and lack the ability to make new ones easily. One day I just had it. Had it! 

I was a little Job, Jacob, and the woman washing Messiah’s feet with her tears all in one. Throw in a some Joseph and Solomon. I’m angry at God. Bitter. I tell God how unhappy I am with Him. I wrestle with Him, demanding my blessing. I kneel in His presence at His feet with my tears. I was pleading to be let out of “prison” and remembered by the cupbearer. And I threw my hands up and thought life is “vanity.” It was one gamut of emotions.  Abba answered my communication in two distinctly different parts.

1. Psalm 103:14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. 

Hebrews 4:15-16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

God first led me to these verses, I believe to show me He gets where I’m at and is merciful. He truly does understand and shows compassion. I can pray bold (and angry, emotional, missing the mark) prayers. Some may not get answered if they’re outside of His will but I can still approach the throne through the blood of Messiah. But then, the second point. That. Second. Point.

2. Exodus 33:20 But,”he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”

Job 40:2 “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

God made it clear to my spirit that He is El Elyon. God most high. The if-I-show-my-face-to-you-you’d-instantly-drop-dead God. YHVH. He’s the Potter. I’m finite little lump of clay Laurel who’s absolutely ignorant and stupid in comparison. We all are. I may not like God’s ways, but He doesn’t need or ask for my approval. I can either be obedient, trust Him to bless and answer prayers in His way and His timing or be rebellious and face curses and damnation. Life or death.

John 6:68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life

There’s no other place to go. And there’s really no other place I want to go.

So, after hearing the enemy throw everything at me from “it’s hopeless, give up, God isn’t real, if He’s real He isn’t good, I’d be better off dead etc” I got back up. I stood back up off the floor bruised but alive. I thought of this verse…

Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

And this one too…

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

I’ve read the whole book. I know how it ends. We lose some battles. But we win the war. 

Today, I want to speak to those who are really feeling spiritual warfare. I believe the physical realm often reflects the spiritual one. The signs of the times are all around. Darkness is getting darker. But, light shines all the brighter too.

Do not give up. Get back up when you’re knocked down and keep going. Eternity is coming. Souls are on the line. And even in the midst of crazy, dark, painful times God’s goodness is all around. Take the time to notice it. Hold on in the wilderness. Streams of living water are yours for the taking.

You serve El Elyon. He will bring victory.

Job 36:22-31 ESV Behold, God is exalted in his power; who is a teacher like him? Who has prescribed for him his way, or who can say, ‘You have done wrong’? “Remember to extol his work, of which men have sung. All mankind has looked on it; man beholds it from afar. Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.

For he draws up the drops of water; they distill his mist in rain, which the skies pour down and drop on mankind abundantly. Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunderings of his pavilion? Behold, he scatters his lightning about him and covers the roots of the sea. For by these he judges peoples; he gives food in abundance.

Christian Living · faith

Just As I Am

Matthew 26:10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. (ESV)

The hymn Just As I Am has been in my mind. The other day when praying I pictured myself as the woman with the alabaster box/flask (depending on translation) of expensive ointment. Except I don’t have expensive ointment nor the circumstances she had. But I have been touched by my king Yeshua.

Life has been so stressful in recent years. At times I feel alone, with little support. I picture in my mind me just weeping at His feet, perhaps being the woman who wiped His feet with her hair. Others may look down on it. I don’t care. I am touching His heart and that’s what matters. God is stripping me of all pride. All facade. Everything superficial. The words resounding in my spirit and playing in my mind is just as I am, Lamb of God, I come. 

The world esteems status, title, power, money, influence, talent, and beauty.  Abba is very different. He looks at the heart. He looks at faithfulness. Attitude. God gave me a powerful dream a while back showing me how many are thinking they are pleasing Him when they’re not. They lack their first love. They lack humility. They are living for themselves and relying on their own abilities.

It’s about Him, not you. 

