courage when faced with this world’s suckethness

If you’re looking for light and fluffy, then you may want to click away and find some yummy food blog. No offense taken. But if you’re looking for courage to walk through today because this world is revealing, in some way, it’s broken suckethness, then welcome.

One way God often speaks to me is through repetition. Repetition. Repetition. Like, I hear a sermon and the pastor talks about something that I also study in my quiet time that a friend also says in conversation that I also read on the back of a cereal box. And I’m finally like, “Ohhhhh.”

He did that again this week. And I remember the things He repeats to me by writing them down. Lucky you.

 

immovable

 

I’m not naive. I know that I (and the vast majority of all Americans) have no idea what the world at large means by affliction. Or persecution. But the truth is that Jesus promised affliction and persecution and trouble and tribulation to everyone who follows Him. As always, I’m just here to encourage you.

Jesus promises trouble when He says things that really don’t need much interpretation like, “In this world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33) As long as we walk this planet, we will have trials. Have you seen the trail of martyrs that line the path of Christian history?

Yet junk happens and we say things like, “I can’t believe this is happening!” Because for a few minutes we forget where we live and what He promised. Or maybe because deep down we really want the prosperity gospel to be true.

But even though He promises trials, He also promises peace. Not necessarily external peace — though we like external peace. But rather internal peace — peace that can define us simply because we’re desperately depending on Him.

I think it was Beth Moore that said, “Sometimes God delivers us from the fires of life while other times He delivers us through the fires of life.” Yes, there will be times when God completely takes away the trial. And we pray for and then praise Him for those miraculous interventions.

But I’ve come to learn that the trials of life can actually serve as a gift to my faith if through them I press into my God. It’s then that the world is perplexed. It’s then that I get to really see with my own eyes that when I’m weak, I’m actually strong.

 

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
(1 Corinthians 15:58)

 

So what do we do with all of this? Well, we occupy ourselves with Him. We occupy our minds with His truth. We occupy our souls with prayer. We occupy our hearts with worship. We push deeper and deeper into Him so that when (not if) the fires of life come, we are standing in the power of His might, immovable.

It’s time to get a little serious. We will be afflicted. We will be persecuted. We will face troubles. This side of Jesus coming back, it will happen. But it isn’t hopeless. With God’s word filling us, His Spirit empowering us, and other believers standing courageously with us, we can overcome. Jesus has overcome. Our feet can stand immovable.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How about some old fashioned testifyin’ — how have you seen yourself or someone you love remain immoveable in the face of trial?
 

a word of freedom for (recovering) people-pleasers

Just to set the stage, I’m a Recovering People-Pleaser (RPP). Nice to meet you.

The other day I opened up one of my “go-to” books — you know, a book that you go back to again and again because it always does something for you or in you, like smashing my comfy world into tiny pieces. Yep. The Calvary Road by Roy Hession does that for me. (And it’s free, soooo…)

Anyway, I was re-re-re-reading the first chapter and Hession said, “Every humiliation, everyone who tries and vexes us, is God’s way of breaking us, so that there is a yet deeper channel in us for the life of Christ.” Let that quote sink for a minute.

 

freedom for people-pleasers

 

In other words, every single difficulty in life is yet another chance to crucify self so that the life of Christ can arise in and through us. And that is a gift. And that irritates me. Because I like my self. Or at least my self convinces me I do, like when I insist on my rights or my ways or my views. But Jesus say over and over that to follow Him means we have to die to self.

So yeah, that re-rocked me. But here’s the part that really really flipped me upside down. I was talking to God about this idea of relational difficulties being a gift so that I’m a deeper channel for the life of Christ, and it hit me.

As a people-pleaser — ahem, recovering people-pleaser — every time I try to live up to someone else’s expectations rather than simply flowing in the fulness of God’s Spirit where He leads in the moments, I actually hinder God’s work in that other person. You with me?

If I’m trying to please people by allowing their expectations to guide me rather than allowing God’s Spirit to guide me, then I’m not allowing God to fully use me as He intends in the other person’s life. Because when I “try and vex” them — simply because I’m not living up to their expectations — that’s actually an opportunity God wants to use in their life to free them from their self as well.

Drop. the. mic. Or not…because I have more to say.

This is HUGE for us recovering people-pleasers. Because, two things, (1) you and I can’t please people. We can’t. It isn’t possible. Especially those people in our lives with lofty expectations. And (2) it’s not our job to please people. Even the people we dearly love.

It’s our “job” to love The Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and then, out of the overflow of that love, we love others as He leads. The hard thing for people-pleasers is that loving others as God leads often looks different from loving others as they expect or desire us to love them.

