Monthly Archives: July 2013

True Living

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broken chainsI just have to tell you that I am sick of them – sick to death.  They insinuate themselves in places where they have no right to be, and they only stay because we don’t tell them to leave.  Now, some of you may be thinking of pesky relatives, but I’m actually talking about lies.  (I am not talking about lying here, as in telling lies; I am talking about the lies that sneak into our minds, telling us untrue things about ourselves, our lives, our families – you get the picture.)  It is absolutely heartbreaking, the number of lies people live with on a daily basis.  And even worse than when we are living with lies is when we begin living out lies.  I am serious – we need to get some truth that will break these lies, or we will never be free to live out the amazing destinies God has planned for us.

“It’s all for nothing if you don’t have freedom.” – William Wallace in Braveheart

Here’s the thing about lies.  On their own, they are utterly powerless; they have only the power that you give them.  That means that lies don’t just suddenly pounce on us, taking us unaware and dragging us away.  For a lie to have any power in your life, you have to embrace it.  As you continue to cling to that lie, you are allowing it to sap your God-given strength, and that is a very dangerous thing, because that is what incapacitates you and makes you unable to fight the lies in your life.

That being the case, why on earth would we ever embrace a lie?!  Because they sound like truth.  If I told you that the sky had purple and green polka-dots today, would you believe me?  No, because you would know I was lying to you.  (At least, I hope you would!)  For a lie to be believable, it must have a hint of truth.  When Satan whispers lies to us, he coats them with truth so that we will Miracle Max's chocolate-coated pillswallow them.  It reminds me of the scene from The Princess Bride where Miracle Max’s wife coats Wesley’s miracle pill with “chocolate coating, to make it go down easier.”  However, that pill – just like the lies Satan feeds us – was, in reality, bitter and unwieldy.  Lies generally begin with a single errant feeling that crops up in your heart.  (This feeling is the “true” part, because you truly feel that thing.)  Sometimes this can be brought on by circumstances or by the way others treat us.  Whatever it is that sparks the lie, we can choose not to embrace it.  My parents always told my brother and me that when untrue feelings come into our heart, we can refuse to give them credence by saying, “It’s true that I feel this way, but this feeling isn’t telling me the truth.”  The problem in that is that we don’t usually recognize lies for what they are, and that is why understanding and embracing the truth is so vital.

“How I Love You” was written by Keith Green and has very poignant lyrics — I really like the way Jason Upton redid the music!  Seriously though, check out this verse:

“I was lied to;
You told the truth,
Because You are the Truth.
I was lied to;
You told the truth,
You told the truth to me.”

The truth is that we need Truth, and real Truth comes from only one Source: Jesus Christ.  Jesus says that when we know the truth, the truth will set us free (John 8:32).  But (are you ready for this?) He doesn’t just tell us that we need truth; He tells us what truth is – Himself (John 14:6).  This Truth is really all we need to know, for once we know what the Truth is, we’ll always be able to recognize the lies, because the two things will never fit together.

light and dark

“…[W]hat fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

We are warned that “[our] enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  Why this warning about insatiable lions?  Because we need to be prepared.  We often notice frontal attacks and recognize them for what they are, but Satan plays dirty (remember Eve and the lies he told her?), so he’ll hit us in the place that is the most sensitive, the most vulnerable – our hearts.  Once something goes wrong there, there is really nothing we can do to stop the poisonous spread of incapacitating lies – that is, aside from running to the loving arms of our Father and re-embracing Truth.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul goes into detail about the spiritual armor that we believers should and must wear if we are going to live in a way that is powerful and effective.  We are told to gird ourselves with the belt of truth.  I never really thought about it before, but that is actually a powerful metaphor for the way we must use Truth to protect the places in our lives that are most vulnerable to attack.

I have a dear friend who spent years living under a lie.  What was his lie?  “You’re worthless.  No one cares about you, and no one loves you.  You’re just worthless.”  I couldn’t believe that he believed it – I mean, he is outgoing and talented, and now is crazy in love with Jesus.  Yet he lived with this horrible lie whispering around in his heart for so long that he actually began to live out the lie, and his life meant nothing to him anymore.  By the time I met him, God had got ahold of him and rescued him from his destructive lifestyle, but still the lie would come back to tell him, “You’re worthless.”  I could always tell when that lie popped up again – he would become almost depressed, and painfully sad.  I told him that none of those things were true, and though technically he knew that, he would say, “But Sabra, it feels so true.”  Hearing that broke my heart, but more than that it made me angry – really deeply angry in a way that I had never been before, like a sort of righteous indignation.  God told me at that time that I needed to step it up – my friend needed someone to fight alongside him.  In a physical sense, there was nothing I could actually do, because I knew that the battle was spiritual.  So I fought with him and for him as we spent time together and also when I was alone in prayer.  There are times when we each must “fight the good fight” alone – just us and God – but there are other times when we need other people to come alongside us, adding their strength to ours and helping us face the battle. 

BraveheartAs for me, I am tired of embracing lies.  I want Jesus to illuminate every part of my life, exposing the lies and setting me free.  Like William Wallace in Braveheart, I am ready to go to battle for freedom because I know what is right and cannot ignore it anymore.  I am ready to fight for myself and for my brothers and sisters in Christ who have been incapacitated by lies in their lives.  I cannot possibly tolerate lies anymore; I utterly loathe them.  So be strong, braveheart; it is time to fight.  “Freedom!” is the battle-cry, and whom the Son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36).