So many want to be “someone” and associate with those who are popular. But they do not love. They are in essence nothing according to 1 Corinthians 13. It’s the Samaritan at the well, the person with the alabaster box, the person wiping Messiah’s feet with their tears, and the blind crying out they want to see that touches His heart. The poor. The lame. Those the world looks down upon God shows honor to.

Luke 14:13-14 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Today, I want to encourage you to come “just as you are.” And be willing to associate with the lowly (see Romans 12:16.) God knows where you’re at. Be transparent. In humility kneel in prayer before your Maker. Seek to please His heart, not people. Love others and show kindness. However, what matters most is if your life glorifies God. Having a clean heart. Worship in spirit and in truth (see John 4:24.) That is what it’s all about.

Just as I am, Lamb of God, I come. 

Luke 18:9-14 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Christian Living · faith

Ushpizin

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (ESV)

This past fall season during the Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot I was introduced to a movie called Ushpizin. The title is Aramaic for “guests.” In this story there were 7 guests or people which represented the founding fathers of scripture. Our Sukkah (temporary dwelling) refers to both a tent and our earthly bodies. This movie gets quite deep in meaning. My intention isn’t to go there. There’s something else about this film that moved me. In fact, being the sensitive person I am, I was moved to tears. I watched it again in prayer. A specific point I feel led to share here.  

A couple of the guests that came to visit the main character, Moshe, stood out to me. These men were running from the law as escaped convicts. One of the men knew Moshe before he was devout in his faith. This man was critical of Moshe. After all, he “knew him.” Because he was certain the main character wasn’t sincere in his faith, he was unjustly treated. Interestingly, the other man could see the truth. I was touched watching this play out. I’ve felt that sting in my own life. Because I struggled with something years ago or it was perceived I did, I’ve felt an unjust label thrown on me. It hurts. And it’s of the enemy.

Let Satan be the accuser of the brethren. It’s not your job.  

Eventually the man gets to know Moshe enough to see he has changed and his life is authentic. In the end, the story turns out well. Lessons were learned. Character was tested and grown. Patience was stretched. Love was deepened. Provision and blessing came. This morning I’ve been thinking about how this translates to real life and how it doesn’t always end nicely like the movie. Oh…but it can.

What about my sukkah?

How many times do I misjudge others? Do I have the humility to recognize when I do and make it right? Am I sensitive to the Ruach/Spirit and His leading? And have I forgiven those who have misjudged or I perceive have? My earthly body, my sukkah, is temporary. What am I inviting as guests into it and allowing to be there? How am I responding to trials? Am I renewing my mind and meditating on scripture?

This morning I sat on my new floor in the mostly empty living room before sunrise. I cried out to God to break me. Mold me. Refine me. I want the best He has for me. I asked for good, godly, loving friends or “guests” for my life. And I asked God to help me love those that don’t love me back. To be a good guest. Those that are inconvenient. Those that need it. So many do. I want to never forget what God has done in my life, who I am without Him (which is nothing), and how He changes us as we seek Him. God does the miracle of changing hearts all the time. And it is just that-a miracle.

Today, I want to encourage you to seek God wholeheartedly and be mindful of your ushpizin. Your guests. There are no accidents in life. Every person you meet and everything that happens God foreknew. Sometimes tragedy and trials hit us. God knows. Draw close to Him. Never forget the refining work He does in the human heart. Never forget for yourself and for others.

We are all being molded by the hands of the Potter. May we all be broken vessels that shine and love for His glory. May we all bear His image well.

Ephesians 4:22-32 ESV to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Christian Living · faith

Please, Not That Person 

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

Years ago I worked at an office with a lot of interesting people. Interesting is the word I’ll use. In fact, when I told stories of the crazy stuff at my job a family friend later confessed he thought I was exaggerating. Nope. All true. There was this one person I especially didn’t care for. We got along well at first, but she got on my nerves pretty fast (along with everyone else.) Let’s call her Linda. I found out she was going through a difficult time. God put it on my heart to give her a gift and reach out. Then she was assigned to sit by me. 

