Faith Like A Child II

What if? What if my initial story ended in the hospital waiting room, or on the front row of a funeral? How would my faith look? Do you ever struggle with this? Faith like a child is faith untarnished, untested by the hard circumstances of this world. Perhaps, dear one, your faith has been tested. Tried and tested, and your faith has left you nearly defeated. Maybe you yearn for childlike faith, but you cannot even imagine what that would look like now. Life is far too heavy, too overbearing to even look past the pain, loss, fear, or struggle you now face.

Earlier this week I posted a story from two years ago of something that happened to our family. Today, I’ve come to love learning how to turn any story into a Good News Gospel story; however, in trying to be quick last week, I failed to finish the message. Today, I wish to finish my message with a part 2! I want to dig deeper into what it is about a Christian’s faith that makes any struggle, sorrow or pain worth it or something we could even consider counting joy (James 1:2-3). I want to tell about the life changing Hope found in the Good News, which is the foundation of our faith and the very core of our hope.

Recently, I’ve been overcome myself, not so much now with my own family’s needs, though things have been hard enough lately, but truly my heart has been so very burdened with many around me who are watching and waiting for their Lord to work. I’m burdened by a precious child’s need to heal from an infection in his brain, or one who is trying to care for their husband fighting cancer when in fact they are struggling just to care for their own special needs. I think of a friend who has been hit in a wreck, the young man who hit her passed away and she is left with pain in her hand and back, but even more difficult is a memory that won’t go away. A wounded church who’s left without a pastor for another season. A father who is fighting for custody with his children. A wife and mother and her husband who know what is ideal, to press on together till death parts them, but the struggles  and fear they face perhaps seem impossible to press on through together.  The list goes on and my heart hurts. Does yours? Do you relate? It seems the more we grow in Christ-likeness, the harder our suffering. We experience so many more trials and even then still empathize so much deeper with those we love.

It makes me think of the time a dear friend of Jesus died. Remember that time He cried? (John 11:1-44)

Jesus was so very close to this family. Martha had hosted (perhaps at the last minute) His gathered teachings in her home. Mary had grown to drop everything to be with Him. And now, their brother Lazarus was nearly dead, and if only Jesus could have said “Shush!” I’m in a hurry can’t you see? My dear friend needs me to visit him, and I must go now! ” Had He of replied that way, things may have been different. If He could have just been a little more aware of time, (like we seem to be today) of when to stop listening to those in front of Him so as to of had more time to travel quicker, perhaps His dear friend would have never died. *(He was never rushed, always so present with those around Him, wasn’t He?)

But Jesus let Lazaus die.

Jesus let His dear friend die.

I’m amazed about that. I think Mary and Martha, especially were too.

But Jesus was a friend of Lazarus. And it just so happened that Lazarus’ Friend was God!

And as a Good Friend of God, Lazarus, though He had to die, would soon be raised to life!

Dear sister, whatever it is you are struggling with right now, even if it feels your very life is being beaten out of you, there is a Friend Who sticks closer than a brother. And not only does He offer His presence, He offers His power! He willingly offers His strength to fight back in this trial with your faith, with your praise of Him, with your continual trust of who He is. He also offers peace that passes all understanding; seek It out! Search for it and maintain it, the scriptures say! And finally He offers perseverance to continue facing these trials. When they seem to be unending, Christ prevails in you!

Do you believe that to be true?

If so, can I take us a little closer to His Holiest of Holies? Can I take us so close to the Living God right now that it’s uncomfortable? We may even feel we must take off our dirty shoes, our makeup, we may want to cover up our bodies, and just fall to our faces!

I believe to really experience peace with our Lord we have to be willing to see and understand our sin and let the Lord Jesus Himself wash it out of us. We have to show Him the dirtiness to let Him wash it out. It has to be our willing surrender that works out our salvation. The working out of our salvation is the acting out of our faith. It is trusting that Jesus has died to save us from the penalty of our sins, that He can help us battle those sins waging war in us still, and then that He will conquer the battle upon His return! This is the Good News of Jesus!

Dear sister, is not our fears of the future, our anxieties, and even our self-pity not somehow rooted in our sin? Is it not from lack of faith? And why do we choose a lack of faith? Is in not because we are sinful?

When I feared my husband was unsafe or in a wreck those times, was it not my sin of wanting to control things my way, or not believing God has Jason and me and our family in His hands-that He will take care of us? Should Jason have died that night, would it not have been in God’s mighty hand? Would Jesus not have let it happen?

Yes! Jesus would have let it happen.

Do I trust Him even still? Oh Yes! But Lord, please help my unbelief!

