Now You See Me

Last year I was at a point in my single life when I was uninterested in men who were uninterested in me. Fed up with dead-end “friendships” with emotionally unavailable and unresponsive men, I prayed the prayer I almost regretted. I asked God to protect me from men who didn’t have my best interest at heart. If he wasn’t the man I would marry, then you could count me out.

But what if that prayer is slightly off the mark? What about the men I could positively impact during my season of singleness? What about the men God would call me to serve alongside? What about the men who have never experienced the beauty of femininity, confidence, and grace from a woman who loves Jesus? What if asking God to hide me is selfish? What if there is a more powerful prayer?

Photo Credit: m_bartosch via FreeDigitalPhotos.net, royalty-free

Photo Credit: m_bartosch via FreeDigitalPhotos.net, royalty-free

When I met my boyfriend, he was more refreshing than an ice cold glass of water on a sweltering summer day in the south; more refreshing than a warm shower on a wintry night; more refreshing than a hearty meal after a season of fasting; more refreshing than… well, you get my point. I wasn’t paying any attention to him, but he saw me. Shortly after we met, I had a lunch engagement with my mentor. There she challenged me to ask God what this young man’s purpose was in my life and what purpose I should serve in his life. Every man you meet is not going to be your knight in shining armor. Every man is not your potential, and should not be treated as such. You may be who God uses to show him how Christian women conduct themselves. You may be who God uses to show him that all women are not seductive and manipulative. You may be who God uses to minister the gospel of Jesus through your testimony of purity and unwavering dedication to Christ. Our purpose in a man’s life could lead to a wedding ring, but our first order of business is to demonstrate the love of Christ.

Although I knew I was beginning to develop feelings for him, I kept everything in perspective by allowing Jesus to guard my heart, emotions, and intentions. All I asked was for Jesus to be glorified in however this relationship was to progress. Some time had passed since my last lunch date with my mentor. This time when she asked about my budding relationship, I told her I believed he was the one my heart had been waiting for. She asked me how I knew. I told her, “Because God allowed him to see me.”

I have always looked this way, written this way, and loved this way. Like an abstract sculpture that few people notice, people have walked past me with little appreciation, but only one man stopped to see me for the masterpiece that I am.

It was that moment when I realized the stunning beauty of those words. This man’s eyes had been opened and he had the vision to behold the beauty (and flaws) that make up who I am. He knows me because he wanted to know me. He listens to me because he wanted to listen to me. He understands me because he wanted to understand me. But he loves me because he sees me, and he sees me because God opened his eyes and placed me in his line of sight.

So, what if the more powerful prayer isn’t to be hidden but to be seen by the man who is sent from God? To be hidden can be lonely, but to be seen and known is the deepest desire in the heart of every woman. Asking to be visible makes us ready for God’s use. Let’s be unafraid to be seen by men. Let’s ask God for His purposes for the men in our lives. Let’s ask God to lead people in our lives we can impact, and who will positively impact ours. Let’s be willing vessels for His good during our singleness. Let us be fully seen by Jesus, and ask to be seen by the man who will vow to love us until the end of time.

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Single and Satisfied through Community

I am fully persuaded that being in a healthy, thriving, God-centric community will change your life. Really. I have witnessed the greatest expressions of God’s love, majesty, grace, healing and power through my small group. At the beginning of this year, God placed it on my heart and the hearts of a few other ladies to dig deeper into His word and into community. I remember a conversation I had with my friend, Kristi, about how desperately I needed a community of sisters who wanted more of Jesus. So we went to God and by his grace we began to meet with some ladies who shared our desire for more. We came with no plans, goals, or expectations except that we would facilitate a place every week for us to encounter God. People have asked us what we do on Wednesday nights to which I simply retort, “We open the Bible and see what happens.”

Today I am especially filled with unspeakable joy after this past Wednesday’s study session. We’ve just recently begun reading and discussing Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge. Anyone who knows me (or follows me on Twitter) is aware that I am a huge supporter of Captivating because God used it to begin healing my heart. Naturally, this seemed like a great study for our group because I believe God wants to heal the broken hearts of the women in His Church (Click to Tweet!). Wednesday afternoon I asked God to do something new and fresh, to melt our hard hearts until we’re ready to be vulnerable and open to our desires, our dreams, and our wounds (so they can be healed). Simply, I wanted God to come. He always does, but I wanted something special.

