Finding the “Holes” in our Faith

Over the past few weeks, people have said several times on the news and social media that this pandemic is really shedding light on the “holes” we have in our healthcare. So there is a silver lining in all of this – that we will be able to improve and better our healthcare after this is over based on what we now know. In all fairness to our healthcare providers, no one could be prepared for a pandemic of this nature even if our system was perfect.

But there are other “holes” I am finding throughout this experience. They are the “holes” in my faith. I am realizing in the midst of something out of my control that is scary and unknown, my faith is not what I thought. It’s not as strong. It’s not a solid. It wavers and gives into fear. It doesn’t trust with my whole heart. It is imperfect.

James 1:2-8 descibes what I have been feeling after sitting with this thought yesterday…

“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (NIV)VOTD October 4 - Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James‬ ‭1:2-3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The beautiful thing about this verse is it acknowledges we will have or faith tested. But when those tests and trials come we need to push through with determination and purpose. It says that we need to allow this determination to “finish it’s work,” meaning our faith isn’t complete and has holes in it. This verse acknowledges that we may not have a complete and mature faith. This verse gives us grace.

But then it continues on by giving us hope that we can continue to grow and strengthen our faith if we ask for it directly from God. He says in verse 5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” He promises us that if we ask for wisdom to make our faith stronger that God will give it to us. 

He also says this in verse 6-8 “ But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” We have to believe that God will deliver the wisdom and faith we need without any doubts. For if we doubt we will not receive anything from God. It says we will be double-minded and unstable in all we do. 

How many times have I felt conflicted in my thoughts and decisions, like I was double-minded? How many times have I felt like my decisions may be unstable?

About two weeks ago when the governor placed a “stay at home order” on the state of Illinois, I was relieved because I was comforted to know that we could all be in quarantine and safe from this vicious virus that was so unpredictable. After all of the news reports and social media posts I had been reading about how severe of a threat this virus could be, even to younger and healthier people, I was ready to shut my doors with my family safe inside and just be isolated. That gave me comfort. But then Chad’s company determined they were “essential workers” and he would have to continue to go into work. I remember feeling the grip of fear and doubt. I was scared that he would contract this virus, that he could bring it home….. I saw pictures in my mind of all 4 of us unable to breathe and dying together at home (worst case scenario). I became “irrational and unstable” because of the fear. I was starting to think of things like “Where could Chad stay where he would be isolated from us so we wouldn’t all have to be exposed?” I was starting to scour the internet for bottles of Lysol so I could disinfect our house even more than usual. I began contemplating all of the scenarios in my head that I could until I had to slow my mind down and turn my thoughts to God.

There was a verse that came to mind from Psalm 46: 1-3

God is our refuge and strength,If life hands you lemons, make lemon cupcakes!! GOD is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.”

 

and then one from Proverbs 18:10

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
    the righteous run to it and are safe.”

God was reminding me that He was my safe place. He was going to be the place I could run to when I was scared. He would be there with us every step of the way and we were not alone. He knows the future and He has a perfect plan for me and my family – whatever that may entail. He brought me His truth in that moment and I had a peace that I hadn’t had before.

I had decided then and there that I would persevere through this age of coronavirus with faith and trust instead of doubt and fear. I would come out on the other end of this withstanding this trial with faith. James 1:12 says

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of lifethat the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

Illustration of James 1:12 — Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

 

TODAY’S THOUGHT: Where are the “holes” in your faith? Are you as strong as you thought? Do you trust in God completely when things are spiraling our of your control? Will you ask Him to equip you with the faith you need to get through this time of isolation? 

Daughter of the King

At our Women of Worth event at my church I had the privilege to share a devotional that I had not intended to write, but was prompted by the Lord to do so. I hope and pray it speaks to your heart so you know your worth in Him!

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“For as long as I can remember I have loved the thought of being a princess…. What little girl doesn’t at some point dream of that? But many times throughout my life I have felt more like the a lady in waiting, not worthy of being called royalty. I have always been a fan of the Princess Diaries movies from Disney. I mean what one of us wouldn’t love to find out that have been a princess all along? That we have a castle? A kingdom to serve? How incredible would that be? But here is the good news….. we ARE all princesses! We will inherit the Kingdom of God as His heirs! He has called us, as His daughters, to serve His people right here on Earth, so that they too will know their inheritance as heirs of the Kingdom as well.