Either He will have a way to bring Jason back to physical life in the hospital, or hear this sweet sister:

Should the love of my life have passed away that night, you and I had better believe The hand of  Jesus would have come and worked at just the right time to bring me back to life, to awaken my spiritual being from the death of grief within me, and He would have absolutely helped to heal my heart.

It would not be the same heart, but it would surely be a stronger one. One that knows sin will rob me of my peace in Christ, should I let it knowingly live there.

It would be one that knows my hope rests not in the well-being and healthy presence of my family, the security of a stable income, or a home that’s not falling apart, but in the presence of my God.

It would surely be a hope that rests in Jesus as the One who takes away my fears- my sins that make me absolutely miserable in my anguish- and would replace it with His strength.

He will enable me to suffer like Him. He will help me to understand how to suffer with joy, and it will come from Him alone. And that joy, that joy and peace and comfort that He gives will be the same comfort I will be able to give to others. It’s the same joy that James speaks of in his first chapter.

I will be able to consider it joy because of Christ working the sin out of me and the Hope in me. Only Christ can do that. (James 1:2-4,12)

We have to know the reason for our hope in any situation.

Do yourself the biggest favor- Imagine the worst thing that could happen to you in your present state and then imagine the Gospel of Jesus Christ washing over you. Name the sin, call it out for what it  is in your imagination. Is it fear? Is in anger? The Holy Spirit will show you. Just wait on Him. It may take a while. 🙂 As you consider that most horrible predicament and give it to the Lord; let Him free you of your present pain and your fears. Let Him empathize with you. He is Your best friend, after all, and He understands so well.

In his book, The Silent Shades of Sorrow, Charles Spurgeon speaks about the importance of keeping a journal and “taking hold of our past mercies.” Then he later writes,

“Lay aside that sackcloth and those robes of mourning! Snatch your harps down from the willows and let us sing together praises unto Him whose love, power, faithfulness, and goodness shall always be the same! If there are any here who are strangers to all these things, I can only wish that they might even know our sorrows, in order that they might have an experience of our joys to treasure up in remembrance. Believers in Jesus are not a miserable crew-they have songs to sing and they have good reason to sing them! They have enough to make them blessed on earth and to make them blessed forever and ever!” Charles Spurgeon

cyprus-2635490_1920.jpgWe have songs to sing!! It’s time to get out of the grave we’ve been placed in or that pit we have dug for ourselves and live this life! In Jesus, we have songs to sing!!

We have songs to sing because regardless of what happens, Christ Jesus will call our name to wake up and to get out of our grave or our pit! Can you hear Him calling for you? He will heal us His way! He will revive our hearts! He will bring what’s dead to life! Let Him breathe new life in you! Regardless of what happens, if we will surrender and let Him, He will awaken us from our sinful tendencies and enable us to live freed more and more from the very thoughts, habits, feelings, etc that are weighing us down. He will do this again and again until the day He returns and the fight is over! He will continue to sanctify us through and through!

Please understand this battle is not for our salvation! Our childlike faith that had not been tested told us that we first believed in Christ Jesus as our Savior. Now, dear sister, we are being tested. Our faith is being put through the fire, but once tested it will come forth as gold. We must not give up. Please just don’t give up. (Job 23:10)

Instead, let’s just take this next step of faith, won’t you come into His presence with me now? And let us praise Him together!

“3 Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
for those who fear him will have all they need.
10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, and listen to me,
and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
12 Does anyone want to live a life
that is long and prosperous?
13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies!
14 Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
15 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
his ears are open to their cries for help.
16 But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth.
17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;
not one of them is broken!
21 Calamity will surely destroy the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
22 But the Lord will redeem those who serve him.
No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.”
Psalm 34

If you are without peace today, remember who Christ is! Remember what He has done, and be sure of what He will accomplish in you!! Know the reason for your hope!

Preach to yourself the good news of Jesus; remember the character of your God and His promises and finally, pull out your instrument, should it even just be your weak hands before you and your shaky voice within you, as that’ll surely do, and sing to Him with everything you’ve got! You and I, we have songs to sing, we have not time for this self-pity!

He has overcome it. Jesus has overcome every bit of it! Praise Him!

🎶Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!                                                                                                                     Sweetest name I know                                                                                                                            Fills my every longing                                                                                                                      Keeps me singing as I go

Dear Lord, thank You for Your tender mercies that remind us of just how blessed we are to be in Your path of care, that You would be with us and for us in all things that weigh us down. Thank You for Your Son, who can offer such peace because of the work done on the cross. Thank you that we don’t have to live in sin. Thank you Lord. Thank you so much! Free us today Lord! Bring us to live in Jesus and let us know full well and be ready to tell the reason for our Hope, the very person of Christ Jesus!! In Jesus Name, Amen!

