Yesterday, I got my feelings hurt in church - I was offended over my race. I’ll admit, even though I have prayed, and I have forgiven, I just can’t shake it. There’s a feeling like I have to defend myself. My mind and heart ponder Christ before Pilate, silent before His accusers, refusing to defend the insulting charges against Him. Am I to die to self? What is the lesson here for me? One minute, I was sitting comfortably, among my fellow Sisters in Christ. The next minute, I was literally being pointed at and lumped with people who have completely different beliefs than I do, people I don’t even know, just because they and I have brown skin. We’re not even the same nationality. I felt ejected from the group – labeled as other and with my entire belief system assumed.
Jesus was treated no differently than the common criminals who flanked Him on the cross that day. Oddly enough, there is comfort in that. Yet, the flesh of my being still longs to defend myself. I want to put that lady in her place by showing her how wrong she is about me. I want to boast of my family’s credentials and tell her of my world travels. I want to insult her right back in a different language. But the Spirit tells me to quiet my flesh. Ultimately, it is the Spirit of Christ who I will obey.
I will talk to her though, guided by the Holy Spirit. I’ll speak to her in love about this grievance, because it is Biblical. I need to first be reconciled to my sister, and then come and offer my gift. (Matthew 5:24) My gift is whatever He shares specifically with me, whatever He pours into only me because I am His. God has a gift for each of us. I am a member of His family, just like she is, and I am entitled to not be judged based on my outward appearance.
The blessing for me is that I am confident in Christ. I know who I am in Him and I walk the path He has laid out for me to walk. Another person of color she may encounter, may not be in the same place. If I, confident in Christ, could have my feelings hurt, then another could easily have a more intense reaction. I need to lovingly let her know that she needs to examine her heart when it comes to judging others. The fact is, we all do.
The bottom line is that offense is a part of life in this broken world before Jesus returns. Some offenses stick with you longer than others. Matthew 18 will be my guide here.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Matthew 18:15
“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:18
Today, I bind love with my sister. I bind unity in my Church family. Today, I loose bitterness and anger. I loose the tugging of the devil and my flesh to seek to quarrel and to boast.
Friend, I pray that if you are dealing with any kind of offense, that you would submit to the Holy Spirit to heal your hurts and guide your next steps. I pray that you would remember Christ, who was so horribly offended against, and choose to follow His example and teachings. Please know that I am right here in this with you, and I’m working to do all these things.
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. Ephesians 6:12
We are weary. The events of this year just won’t let up. We long to go back to the days of walking around, faces uncovered, saying, doing, thinking and believing whatever we wanted to. The good old days – you know – February.
But let me ask you this, what if you were sleepwalking? What if you were blissfully unaware that you were strolling through dangerous minefields of complacency? Would you still want to go back there? Maybe it was easy because we were in slumber.
Our faith has been easy thus far, hasn’t it? We are surrounded by like-minded believers. We have access to worship freely. We get to grow in the knowledge of God with friends and casseroles.
Then came 2020 and we were blindsided. Covid-19 distanced us from one another. Social unrest furthered the divide. We found ourselves swimming in a quagmire of misinformation. And to top it off, it’s an election year. Social distance has become an ideological canyon.
Our response is naturally to protest. We want things the way they were. Back when we were sleepwalking. We fear the New World Order and conspiracy theories are launched from whatever side we're on to whatever side they're on, and back again from them to us. Because it is us against them. Except that us looks a lot like them at the moment.
But what if God just wants us to wake up? What if He wants us to stand up? You know that cozy hesitation we feel when we don’t want to leave our warm beds to go into the cold air? What if this is it? What if we are being called to our battle stations? What if our cushioned, comfortable Christianity was our time to train, to prepare, to fortify, to arm ourselves with what we need to stand up to the present day?
And what if the real conspiracy was that the devil, the enemy of our souls, was goading us on with the things of this world, with the headlines and the tweets, to distract us from our mission? Do we even know what the mission is right now?
