Thursday, December 20, 2012

Moving!


Visit the new Reflecting the Son and sign up for the mailing list at http://sophiemcdonald.wordpress.com/.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday Morning Munch No. 21 - Overflow; a prayer

(This is an unedited prayer I journaled last Thursday, that has been running through my heart ever since.)

The Lord is good and His love endures forever. Oh Lord, I praise You in the gates and in my heart; for the world to hear, and sitting silently before You. 

You are good in the times of plenty, when my heart spills with joy and wonder, and You are good in times of pain, when my heart spills with sorrow and my soul faints in weariness. 

You revive the heart to fear You and You ordain our steps. You have us ever before You and lead, guide and protect.

You are great and greatly to be exalted. Be lifted high in my life so that the world may see You and fear You, for Your ways are excellent and Your laws right. You have given the Blameless for the shameful and the Well for the sick. 

You mend hearts and cause men to stand in awe of Your unsearchable ways. You created galaxies and mountains, oceans and dry land, You made the earth Your Son's footstool and yet You know me. You know my name and remember I am but dust. You are Master and friend, Savior and judge, righteous and humble, and therein lies the divine wonder; that the King of Glory, for which all was made that was made, became a man. Laid His glory down and became the created. All for me.

Oh Lord, You gave it all for my pardon, help me give all for Thee. Be honored and glorified, for all glory is Yours.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Morning Munch No. 20, Dictatorship


There was a time in high school I was borderline-obsessed with learning about Adolf Hitler and the tragedy of the Holocaust. The sordid tale fascinated me and I wanted to learn everything I could about it.

I'm thankful that in America we don't live under dictatorship.

...or do we?

It came to my attention (again) last night that I let circumstances and other people dictate my feelings far too often.

If someone is in a mad mood, I'll respond accordingly. If something happens that wasn't according to schedule/the plan in my head, I'll probably get frustrated. If someone says something hurtful, I'll probably take it too personally and (at least) temporarily be wounded.

You get the idea.

Why am I like that?

The only thing I can come up with is that we still live in a fallen body with a tendency to pity ourselves and incline toward self-imposed bondage.

Our inability to constantly and continuously lead our feelings is evidence of our fallen nature and tendency to be swayed by the flesh. 

God has freed us from the slavery of sin, yet so often--in situations such as those mentioned above--I'm so quick to run back into the dictatorship of feelings and situations around me that I don't live in the freedom Jesus died for.

To be under dictatorship means you have no control over the situations around you, and, while we don't have control over what happens to us, we have control over how we react to them.

"Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it." -John Maxwell

So, today I am seeking the Lord for strength to react in a Christ-like manner to the people and circumstances that come, recognizing that as a Christian I bear His precious name and don't want to do anything to tarnish it (2 Corinthians 5:20).

I am seeking the Lord to choose joy even when everything around me says to be depressed, hurt, sad, injured, etc. (James 1:1).

I am seeking the Lord to live in the freedom He provided and to tap into the eternal resources of life and godliness waiting for us as believers (2 Peter 1:3).

I am seeking the Lord to lay aside the sin that so easily entangles and run with endurance the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1-2).

I am seeking the Lord to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel and the upward calling of Christ (Ephesians 4:1, Philippians 1:27).


Will you join me?

 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Resolution for Women Introduction


I was dashing out the door for a date with God at the local Panera Bread when I decided to grab another book. I quickly scanned my overflowing bookshelves when I saw it.

The book my awesome brother-in-law, Whitt, got me for Christmas last year. The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer. The directors of the movie Courageous asked Shirer to write it and so she began to write a book for females about resolving to become women who seek the Lord with all they are, women who abandon the lies whispered by the culture and the enemy in order to pursue fully biblical womanhood, women who recognize they can do nothing of the sort without the strength and power of the Lord. 

That night, after spending time in the Word and praying during my date with God, I reached for the book and was mesmerized. 

It was so refreshing to read a book for women that wasn't about singleness or being married, but simply about falling in love with Jesus and making application to a woman's life. Here's a snippet from the introduction:

"A defining banner hangs over your life, written in the ink of your own choices. We already are women of resolutions.  
So since making resolutions is something we'll do anyway, the question for us to grapple with is not whether we'll ever make any more of them, but whether we're going to be intentional about the ones we do make."