Chew on This-Referenced Scriptures:

 eCount it all joy, my brothers,2 when you meet trials fof various kinds, 3 for you know that gthe testing of your faith hproduces steadfastness. 4 And let  steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be iperfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

12 uBlessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive vthe crown of life, wwhich God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

“But He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

Faith Like A Child

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

A couple of years ago, my children and I decided to venture out on our own for 4 days while my husband stayed behind for work. We were headed to my parents’ church to participate in their annual Vacation Bible School.

Earlier that afternoon, my husband had called to tell me to be careful because there was flooding near his workplace that day. He knew I would have to go by there to get to my parents’ church, but I knew he would also have to leave by there to get home. “You be careful too,” I told him.

Once we safely arrived at my parents’ church, I was unable to get in touch with my husband. I tried all afternoon, all evening, until after 11:30 that night!

Meanwhile, late that night, we watched this movie about a little girl who’s mother was killed in a car wreck, and she had to go live with her father who built these airplane-like inventions that flew him in the sky. It seemed so dangerous, but he flew without fear and taught his daughter to join him so they could rescue geese.

Watching their experience of pain and loss was just too close to home. The whole time I was forced to keep handing over my fear of my husband’s travels to my Great God. It was very hard. I wanted to scream in pain actually.

Have you ever been that fearful? That deep in worry? It’s pretty dark down there.

Early the next morning I called my husband before he went to work. He answered! He apologized and reassured me he was fine. He told me he left his phone in the car and didn’t realize it until he had left for work that morning. I was so relieved he was okay.

Thank you Lord!!

Fast forward four days later, my husband met back up with us at my parents’ house and was following us to the church’s last day VBS events. He didn’t exactly know how to get to their country church. So, I made sure he was following me.

Until I didn’t.

I completely lost him. IMG_3933.JPGA blaring ambulance came rushing by. It was all I could do to move over. I had an emergency of my own! I was backtracking to look for him, a wreck, anything!

We never found him on those roads. So we turned back to the church. On the way, we decided we needed to pray for Daddy’s safety. At this point even the kids were getting worried. So, we prayed.

“Lord, please protect Daddy. Help him to be okay and safe.”

I prayed in absolute fear. My son prayed in absolute faith.

“And Lord please help Daddy to find the church and meet us there.” He prayed.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Well, we got to the church parking lot and there was no sign of him. In my mind I was thinking I could absolutely not go thru another day wondering where he was. You see, this time, my son had his dad’s phone in the van with us. My husband had no way to communicate with us.

We turned the van around, and I turned around to the children. I told the them we would need to start heading toward the hospital.

Now, before you get to thinking I’m assuming he’s nearly dead. Hold on a minute!

The hospital I was referring to was the one he worked from earlier in the week. He had told me earlier that day he was going to go back by there later that day to finish up some things before meeting us at home.

See? I wasn’t as much of a worry wart as you thought! haha!

Just then, JJ said, “No mommy! I trust that God will bring Daddy to the parking lot like we prayed.”

Not a minute later, my husband’s car was spotted turning in on the other side of the parking lot.

“JJ, you taught me how to have faith and not fear! Praise God! Our Lord heard your prayer and honored your faith in Him to work!” I told him with absolute awe!

Oh me of little faith.

Sometimes as adults, we see so many things go wrong, we forget just how often our Lord works. We forget how good He really is!! This day, I was reminded of just how faithful our Lord is and how easily I had fallen into a habit of fearful thinking. Either I will fly in faith or fall in fear. God worked a miracle in our family’s life when He so quickly and specifically answered JJ’s prayer. Praise Him!

I told JJ never to forget how the Lord worked in our lives that day! God is building his faith! Praise God forevermore

Lord, help me not to forget that day. You taught me faith is an adventure, like flying. Lord, teach me to enjoy the ride as I anticipate Your hand lifting me thru the toughest experiences. You promise to be with us. Grow my faith oh Lord, I pray! And please contunue to grow my children’s too! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Seeking The Lord With Those Hopes And Dreams

