Brokeness

When I was a teen, I read a paper that deeply impacted me. I kept it and to this day it convicts me.

I wish I knew who wrote it, but it has no name. There was a piece on lukewarm Christians in the book “Crazy Love” written by Francis Chan that sounded similar to it, but whether this was written by someone else entirely, or whether it was adapted from Francis Chan’s writings, I’m not sure. However, I still wanted to share it today, for there is something huge we can learn from it:

Pride Vs. Brokeness

  1. Proud people focus on the failures of others and can readily point out those faults. Broken people are more conscious of their spiritual needs than of anyone else’s.
  2. Proud people have a critical fault finding spirit. They look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope but view their own with a telescope. Broken people are compassionate – they have the kind of love that over looks a multitude of sins; they can forgive because they know they have been forgiven much.
  3. Proud people are especially prone to criticize those in authority, they talk to others about the faults they see. Broken people encourage and lift up those that God has placed into authority and they talk to God, rather than gossiping about the faults they find in others.
  4. Proud people are self righteous; they think highly of themselves and look down on others. Broken people think the best of others; they esteem others as better as themselves.
  5. Proud people have to prove that they are right…They always get the last word. Broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.
  6. Proud people claim rights and have a demanding spirit. Broken people yield their rights and have a meek spirit.
  7. Proud people are self protective. Broken people are self-sacrificing and protect others.
  8. Proud people desire to be served, they want life to revolve around them. Broken people are motivated to serve others and to meet their needs before their own.
  9. Proud people desire to be known as a success. Broken people are motivated to be faithful and make others succeed.
  10. Proud people have a feeling that “This ministry is privileged to have me and my gifts.” Broken people know that all gifts come from God and on their own they can do nothing.
  11. Proud people are wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked. Broken people rejoice when others are recognized and lifted up.
  12. Proud people feel confident in how much they know. Broken people are humbled by how much they have to learn.
  13. Proud people are driven to protect their own reputation. Broken people are concerned with being real; they care less about what others may think than about what God knows.
  14. Proud people can’t bear to fail. Broken people can recognize and live within their limitations.
  15. Proud people are quick to blame others. Broken people can acknowledge where they were wrong.
  16. Proud people wait for others to come and ask forgiveness. Broken people take the initiative to be reconciled no matter how wrong the other party may be.
  17. Proud people are unapproachable or defensive when corrected. Broken people receive correction with a humble, open spirit.
  18. Proud people try to control the people and the circumstances around them. Broken people trust in God – they rest in him and are able to wait for him to act on their behalf.
  19. Proud people carry grudges and keep a record of those who have wronged them. Broken people are quick to chose forgiveness.
  20. Proud people want no one to find out when they have sinned; they cover it up. Broken people aren’t concerned about who finds out their sin, they are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.
  21. Proud people tend to deal in generalities when expressing their sin to God (“Dear Lord, please forgive me for my sins.”) Broken people acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin.
  22. Proud people are concerned about the consequences of their sin.                         Broken people are grieve over the cause, the root of their sin. They are more concerned with how their sin has grieved God than the problem it has created in their lives.
  23. Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of respect. Broken people compare themselves with the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for his mercy.
  24. Proud people don’t think they need to repent of anything. Broken people realize the need to maintain a continual heart attitude of repentance.       
  25. The proud people reading this will be mostly thinking of others this may apply to and of who else should be reading this list, while broken people realize it applies to themselves.

 

This list forever changed me. In fact, it completely reshaped the way I viewed Christianity.

Because the truth is, every time I read this list, my thoughts can’t help but turning to others that should be reading it. And those thoughts testify against me: I am proud.

This way of thinking goes completely against popular culture, even popular church culture which says: “Look out for yourself!”

“Take care of your own needs first!”

“Make sure you get your rights!”

“Don’t waste your time on people who aren’t going to lift you up!”

And I wonder, what if Jesus would’ve used these attractive one liners? Where would we be then?

Where would I be then?

The God of “Look out for Yourself” is not in the Bible. The God of “Look what I can do!” isn’t there either. The God of “success and promotion” isn’t isn’t found in the ancient living word of God. The God that speaks, the God that lives, the God that we read about is humble, self sacrificing and absolutely broken for you and me. There is no limit to his love, there is no selfishness in him. He is gentle, he is meek, he is pure.