There was something new in the air. I could feel it almost as soon as we sat down. Ironically, all of my notes for the discussion were wiped away from my phone seconds before we began. Clearly, God wanted to come in to the meeting and have more control than I did. The spirit was so sweet. Everyone was happy, hopeful, excited. Even those who began to share difficult and tough situations began to experience a shift from doubt to faith–the change was visible on their faces! There was a moment when I asked everyone what their favorite movies and stories were when they were younger. Every single countenance began to glow as we welcomed the rush of nostalgia.

“Sleeping Beauty!”

“The Lion King!”

“Cinderella…the one with Brandy and Whitney Houston!”

Suddenly everyone burst into song and infectious laughter. Someone shouted through laughter and shining eyes, “Oh! My heart is racing right now! I feel good!” In that moment, we were all little girls again in the presence of our God… in a place where nothing and no one could harm us. Not even the memory of pain was able to penetrate that circle of love.

By the end of the night, we were all so full of life and hope. The energy in the room was intoxicating. We had abandoned our agenda over an hour ago and were fixated on Jesus and the perfect love He gives that we sometimes reject. We often feel unworthy, undeserving, or that it’s too good to be true. But as I looked around at all these women, I was experiencing God’s love.

As we prayed to close the night, we were shouting and celebrating each prayer that was lifted up to God. We were celebrating being women. His women. His daughters. Together. Black women. White women. Filipino women. So different. All broken, but wanting Jesus.

One woman prayed, “In this moment, we are all fulfilled. May we always keep this moment of wholeness in Christ and community.”

She was right. And as she prayed that, the audible sighs that escaped from everyone’s mouth was confirmation. We were fulfilled. We weren’t thinking about the men we didn’t have or the weight we haven’t lost or the job we didn’t get. We were whole. Complete. Radiant. Captivating.

God’s gentle, loving spirit led us into a new place of hope that I don’t know many of us have experienced before. I know I haven’t. There was something so sweet about what happened there that night. We allowed God to love on us and He did it so well. I woke up Thursday morning feeling drunk on love. I’m loved. I’m accepted. I’m pursued. And in a circle full of ladies, I was completely fulfilled. (Click to Tweet!Giggling, blushing, singing, hugging and fulfilled.

If you ever doubted that godly female friends could enrich your life, let the story of my community change your mind. I have seen the face of God through the women in my small group. Don’t think that it’s impossible to reach fulfillment in relationships until you get married. That’s simply not the truth. (Click to Tweet!) My heart is expanding, my prayer life is increasing, my life is receiving deposits of Jesus with every word my friends speak into my life. We look forward to Wednesdays because we know we’ll leave feeling better than when we arrived, and we know Jesus will be there. I’m fully persuaded that God, too, looks forward to Wednesdays because there is always a place where He is welcome in our homes and in our hearts.

My friend noted, “Who would have thought, as women, to feel that fulfillment did not require a single man in the room!” (Click to Tweet!)

It’s an incredible thought. I have never been more fulfilled in my life. A younger me would never believe that the experiences I’ve had could be enjoyed without a man on my arm. But, as the Cinderella song that my girls and I love to sing says:

Impossible things are happening every day.

When I think of God’s love overflowing, I think of Him pouring wine into a glass until the red liquid runs on the table, the carpet, everywhere. When we reject His love, it’s like we’re trying to mop up the wine with Bounty napkins. Why do we do this? God is telling us, “Drink it! Take it all! It’s for you!” In our hearts, we can’t comprehend why anyone would pour wine into a full glass, but His love can’t be contained! But we steadily try to mop up the ‘mess of love’ because it’s too much, it doesn’t make sense. All He wants is for us to drink and let Him love us. Don’t wipe away the offer, drink it in!