We’re looking hard at what he said, what she said, who’s lying, who’s denying justice. But we are not looking at Christ, what He said, what He’s saying now, that He’ll never lie to us or deny us justice.
No wonder we are weary. We’re fighting flesh, while the prince of darkness is fighting us, all while we're trying to get back to sleep.
Hear me when I say this. There is no better time to be in Christ Jesus than right now. If we believe what we say we believe, we should be excited to face this season of testing. We should be standing as beacons of light, firm and strong, with the Armor of God fully upon us. We should be deep in His Word, wrestling in prayer, and declaring the One who is victorious over all of this.
When we fight fire with fire, the whole world winds up looking like hell, and no one can claim innocence. So how about Jesus’ living water to douse the flames instead?
Can what we post, share, tweet, text and send be of God, of love, of joy, of peace? Can the angry ones not be us? Can we truly embrace a hurting world right now? In Christ, I know we can.
“See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:10
God knows us before we know ourselves. He is willing and able to equip us for what He has appointed us to do. But when I opened my Bible to Jeremiah 1 recently, I saw that I had written the word, “What?” twice next to Jeremiah 1:10. I was prompting myself to ponder and execute something important.
Will you do it with me?
Grab a notebook or your journal and let’s make a list!
What in my life can I pluck up?
Like weeds, these are the little things we do each day that we know aren’t good for us but are easy to eliminate. For example, a TV show or a bad habit that hurts your body (1 Corinthians 6:19).
What in my life can I break down?
These are bigger, more established structures in our lives. For example, a wall of conflict with a loved one or a codependent relationship.
What in my life can I destroy?
These are the things that we need to walk away from altogether. For example, a stronghold like an addiction or inappropriate relationship.
What in my life can I overthrow?
Here we have the fears, the anxieties, the negative self-talk, all the things that keep us from moving forward.
Each of the things on your list, either hinder your walk by tripping you up in some way, or place a wall of divide between you and God altogether. But once each thing is gone, there will be gaps. For the bigger things, there might even be trenches that are hard to cross.
How do we fill those holes in? We build and we plant.
What can I build in my life?
First of all, our relationship with God needs to be edified. More time in prayer and in The Word and in fellowship with other believers. Secondly, we need to build our lives in Him. Our careers, education and home lives need to all come under Christ’s sovereignty.
What can I plant?
We plant seeds of love, hope and encouragement through our testimony of how we’ve destroyed the evil in our lives and replaced it all with Jesus’ redeeming goodness. Your story is a story of repentance, and it serves as a model for others to follow as they come to know Christ through you.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Sometimes it’s difficult to hear God. We cry out to Him. We ask for clarity. But it appears that we’re facing a brick wall and we wonder if we’re going to have to guess our way through life.
We look to the people around us, we scroll for the answers online. We see people speaking and acting on what God has told them and the comparison game starts to play in our heads. “God, You speak to her and not to me? What gives?” We question our worth, especially to Him. Why won’t God speak to us?
This is my question as I type this. “God, I asked You for a word of encouragement to share with my sisters, and nothing?” I stop and I listen. I aimlessly turn the pages of my Bible. I read back on old journal entries. There are lots of promising possibilities, but nothing says that this is God’s word for this moment. I don’t want a God word of my choosing. I want the message to be entirely from Him.
I recall David, in his agony, on the run from Saul or Absalom, crying out in anguish to God:
How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? Psalm 13:1
This isn’t the only Psalm like this. David felt it. Abandoned and alone. Left to fend for himself. As if God had indeed forgotten him. We all know though, that that’s not the case.
If David felt like that, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we go through the same thing. God seems completely silent. We feel lost and adrift.
But if we have a relationship with God, like David did, we should know that He is a God we can trust. When the future is uncertain, we can remember all the times that God has come through for us in the past. We can remember all the times that His methods to save seemed unorthodox at first, but He always came through somehow.