Don’t fall for the biggest idol out there: The man-made, self-serving Jesus, who benefits me NOW… who is like a church accepted ‘genie in a bottle’. God isn’t a doormat for you to use for your wishes when you please. He’s not a fairy godmother, waiting to make all your dreams come true.

He is a humble, serving, gracious and holy God who is ever searching for lives that will say yes to walking a very different road.

One that gives up my rights.

One that unconditionally loves those who mistreat them.

One that pours out their life as a living sacrifice.

One that puts others above themselves.

One that is humble and broken.

 

Oh, God, may I say yes to this strange, unpopular road you travelled. Help me to walk in your humble, self-sacrificing way.

 

 

Advertisements

Embracing Accusations

I love the Christain band Shane & Shane. If you haven’t heard of them you need to drop everything right now and LISTEN to them. They are incredibly talented, not just at singing but their lyrics OFTEN bring me to tears!

There is one song that they sing called “Embracing Accusations” which I just love.

This morning as I was pondering some of the things I have recently gone through, and I began thanking God for redeeming me from my past of sin and lies, this very song popped into my head and I realized that it was the key to getting through this current battle.

Because sometimes we need to FIGHT Satan…but sometimes we just need to AGREE with him.

What?!? You ask yourself. AGREE with him?!?

Sounds just wrong, hey? Read the Lyrics by Shane and Shane:

Embracing Accusations 

“The father of lies coming to steal, kill and destroy,
All my hopes of being good enough,
I hear him saying, “Cursed are the ones who can’t abide”
He’s right…Hallelujah, he’s right!
The devil is preaching the song of the redeemed,
That I am cursed and gone astray,
I cannot gain salvation… embracing accusation.
Could the father of lies be telling the truth
Of God to me tonight?
If the penalty of sin is death, then death is mine?
I hear him saying, “Cursed are the ones who can’t abide”
He’s right…. Hallelujah, he’s right!
The devil is preaching the song of the redeemed,
That I am cursed and gone astray,
I cannot gain salvation,
Oh, the devil’s singing over me an age old song,
That I am cursed and gone astray,
Singing the first verse so conveniently over me, He’s forgotten the refrain:

 Jesus saves. 

He redeemed us from the curse of sin.”

***

Sometimes we just need to embrace those accusations and say:

YOU’RE RIGHT! I’m a sinner! Hopelessly lost, full of greed and wickedness…But wait – you forgot to add something: Jesus saved me from all that!”

That’s exactly who I was, you’re right!! But I’m not that person anymore! I’m the daughter of the Most High king! I’ve been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ! His work on the cross saved me!

Praise be to God! I’m not who I was!

I’ve been redeemed by his grace.

I’m set free! Glory be to God! He has set us free!

Welcome Here

I’ve noticed that recently more people are stopping by…it’s great to have you! I’m glad you’ve decided to join me.

If you’re looking for a flashy person or a celebrity type figure, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place!

I’m quite an ordinary person: a Christain stay at home mother of five precious kiddos, a wife to an amazing man, a homeschooler, a cake decorator, and a wanna be writer, who lives where winter lasts FAR too long 🙂

By now, many of you will have noticed that my blog isn’t consistently about anything in particular. It doesn’t have a set format, theme or topic. My blog actually came about after a dream I had one night about becoming a writer. This dream stuck in my heart long after I woke up and I realized it was a God-given desire; one that I would pursue as God opened doors for me.

This space is simply meant to be an encouragement for the Christian, but more than that, it was meant to be an honest picture of how life looks.

Many times, I post about the positives in life: Mothering, Christianity, Homeschooling, Things God is teaching me…but other times you’ll notice that I post vague and somewhat depressing pieces: poems and entries that reflect the dark situations and feelings I struggle with. My reason for this isn’t so that I can get my readers to feel sorry for me, or even so that I can “vent”.

It’s because my desire in blogging is to be raw and honest, authentic and real. You can think of it sort of like reading a modern day Psalm: you will get glimpses of my joy, happiness and worship of God, but also pictures of struggles, hardships and pain. Too often it’s tempting to just post the good things, and leave the bad stuff for my journal entries, but this just isn’t real. It gives the false picture that after becoming a Christain, everything is just “great”.

Being a Christian doesn’t mean we always walk through life showing others our good sides, rather we show people our true selves so that GOD gets the glory.

My prayer is everyone that visits this place will come to know that Christianity isn’t a neat picture of perfect people with put together lives, rather Christians are ordinary people, with sometimes messy lives.