Have you ever longed to do something for the Lord only to be sent down another path? A path that was not necessarily your dream? Me too, but it’s brought me hope through Christ lately, and I just wanted to share the story with you!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
binoculars-1209892_1920
             Tough circumstances can lead us to panic and quickly seek help with everything known to man. Do you know what I’m talking about, or am I the only one? I blame the internet! Haha! It’s so easy to attempt to find help these days-the latest health craze, the prettiest styles on Pinterest, the best method for getting your kiddo to sleep through the night, and while it’s good to try many of those, the truth is those things will never offer the peace that God longs to bring us as we draw near to Him first! I’ve had to learn this the harder way, and maybe you have too! You and I could sit down and talk, couldn’t we? 🙂 I’m so grateful to the Lord  because He has promised us that He will show us more and more of Himself and His good plan for us as we seek Him.
            Bless my heart! Even after all that seeking, I still don’t know the fastest way to get healthy (without sin creeping in and taking over, I might add-this has been such a process for me), or how to get rid of skin inflammation (what a process), or how to get my children to eat what I eat (*sigh), or how to find workers here who want to actually help me fix our house so that it’s not worse than it started (by the way, if you know of someone who enjoys fixing houses and does it well ’round here, please holla!) but I do know Who gives me Peace and Hope regardless of those circumstances. And it’s in Jesus! And it’s through Jesus! Praise the Lord for this gift. He is all we need!
 Christ died to give us all we need in Him as we remain in Him! Dare I say He is all we need even if all we do is suffer through this life!? Praise the Lord for such a gift! Our Hope is Christ indeed!
               With that said, I cannot thank you enough for all the support you’ve given me with the Her Hope Is Christ ministry.  It has been so fulfilling and so fun for me to get creative with no rules and just learn as I go! The Lord called me to reach out of my home in this way as I was coming out of difficulties with my health. From that time on I have had the opportunity to speak my heart to you, and I’m so grateful for your patience to listen, to pray for me, and let me grow.
            After much prayer this year, and this is hard, but I’m writing to let you know it’s time for me to let go of the Her Hope is Christ online Bible Study ministry and the Facebook page/group. I wasn’t going to write about it, but then I thought it might help me with closure so why not? Plus, maybe someone reading can relate with me.
             I think the Lord is leading me into a different direction for a while! This year, I’ve started taking baby steps of faith, and gradually I’ve found myself training on how to implement social communication therapy and facilitate social groups. I saw a need for social communication groups (especially for my own precious son) to help those who are longing to communicate more freely with their peers, who maybe have anxiety with growing deeper relationships, but don’t know how or need more practice. My heart breaks for children who are hurting or could potentially hurt from this. We need each other. Feeling disconnected from my own peers lately because of proximity and just being busy has made me more aware of the need for children to develop and practice these skills for life in a safe place!
              I’ve always tried to fight that speech therapy path, yet the Lord has placed me there time and time again. Y’all, I wanted to go to seminary and He said, “No!” Instead, He opened wide the doors to study communication disorders. It seemed all my friends went down the path of love, excitement, and willful determination while I went the path of dreaded obedience. Painful, hard obedience. I’ve felt so hurt that God would lead me to go down a path that didn’t seem to include worship or discipleship. I loved studying the Bible and helping people grow in a relationship with Him. How could it not be His will?
             But God graciously gave me a break from speech therapy over the past few years of motherhood and offered to me what I’ve always wanted-just pure ministry (as I imagined ministry to be), a few seminary classes, opportunities to lead worship, writing, and teaching, even speaking (which I never imagined I’d have the opportunity or ability to do!).
            It was as if He so sweetly kneeled down to me, looked me in the eyes, rubbed my frizzy head, and gave me what I’ve longed for. He filled me, loved me deeply, and affirmed me as no person on earth ever could. I  had sought affirmation from man to gain permission to serve the Lord. God wanted me to seek after Him as the only driving force to serve Him. Only God could fill me enough to selflessly pour out right where I am.

I sought affirmation of man to gain permission to serve the Lord. God wanted me to seek after Him as the only driving force to serve Him. Only God could fill me enough to selflessly pour out right where I am.

             That moment I first heard my son’s cry and saw his frowning face, my heart broke for his needs, and it was all I could do to hand him to the nurse. Similarly, I saw a need for him to have less anxiety ever since he was just a toddler with being with his peers. He wouldn’t let go of my leg until he was three. Precious boy! And I didn’t really want him to let go. There was a part of me that wanted to be needed. I believe God places that longing in our hearts to be needed that we might serve right where we are.

Ministry begins the moment we step out by faith into the needs right in front of us and it continues as we lean into the strength of the Lord to keep going, even if it means the death of us, our desires, and our dreams.

I couldn’t see speech therapy as a ministry because I was seeing ministry as a selfish ambition, a pursuit of my own identity.  My identity is not in ministry, that thing I do. It’s in the person of Christ and who He is making me to be! The Lord had to break me to help me see ministry is selfless love that looks to the needs of others. It has nothing to do with me.  As we surrender to the Lord’s will He will show us that this suffering, those sleepless nights, the feelings of inadequacy are all secret pains, which join us closer into the fellowship of Jesus.

