How to Stand Firm In Spiritual Warfare

Raising Our Kids Means War

Motherhood is warfare. My middle child started boldly telling me “no” this week.—“No. I will not take a nap.”—“No. I don’t want to clean up toys.” And before I howled back with anger, the Spirit howled inside my soul, “Our battle is not against flesh and blood,”—even my own flesh and blood.

Breathe. Pray. Respond.

Mamas, there’s a real, cosmic spiritual battle in the heavenly places that is fiercely warring for our hearts and the hearts of our kids. Satan does NOT want us to live for Jesus. He will do whatever necessary to discourage, distract, or destroy our walks with God—whatever necessary.

But we need not cower—or worry. ‘Cause God’s got us covered and empowers us to live like war-time heroes.

But how?

How can we live like spiritual warriors while running kids to practice, whipping up taco dinners, and texting emails while waiting in line at the bank?

Ephesians 6 tells us. (more…)

1 Book You Need To Read—About Women in the Bible

Book Review for Vindicating the Vixens

Book Review: Vindicating the Vixens

 

Vindicating the Vixens revealed to me the real vixen in my spiritual life: my tendency to read Scripture with opinions and judgements. I missed some key considerations in the stories about women in the Bible—considerations that change my perception and reveal God’s heart for women (and men) in profound ways.

As a mamas, it’s important to pass on an accurate view of God through the stories the Bible teaches us. But what if we don’t see the whole picture? As a professor once told me, we need to see the world in front of the text we read so we know by which perspective to understand the meaning. Vindicating the Vixens helps us with painting that picture of the world in which the stories take place.

I don’t want to ruin all the “Ah ha!” moments for you, so I will leave you hanging, but I’ll tell you: I never had compassion on Vashti from the Book of Esther—and now I do. I always read the story of the women at the well with judgement for having had five husbands—but now I don’t judge. Curious yet?

Here Are Some Things I Liked:

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What is True When You Slam Into Hard Times

Ephesians 6

Sometimes hard life stuff slams us to the floor. Like when dad died right after my engagement—or when my first-born arrived with a hole in his diaphragm—or when my brother-in-law committed suicide two days after hubs graduated from seminary—or when mom died the day before my birthday—or when a scam moving company stole all our belongings.

Difficult stuff happens every day. It might not be so dramatic. It might be a cruel boss—fighting kids—financial pressure—difficult neighbors. You know your hard life stuff.

What we don’t always see is the spiritual battle amongst it all—the battle over our hearts and the hearts of all who are made in the image of God.

So, what is true when we slam into hard times?

How can we endure? Watch and/or listen to this week’s “Whatever Is True” video.

 

How to Trade in Not Enough for Living Loved

My Journey in Galatians

My first six years of motherhood I lived pulled tight like a tug-of-war rope. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home that taught me the Bible, the Gospel, or the way to follow Jesus. I also didn’t know how to make home. How do I manage to keep a house clean? And how do I raise a child to know Jesus—and eat their broccoli? I really wanted to rock it, but I never was enough.

So I pulled out checklists, tugged on self-sufficiency, and clung tightly to a perfect mom image—and I fell in the mud of depression, anger, and failure.

But then God took the rope.

Do you ever play tug-of-war with measuring up? Striving to do enough so you can be enough?

Oh, sweet mama. There is a better way for living and the Book of Galatians shows us.

Living Loved

Photo Thanks To Unsplash

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God Has a Gift For You This Valentine’s

Romans 3:23-24

I have a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s. I love making cards with the kids and reminding people I love them—I hate the expectations of needing to do something. Kind of feels fake if it’s expected.

And then there’s the question, what is love? If it were up to marketing, love must come with roses and diamonds—or breakfast in bed—or kissing on the beach at sunset. Then come kids and the love picture shifts. Love now looks like pictures of mom and dad kissing in a field while kids go crazy.

Whatever picture of love we grasp for, the gifts it offers don’t last. Like a dozen roses, they seem sweet for a moment, but just wither and are thrown out with the weekly trash.

But God has something greater for us, ladies. God has a gift for you this Valentine’s. It’s not wrapped in foil. It doesn’t melt in our mouth. But, oh, it’s the sweetest gift of love—and it’s yours this Valentine’s. Listen below.

God has a Gift For You This Valentine's (more…)

How to Experience God’s Love When You Feel Unloved

3 Things I Learned From Depression

My thoughts trapped me in a dark pit. When I attempted to climb the slippery walls, of “just try harder,” I’d fall back down, more bruised and depressed. God’s love grew dim.

Just try harder. Keep your house clean—serve your husband—teach your kids—be creative—cook healthy—serve the poor—volunteer—start a business—get in shape—be like that other mom. Just try harder.

And as the weeks lagged on, I felt more miserable, constantly failing to measure up — and I no longer felt loved by God.

I labeled myself: unlovable.

Although I believed in the Gospel, I added my list of qualifications on top of grace.

The same thing happened to the Galatians in Paul’s day. So, what can we learn from the Galatians?

How can we experience God’s love?

How to Experience God's Love When You Feel Unloved

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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1 Truth About Love When You Feel Unloved

1 John 4:10

Valentines, the Holiday of Love, produces a sour candy taste in my mouth. There were many years the Day of Chocolate simply made me feel unloved. Unwanted. Overlooked. True love—the kind that frees you and fills you— is not sold on a stem or tasted in an overpriced steak.

So here is 1 truth about love—whether you feel loved or unloved.

Listen to this week’s blog video and stay tuned for the post later this week: “How to experience God’s love Everyday.”