— from the heart of Ashley Breaux, 6/19/2013

Take It Off

I have been waiting for this moment for countless days. Every other monotonous task and chore I’ve performed has been a sullen prelude to the time when I would sit down and give written form to my sundry pensées. I’ve been juggling my thoughts inside of my head like a standard circus act for some time now, and when I finally get into a comfortable rhythm, more thoughts are thrown into the mix, thwarting my concentration and focus. I’ve done an amiss job of keeping these spheres of thought going in a smooth rotation, and I can sense that I’m about to drop some of them this very instant.  

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Those who know me are familiar with my extreme ardor for literature. There are days when there’s nothing I’d rather do than cuddle under a blanket with some Starbucks and a lengthy novel. American literature is my favorite because our history is so rich and pregnant with endless narratives. Literature has the unique ability to bring form and life to the grandest of historical events and the most mundane moments. It holds the power to shake a nation with the horror of slavery like Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano. It brings holy fear, conviction and revival like Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. It fuels hope and inspiration like the Ain’t I A Woman and I Have a Dream speeches. Literature takes snapshots of history and molds them into tangible works of art that we can learn from and carry with us forever. I was confronted and comforted by a parable written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in the Dark Romanticism era, The Minister’s Black Veil.



This story is centered around a young, gentle, and well-liked minister named Mr. Hooper in 18th century New England. One day Hooper ambles into his church donning a black, crepe veil over his face which obstructs everything save his chin and mouth. His parishioners are incredibly frightened down to their core at the spectacle. They tremble as he makes his way from the back of the church, down the aisle, and takes his place behind the pulpit to deliver his sermon. Hours, days, weeks, months go by and the black veil remains intact. No mortal eyes have connected with Hooper’s for longer than anyone can remember. Finally, his wife (the only one who isn’t afraid of him) begs for Hooper to remove his veil for her even if but for a moment. He refuses and she abandons him; she cannot bear to be married to a man who she can look at but cannot see, who she can know but never understand.

As I became engrossed with this story, I, too, was desperately curious about the purpose of Hooper’s veil. Never once was it removed, even when the children who once admired him ran from him in sheer horror. Surprisingly more people are saved than ever before because they liken their sinful state with the man behind the black veil. Still, most are ghastly afraid.

At the end of the narrative, Hooper is on his deathbed when he’s asked to remove his veil once and for all as he tiptoes into death. His response caused my heart to race.

“Why do you tremble at me alone?” cried he, turning his veiled face round the circle of pale spectators. “Tremble also at each other! Have men avoided me, and women shown no pity, and children screamed and fled, only for my black veil? What, but the mystery which it obscurely typifies, has made this piece of crape so awful? When the friend shows his inmost heart to his friend; the lover to his best beloved; when man does not vainly shrink from the eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of his sin; then deem me a monster, for the symbol beneath which I have lived, and die! I look around me, and, lo! on every visage a Black Veil!”

Hooper’s observation knocked me in my chest with blunt force. As my teacher’s edition curriculum so perfectly notes, this story’s theme is about the unwillingness and inability to reveal our true nature. Hooper compares three relationships: friend to friend, lover to lover, and man to God. Revealing our true selves requires vulnerability and trust. The point of the matter is that most of us walk around with our own black veils intact. Basically Hooper is saying that people shouldn’t shudder when they see his veil because we are hidden behind our own veils–our unwillingness and inability to be vulnerable.

The last couple of weeks have been unusually difficult. My faith, prayers, joy, peace, and zeal for God were low while my insecurities, weaknesses, struggles, and fears were heightened beyond my own control. At least I didn’t think I had any control over them anymore. I found myself going through the “Christian girl” motions: hosting Bible studies, serving at church, attending prayer meetings, interceding for others. The truth is my heart wasn’t in any of those things, but I didn’t want to admit it to anyone else or to myself. As much as I wanted to share the tempest in my heart with my small group, my closest friends, and my parents, I just couldn’t bear to remove my veil. I didn’t want to hear the typical, “Just pray about it,” “God loves you,” “There’s grace for you,” answers. I know all of those things, but there is something else that needed to be challenged and shaken in my prideful, double-minded heart. I needed to do more than talk to God about how I felt. Prayer is what you make it. It is possible to pray and remain the same because it’s not our prayers that impressive God; it is our faith that pleases Him most. The veil in the Holy of Holies was torn so I could freely enter because Jesus came to earth, bled and died, and resurrected, yet I have carried my own veil of unwillingness to expose my greatest fears, weaknesses and sins to Him. This black veil began to turn my heart to ice and it was becoming easier to tolerate distance from the One who first loved me.