As I read through the introduction and finally made it to the list of resolutions Shirer would be speaking of in the book, tears filled my eyes--right there at my table at Panera. The list of resolutions is my heart expressed in writing. This is the pursuit of my soul--to honor God by walking holiness and growing more into the image of His beautiful Son. 

"These are more than just determinations you make within yourself; they are girded about with the power of the Holy Spirit--encouraging you, comforting you, equipping you with the strength you need to carry them out."   

What must be realized is that the word resolutions evokes a certain twinge in whoever is resolving to do something, so let's get something straight: we can't change ourselves for God. This is not works based but must be Spirit-driven, or results will never last. 

Therefore, our first resolution should be to resolve ourselves to stop trying to do this for God, as if He would be impressed with us for making these commitments, and press on to know Him more fully. 

"Sometimes the greatest miracle of all is the one that happens in your own heart, the change that takes place in you and then surprises you as it filters into the seams and fabric of your whole life."

In the days that follow I'll post different parts of the chapters, including study questions and what God is teaching me through them, in hopes that other women will join me in this journey toward knowing God more fully as we give Him the pen of our lives and relinquish the control we don't have but feel we need. 


The prayer I journaled after reading the intro and resolutions for the first time:

Dear Father,
Help me to not just say (or write) these things, but I ask for Your divine power and equipping to make this a way of life. It can only happen if You allow it, but I know this is Your will because it is according to Your Word, so be honored, please, Lord, as I so desperately want to make You famous with my life. I love You. 


If you've read the book, I would love feedback on your experience so feel free to share what God taught you through it. On the other hand, if you would like to join me in this journey or if something from this blog ever speaks to you, I would love to hear what God is doing in your life, so never hesitate to share. 

In Christ alone,

 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Amanda + Jacob's Wedding Video

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is Himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of His body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV)

The following video displays the most Christ-centered wedding vows I've ever heard. I pray you are encouraged and pushed toward the Lord while you watch as we are given a snapshot of His love for His bride (the church) through the covenant of marriage between Jacob and Amanda.

(Side note: I don't know these people. I found this video on pinterest and cried like a small child watching them pledge their lives to each other in God's beautiful Spirit. I can't help but imagine just how much God will bless them and their marriage, though sure to be plagued with trials as each marriage is, because of their commitment to Him and example to everyone who sees them.)



 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Morning Munch No. 19 - Battle, Victory, Battle

Victory = the overcoming of an enemy or antagonist; achievement of mastery or success in a struggle or endeavor against odds or difficulties.

Battle = a combat between two persons; a general encounter between armies, ships of war, or aircraft; an extended contest, struggle, or controversy.


Battle and a Victory

Two weeks ago I experienced a huge victory. One where God proved He would fight for me and all I must do is be silent and watch Him work. However, before seeing the victory, the battle was the most intense I'd ever experienced.

I prayed so much over the situation, seeking the Lord for answers to something infinitely bigger than me and asking Him to dissolve my will into His. There was a wrestling of the soul and complete and desperate dependence on the Savior because, again, I didn't know what to do.

Then victory came.

Joy flooded my soul and my eyes leaked as thankfulness washed over me as God so powerfully displayed His sovereignty, faithfulness and beautiful grace, along with radical and overwhelming love.



Another battle

"You're most susceptible to a great defeat after a great victory." 

That quote came to life the past two week as I've struggled in my walk with God ever since the huge victory. I didn't know what was going on, but God (my two favorite words), being rich in mercy because of the great love with which He has loved us, showed me.

I was living in the victory. But the victory was over.

A new day had come (actually, about 13 of them had come at this point) and with it came a new set of challenges, battles and opportunities for me to seek the Savior for victory, but I was too focused on the past to see the need for Him today.

Doesn't that sound ridiculous? It is.

Yesterday in Sunday School our pastor's wife shared how we cannot live on yesterday's blessings, but we must seek the Lord for today. That is exactly what God is teaching me.

I cannot afford to live in yesterday's victory when a war is still going on today.




Application

My prayer for us as believers is that we will see our need for Christ daily and let that need propel us to our knees to pray for help for this day and this hour.