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A Journey into True Excellence

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archery-target.s600x6001I am one of those “Type A,” over-achiever people.  I like to do what I’m good at and be good at what I do.  On top of that, I tend to be pretty good at anything I undertake.  You’d think it would be a good thing, but it really makes it difficult sometimes – difficult to operate in God’s strength, that is.  That is one of my greatest weaknesses, and I have had to fall hard more than once to realize it.  When you are really good at something, or most things, you tend to rely on yourself a lot.  In most situations, what you can do on your own is more than sufficient, especially when you try extra hard to make it so.  Yet “sufficient” and “nearly perfect” don’t count with God.

“…[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

Think of a target.  Let’s say that it only counts if you hit the bull’s-eye.  Thus, when you shoot, it doesn’t matter whether you come an eighth of an inch from the center or you miss the target completely; you still didn’t make the mark – you still weren’t good enough.  That is how it is with God.  No matter how hard we try we will never be enough like Him.  Therein lies the problem: our trying.  I’ve listened to Jason Upton’s Just Like You many times, but I never truly noticed what it was saying before now.

“You stand beside me just waiting while I try to go it alone
Smiling You say son come here won’t you let me just help you
But frustrated I try to make it cause I’ve just got something to prove
Not knowing it is my weakness that perfects your power”

 I was so humbled.  I had tried so hard when I was never supposed to be trying at all, when I should have been operating in His strength.  My quest for perfection took a wrong turn when it failed to be a quest for God’s perfection.  You see, excellence is a bad thing to strive for in your own strength.  In God’s strength, however, it can be a beautiful thing to seek after, so long as you are seeking it because you have a desire to glorify the Father, and Him alone.  I used to strive for excellence because I felt a need to not merely do my best but to be the best.  Now I strive for excellence because I want to be all that God has called me to be, because I want to honor Him.  When I excel now, I do it in His strength.

“I desire
To be like You
Like any son or daughter
I want to be like my Father
I desire to be like You
You promised to never forsake me
So I’ll risk it all if you’ll make me like you”

I don’t know about you, but this daughter is ready to take that risk.  Each day I purposefully set aside my desire for human perfection in favor of being perfectly like Him.  The Lord says, “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).  By definition, holy means “perfect in goodness and righteousness.” Perfection is excellence, and our loving heavenly Father has called us to excellence in Him.  Because He is perfect, I strive to be perfect in Him; and I can only do that with His help.

arrow in target

My prayer: “Jesus, I am sorry for striving in my own strength; I repent of it right now.  Help me to make peace with my own inadequacies, knowing that you are my more-than-enough and that I am perfectly safe in the shadow of your wings.  You and you alone are my strength.  Thank you for making a way with your blood for me to live a life of excellence in you, my King of Glory.”

Legacy of Victory

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It came to me as I was chopping carrots.  I was so floored by it that I almost couldn’t manage to finish making dinner:

Some spend their entire lives struggling in order that those who come after might possess an even greater measure of victory than they themselves have.

The inspiration for my blog

This is what the apostles were all about.  Every one of them lived, suffered, and died that those of us who came after could possess a victory fuller than what they had.  For that matter, men and women of the Old Testament did this as well – Abraham, Moses, David, Ruth, and Esther, to name a few.  The things they did paved the way for a victory that they never fully saw in their lifetimes.  To bring it closer to home, this is what my parents have done for me.  The areas in which they have overcome will be areas in which I will have victory because of their strugglesThis victory is my greatest inheritance.

“[The Lord] brought out his people with rejoicing,
his chosen ones with shouts of joy;
he gave them the lands of the nations,
and they fell heir to what others had toiled for
that they might keep his precepts
and observe his laws.” 
(Psalms 105:43-44)

It is the duty of earthly kings not only to guard what has been entrusted to them but also to expand it for the next generation.  The great kings of history were not those who mismanaged what they had or let it fall to ruin; no, the great kings were those who strove and conquered, who obtained great things that their children and their children’s children might live in that success.  It is the inheritance they pass down to the younger generation.  As sons and daughters of the King of kings, ransomed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, victory is always our inheritance.

Crown of thorns“…everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4-5)

To pass on victory is one of the greatest goals we can have.  Christ paid the price so that we could obtain victory, but victory is useless if we do not walk in it.  The ultimate objective of mothering and fathering is to lift up the next generation to a higher place than the previous one was at.  Mothering and fathering is not just a matter of having children; it is about nurturing and bringing our own victory into someone else’s life.  I am only a teenager and I have already done some mothering, not only of small children but also of young people several years older than myself.  And it is my honor to do so.  I want to build a legacy for others and for the children I will someday have – a victorious legacy that will not only last but will increase.  To carry out this victory is both a duty and a privilege.

crown“For the Lord takes delight in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
and sing for joy on their beds.  
(Psalms 149:4-5)

We cannot allow ourselves to carelessly cast aside the victories of the past or even complacently hold onto them.  If we want to truly bring heaven to earth and show Christ to the world, we have to start walking in victory – and not merely the victories of the past, but victories still greater.  Let us live in such a way that we create a legacy of victory for all who follow, generation upon generation, because we serve a mighty and victorious God.

“‘It is an end worth fighting for….It may be for others to complete what we’ve begun, but there must be a beginning.  And we will carry this fight as far as we can before passing it on to those who come after.'” – from Tuck by Stephen Lawhead