If we are in His Word, we understand His character. We know that when He says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He means it.
David understood that. In fact, even though he started Psalm 13 feeling sorry for himself (as we all tend to feel at times), he ends it with renewed trust and praise.
But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:5-6
Remember His goodness, renew your trust in Him and rejoice. You’ll hear from Him when the time is right.
We pray. We worship. We read the Bible. We love Jesus. We walk in obedience. We pick up our cross and follow Him. And yet, we still experience disappointment. Somehow things didn’t turn out as we had hoped. “But God, I did all the things!”
My word for you today is, KEEP DOING ALL THE THINGS. Keep praying. Keep worshipping. Keep reading the Bible. Keep loving Jesus. Keep walking in obedience. Hold on to that cross. Keep following Him. Because our best efforts are not for us. They are for Christ alone. He is the great reward that makes everything else we’re working for pale in comparison. He’s promised us treasures in heaven, but we don’t do all the things for a reward, or else we wouldn’t quite be doing all the things with our hearts intact.
Sometimes, what God does through us isn’t necessarily for us. Someone else may receive the blessings of our efforts. And that too, is wonderful! Our obedience may serve as a beacon for even a perfect stranger to look up to the Almighty. The work of our hands may be entirely to someone else’s benefit. God’s plan is bigger and it extends far beyond us as individuals. We praise Him because we’re included in His plan and His Kingdom and we do all the things to that end, not for our personal goals.
The early Christians understood this as they faced imprisonment, beatings, beheadings and crucifixions for their obedience. Compare that with our disappointments. They knew that there would ultimately be a reward, maybe not here on earth, but they trusted in the fact that our God is faithful.
Hebrews 11 speaks of those who did all the things and saw none of God’s promises come to fruition in their lifetimes.
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. Hebrews 11:13
And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Hebrews 11:39-40
They did all the things for their God and for future generations of believers – for us!
There will always be blessings from living according to God’s plan, even if we don’t see them here on earth in our lifetimes. So we’ll keep doing all the things, and doing them with joy and gratitude in our hearts because He is so good and so faithful. We will wear our disappointments as badges of honor because we know that we endure for the ultimate prize – Jesus.
Why do I struggle with writing?
The answer is simple. Because I don’t want you to read my words. I want you to read God’s Word. I don’t want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to Him.
This has been my internal tug-of-war with being a writer, and with platform building and networking. I’m not so interested in an audience as the Audience of One; or having others join me in a great audience before the One.
So why do I write at all? Why do any of it?
The answer is simple. Obedience.
Scripture is full of hesitant, sometimes downright unwilling, messengers. I can totally relate and take comfort in knowing that my trepidation doesn’t offend God. I write and speak because I’m called to write and speak. I walk the path laid before me.
Why am I telling you all this?
There are TONS of voices out there. And we’re in an age where we are seeking guidance and wisdom more than ever. A lot of gifted people are growing platforms and audiences at great rates right now. We are confused and hurting and broken and super tender. And we want people to speak into that. But who?
Here is who you should read, and who you should listen to.
Looking forward to being with you in His audience.
Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit. Proverbs 27:18 a
Sometimes you just have to take Scripture super literally, so I did a Google search.
How to tend a fig tree:
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10
I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m building a ministry and a platform, and doing all the things it takes to get published. To get my God-given work out there. But I don’t know what I’m doing.
I cry out to God.
I open my Bible and listen for His answer... Psalm 46.
There are plaques, embroideries, tea towels and pallet signs galore with the words, “Be still, and know that I am God.” But they are all incomplete. Those words are only half the verse.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10
Whether or not I know what I’m doing, whether I get it all right or I get it all wrong, our Almighty God WILL be exalted among the nations! He WILL be exalted in the earth!
The Psalm starts off with who God is – our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. A very present help – like right now.