I pray we will be on guard for the attacks of the enemy. He is like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour and he wants to devour our focus, turning it on us, our situations (whether it be a battle or a great victory), or our past, and off Christ. Fight that. Resist him and keep your gaze locked on God (Proverbs 4:25).

Let us not live in yesterday's strength, because yesterday has none. Let us pick up our armor and join back in the fight, remembering the victories and rejoicing in God for them, but boasting only in the cross of Jesus Christ who took our sin so we can experience victory with God.



Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold my right hand.
You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:23-26 ESV)


 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Morning Munch No. 18 - Headlights and the Holy Spirit

As I was driving home Saturday night, taking the back country roads and weaving between farms and admiring the festive homes and lawns decorated with twinkling lights and Christmas decorations, God taught me a lesson.

The truck in front of me wasn't small, in fact, it was one of the biggest trucks I've ever seen. Because of the size, I couldn't see around it and was forced to simply follow the truck the rest of the way home being content to only see this big truck's bumper, tailgate and window and maybe a little bit of light from the sides of his truck.

Speaking of lights, the truck had light ropes that flashed when braking. Like this little gem below.

So classy.
Anyway, I was borderline frustrated with this monstrous vehicle because it made me go a little slower than I would have gone on my own and, again, I could only see his big truck, nothing in the path ahead of us.

That's when it hit me. Not the truck, thankfully, but the realization that this giant of a truck was like the Holy Spirit. 

Sometimes, in our walk with the Lord, you can't see the next hundred steps, but God allows you to see the next one. Sometimes the walk to our destination, our finished product (He's bringing us to completion, you know), is slower than we would like and sometimes He seems to be putting on the brakes for no reason other than He sees further down the road than we can (and that's enough for me to trust Him... at least it is right now in my blog. In reality, it might be different as I'm learning absolute surrender). Therefore, if we're following Him we need to trust Him, He's most likely preventing an accident or wreck that involves deer, trees and Christmas yard decorations. What a mess that would be.

God doesn't say faith is a leap into the dark; it's a leap into the light. The light of God's revelation, God's knowledge.  -Michael Durham    
"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." -Psalm 119:105

God doesn't promise us an entire army of people holding flashlights to light our way, or a future of sunshine that shows exactly what's ahead on our weaving road that is our walk with Him. But He does promise to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, which means we see one or two steps ahead--just enough to take the next move in following Him.

He promises grace for this moment and if we're following Him today, He'll lead us exactly where He wants us tomorrow. 


 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why I'm not shopping on Black Friday

Don't get me wrong, I love bargains as much as the next guy, but sometimes I think Black Friday shows the blackness of our hearts.


People spend days thinking about and planning a day of feasting with their family and then the next thing you know it's 3 a.m. Friday and they're standing in a line outside (insert store name here) waiting to get that awesome deal on a 52" television or sleek computer or that one toy the child can't live without. 

Let's just get something straight: the child can live without it. Families can live without an enormous flat screen television. Teenagers can live without having the newest computer.

You know what people can't live without? Water. Food. Medicine. 

On Friday, as millions of Americans run into stores to do early Christmas shopping and collect as many sale items as their cars will allow them, many children and families across the world are wishing they had the one thing that would keep them alive: water. 


Did you know that last Christmas Americans spent $584 billion? Americans alone... which (obviously) doesn't count the rest of the world who celebrate with gifts. While only $20 billion a year would give the whole world clean water? The whole world.




So this year, instead of spending money amid the hustle and bustle of stores around town, I'm taking the money I would have spent on Black Friday and putting it toward clean water for the world. It might not be much and it won't change the reality of poverty, malnutrition or the devastating affects of life without clean water, but it will make a difference. 

Watch this short video and keep it in your heart all season (and year) long:


Alternatives for Black Friday:

The list is endless, but start by making memories with your family. They won't always be around, so cherish the time you have with them. Some of these ideas involve money (and giving it away) and some don't, but all involve making memories and redeeming the time we are given on this earth.
  • Forgotten Christmas. A ministry of Gospel for Asia, you can purchase gifts (including Bibles, chickens, mosquito nets, water wells and purifiers and more) for people in Asia. Click here for more information and to give.
  • Family movie day. Grab the popcorn, make hot chocolate and settle down for a long winter's nap (or just a day full of Christmas movies). 
  • Family game day. See above. Only substitute movies for games. 
  • Make Christmas gifts. Instead of pouring out your money, pour your heart into a handmade gift for friends and family. Pinterest has a plethora of ideas, or you could think of your own. Don't believe the lie that you can't do it or that whoever you're making it for won't like it - everyone appreciates thoughtful gifts, especially in this day and age of materialistic consumerism.
  • Serve others. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter or check out this awesome list of RACK - Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, pick some and make it your goal to out-serve others. With a goal like that, who can lose?
  • Buy to end poverty. There are many awesome ministries who have taught women (some of whom are widows) to make paper beads and necklaces, ornaments and more. Katie Davis taught women to make paper beads out of her Amazima ministry. Bead for Life has a great selection of necklaces, shea butters and lotions and an ornament, all providing great opportunities to check names off your Christmas list while helping the world.
  • Read. If you need an idea for what to read check out the November/December issue of Real Truth Matters Magazine and be encouraged by reading stories of believers from around the world. 



Challenges for shoppers:

I'm not against shopping or deal-hunting (I can't tell you the last time I bought something that wasn't on sale), so if you find yourself shopping for bargains on Black Friday, here are a few challenges for you:

  • Live the Gospel. Be sacrificial and aware of those around you, treating others better than they deserve, just as the Lord treats us.
  • Don't complain. Set an example for those around you (especially if shopping with family) and stand out from among the crowd so easily beset with negativity.
  • Smile. Never underestimate the power of a turned-up mouth. 
  • Strike up a conversation. While waiting in line, reach out to a stranger and strike up a non-confrontational conversation. Topics could range from what they're shopping for (and for whom), their Christmas traditions, where they go to church or how you can pray for them. Always be ready to give an account of the Hope that lies within you. 
  • Choose joy. If something happens that goes a little outside your plans, try to take it in stride and choose joy over anger, sadness or even frustration. 
  • Spread Christmas cheer. Elf says the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear, but I think spreading the joy of our Savior's birth also comes by doing what He said, which includes extending grace to others and offering Christ-honoring words of encouragement, love and respect to others.
  • Remember who you represent. As believers we are ambassadors for Christ and aren't just representing ourselves or our families, but Jesus as we walk through our lives (which includes walking the aisles of the packed department stores). Arm yourself with patience and a loving attitude and seek to glorify God more than gain the best earthly bargain.
  • If you really want to get radical... don't buy anything for yourself. When I was growing up, my mom wouldn't let me buy things for myself after November 1 because it was too close to Christmas. I still like to apply that simple rule - it keeps the focus on others, as it should be during this blessed time of year.

"And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
(1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 ESV)

 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Morning Munch No. 17 - A Favorite Verse

Today's MMM comes straight from the Word of God. It's one of my favorite Scriptures and it's the last verse in the book of John.

The Gospel of John is stuffed full with miracles of Jesus, testimonies of His mercy toward sinners and His plan to save them from Satan's captivity. Healings are listed in beautiful detail throughout the book as well as Jesus' teachings and cruel road to the cross where He died our death before trampling over sin and death by rising victoriously from the grave.

With all that in mind, read the last verse of John:

"Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."
(John 21:25 ESV)

Does that blow your mind like it does mine? Were all of things things Jesus did (teachings, miracles, healings, acts of love and service to others, fighting for the poor and defending the weak) written down the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

The world is huge and it couldn't hold all the books that would be written! No matter how many times I read that my heart dances around with the realization (yet again) of how big our God is!

Whatever you're facing today, whatever this week looks like for you, just remember you have a God who is bigger than anything looming in your path and He will fight for you and do only what's best.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Morning Munch No. 16 - Be an acorn


Going through an old journal last week was overwhelmingly encouraging as God highlighted things He had done, prayers He had answered, ways He had grown me while reminding me of so many things He had taught me through the years. Things so significant they were written out and documented forever.

One of those things was this excerpt from  Elisabeth Elliot's Passion and Purity, one of my all-time favorite books.