Hear these words ladies and KNOW they are true.

1 John 3:1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.

John says that God gave those who believe in Him the right to be called children of God, therefore I am His daughter. As the King of Kings, that makes me a princess and heir to the Kingdom of God.

There are so many days where I feel like the kingdom servant instead of a princess, while doing the daily grind of chores, parenting my children , and keeping my house in order. But a speaker once told me about how she had to remind herself of her royal status by taking these moments and making them a moment to feel like a princess. She used to vacuum with a tiara on her head…. So of course, I had to try this! And many times if you drop by my house when I am vacuuming, you would see my tiara on the top of my head! Because now I wasn’t a servant in my house… I was the Princess that was serving her people as God called her to do.

There are days I feel like I am not living as royalty and am failing as a princess. I look in the mirror and I see all of the flaws and failures. I see someone who needs to be more patient, more loving, less selfish, needs to take better care of herself, her family, etc. But that isn’t what our Father sees. He sees us as His children with unconditional love. He calls us BEAUTIFUL!  Our Father – THE KING – calls us His children and is enthralled by our beauty…. Check out Psalm 45!

And someday He will call us Home to the Kingdom and we will be with Him forever. He has prepared a room in the Kingdom for us….. mine will look like a room in Cinderella’s castle from Disney world. But until that time, we wait in anticipation for the Father to return just as an eager child waits at the window for “Daddy” to come home from work. When we return to our heavenly home with Him He will recognize us as His daughters because it says so in His love letters to us — the Bible!

This morning as we come together to have fellowship with our sisters at our tables, while we learn together about this inheritance we possess, and serve together for the Kingdom of our Father, I pray that you begin to feel like the princess you truly are. You are a daughter of GOD! Even on days when you feel wounded, like an outcast, lonely and afraid, remember you possess the inherent right to be regal, powerful, confident, joyful, a peacemaker, an overcomer who is loyal, faithful, and seeks above all to bring honor to our Father’s name and reputation.

So polish up your crowns and let’s act like the royalty we are.”

 

 

Quit “Shoulding” Me!

This past weekend I was privileged to have the opportunity to serve at the Hearts 2 conference by Ignite the Family in Peoria, IL. Typically I am so busy serving that I am unable to hear the speakers, but I was honored to get to hear our Saturday morning speaker, Grace Johnson who is a gifted speaker and potter.

While Grace spoke and began to make the most beautiful pitcher on her pottery wheel, she shared her story. One of the most profound things I hear her say was when she decided to tell the world and the church to Stop “shoulding” her. It spoke directly to my core. So what does that mean?

Many of us recognize that the world puts demands on us that are unnecessary which can lead to having perfectionist tendencies. Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram all show the best of everyone’s homes, cooking skills, families, etc. Everything is perfect and in it’s place – therefore it’s photo-worthy – ready to share with the world. It says “Look at how perfect we can be!” That’s something we have talked about and recognized for a while now. Jill Savage calls it the “Perfection Infection” which infects many of us, especially women.

Grace spoke to this and wanted to end some of these things that world “shoulds” us to do. These things are NOT God’s truth.

  • We should make sure are clothes are all put together and presentable at all times. Including hair and makeup.
  • We should be successful in all aspects of our careers.
  • We should have kids that behave at all times in public no matter what.
  • As Christians, we should have kids that turn out as Christians just like us.  They won’t be in jail, won’t get pregnant outside of wedlock, and won’t be jobless. If we did our jobs as parents, they would turn out good.

These things are not truths of God. Instead He reminds us in Romans 12:2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” We don’t have to listen to the “shoulding” of the world and we need to focus on God’s truth for us.

But many times as Christians we are under the assumption that “the church” (as a whole – not individual buildings) tells us the truth because they are supposed to be acting under God’s Word. But unfortunately that isn’t always true.