Thankfully, I had a friend who, like Hooper’s wife, demanded the black veil be torn away. My refusal wasn’t indignant, but flippantly disguised with the familiar phrase we all use when we don’t want to be bothered or pitied: “I’m okay, really.” I expected him to be like the others–tell me he would pray and then move on about his day. That’s what Hooper’s wife did to him. When he refused to remove the veil, her frustration at his declension drove her to abandon him. My friend didn’t leave me to rot like Hooper’s wife. No, he was persistent even when I tried to assure him I didn’t need anyone touching my veil. “I refuse to leave you alone,” he said. “I don’t want to push you to tell me, but I will push with you to overcome. You [are] priority tonight.”

Whoa.

He didn’t know it then but he used a God-given key to unlock a well of hope in me. It wasn’t so much what he said with his mouth, but the overwhelming sense of love and protection that reverberated from his action. He cared…and I was reminded of Jesus who never leaves me even when I wander away from Him.

For the first time in a long time I was vulnerable with my friend and expressed to him what had been eating me alive. He comforted me and I realized, “This feels good! It’s nice to come from behind this veil.” So, day-by-day, I am removing these layers (because it doesn’t come off in one big swoop) of protection and choosing to show myself–the whole me, the broken me, the ugly pieces of me–to a God who loved me before I ever made a single mistake.

BlackVeil-16pflll

It is so freeing to be vulnerable with someone–whether family member, friend, lover, or God–and feel wholly loved, accepted, and cherished despite the myriad of weaknesses that mar my life. This week I am challenging myself to take off my black veil for Jesus and allow Him to touch my brokenness. He’s a Healer. There’s nothing He cannot solve within my desert soul. If you are struggling with vulnerability, I exhort you to be free! It’s never easy to be open and naked and exposed to the opinions of man or the holiness of God, but amazing transformation is available when you decide to take it off.


What about you? If the black veil represents an unwillingness to be vulnerable, what are the things that keep your veil intact?

On This Day

My last post was a letter to impurity that I was challenged to pen as a tangible way of putting my “old self” to death. As aforementioned, my small group is studying the book of Romans, and as a result, we’ve chosen to expose our sinful nature and allow ourselves to be washed in the grace and mercy of God. Today I want to share another “farewell” letter written by one of my beloved sisters from my group. Miss Stephanie Deltor is the author of the That Old Fashioned Type of Gal blog and a young lady I’m proud to know. Enjoy!

On This Day 

envy

Dear Envy,

Something needs to be said and something needs to be done about you and the way you make me feel. I need to be honest, sometimes you can be found in the inner parts of my heart. It is hard to be truly happy for someone when you wish the same upon yourself. The clothes, relationships, accolades, and accomplishments always seem to look better on her over me. When I see something that I want, I don’t remember the things that I have. When I see something that I desire, I forget about the growing I’ve done. It’s not wrong to desire something better, it’s wrong to desire it from someone else who has it.  That want turns into a need and the need into you.