Please God, not this person!

His answer: yes. 

I really wasnt comfortable around Linda.  God kept putting this verse in my spirit… 

John 13:35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

I know. But this person?! Yep. I was learning a lesson in how to love the “unlovely.” We all feel like being nice to those that are nice to us. It feels good to be around convenient, easy people. And we do need to choose our friends wisely. After all it says in 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” However, we are called to love others. Even our enemies. I asked God to help me love this woman. I didn’t even like her. In the end, I did both.  

One day Linda was opening up about her past. At first I was thinking, “Great. Drama.” If you knew her you’d know what I mean. But I listened. I realized we had more in common than I knew. I was starting to understand the why behind the who. Linda was no longer a person I’d prefer to avoid. She was a human being, rough around the edges yes, but a person a lot like me. She didn’t wake up one day with instant issues. And she didn’t ask for them. This was a lost soul in bondage. No longer was she someone I was irritated by (for the most part.) We had many good conversations during my time there. About work stress. Dysfunctional upbringings. Life. And Jesus. 

Today, I want to encourage those who have that person in their life. There’s someone that absolutely rubs you the wrong way. Perhaps they hit a nerve. You are saying, “Lord, not them.” I understand. But God commands, not suggests, we love others. Even the ones we don’t want to. Especially them. 

Especially them. 

Love isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice. Choose to love. Because it emulates Him and pleases His heart. And because so many need it. Your act of love might affect them for eternity. You never know. 

Love. 

Prayer I’ve prayed: Father, fill me with Your love and help me love others as You do. I want to see people through Your eyes.  Keep me broken and seeing myself as I truly am. I am nothing without You. Help me never forget that. I forgive every person that hurt me or wronged me. They are released into Your care. May my life glorify You.  

Luke 6:31-36 ESV And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? 

Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.



Christian Living · faith

2nd Grade Art, a Prodigy, and Learning not to Compare 

Matthew 25:23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (ESV)

I’ve been thinking about a memory from childhood. As I was driving home with my 6 year old son from shopping in the subzero cold, a scene from childhood was playing out in my mind. At first I chalked it up to something random, but I’ve learned few things really are. Yes, we’ve all had those “pizza dreams” where it’s just our silly flesh. But this scene stuck with me. I’ve decided to share it with you. 

Second grade art class

My first day of second grade art was quite unpleasant. You see, I attended an arts charter school in my early years. I was decent in writing and music, especially choir. But I was definitely on the lower end of qualified for this school. And, I have no artistic ability. None. I cannot draw or paint. I wish I could but I can’t. The highest grade I received in art class ever was a C+. I hated art as it always pulled my GPA down. I’m not even going to talk about Physical Education aka Gym. Yuck.  

Sitting next to a prodigy… 

Alright, onto my memory. On the first day of second grade art I was assigned a seat next to a kid named Ryan. I saw he was a lefty like me. Cool. The teacher then asked us to paint a nature/animal scene. I was nervous. I can barely paint a cloud. Ryan exclaimed, “Ooh fun!” I didn’t pay much attention to what anyone else was doing. I was trying to create something passable. Then the teacher comes over. 

She looks at my creation and gives a polite comment. Then she looks over at Ryan’s painting. I’ll never forget this. She tears up and says, “Wow.” While I tried to paint a tree Ryan just pulled a Monet. Or Manet. His paintbrush made a deer drinking by a stream on a sunny day. The school ended up permanently displaying it in their first floor hallway. It’s like playing Chopsticks on the piano only to have another then play Rhapsody in Blue.  

You see, I went to school with a few prodigies. Insanely gifted people. A boy named Jacob in my music class went on to be the youngest person ever inducted into the city symphony orchestra. He was gifted a Stradivarius violin. Yes, he was-and is-that good. Adults would drop their jaws hearing this elementary school kid play.  Another girl was told Juilliard is a given. My goodness could she dance! I was second in my class academically but still felt like a loser. I just didn’t measure up to these amazing kids. I needed to learn a lesson. 