The point is that whatever is going on in my life, whether good or bad, I will trust God. In my joys, I will praise him and in my hardships I will cling to him.

Either way we worship and trust him because we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes.

May you find this to be a safe place to be encouraged, to cry, to share, and above all, to gain a true perspective of how God works through ordinary, normal lives, like mine.

Welcome here 🙂

 

 

Choose Joy

There’s a picture that hangs on my wall. It’s simple, it’s plain. It’s not really outstanding in beauty. But the second I saw it in the store, I fell in love with it. It says two simple, but powerful words:

Choose Joy.

The life of a Christain is not marked by an easy life, where we live in continual comfort and bliss. It’s not marked as a life where everyone around us simply adores us. Walking with God doesn’t mean that all will go well.

The road to the cross is marked with suffering, betrayal, and pain. But the life of a Christian MUST be marked with something else as well.

JOY.

“Why,” you may ask, “should we joyful? How can you expect me to find joy when the Christain life is so hard at times? When my friends have left me because I don’t do the things they do? When I’m mocked by my coworkers for living out my faith?”

Maybe you’ve even been despised by your very own family, whom you never wronged, yet they turned against you.

Take heart, dear friend, YOU can still choose joy.

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with favor as with a shield.” Psalm 5:11-12

Have you ever noticed that this verse doesn’t say, “You surround them with favor as with an umbrella on a beautiful beach?”

It doesn’t say, “You surround them with favor, as with a warm fuzzy blanket.”

It says, “You surround them with favor, as with a shield.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t pack a shield along when I’m going on vacation. I don’t bring a shield on a picnic. In fact, I don’t even own a shield. Why?

Because a shield is used for war.

These verses talk about being glad, rejoicing, singing with joy…not when things are easy, but in the midst of war.

Are you crazy?!? Joyful in war? How can one have any joy at all on the battlefield, where death and destruction cover the landscape? Where blood and pain mark the ground?

Now I’ve never been in the army, I’ve never fought in a war. But David, who wrote these verses, was. And not only that, he once fought a battle against a GIANT, with a whole army shaking in fear behind him.

He approached the battlefield alone.

Now I don’t know a lot about war, but what I do know is that there is very little one man alone can do on the battlefield. In fact, there is no chance that one man alone can win a great war.

But David, just a boy, ran up to the battle line and was able to conquer a great enemy, because he knew a great big secret: He was actually not alone. 

God was fighting beside him!

We can be glad, rejoice and sing, because by the grace of God, we are not in it alone! He is by our side! He is our shield! He is our refuge! He is our rock! Praise God, for I am not in it alone!

He is right here beside me, acting as my shield!

Oh, dear friend, is your life hard and full of pain? Have you been struck down and wounded? Have you often felt like you’re walking this road alone?

Take comfort and be filled with joy, for you are not alone! God is your shield. Your refuge. Your rock. He will never leave you. In his presence is fullness of joy!(Psalm 16:11)

“…Don’t grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

When, Lord?

This post is for all of you who have been crying out to God for something, maybe even for years, and all seems silent.

This post is for you who are ready to give up.

This post is for the prayer warriors, who are growing weary, yet day by day keep praying.

This is for you who wonder if God is even listening.

These are not my thoughts, I can’t take credit for them. I only share them because today they impacted me deeply.

This morning my pastor was sharing on the topic of prayer, and how we need to ask if we want to receive answers.

And in my head I know this, I really do.

But in my heart of hearts, if I were to be really honest, often I don’t believe it. There are things I have been praying for, for YEARS. Literally years. And Nothing. Seems. To. Happen.

Ever.

In fact, often everything just seems to get even worse.

And I cry out, “When God? When will you hear my prayers? When will my dear loved one give her life to you? When will I be reconciled with those whom I love?  I long for our friendship to be restored!! When will my friend’s broken marriage be healed? When God? Are you even listening anymore?!?”

And sometimes I’m filled with despair, because it seems hopeless. It seems as if all my prayers have been in vain.

My heart is filled with pain.

Because I am tired. I’m so tired of hoping when all seems hopeless.  I’m so tired of pressing in for people who just seem to grow harder and harder against me and against God.

However, today, once again I was filled with hope.

Today I was reminded of a passage I had long forgotten. It’s found in Daniel 10.

Daniel goes on a 21 day fast. He is crying out for answers. This fast is so intense, he is most likely not even bathing – I mean, Daniel is SERIOUSLY seeking God…but for 21 days he hears nothing. At the end of the 21 days, he is visited by an angel whom God sent in answer to Daniel’s prayers.