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Rest in Pieces

Dear Impurity,

I have been waiting for this day for a long time. I have to admit I didn’t know how I would react to see you lying there so still, so cold, so lifeless. I want to feel as though I can finally breathe and see how well I will live my life without you attached to my identity. Most people would suspect that I would feel at ease, at peace, free at last. They would be horrified to know that I don’t really know how to live life without you. You’ve been grafted into my thinking, my behavior, and my identity for so long. How do I begin to walk away from you forever?
You’re so good at the games you play. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were playing possum right now. Yes. At any moment I half expect you to sit up in that coffin and choke the life out of me for even considering rejoicing over your departure.
But you are dead.
Good.
I can’t be harassed by something that’s dead. I can’t be defined by something’s that dead. I can’t be tempted and controlled by something that’s dead.
You lied to me.
You made me think I couldn’t live without you. I’ll admit I didn’t know how at first. You attached yourself to me when I was a child. You disguised yourself as Curiosity. You knew better than to divulge your real identity; had I have known your real name I would have never let you near me. You stole so many years, so much innocence away from me. You showed me all the things my naive heart wanted to know, plus some things my mind couldn’t even conceive. You made me grow up before I needed to. We had even gotten so close that we started to look identical. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw your face. I couldn’t even tell the difference. You told me you would never let me go and no one else would have any parts of me because you had me–all of me–first.
Then I met the Man who tried to convince me you were my enemy…that we weren’t the same. I kept reassuring Him that the face of Impurity in my reflection was my identity. It was all I ever was and all I was ever meant to be.
I will never forget the piercing look of ferocious love in His eyes. He explained to me that He could remove you from my life forever. I laughed in His face. If only that could be true. But that gentle look in His eyes and the soothing tone of His voice compelled me to believe Him. He took my hand and suddenly his love-filled eyes burned with rage. But He was no longer looking at me, but almost through me. Now that I’m standing here today at your funeral I realize that He was looking at you. May His righteous wrath destroy you forever.
You’re not a part of me. You have no power over me. Jesus told me who I am and, Impurity, it’s not you.
I have more to say, but I shan’t waste another moment speaking your name. I don’t regret losing you–I only regret that I didn’t put the bullet in you sooner.
pam-grier-2

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You have just read a eulogy letter that I penned on March 27, 2013, to one of my carnal struggles. This was given as an assignment in my Christian community of ladies who are ready to put the devil in his place. Special thanks to my small group Bible study which led us to accept the challenge to put our old selves to death, just as Jesus has given us the power to do. Impurity, may you rest in pieces.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13 ESV)

You Can’t Serve God

Now therefore fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.

–Joshua 24:14, ESV

FLESHVSSPIRIT

Have you ever struggled with faithfully serving God? We have all had those moments in our walk when one day we are worshiping on the mountaintop and the next day we are wallowing in the valley. We attempt to do what we think will atone our bad behavior. We give our time, service, gifts, and even our money to God, yet sometimes it’s almost impossible to keep our attention fixed on Him. There are days when we could spend hours praying and reading the Bible, and there are days when we hit the snooze button rather than spending time in simple devotion. Before we know it, days have gone by since the last time we paused to spend time with God. We become discouraged because we’re still struggling with sins we hoped we would have been delivered from by now. We are angry at our own inconsistency, yet we feel helpless against the capricious whims of the flesh.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.--Paul via Romans 7:15, ESV

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
–Paul via Romans 7:15, ESV

Paul eloquently forms into words the constant struggle within the Christian’s soul. The ferocious battle between the spirit and flesh frustrates the believer and refuses to be ignored. Every moment and every decision requires us to choose between our carnal nature and the spirit of God who lives in us. When I am offended, do I allow my bruised ego to fuel retaliation or do I humble myself and forgive? When I am in rush hour traffic, am I a courteous driver or is my road rage unbearable? When things don’t go my way, do I complain or am I thankful? When someone shares sensitive information with me, do I tell my friends what I heard or do I petition for that person in prayer? When I am hurt or rejected, do I vent on social media sites or do I seek God’s healing?

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.--Paul via Galatians 5:17

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
–Paul via Galatians 5:17

Should this constant battle cause us to surrender to the flesh and forget about our pursuit of holiness? Not a chance.

It’s not enough to want to be good for God. Apart from Christ, there is no good in us. In the Bible, Joshua charges the children of Israel to serve God faithfully and in sincerity. Israel’s response is resounding.

“Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. There we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”

–God’s children via Joshua 24:16-18

Joshua says something uncanny: “You are not able to serve the Lord, for He is a holy God.” Is Joshua telling us to throw in the towel? No. He is sharing a secret that is much more profound. It is impossible to serve God faithfully within our own strength. How, then, are we expected to be victorious in this Christian walk if we cannot trust ourselves to remain faithful to God? We must rely on Christ. God is the One who breathed life into our dead souls. If we needed God to bring us to Life, how much more do we need Him to lead us step-by-step and day-by-day? Without Him, we would still be dead. God did not bring us to life and expect us to rise from the grave and walk this journey without Him. He longs to be our sole source of Life Support. We err when we attempt to do anything for Him without Him. When we admit that we are frail within our humanity, and begin to utterly depend on God to show us His ways, then He will rush in like a flood and become the answer to our deepest quandaries.