 

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
(Galatians 1:10)

 

A trite example. My kids. My son may think that a proper expression of my love for him would be for me to prepare him something brown and fried for every single meal. Because he basically only wants to eat chicken tenders. And pizza. But I know in my spirit — and my brain — that feeding him those things at every meal isn’t best for him. It wouldn’t be an expression of my love.

That may mean he skips a meal because there’s something green on his plate. Or that may mean he has to be excused from the table for a craptacular attitude. And that may mean that he doesn’t feel my love in those moments. But I do love him. And as his parent it would be foolish for me to try to live up to his expectations.

People-pleasers, we gotta stop. Let’s stop trying to please everyone around us. Because we can’t and it’s not our job. God is all the time doing a work in all of us, and sometimes that includes our desires (or theirs) not being fully met.

Yes, we want to love others and love them well and bend to bless them. But when we cross over into the realm of people-pleasing at the expense of living life being led by the Holy Spirit of God, then we’ll actually get in the way.

God has freedom for us recovering people-pleasers. And freedom comes as we set our eyes on Him rather than on the expectations of other people. He will faithfully lead. And His leading will have eternity in mind.

 
Fill me, Lord…

Any recovering people-pleasers out there? Can I get a witness as to the world-rocking-ness of this truth?
 

a question that keeps confronting me

I’ve been quiet around these here parts. Mainly because of that whole “homeschooling thing.” But on the bright side, my kids and I have all survived ten solid days of schooling. Praise Jesus. Only 170 more to go.

But in the backdrop of everyday life, I’ve had a phrase swimming around in me. Behind schooling and dinner prep and grocery shopping and motherhood and marriage and the pursuit of various writing projects…and everything else, a question keeps confronting me.

 

In this moment,
am I quenching or stirring up
God’s Spirit?

 

And I can’t seem to get around the black-and-white-ness of the thought.

 

image

 

Now for a little Spirit talk.

The Bible’s clear that once we come to faith in Jesus, we’re “sealed” with the Spirit of God Himself (which is totally rock-our-world amazing). Basically, that’s a permanent sealing. A permanent mark. A permanent pointing to Jesus. A permanent Source of healing and sanctifying power in us. In fact I’ve sometimes wondered if we as Christ-followers glow or something in the spirit realm. Like glow worms. But that’s not in the Bible and I digress.

The Bible also has a lot to say about the correlation between our actions and faith in relation to the movement of the Spirit of God in and through us. Meaning that the things I believe and meditate upon — which become what I act upon — play a part in stirring Him up or extinguishing His fire.

For example. When I spend all my sweet time thinking about someone’s hurtful words rather than the truths my God says about me, I become bitter. And bitterness makes me spiritually deaf.

Whereas, when I hear someone’s hurtful words, but instead of thinking on those words over and over and over again I choose to turn my heart and mind to what God says, then forgiveness and intercession flow from my mouth. Choosing to think on true things stirs up God’s Spirit in me and from Him alone comes love and mercy.

 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 5:19

 

I don’t know how all that shakes out in the spirit realm because all is grace — His sealing, His speaking to us, His movement through us, His conviction of us, His sanctification of us. All of it is His doing by His grace. But somehow, someway, a correlation exists between my beliefs and choices, and how He moves in and through me.

I know that bitterness, complaining, faithlessness, unforgiveness, unlove, gossip, and fear grieves Him. (Ephesians 4:30) Because that kind of stuff is sourced in our flesh. And when we submit to our flesh, we extinguish His fire.

Whereas worshipping God as He’s revealed Himself in His Word, praying Scripture, and praising Jesus for His gracious sacrifice causes us to enter into the flow of the Spirit of God. Those kinds of things stir Him up in us. And when He’s stirred, love, healing, kindness, hope, joy, and power erupt. (Acts 1:8) And that’s when life gets really good.

 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
(Galatians 5:22-23)

 

We can’t explain God. We can’t manipulate a movement of His Spirit. We can’t put a formula to His power or smoosh Him into a nice, neat box. We can’t tame or control Him. We can only know what He reveals. And the Father has revealed that He, by His Spirit, indwells believers. The very same Spirit that fell on the early church and moved mightily through people with the gospel of Jesus Christ makes His home in you and me. Astounding.

So today we’ll live our lives. We’ll go do the stuff we’ve scribbled on our lists. But maybe we’ll live life a little more thoughtfully and purposefully. Maybe we’ll ask The Lord to show us when our heart meditations actually put out His fire. And when, by His grace and power, He reveals our submission to our flesh rather than to His Spirit, maybe we’ll choose to stir Him up instead. By His grace. For His glory.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How have you seen this play out in your own daily living?
 

x