We hear this story, and we nod, because of course it seems perfectly natural for this to happen…in the bible.  And we think, after 21 days, I mean that’s persistent prayer and fasting… so we reason, ok, God was just sitting there, waiting, and after enough prayer, Daniel finally got his answer!

This was not the case. Read the story, and read it carefully. Daniel 10:12 says:

“Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before God, your words were heard and I have come in response to them.”

The first day.

God heard him the first day.

I don’t know about you, but these words cause my eyes to fill with tears even now.

Because they fill me with hope. Hope that was almost gone.

God heard me the first time I prayed.

Whether I started praying for it today, or 2 years ago, or 10 years ago, he heard me the first time.

This means the first prayer I prayed for these things mattered, and my prayers still matter. The moment I began to call on God, God began to answer.  However, if you read on in the book of Daniel, you will see that there was much happening behind the scenes before an answer could be given. There was a battle to be fought, and won. There were spiritual forces needing to be struck down. The timing had to be right.

Dear friend, the moment you call on God, he begins to answer.

He heard you the very first time.

Don’t give up, don’t lose hope – for God is a good father and he WILL give justice to his elect, who cry out to him day and night. (Luke 18:7)

May this message bring you as much encouragement today as it did me.

 

 

 

It’s Not Ok

Some days can be exhausting as a mother, believe me, I have five kids – I KNOW. And while many times I enjoy the energy and giggles (…ok more like shrieks and screams) in my house, sometimes it just WEARS on you. I know. I sometimes just want to sit in my room in silence and lock all the doors. I GET IT.

But the other day I had a conversation that literally caused me to choke back tears, not because I didn’t relate in some form to the mother, but because I realized at that moment how horribly mean us mothers can be.

Yesterday I was talking to another mom about how her Christmas Break had gone –  and I kid you not, she gave an exaggerated sigh, rolled her eyes and said in a loud voice, “My kids are driving me CRAZY!! They are SO annoying! I just can’t wait until I can give them back to the school to deal with! Like I love them, but I need them gone!”

Stunned at her boldness, I quietly managed out the words, “Oh, that’s too bad.” And looking at my shocked expression, she softened her tone and gave me a smile, “Oh it’s not THAT bad, but it will be nice to have them gone so I can sit in peace again.” And I nodded, regaining my composure and smiled back, “I understand.”

Truthfully though, that conversation has haunted me all day. It broke my heart. Because one thought plagues me…what if her child had overheard her?

What if any child had overheard her?

I can’t imagine the pain of overhearing my own mother say that about me. Luckliy, I grew up in a much different time, where mothers simply didn’t say such things about their children.

Now, that same day, my six-year-old son came back from his Sunday school class with a picture in his hand. On the paper he held there was a question: “What makes you happy?”

His response? “Mom and Dad”

The contrast of those two moments are forever burnt in my memory.

Mothers, it’s okay to have hard days. It’s okay to break down in tears. It’s okay to need space. It’s okay to leave the room. I TOTALLY understand.

But you know what’s not okay? Saying hurtful things about your child. PeriodEven if you’re joking around.

It is OUR JOB to pour out unconditional love on our undeserving littles, not the other way around. But more and more I see the roles being reversed and children loving their parents unconditionally, while their whiny parents complain about having to put up with them.

This is not okay.

I’m so far from perfect, it makes me want to cry. Often I have to go back to my kids and apologize for hurtful and careless things I’ve said…again and again and AGAIN.

But more and more our culture is getting callous to these mean hearted “authentic outbursts.”

Let’s not become callous to them. Let’s not find them funny. Please, let’s just not go there. Because under each tiny child is a soft, tender heart – yearning to be loved by YOU.

So watch your words carefully, Moms, for the sake of your little one who – when asked what makes them happy, responds ever so sweetly: “My mom.”

Devotions? Or Devotion?

I used to think New Years Resolutions were pointless – that they were nothing more than another attempt by the world to become the best we could be…only to fail three weeks in. You hear it all the time – the gyms are full come January 1st, but by the end of February, membership has returned to normal.

We’re funny that way, us human beings.  So desperate to be great that we jump on any bandwagon of change, only to jump right back off when life gets too hard. Some of us feel like failures when we give up, but most of us don’t even think twice about it. After all, we do it time and time again.

In the year 2015 all of that changed for me.