Don’t compare.  

My mother wasn’t a great nurturer or comforter. She was abusive. But there was something I learned from her indirectly.  She had a poem called Desiderata by Max Ehrmann on the wall in her bedroom. These lines are indelibly planted:

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. 

Today, I want to encourage those who feel not good enough and challenge those who feel they’re awesome to keep the proper perspective. There will always be greater and lesser. Comparing yourself to either isn’t healthy. Of course there’s thankfulness that can come from seeing those “lesser.” But being the best you is what we’re called to be. 

Know your strengths and weaknesses. Be humble. Be comfortable with who God made you to be. Jacob was a prodigy in music but not a good speller (I sat by him in English.) Lisa could dance amazingly well but couldn’t draw (I saw her artwork. It made me feel as though I wasn’t alone haha. ) Ryan was the next Monet but couldn’t carry a tune. And they didn’t care about what they couldn’t do. All of them knew what they were good at and pursued it. 

Be the part of the body of Christ you are called to be. Don’t worry about what you can’t do. None of us are YHVH. None of us can do all things perfectly. But we can each do something. 

Do your something for His glory. 

Matthew 25:14‭-‬15‭, ‬19‭-‬29 ESV “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 

And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’  

And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 

But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?  Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.  So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Christian Living · faith

What Are You Telling Yourself?

Psalm 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (ESV)

I bought a frame for something I wanted to hang up in my bedroom. Making a long story short, the frame almost was the right size. Not quite. But I really wanted it to work. So, I did a little adjusting and got it to mostly fit. It doesn’t look terrible but it’s not great either. Being totally honest here, I fought tears for a moment. I actually quietly said to myself, “I never do anything right.” After I said that I paused and realized what just happened. I was speaking, in essence, death over myself. My self talk was very negative. God isn’t pleased with this. I need to speak life and truth. Not just over others but over me too. 

Luke 6:45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “You are what you think.” That’s quite true. Proverbs 23:7 in the KJV says similar. Why is it? Because what’s in our hearts (mind,  will, and emotions) comes out through our speech. Our words reflect what’s going on inside of us. All of us from time to time say something negative. But if a person is regularly saying perverse or critical words it indicates a heart issue. It’s a sign of a lack of brokenness. Pride. Self focus.  

Some people, like myself, say negative self talk because you’ve been torn down by others. I came from a dysfunctional upbringing. I’ve come a long way, but every so often the residual effects are there. I was criticized a lot growing up. Lots of name calling. I’ve even experienced some into adulthood. It’s easy to just let those mean labels become a part of who you are. It takes effort to see yourself in a healthy manner. But I have decided I’m going to see myself as God does. The Bible, not others, will dictate my self worth. I have value because my Creator says so. 

Today,  I want to encourage you to see yourself as scripture says you are. There’s balance. I’m not promoting narcissism nor am I suggesting self deprecation. But watch what you think and say about yourself. How often do you default to… 

  • I’m so stupid
  • I’ll never be as good as them
  • This is too hard
  • Nobody cares
  • No one understands 
  • I’ll never succeed
  • It’s hopeless 

How about trying… 

  • I can learn
  • I’ll ask how they do it and try that 
  • This requires more effort 
  • I am loved, not by everyone, but that doesn’t matter
  • Others with similar struggles will understand 
  • I need to keep trying and learning from my mistakes 
  • There’s always hope with God

Don’t speak death over yourself. Speak life. Speak God’s promises out loud. Believe them because they are true and they are for you.  

Christian Living · faith

Are We There Yet?

Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (ESV)

Yesterday evening my 6 year old son and I went clothes shopping. Our family received a JCPenney gift card for the holidays. We don’t normally shop there so the way I drove was unfamiliar to my son. It was bitterly cold outside too. This Arctic snap isn’t going to let up for a while so we Minnesotans just make the best of it. Grin and bear it till Spring. But what happened on the way to the store became the inspiration for this blog entry.