Verses 2 and 3 describe a natural disaster and the fact that we won’t fear in it! A lot of the daily things that concern me are a far cry from a natural disaster, so it’s time to put things in perspective.
I am so grateful that I don’t know what I’m doing. Because I am reliant on my refuge and my strength – my God! He will do whatever it takes to see that He is exalted. And all I have to do is exalt Him too! Then He will lead me and guide me through my calling!
Dear friend, don’t be afraid to not know what you’re doing in your calling. Keep going, keep trusting, keep learning, keep growing. And understand that any mistake you make will not stop Almighty God from being exalted over all the earth!
Thank You Lord for Your glory! Thank You that You will be exalted, no matter what I do! Thank you for allowing me to witness Your greatness on earth and in heaven! Thank You for Your call! Amen
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. Psalm 46:5
But if I say, “I will not mention His Word or speak anymore in His name,” His Word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. Jeremiah 20:9
From the very beginning, my obedience tended to be reluctant; but I was obedient nonetheless. Every single step seemed so huge, every new assignment so daunting, that I found myself contorted in my spirit, fighting fear and doubt. I even threw tantrums in my closet and pictured God chuckling as He patiently waited me out.
Not walking in step with God, though, is much more terrifying than taking that step forward into the unknown behind Him. And so, I go every time.
For the past three years after writing my first Bible study, Woe to Wow, I honestly wasn’t sure what His plans for me were. I didn’t know what to do with my writing but I trusted God to show me when He decided it was time. It’s hard to explain my passion and heart when it comes to Women’s Ministry. From Texas to Malawi to women online, I have such a strong desire for women to be transformed by Jesus and to see His Kingdom come among us. Deep down inside, I knew I would end up in full-time ministry someday, though I never quite knew how.
It’s easy for me to relate to Jeremiah having God’s Word like a fire in his bones. I’ve long given up on what I thought was the easy route – ignoring His call and living my life on the outskirts of my faith, over in the shallow waters. The inner push to venture further into more and more uncomfortable territory still feels intimidating at times but can I hold it in? Can I resist my Father’s call? Indeed, I cannot. And so, here we are.
I still have to silence the occasional whispers of doubt that enter my mind. But God is making it very clear that this isn’t about me at all. It’s about Him and His precious daughters who I am being called to serve by this ministry. Service to Christ’s Kingdom is so much bigger than any of us. Just as Jeremiah could no longer contain the fire in his bones, I can no longer contain my deep passion for Christ, His Word, and my sisters. The stirring in my heart these past years have turned into rumblings, which have turned into an eruption that is pouring out His love and His Spirit and, hopefully, reaches you!
God’s love and grace are unconditional. My obedience, however, is conditional - very conditional. I will go on the condition that He goes before me. I will speak on the condition that He provides the words. I will act on the condition that He equips me, guides me and instructs me every step of the way. And I will do nothing outside of His will. I follow Jesus, not my calling. I follow Jesus, not His purpose for me.
I am constantly reminded that through my obedience, I have the privilege of coming into contact with precious women like you. That alone is worth ignoring every doubt and discomfort.
I pray that as we journey in ministry together, that you too, will shed any reluctance and walk in bold obedience into your calling to serve our Almighty! I pray that, despite any doubts, you will take that step to serve Christ and His Kingdom. I pray that we can grow, rooted in Christ and flourishing together.
My dear sister, you have become my passion because you’ve always been His! This is going to be one fabulous ride, all the way to Glory!
Heavenly Father, thank You for bringing us together through this ministry. Lord, we need You so much as we grow in knowledge of You and seek to serve You. Strengthen us and guide us as we answer Your call. We are thankful that You go before us Lord! May we glorify You in all that we do today and always. There is no God but You and we are joyful to be Yours. Thank You for Your Word and Your love for us. In Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen.
Please let me know how I can be praying for you as you answer His call to serve Him. Let’s celebrate together the rewards of your obedience. Feel free to share your comments below!