               We can walk with Him through it, leaning into His strength and His Word. We can pray our hearts out, and He will listen! He will strengthen us, and He will enable us to endure it. He will comfort us, guide us, and y’all He even gives us joy in it. Praise Him!
              He had a plan: A plan to love me, personally affirm me,  guide and teach me. He took my dreams of ministry and He is meshing it in His perfect timing with the education He has given me. He’s enlarging my heart to love with what He’s given me right where I am! Maybe He will renew a new passion in me, giving me joy and passion in this job that I never knew! Only He could do that! Oh I pray He will! And in motherhood too! 🙂 Everyday I need His renewal!
             If you think of it, I’d greatly appreciate your prayers for focus and perseverance to learn all I can while preparing for these things. Also, please pray for time management. If the Lord leads me to do more work in this field, I have not worked out of the home my whole motherhood life, and it’s been 8 years now since I have! God bless those of you who balance both worlds. I’d love your insight and wisdom here!
           Thank you from the bottom of my heart for walking this road with me. It has been a pleasure!
Thank you Lord, for blessing us. Thank you for giving us Hope in Christ Jesus and a future with You by our side no matter what. Please help every lady reading know this Hope and to learn to anticipate a future with You, regardless of their circumstances. You are so good. Please help anyone reading here who feels stuck in a tough place know that You are near. Help them to find hope in what You have in store for them and to keep taking those baby steps of faith as they keep walking after You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
             In a world that seeks to be seen and known, may we be all the more persistent to see those around us, determine to know them, and affirm, encourage, inspire, serve and love them well. May God continue to bless you as you lean into His goodness, His strength, His sovereignty, and His love, which is deeper still. And may that relationship with Him, that growing love you have for your God and His presence, which is nestled in you and is always before you, continually ready you to give those hurting and hungry people you encounter a reason for your Hope-that is Jesus!!
In Christ’s Ever Ready Grace,
Sarah

If All the World’s A Stage…

Have you ever been caught up in fear about what people may think about you? Like many reality TV shows we have now, life can feel like we are up on this stage and everyone’s watching and critiquing everything we do! How do we know if we are good enough? Join me as we talk about the dangers of people pleasing and how to overcome it!

Imprisoned by Man’s Approval

We  finally chose to homeschool this fall and actually followed through with it! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, but I have been scared to death that I wouldn’t have the health to keep it up. I sort of chickened out last year at the last minute, you see. God has been faithful to provide with every baby step of faith I’ve taken (and even when I didn’t take them, He has carried  me!) Praise God!

Well, would you believe part of homeschooling means digging back into the deep, classical literature? 😉 (You forget that might happen). Now, I am finding myself revisiting these words, words which I barely read in school myself (and gladly put up on the back shelf of my brain long ago) for the sake of teaching them to my son! I’m learning all over again, folks. I hope I don’t lose some of you here…

Jaques:
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school…

( Act-II, Scene-VII, Lines 139-147, Shakespeare’s As You Like It)

Reading this concerned me, not so much because Shakespeare makes children seem depressing here (although he does, does he not?! I think it has something to do with his humor 😉 ). The depressing cloud I seemed to sit under with this little quote wasn’t even so much because I felt I needed to hide the “whining schoolboy” bit from my son, lest he might feel the need to keep that act up (a little too close to home, I’d say), but more so because life can seem depressing if we feel as if we’ve missed our act, that stage in life we thought we were supposed to take.

Or perhaps we might feel as if we aren’t doing our part as well as someone else is. We can look at those around us and wonder if they agree with us, or approve of what we are doing. “Do they even accept me for the nut I am?” We can even judge ourselves harshly because we are still stuck in the first Act or frozen in fear, unable to do what we’ve been called to do.

At some point, I believe we all have a tendency to forget the Kingly role of Christ and Who’s opinion matters most in all we say and do.

A Christian’s Role

We are all different, but as Christians, the thing which will always unite us is our common love of God-our desire to grow in our love of Him and our service to others.  We grow in this as we choose to live out no other role, but the “Christ-like” role as we follow after Christ. In so doing, we bring Him glory and please Him!

We can trust that He will help us to do our best in any circumstance because of Christ working in us as we surrender to His rule!  The tricky part is to focus on His opinion of us alone.

Understanding this has been a life-long struggle.