I decided to attend a Christian conference at the end of the year. The conference runs right after Christmas and goes until New Year’s Eve, ending with “praying in” the New Year. It was the first time in years that I was going somewhere without a baby or toddler in-tow. Me and my husband went with the older two kids, leaving the younger three kids with their grandparents.

To my great shock, the first two days were incredibly difficult for me to sit through the long messages. It had been years since I had sat through a message without my kids beside me crying, or needing a diaper change or nap. I had expected to just soak in the atmosphere and love it without my usual distractions.

And here I was, with no excuse at all, unable to consentrate for longer than 10 minutes without drifting off into lala land! With the busyness of my life, I hadn’t even realized how far I had been drifting from God. I hadn’t realized that my five minute a day devotional with God while kids jumped all around me and a quick read through of my prayer list wasn’t enough to sustain me. I realized that I was hungry – no, STARVING for God!

By the end of the conference, I was overwhelmed with a deep desire to be with God every single day. Not just reading the bible, I already did that. Not just reading through a prayer list, I did that too. But to encounter God daily – to KNOW the One true God.

My only problem was that I have five kids…How in the world could I possibly find time to spend with him? Certainly God didn’t expect me to find more time with him in my busy stage of life, could he?

It was as if God had known my thoughts ahead of time, and prepared this conference exactly for me. A woman got up on stage at this time and began sharing. The testimony she gave changed my life forever.

She was a top student at her university. Her schedule was packed and her workload was overwhelming. On an average day she was so busy that even without any social life she would only get four hours of sleep.  During this time she became overwhelmed and asked God to help her.  The very reason she has started going to university in the first place was to make a difference in the world. And now she felt like she couldn’t keep going.

During this time, God told her that he wanted her to start tithing. Of course, at this point she was thinking dollar amounts – but God made clear, “No I want you to start tithing what is most important to you – your time. 10 percent of your time.”

That’s precisely 2 hours and 24 minutes a day.

She, of course, responded like we all would – like I would: “No God, that’s not possible! I can’t possibly spare any time, never mind that much of it! I don’t get any sleep as it is!”

But she obeyed, waking up at wee hours of the night to be with her Maker.

Sacrificing what little sleep she had.

What happened as a result was an absolute miracle, for she began to find more and more time. She had time to do her work, she was more efficient in her studies, and she was even able to go to bed earlier. She found after just one week that she was getting more rest than she had since starting university! God had simply and miraculously multiplied her time.

Now until this moment, until this testimony, I had always believed that lack of time was unique to parents of young children only.

It’s laughable now, but really, I believed that singles and couples without children had no valid excuse to not be spending time with God…I, on the other hand had every excuse: the constant interruptions,  the lack of sleep, busyness of the days, the sacrifice of being depended on 24/7 – who has better excuses than that? My excuses weren’t even selfish!!

It was at this moment, this very moment, that I realized Satan has lied to us all.

We all have the time. 

In every stage of life, in every situation,  we all have the time because we are all given the same amount of it.

I began noticing all the excuses:

“Oh I work all day, if I was a stay at home mom I would have much more time! I’m just too tired after work to spend time with God.”

“Oh I can’t possibly do devotions daily, right now I’m in school, I constantly have homework!”

“My job demands so much of me, I don’t have any time for myself – never mind for God!”

On and on the excuses go, every single person believing that they have less time than the next.

This was crazy to me! Every single one of us believed that lie: I can’t find the time because my situation is unique. I’m more tired, more over worked, busier than most. 

It was only when I recognized that lie that I was able to overcome it.  Because the truth was that I had time for all sorts of things. I had time to scrapbook, time to cook, time to get together with friends, time to clean my house, time to sleep, time to be on Facebook, lots of time!

Therefore, the issue had never been time – the issue was desire. This changed devotions in my life changed forever.

I then made the first resolution I had ever made, and it lasted.

My resolution was to quit devotions as I knew them and to begin a life devoted to God. Devotions was never mentioned in God‘s word. Not once. What is mentioned are people who walked with God. Devotions are merely a tool to start off the day focused on a single task: devotion to God.

I no longer found it hard to spend time with God, because it wasn’t something on my checklist. It was my checklist. If I wasn’t walking with God all day, every day, I had gotten nothing done.

That is the essence of Christianity.

This year don’t get caught up in the meaningless resolutions. Rather, in desperation, resolve to do nothing but cling to Jesus. To abide in him. To walk with him.  If this is your heart’s desire, you’ll find the time.

I promise.