1 truth about love when you feel unloved

Photo thanks to unsplash

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3 Things You Can Do When You Feel Stuck

Genesis 39

One of the hardest things in life is feeling stuck. I’ve been there many times. Like the month we waited for doctors to tell us if my son would live and we could take him home—or the time I had a demeaning boss, but needed the job—or the time God told me to quit my ministry job to be home full-time, where I pick up toys and change diapers over and over…and over. And I felt stuck.

Have you ever felt stuck? Are you stuck right now? 

What can we do in our stuck places?

Let’s take a look at Joseph’s life from Genesis 39 to show us 3 things we can do when we feel stuck.

Joseph’s Slavery

Joseph, the beloved son of Jacob (Israel), is stuck in a big way, as told in the book of Genesis in the Bible. His jealous brothers sold him into slavery to traveling opportunists, who then sold him to Potiphar, captain of the Pharaoh’s bodyguard.

Joseph is stuck in a land far from home as a slave.

But God.

God was with Joseph and gave him great success, so Slave-Owner Pharaoh took notice.

But he didn’t just take notice about how everything assigned to Joseph flourished, He credited the LORD for flourishing Joseph.

Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. (Gen. 39:3)

We cannot be sure exactly how Pharaoh knew the LORD caused Joseph’s flourishing, but we can imagine. Maybe Joseph only ate the things God permitted—like sheep and goats, but refrained from delicacies of unclean animals. He certainly didn’t worship their false idols. Whatever the details, Joseph lived in such a way that the LORD received the credit for His flourishing. People knew Joseph worshipped the God of the Hebrews.

So, what can we do in our stuck places?

ACTION 1: Worship the Lord in your stuck place.

Worship sets our spirit on the Lord, rather than our problems. Like right now, we are pretty sure we will never see our belongings from our move from Texas this summer. All of our beloved books, presents from my mom who passed…and on and on. We are angry, sad, and stuck. But God. When I praise Him for providing what we do have—like a home, food, family—my heart breaks free from bitterness and walks in gratitude. But I’m constantly having to fight the battle.

Joseph had his own battle to fight in following God too.

Joseph’s Temptation

Joseph was the most eligible bachelor in the kingdom—a good-looking, wise, strong, and successful leader. And Pharaoh’s wife wanted him for her pleasure.

Here he was, in-charge of Pharaoh’s whole life, that the King only needed to think about what he wanted to eat (Gen. 39:6). I imagine He enjoyed the popularity and respect with such a high position, but the Biblical story doesn’t mention Joseph climbing to pride.

Then slides in the Pharaoh’s wife, the slithering seductress, to entice him with the fruit of her passions, Joseph replies “How could I sin against God?” (paraphrase Gen. 39:9)

Joseph kept obeying God—even with all his influence and responsibility—even when the most powerful woman in Egypt wanted him.

ACTION 2: Obey the LORD in your stuck place.

This sometimes comes at a great cost. As we see with Joseph’s story, it lands him in the dungeon—now a prisoner and slave.

Temptation might find you in your stuck place. For me, I was tempted to blame God for my son’s sickness. I was tempted to mouth off to my demeaning boss. I was tempted to quit the full-time motherhood thing and get a day job.

But in trusting and obeying God, I experienced Immanuel, God with us.

God was with Joseph too—and even in the dungeon God showed him purpose.

Joseph’s Dungeon

Just as the Lord was with Joseph in his work with Pharaoh, He is also with Joseph in the dungeon, extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the eyes of the chief jailer. (Gen. 39:21)

So the chief jailer placed Joseph over all the other prisoners and God caused Joseph’s work to prosper.

Joseph served the LORD in diligence in his stuck places.

ACTION 3: Serve the LORD in your stuck place.

It’s so hard to extend our hands when they feel tied. But as we look beyond ourselves, we can begin to see a purpose in the place we feel stuck.

When my son almost died, God used us to share the hope of Jesus with other parents in the NICU. When I worked with a mean boss, God used my perseverance and blessed me with becoming the #1 sales associate for the region. And in the mundane activities of motherhood, God is showing me the beauty of the simple things and the delight of watching my children form into who God created them to be.

Joseph’s Story Continued

God was not done with Joseph. Although it took years, a famine, and some extravagant forgiveness—God brought Joseph’s father and brothers back together with him and continued to flourish the work of His hands.

So, What Can We Do In Our Stuck Place?

  • Worship the LORD
  • Obey the LORD
  • Serve the LORD by serving others around you

Of course this also means praying and reading God’s Word. Worship, obedience, and service all flow out of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Being Stuck Still Stinks

Even though we find purpose in stuck places, we are still stuck. We may feel like God has forgotten about us.

I’ve struggled with this. Most recently when we searched for a job for eight months and it seemed like all bread crumbs of connections led to famine. I had to stand on my belief that God was with me more than my feelings.

I had to remind myself of the truths of God’s Word. I had to pray incessantly just to make it through the day.

But even in these places—just like Joseph—the LORD is with us. (Gen. 39:2,21)

3 Things You Can Do When You Feel Stuck:

Worship the LORD

Obey the LORD

Serve the LORD by serving others

 

Question: How have you seen God at work in a stuck season in your life? Please share to encourage others. To leave a comment, just click here.

 

 

1 Thing Dad’s Death Taught Me About Life

Psalm 139

Dad fell while washing his hands in the office restroom. He gained consciousness and slowly rose from the grey tile floor. Confused. Scared. Bruised. He called a cab from his cell to drive him to the emergency room. They inspected his body with a glance and hurried listening, then wrote a script for antibiotics.

“Maybe it’s an ear infection,” The doc said.

A couple weeks later, his morning alarm beeped and he rolled over to slide into his house slippers—but half of his body wouldn’t roll. He told mom to call 911, thinking he had a stroke while sleeping.

1 Thing Dad's Death Taught Me About Life

Photo thanks to Unsplash

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