"Think of the self that God has given as an acorn... it is a marvelous little thing, a perfect shape, perfectly designed for its purpose, perfectly functional. Think of the grand glory of an oak tree. God's intention when He made the acorn was the oak tree. His intention for us is "...the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Many deaths must go into our reaching that measure. Many letting goes. When you look at the oak tree, you don't feel the loss of the acorn as a very great loss. The more you perceive God's purpose in your life, the less terrible the losses will see. 
We (she and her future husband Jim) were being asked to trust, to leave the planning to God. God's ultimate plan was far beyond our imaginings as the oak tree is from the acorn's imaginings. The acorn does what it was made to do, without pestering its Maker with questions about when and how and why."

So here's to being more like an acorn.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Two Dads

This is a picture of my dad and I when I was a small child. A very small child. Only a few minutes old.
This is more recent.


My dad is one of the greatest people I know. His heart for the Lord and the intensity of his pursuit of Him as the supreme treasure is an example I don’t take lightly. He and my mom raised my sister and I to love God and others, laying ourselves down for the betterment of the group, to do what’s right—come what may, to make wise choices, choose friends carefully and to always, always remember where strength comes from.

Today I watched my dad serve others. This is not a new thing, he does it as often as he breathes, but I saw something different today as my dad distributed freshly smoked ribs and chicken to neighbors on either side of us.

As he called the neighbors to ask if he could bring them something, their responses struck my heart. “Well, Stan, that’s right neighborly of you!” (And with that I was transported to a different era, where neighbors cared for each other and said things like “that’s right neighborly.”)


He is cautious and careful in decisions; always striving to be a wise steward of all God has given him, including money, time and family. He is a strong leader, a man’s man who knows how to work and plan to get things done in an efficient, productive manner. He has the gift of mercy and extends grace as he’s been given from the Lord, but he doesn’t mess around when it comes to sketchy behavior or having hard, but benefiting, conversations.

My dad loves me. He tells me that 8,293,471 times a day and I’m learning what a gift that is.

But here’s the thing I remembered as I admired my dad’s intentionality in serving our neighbors. I have another dad. One who is even better than the first, though at times I can scarcely take that in.


My other dad loves and serves others even more than the first. He goes to great lengths to prove His love, including sending His only Son to a cross formed from a tree He made, setting the stage for a grand story of redemption and reconciliation that brings even the hardest sinners into His family if they accept His pardon offered.

That’s where I came in. He adopted me. Now I have two dads—an earthly dad and a heavenly one. Though they can hardly be compared to each other because of God’s holiness, Jesus Himself makes the connection.

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:11-13 ESV)

What a great Father. Believe Him for big things for He is bigger than our comprehension and delights in blessing His kids, just like an earthly dad.


I realize some people don’t have the greatest relationship with their earthly dads and some even carry scars so deep because of their past encounters with or the absence of their father, but I encourage you to not carry that same view of your earthly dad to your heavenly Father.

He promises to never leave you or forsake you, to lead, guide and protect you and to be your refuge, strength, comfort and salvation if you trust Him.

For those of us with amazing earthly dads, remember that as great as they are the Lord is so much more. Cast your affections on Him and He will pour Himself into you. Give Him your heart, you can trust Him with it.



Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Morning Munch No. 15 - Present

I woke up in the middle of the night battling sickness for about two hours. 
Yesterday my heart was heavy for our nation.
Last week I was writing an article for the magazine.
The list goes on.

These few things have a common thread: prayer. 

Prayer was the action taken during each of the aforementioned items. When I was sick, I prayed. When my heart was overwhelmed I went to the Rock (Psalm 61:1-2). When I was writing I sought the Lord. 

Today I am thankful for God's presence. He is not a far-off God who must strain His ear to hear us. No, He is a God who has come down to us, who is with us continually and is our present help. 

"God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble." --Psalm 46:1

There are situations that sometimes propels us a little faster to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and help than others, although we are to be in a ceaseless flow of communication with our Savior (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And when that happens we should remember that any strength we may have is not our own and that God is our ver present help in trouble. He is with us. Because of that exceedingly great and precious promise, we have hope and won't fear.

"Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling." --Psalm 46:2-3

I pray you take courage today and remember that no matter your circumstances, battles, obstacles and desperate situations you have a Present Help--One who loves to be near you and longs to be sought by you.

If you are doubting, remember Jesus' very name signifies that He is with you, not against you and not far off-- Emmanuel: God with us.