  • We should smile and tell everyone “I’m fine” on Sunday mornings.
  • We should serve on all of the committees and ministries we are asked because we will be more blessed the more we serve.
  • We should give our money without hesitation and trust that the church is going to be good stewards.
  • We should have happy homes where there are no major problems happening.
  • We should _____________________________________________________. (fill in the blank)

Again, not all of these are God’s truth, but truths that are man-made. This isn’t what God says about us at all. He says we are lovely and perfect the way He made us. He continues to hold us and love on us because we are HIS. He wants us to come to Him with our hurts and imperfections. He wants us to be real, raw, and, honest with Him, so He can comfort us and guide us.

As I watched Grace share her story and reveal how she walks in freedom everyday because she told all these other voices to “Quit Shoulding Me!” Instead she listens to truth from the Father and walks in the freedom He has given her.

So many times my frustrations don’t come from the “shoulding’ from the world, but the ones that come from the church. The pressure and guilt I feel when I have to say “no” to serving in some capacity is immense and gets in the way of my joy while at church. So many times when I am serving in more than one capacity at church, I feel like I have lost my passion for serving because I am burning out. Romans 12:11 says “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Instead we must find what we are passionate about, what gifts we have and bring, and serve in that capacity with passion and zeal! 1 Peter 4:10 says “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” We should ask ourselves if we are being good stewards of our gifts and using them in the way God wants us to. Or are we just saying “YES” out of obligation or because the church says we “SHOULD?” 

TODAY’S THOUGHT: What “shoulding” do you need to stop listening to in your life?

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My response to the Bachelor Fantasy Suites February 2020…

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I have been watching the Bachelor since 2006 when I was a single girl in my apartment dreaming of my own love story. I used to get captivated in the romantic settings, dates, and of course those long dramatic stares into the Bachelor’s eyes…

Now 14 years later I am still captivated by this “reality” TV show because I am a sucker for watching shows about people and how they live. I love watching  and studying their personalities, stories, and their characters.

This season has been less than thrilling, even though Chris Harrison has promised it will be the “most dramatic season yet.” Same old drama between the girls, same internal conflict with the Bachelor who is in love with more than one girl…. nothing new…. or is there?!

Last night we saw Madison, one of the finalists, who has been vocal about her faith through her actions and then last night through her words as well. Madison has not allowed herself to get caught up in the other girls drama and has carried herself through this process with dignity and class. She has also been very strong expressing her convictions to wait to have sex until her wedding night. Since this was the fantasy suite week where the finalists are allowed an overnight date (which allows for a more physical relationship to form – usually sex), Madison had pulled Peter aside and had expressed to him that she wasn’t sure she could continue in this process if he was going to become physically intimate with the other two girls. She didn’t want to give him an ultimatum but wanted him to know where her heart was. Ultimately, Peter chose to spend the night with these other two women in their fantasy suite during their overnight dates and then was upfront with Madison on the evening of their fantasy suite date. She handled herself with grace and poise, even though her heart was breaking because he hadn’t put value on her words a few nights before about her ultimatum. After watching a heartbreaking conversation where she stood very strong in her convictions and didn’t allow her standards to lessen, she eliminated herself from the show.

As I was processing through what just happened on national television, I kept thinking of this verse that has always been a big part of my life (especially through my teenage years). Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Madison just showed Christian girls everywhere that you should value yourself enough to not hold yourself to the world’s standards, but to hold yourself to the standards laid out in the Bible. She also told young women everywhere to value themselves enough to not settle for something less than what you want. She knows her value and wants her future spouse to value her in the same regard.

She didn’t portray it as being an easy choice, because let’s be honest, making the right choice isn’t always the easiest option. She was heart-broken and disappointed. But she knew that Jesus has a plan for her and is trusting in that instead of trusting in her feelings for Peter alone.

As I watched this unfold and processed through it, it gave me hope for my own daughter. I pray that Lucy will someday hold herself to a high standard because she is worth it. Her value shouldn’t just be in what the world (or even her future husband) thinks of her. It should be the value that Jesus places on her. He loved her enough to die on cross for her. He calls her beautiful and His princess. He says in Proverbs 3:5 “She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.” My prayer is that Lucy will always know that worth and continue to follow God’s standards, not the world’s.

CHALLENGE: This week let’s pray for our daughters and sons. Pray that they will come to know their worth to God and continue to hold themselves to a high standard. Pray that they will go against the grain in this world and shine their lights for Jesus.