The children of Israel tried to convince Joshua that they would not forsake God, but Joshua knew that they could not make such a pledge without God’s help to keep it. We are ill-equipped to be like Him without seeking His help. It is possible for your chains to fall off of you. It is possible for addictions you’ve struggled with for years to melt away. It is possible for you to experience healing and deliverance in your emotions, your mind, your body, and your heart. God rescued you from death to life so that He could walk with you for the rest of your days and forevermore.

Just as we needed God to get to God…

…We need God to obey God.

…We need God to serve God.

…We need God to trust God.


We need God.

 

♫ Lord, I need You | O, I need You | Every hour I need You… ♫

Christ Died for Dead People

Our view of God is much, much too harsh and much, much too small. Some of us have grown up with the mentality that God is mean and waiting (dare I say hoping?) on our failure so that He can strike us down. May I encourage you? When God sent Jesus to die, we weren’t just a hopeless people; we were dead. Sin doesn’t make us bad; it makes us dead!

God’s view of a sinful humanity on the earth: dry bones.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

God looked down on earthly carcasses and His heart swelled with compassion and His love said, “Jesus, it’s time. Go bring them to life. Go make a way for My children to come to Me.” This means that God the Son died for already dead people. We were not just in bad shape. We were not just getting by. We were definitely far from living a whole life. We had no life. Can you imagine the conversation between the angels the day Jesus was crucified? I like to think they were gazing into each other’s eyes, hoping one of them had the answer for the madness happening on earth. “Maybe Michael has the answer! Find Gabriel! Gabriel will know. Why is Jesus, the Son of God who stood with His Father when the world was fashioned…hanging from a tree and becoming a curse for a bunch of dead people? What is God’s interest in these people?”

Oh, and does He ever have interest in us! This is the God we serve; a God who stretched out His hand toward a dead humanity and loved us fiercely! There’s nothing mean about this God.

But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

How astounding is it to read this scripture again with the fresh realization (or reminder) that our sin made us dead. We can never doubt God’s love for us ever again, no matter what we do, because He already sent Jesus to die for us in our state of death.

Flash forward to today. Jesus’ mission has been accomplished! Holy Spirit is here on earth, empowering Christians all over the world. Yet when we miss the mark, we allow a humanistic view of God tell us that there’s no way He will forgive us this time, or He doesn’t want to hear my prayer again, or because I sinned again now He definitely won’t bless me in the area of (fill-in-the-blank). God is not a mean God! Know that even when we fall short, He’s the parent who runs to His child’s side the moment we call on His help. What parent do you know would watch their child fall off of their bicycle and into the street, and wouldn’t immediately run to their rescue? How much MORE caring is the Lord God Almighty? When we fall — and we will all fall — God’s grace is sufficient! Even though there may be consequences to our sin, His love is outstanding and He is faithful to walk with us through the consequences.

I want two things to resonate with you today.

1. Christ died for dead people. Since this is true, you know that He loves you enough to see you through the difficult days and trying moments of life. Even when you make a mistake, God is eager to grant you grace and mercy. A God who died for dead people will surely rescue those He has brought to life.

2. God is not mean. I don’t care what anyone tells you about God; go study God’s character for yourself! God is compassionate and beautiful and just and bursting with glory, love, and splendor waiting to be explored. Surely He could never be a mean God.

If anyone told you otherwise, then someone lied to you.

Get Thee Behind Me, Satan.