My Story

I grew up a preacher’s kid and a child who enjoyed performing every chance she got. Put both together with this perfectionist personality and you’ve got some great reasons for one to care greatly about the way others perceive her. Making new friends was a huge part of my life growing up, so social awareness was a skill I was always trying to get better at; then good behavior was very important because I was watched by everyone as the oldest sibling of a principal and preacher! “Carried by grace” is a great way to describe those years! 🙂

And then music was fun for me, so I grew up singing, playing piano, or dancing in one way or another all my life!  If I couldn’t get good enough at singing, I would try playing, and if I couldn’t get that down, I’d do some dancing, and if that didn’t work well enough, I’d go back to singing. I even tried my hand at a little acting (Mom would say a lot of acting 😉 )!

I was a bit of a stinker, always changing my focus, very similarly to how I changed schools and friends. I wouldn’t trade anything for all the lessons I’ve learned, the many friends I’ve met, and memories I cherish, but with it, there were challenges (like anyone!) Mine came with this continual need to be accepted.

Striving By Our Abilities Gets Us Nowhere

Over the years, the Lord has allowed me to use my interest in arts to serve Him only to be confronted with this thought, this fear each time that I’m not good enough. One random situation after another, the Lord kindly and graciously closed doors. Instead of seeing God’s goodness, protection, and sovereignty in it-that I’m just a big toe, I just work for Him* and it’s time to go to the next thing to which God calls me-I would see man’s disapproval, disapproval which rarely existed, but I saw it as such; it was this perspective that shaped my thinking, leading me to question in the deepest places of my heart if I would ever be good enough.

 I wanted to be good enough. I needed to be good enough.

Have you ever had a situation like that, where you felt you needed desperately to feel good enough? Was it your education? Your job as a stay-at-home mom? Your job? Your relationships? Your  weight? Your attempts to just be single and content right now? Or even to just be content with anything that comes your way-sickness, loss, getting older? I have struggled with every single one of these at some point and still do! You are not alone!

 

I have been in many of these situations, so worried about the way I’ve acted, sounded like, played, or appeared that I have lost the script Jesus gave me, to focus on Him and be like Him, and instead started watching and focusing on what others wanted me to say, act like, look like, and sound like. If I’m focusing on Jesus, I will do my best naturally with no fear of man! I will have an inner confidence in the Lord! I will be bold, courageous, and joyful in what I do!

The Plot of People Pleasing

The Lord graciously helped me to see the root of this problem was people pleasing.
I was greatly entangled with worries and fears, which kept me imprisoned.  Desiring man’s approval was burdening me to such a point that I was unable to freely worship God alone in my everyday life!rope-1030976_1920

Again, I wanted to be good enough. I needed to be good enough.

I wonder how many of us are distracted from growing deeper in our relationship with God because we are too consumed with how we convey ourselves to be? We just need someone, anyone to tell us we are good enough!

By pleasing people, we are forfeiting our Christ-like role and taking on a completely different plot, one that doesn’t bring God glory, but one that strives to bring glory to ourselves.

People pleasing takes our hearts and minds off loving others and our God and leaves us empty and possibly even bitter toward others.

Somehow my calling to grow in the grace and likeness of Christ just got all tangled up with these critical thoughts of how others perceive me. I allowed myself to get bound up; imprisoned by what I thought others were thinking and feeling.

When we are bound up by others’ perception of us, the truth is, we won’t be able to escape until we get their approval their acceptance.

What if, dear sister, we never receive it?

It is God’s role to judge our motives, not man. We can be freed in knowing we are not responsible to man for proving our motives!

I also managed to become my own critic. Instead of seeing God’s work in myself and anticipating more and more of His good work (and celebrating as it happens), I became consumed with what the enemy wanted me to believe about myself, keeping me further imprisoned with lies, things that do not define or identify me as God’s daughter, His beloved.

I must focus on Christ!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.…” Hebrews 12:1-2

Many of us are running hard, doing all we can to serve the Lord, putting off sin, putting on righteousness, I mean really running, but could it be possible we are forgetting the part about fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith? He knows where we’re going, and He alone is leading us there! No one else knows our personal path. We aren’t taking anyone else’s path but the one that Christ has set out for us, given our personal sin struggles, our trials, and our calling!

We don’t have to be occupied anymore with made up stories about what we think others are thinking about us or what we should be doing for man’s eyes. We can be freed from that by focusing on what is true!

We must remember who we are in Christ! Our Christ-like role, found only in the script of God’s Word, grounds us in any circumstance to be all we are called to be. I am a child of God! Man did not write my script! And he didn’t write yours either, sweet sister.

Instead of worrying about what others are thinking about our thoughts or actions, we can choose to think about what God knows of our honest hearts as we go to Him regularly in prayer, commune with Him, read His word, and lay our burdens and any sins with Him!