“Are we there yet momma?”

I heard that quite a few times.

“You’re going the wrong way!”

“We will never get there!”

The impatience of my young son was showing. I admit I was starting to get irritated with the constant comments (more like exclamations.) At some point in the middle of another inquiry of our arrival time I smiled. God was showing me something through this little situation.

I was briefly thinking of the times in my own life when I felt lost. I was certain God didn’t know what He was doing. It sure seemed I wasn’t going to ever get to my dreams. My hopes. My future already set out in my mind. Some things were an issue of timing and maturity. Other things were just outside of His will. I cried, screamed, pouted, and ran away a few times. But I always came back. And quickly. Although I didn’t understand what my Creator was doing I knew Him and His love. I had nowhere else to go (and no place I’d truly rather be.)

John 6:68-69 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Today, I want to speak to those who feel lost. Maybe you’ve backslid away from God. Remember 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Repent and turn back to Messiah. Or accept Him for the first time.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Maybe you’ve been faithful but you feel like you’ll never get to where you are called to. It’s as if you’ll never see that picture in your mind played out. You’re holding onto a promise. Like in my situation with the car, I smiled and kept driving. I said, “We’ll get there.” I knew the way and what I was doing. How many of us are like my 6 year old, panicking and questioning every few minutes? We don’t understand so we worry. Doubt. Start wavering. All the while our Maker is steadily and faithfully continuing His plan.

Don’t be like my 6 year old. Don’t panic or doubt. I know it’s easier said than done. But remember if you’re faithful you are getting there. Little by little. It’s all a part of the beautiful tapestry God is weaving of your life.

Trust Him.

Psalm 111:7 ESV The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.

Psalm 139:3 ESV You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.

Proverbs 3:5 ESV Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 ESV But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.

2 Timothy 2:13 ESV if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

Christian Living · faith

When You’re an Esau

I have been doing a lot of reading in Genesis and the Psalms recently.  The story of Isaac blessing Jacob thinking he was Esau came to mind now. It’s a sad story to read. The account in scripture actually records the painful emotions and physical response to the distress and deception. To be honest, as a mother to three boys I actually get angry reading this. 

Rebekah really treated her firstborn son terribly, openly showing favor to Jacob (granted Isaac favored Esau more.) We’re dealing with human beings here. They were sinners too. And nations are represented. As God proclaimed from the beginning, the older will serve the younger (see Genesis 25:23, Romans 9:12.) Even so, I admit I struggle with the seeming unfairness. My heart goes out to Esau. The deck was stacked against him before he was even born. This got me wondering about some people’s lives today. 

Does it seem like your life has been unfair from the beginning? Do you feel like you’ve been robbed and mistreated? I can relate. One of the hardest things to face and come to peace with is the unfairness of life. God is just. God is love. God is good. Life isn’t these things.  

But God has a plan. 

Like in the story of Jacob and Esau, it seemed like Esau was just screwed. How else can you say it?! His birthright is gone and now he gets an inferior blessing to his brother. Looking at it through strictly human eyes it seems like Esau is a victim. But God foreknew. 

Today, I want to encourage those who feel like Esau. You’ve been robbed from. Lied about. Gossiped about. Those close to you who should be supporting you aren’t. Maybe you’re not the favored sibling. Remember that there are no accidents in God’s plan. Don’t compare your life to someone else. Don’t get bitter. Be faithful in the life you’re called to live. 

Eternity will be the great equalizer. Until then, seek God wholeheartedly and be obedient where you’re at. Trust Him to bless you and lead you in His way and His timing. 

Genesis 27:5-10, 18-40 ESV Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the Lord before I die.’ Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 

And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” So he went in to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.” But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the Lord your God granted me success.” Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 

So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands. So he blessed him. He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” Then he said, “Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 

So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, “See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed! May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be Lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!” 

As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 

As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” 

Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him Lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” 

And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: “Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.”