Many people would agree with me when I say that this past election was the most intense (and by intense, I mean brutal) political season my generation has witnessed yet. During that time I kept most of my opinions to myself, but many of my observations were troubling. The division, disrespectful comments, and blatant hatred caused my heart to ache. I expected some of this conduct from people of the world, but absolutely nothing could prepare me to witness this behavior from those who know and love the same God I serve. My prayers shifted from the election; I honed in on the Church and her heart toward people who look, act, and think nothing like her.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12, NASB)

Paul encouraged the church at Ephesus to remain strong so that they would be well armored to stand against the schemes of the devil. Satan is not a person; we don’t duke it out with an actual physical being, but Paul says we will stand up against his schemes. The dictionary defines a scheme as a plan, an underhanded plot. What, then, is Satan’s major underhanded plan against the kingdom of God? He wants us to turn on each other rather than fighting against his evil powers. If the devil can get us to destroy one another, then he won’t have to! When we attack one another, we are literally doing the devil’s job for him. We become an accomplice to the kingdom of darkness when we operate in any spirit that opposes God’s holy nature. 

What Would Jesus Do?

In Matthew 16, we see Jesus telling His disciples about His horrible death, His burial, and His glorious resurrection. Then, something interesting happens.

Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get [thee] behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interest, but man’s.” (Matthew 16:22-23, NASB; also recorded in Mark 8:33)

Can you imagine how Peter must have felt to hear such a response from the Lord? To add a little context to what was happening, Jesus had just asked the disciples who they thought He was. Peter was the one to whom God revealed that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus then marvels at this, and blesses Peter, spiritually promoting Peter as the rock of His church (Matthew 16:17-19). It’s after this that Jesus goes on to tell the disciples about God’s plan for the salvation and redemption of the world through His death. Peter, probably feeling pretty great about himself after Jesus’ affirmation, decides to stand up and defend the Lord. How often do we try to prevent that which God has ordained for “righteousness” sake? Peter probably thought he was exhibiting the sort of stance Jesus would be proud of. How wrong Pete was.

Jesus, in His perfect knowledge and wisdom, knows that He is being faced with a scheme in disguise of a caring disciple. Jesus does something remarkable! He doesn’t scold Peter, judge him, or even address him. He addresses Satan: the spirit or principality that was attempting to come against God’s plan for the salvation of humanity. Of course, Peter doesn’t know that when He was expressing His strong assertion he was being used as an accomplice to speak against what God had ordained. Jesus knew this, but he didn’t attack Peter; He attacked the spirit.

Too often Christians are anxious to attack one another for the sake of righteousness or because we think our efforts will impress Jesus. But, we must ask ourselves, are we cooperating with God’s spirit of love or with Satan’s spirit of division? We must fight against principalities and powers by wearing the armor of God, using the fruits of the Spirit, and spending much time in intentional prayer. Rather than judging the less fortunate, why don’t we attack the spirit of poverty? Rather than despising homosexual people, why don’t we attack the spirit of sexual immorality? Rather than attacking the President or other elected officials, why not attack the spirits of darkness that come against the Church? If you find yourself frustrated with certain things or people, channel that frustration to its rightful place! Be frustrated with Satan and his grip on our generation. Be frustrated with the power of darkness that cannot be attributed to one person’s name or face or skin color. Be frustrated about the lies being told to helpless and hopeless people. We are supposed to be full of compassion. As long as we keep attacking people, we are losing. The fight is SPIRITUAL. We have to combat demonic forces. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians have the power to wage spiritual warfare against the kingdom of darkness, unless we fall for the scheme of Satan, get distracted and kill each other.

We are the army of the Lord. We should fight against the powers of darkness with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as our General. However, if we allow Satan to distract us, rather than advancing toward enemy, we’ll begin to aim our swords at each other. When that happens, Christians are left bleeding and dying — at the hand of their own brother or sister! — and the enemy can laugh as we defeat ourselves. Refuse to be a puppet manipulated by the devil to destroy people Jesus died for.

Love is a mighty weapon. When we begin to love what God loves (people) and hate what God hates (the kingdom of darkness), then we will never be confused as a member of Satan’s army. We must stop destroying our troops, and begin waging war against the devil… together!

He won’t know what hit him.

Jesus Controls My Twitter

I love the Word of God. I love that it’s not solely a book full of stories about great people, historical wars and good advice. No, the Bible is the God-breathed, Spirit-inspired words of life and truth. As my pastor often says, it is so exhilarating to look into the Bible and to have the Word looking back at you. The Word of God is ALIVE!