And sweet sister, we can surely rest in the fact that He is shaping us to be more like Christ, in His timing! He will finish what He has started in us!

So what if my “skills” are still growing? I am not performing, I am living with freedom in Christ! I will enjoy the journey!

So what if my “Act 1” seems to go on forever? It’s written by the Best!! It’s bound to be a good one!!

Lord, thank you for identifying us as your children, whom You love dearly. Forgive us and please stop our critical, judging hearts; help us to trust that You are working mightily in us! And Father, keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith that we might not be so quick to get consumed with the thoughts of those around us! Free us to be found in You alone.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen!

Questions: 

How could people pleasing be affecting your contentment with everyday life? Your passions? Your calling?

How could people pleasing be affecting your relationships with others? With Your God?

Find some things God is doing or has done today to encourage you, reassure you, or show His love and acceptance of you and write them down! A song? Scripture? A circumstance? Look for it and anticipate it!  Sing His praises as you do and share it!! 

****DOES THIS TOPIC INTEREST YOU FURTHER? A great resource for the New Year from which I referenced, “I’m just a big toe; I just work for Him” comes from  Keller’s book: The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy by Timothy Keller (Amazon prime gives free audio credits and can be used for an audio version of this book!)

 

November Online Women’s Bible Study!

Happy Thanksgiving!

joy-and-contentment-bible-study

Joy and Contentment are two attitudes we all long to grow in! This Thanksgiving season, Her Hope Is Christ will be holding a one week Online Bible Study looking at chapter 4 of Philippians! Join us!

Here’s the idea behind it and further details:

When you think of in-depth Bible Study, what comes to mind? There was a time when I thought this was for someone else. I knew to read God’s Word, but to understand and apply everything I read seemed like only something I could do if spoon-fed by another. In college, the Lord opened my eyes as I was invited to an amazing feast of knowledge, understanding, and such a rich time of joy and satisfaction to be enjoyed first-hand at a beautiful table with the most Cherished Friend I’ve ever found. I can hardly wait for us to sit with Him together and feast! 🙂

Who: For any woman who has 5-15 minutes a day to spare at any time of the day, and wants to experience understanding and application of scripture first-hand!

What: A free 7-day Online Bible Study in Philippians, chapter 4 on Joy and Contentment. The study guide will lead us through an inductive Bible Study with small increments stretched out for each day. We will each benefit from praying before and after our personal study using the ACTS acronym (Adoration (for who He is), Confession (of any lingering sins), Thanksgiving (for what He’s done), and Supplication (asking for help for ourselves and/or others.) The entire study for each day should take 15 minutes or less once you get the hang of it! If you want to spend more time, just head to the next day or dig deeper with the day you’re on!

The Bible Study group will meet everyday at anytime you choose. I will post hints for how to effectively study that particular day as well as post probing questions for us to talk about in response to our reading and studies.

There are two components to the study:

  • Personal Inductive Bible study using a study guide I’ve created in the form of a brochure with color-coded instructions for everyday!
  • Modified Communal Bible Study where we will discuss what we found and noticed in our personal study as well as listen to others’ experiences and comment on each!

What you will need: The Her Hope Is Christ First-Hand Bible Study Guide. I will send you a link to download and print it. You will need a reference Bible or you can use esvbible.org! You will also benefit from having a concordance and dictionary for DAY 4 (Strongs and Websters are fine) or you can go online to biblestudytools.com and google.com to find them. Finally, it would be great if you can locate a good commentary or two for DAY 5, also at biblestudytools.com. My favorite go-to commentary link there is the Matthew-Henry Commentary, but there are many great ones. I will direct you with a good one on our Facebook group page the day we look at commentaries, so it will be easy to find it!

If you like color-coding things, here’s a great pen-set to order which matches the coloring I’ve used for the study guide. You could use them for writing in your Bible to remember what you’ve learned; however, you do not need them to do this study. It’s just extra!

Where: We will meet online each day on the Her Hope Is Christ: Women’s Online Bible Study page.

When: Starting Monday, November 21st through Sunday November 27th.

Why: God’s Word is the foundation for growing our faith! It can be challenging to decide on what to study and when to study it. So often, we are left to read from someone else’s findings and feel too overwhelmed to understand and apply scripture for ourselves. My purpose in facilitating this study is to give us an opportunity to commit ourselves to Bible Study and prayer everyday for one week for just 15 minutes ( more or less) and to offer an opportunity for fellowship and accountability with other believing women! This study will be a great opportunity to learn how to do in-depth Bible Study simply or grow in your experience of understanding and applying scripture first-hand! Once you learn how to do this, you can apply it to any scripture you choose! You won’t even need the brochure; you can just write it out in your journal or Bible! Join me!