He is with us 

"The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress." --Psalm 46:7
"Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." --Isaiah 41:10 
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
When you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you." --Isaiah 43:2-3

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." --Matthew 28:19-20



    



Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Morning Munch No. 14 - Definition of a Christian

Today's MMM is extremely short and said by someone infinitely wiser than I, whose words convict, challenge and point back to our only hope--Jesus Christ.

"A Christian ought to be a comforter, with kind words on his lips, and sympathy in his heart; he should carry sunshine wherever he goes, and diffuse happiness around him." --Charles Spurgeon

Such is the life of a light. Such is the life we are to radiate to all we encounter, always ready to give an answer for the hope (and joy) that lies within us.

I'm praying his quote will be true in my life and the lives of believers everywhere.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

unmasked.

The following is a raw, unedited journal entry from yesterday.
I don't know if anyone else will be able to identify with the internal struggle going on in my heart and mind yesterday, but encouragement for any and every reader is the goal of this "blog."
God, be glorified. Use my hurts to bring healing to others. 


Somedays I have to repeat "Take every thought captive" to myself almost every second. My brain and imagination begin working (often in contrast to God's Word and will) and discontentment settles in faster than water in a puddle.

Today is one of those days. 

"For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but we have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ."  --2 Corinthians 10:4-5

(First off, just let it soak in that we have divine power to destroy strongholds.)

The mind is the threshold of spiritual warfare and I am feeling the oppression and harsh reality of wartime right now. Perhaps it's due to this being Wednesday and the enemy wants to thwart my gaze off the Lord because of True Beauty tonight or maybe it's something completely different simply designed to sharpen and sanctify me. 

God is so good that He will use everything--the good, the bad and the ugly to "bring us to completion," although sometimes being shaped and molded like the piece of clay we are is more painful and obvious. Again, this is one of those times.

With holiness a pursuit and godliness the aim, I desperately desire a life saturated in Christ's love and goodness. Yet this poking (of discontentment) in my imagination and heart keep occurring, more frequently over the past few days, and my gaze is shifting slowly but surely off Christ and on myself. 

Dreams over the past week have been intense, very real and difficult to push aside. What makes it more difficult is that I rarely dream. My sister lovingly and wisely pointed out these dreams to be an attack from Satan. Upon further prayer and investigation I believe she's right. I've allowed these dreams to have my thoughts and attention throughout my waking hours, which means what? My thoughts and attention were on me.

Discontentment roared its ugly head and selfishness came quickly.

Today I just keep whispering "take every thought captive to obey Christ," and it is crazy how powerful it is just to say those words. It's like God's Word is living and active. Weird.

It is my firm belief that thankfulness is an antidote to discontentment, therefore I will make a list (it's what I do).



TODAY I AM THANKFUL FOR: 

  • God's Word
  • The Holy Spirit
  • Blue ink pens
  • Palm trees
  • My job that hardly feels like a job
  • My family
  • Water
  • Fall
  • God overcoming the enemy and conquering evil
  • Shoes
  • Ponytail holders
  • Coffee
  • Blankets
  • Black babies
  • Our supreme and awesome Creator
  • GRACE
  • Joy despite trials
  • Post-it notes
  • Sunshine
  • Open windows
  • Lists
  • Encouragement
  • Examples of Christians before us (Paul, Peter, Elisabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael, etc.)
  • This particular moment God has me in for His purpose and glory, preparing me for a future only He can see.

God, 
You are so faithful. You are Redeemer, Refuge, Fortress, Strong Tower, Champion, Father and King. Thank You for salvation and for blessing us with every spiritual blessing. You are so good and Your love endures forever.

Lord, I ask for Your help today. Help me to be content. Content in the circumstances You have me in and the people You've placed around me. Swallow my pride in Your grace and may You receive glory from this day and all that is in it. Help me to live in the freedom You died for and not be so easily entangled by sin and a willingness to pick up and cuddle discontentment and self-pity. 

You are worthy of everything, Lord, and I want to give that to You. Use even this feeble attempt to worship and be glorified in all the earth. Let all the people of the world know that You are God and there is none beside You. You are God and they will all one day bow to You. Oh, God, let it be sooner than later. 

Save to the uttermost, God. Rend the heavens and come down. Fill us with You and touch this dying world once again, Father. Thank You for Your bloody and beautiful cross and for taking my sin and shame upon it. You are so good.


 

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