How: Please email me at sarahreutter@gmail.com, comment to my personal relevant link on Facebook, or message me on Facebook to sign up for the study. I will add you to the Facebook group page where you will receive a link to the study guide! A video is posted on the Facebook group page to show you how to use it. Please review it prior to the start date!

Remember-If you are interested, please email, message me, or comment on Facebook so I can add you to the Facebook group for our November Online Bible Study and add you to the Facebook group! I look forward to feasting and dining, conversing and learning with you, sweet sister!

❤ Sarah

One Week Women’s Online Bible Study: OCTOBER 2016

Let’s Feast Together! When you think of in-depth Bible Study, what comes to mind? There was a time when I thought this was for someone else. I knew to read God’s Word, but to understand…

Source: One Week Women’s Online Bible Study: OCTOBER 2016

One Week Women’s Online Bible Study: OCTOBER 2016

feast.jpg

Let’s Feast Together!

When you think of in-depth Bible Study, what comes to mind? There was a time when I thought this was for someone else. I knew to read God’s Word, but to understand and apply everything I read seemed like only something I could do if spoon-fed by another. In college, the Lord opened my eyes as I was invited to an amazing feast of knowledge, understanding, and such a rich time of joy and satisfaction to be enjoyed first-hand at a beautiful table with the most Cherished Friend I’ve ever found. I can hardly wait for us to sit with Him together and feast! :)

Who: For any woman who has 5-15 minutes a day to spare at any time of the day, and wants to experience understanding and application of scripture first-hand!

What: A free 7-day Online Bible Study in Psalm 34 on Fear. The study guide will lead us through an inductive Bible Study with small increments stretched out for each day. We will each benefit from praying before and after our personal study using the ACTS acronym (Adoration (for who He is), Confession (of any lingering sins), Thanksgiving (for what He’s done), and Supplication (asking for help for ourselves and/or others.) The entire study for each day should take 15 minutes or less once you get the hang of it! If you want to spend more time, just head to the next day or dig deeper with the day you’re on!

The Bible Study group will meet everyday at anytime you choose. I will post hints for how to effectively study that particular day as well as post probing questions for us to talk about in response to our reading and studies.

There are two components to the study:

  1. Personal Inductive Bible study using a study guide I’ve created in the form of a brochure with color-coded instructions for everyday!
  2. Modified Communal Bible Study where we will discuss what we found and  noticed in our personal study as well as listen to others’ experiences  and comment on each!

What you will need: The Her Hope Is Christ First-Hand Bible Study Guide. I will send you a link to download and print it. You will need a reference Bible or you can use esvbible.org! You will also benefit from having a concordance and dictionary for DAY 4 (Strongs and Websters are fine) or you can go online to biblestudytools.com and google.com to find them. Finally, it would be great if you can locate a good commentary or two for DAY 5, also at biblestudytools.com. My favorite go-to commentary link there is the Matthew-Henry Commentary. If you like color-coding things, here’s a great pen-set to order which matches the coloring I’ve used for the study guide. You could use them for writing in your Bible to remember what you’ve learned; however, you do not need them to do this study. It’s just extra!

Where: We will meet online each day on the Her Hope Is Christ: Women’s Online Bible Study page.

When: Starting Monday, October 24th through Sunday October 30.

Why: God’s Word is the foundation for growing our faith! It can be challenging to decide on what to study and when to study it. So often, we are left to read from someone else’s findings and feel too overwhelmed to understand and apply scripture for ourselves. My purpose in facilitating this study is to give us an opportunity to commit ourselves to Bible Study and prayer everyday for one week for just 15 minutes ( more or less) and to offer an opportunity for fellowship and accountability with other believing women! This study will be a great opportunity to learn how to do in-depth Bible Study simply or grow in your experience of understanding and applying scripture first-hand! Once you learn how to do this, you can apply it to any scripture you choose! You won’t even need the brochure; you can just write it out in your journal or Bible! Join me!

How: Please email me at sarahreutter@gmail.com, comment to my personal relevant link on Facebook, or message me on Facebook to sign up for the study. I will add you to the Facebook group page where you will receive a link to the study guide! A video will be posted on the Facebook group page to show you how to use it prior to the start date!

Remember-If you are interested, please email, message me, or comment on Facebook so I can add you to the Facebook group for our  October Online Bible Study and add you to the Facebook group! I look forward to feasting and dining, conversing and learning with you, sweet sister!

❤ Sarah