Psalm 63 is my favorite psalm. It’s been that consistent passage of Scripture that stares back into the depths of my soul and spirit, and cries out my deepest prayer of intimacy with God. This morning that passage was burning inside of my spirit, beckoning me to draw closer to Him with eager desire. As I recited the words over and over, the whisper of the psalm leaving my lips caused my heart to swell. I was impacted by the power of that moment and all that His spirit was singing over me. In that moment, time stood still and the first thing I thought to do was tweet what He’s been sharing with me.

Social Media Kills Intimacy

“Every other religion calls their god ‘God’. Every other religion calls their god ‘mighty’. Every other religion calls their god ‘omniscient’, ‘omnipotent’. That is not what separates us. What separates us is NO other religion calls their god ‘Husband’.” Fighting for Love, Damon Thompson ♥

Our relationship with God is not just that of a Father and His child, but we have been given access to approach Almighty God like our Beloved Husband. We are betrothed (engaged) to Jesus Christ, the Son of God! As our closest Friend and Betrothed Lover, there are times when He wants to commune with us spirit-to-spirit in unabashed intimacy. There are moments when He wants to whisper sweet nothings directly to our spirits. There will be times when He wants to wrap His arms around us, comfort us, and dance with us to the song His angelic choir sweetly sings. There are precious secrets our Beloved wants to share with us about our future, our dreams, our purpose that He doesn’t want shared with the world. I believe there are some things Twitter and Facebook should never know about our relationship with Christ.

How would a spouse feel if every moment of emotional and physical intimacy was shared in detail on a social media website? I have witnessed married couples tweeting private details about their marriage bed activities and pillow talk conversations, and I’ve felt like an innocent intruder. I’ve often thought how disrespectful, immature and tasteless it appears to be, yet how often have I done this to my Fiance? I was having this conversation with my sister in Christ, Liz Franklin, and she told me that God had been ministering the same things to her. He specifically asked her, “Can’t you keep anything between us?” 

Filter My Twitter Feed

Why do we feel the need to share every single aspect of our lives on social media? Every single thought, deed, action, opinion, or attitude does not need to be shared on the Internet. I recently realized that it is easy to misuse Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. We may post “spiritual” or “Christian” things, but I began to ask myself why I was posting certain things. Am I really saying this for Jesus’ glory or am I puffing up my own vanity? As I began to ponder these things, I was disgusted by some of my own motives and tweets. Twitter has a way of making our own opinions higher than they should be. The Bible says that should destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:5). Does my Twitter or Facebook really bring glory to God, or does it bring glory to myself and my exploits? More importantly, am I sharing intimate details about my relationship — encounters and conversations — with Christ that should only be kept between the two of us?

Does God Hate My Twitter?

In every relationship, discretion is key. Even in this divine romance with Jesus, there are some things and precious moments that we should want to keep sacred. Of course, for anyone who is in love, it’s difficult not to share with the world every single detail about this new Love we’ve found. So, does this mean that we should delete all social media accounts and never share anything about our relationship with Christ? Heavens, no! I would suggest praying and asking God what He desires for you to share on social media sites. There have been plenty of times I’ve typed something into Twitter, only to backspace immediately when I feel a tug encouraging my silence. Use wisdom and discretion! Consult God and ask Him to revitalize your social media profile, and to show you what to publicize and what to keep hidden in His bosom. Transparency is a beautiful thing in the Kingdom of God, but sometimes Twitter or Facebook isn’t the best way to express that.

This simple prayer that can be found in 2 Corinthians 5:14 helps me immensely. The love of Christ controls me. In addition, the love of Christ controls my tweets.

Jesus, control my tweets!

Question: Is Twitter or Facebook sometimes a stumbling-block to our relationship with Christ? Comment and tell me what you think!

Keep Thy Heart

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23, KJV

I love the Word of God! I love that the words are God-breathed and that they have life. When I turn the pages, Life is speaking back to me, beckoning me to encounter its truths. I read sundry versions of the Bible, my favorites being the Amplified and English Standard Version translations. However, there are times when I must return to my roots and dig into my dependable King James Version.

I was reading some interesting tweets from my mentee,  Nathalie, about how she plans to guard her heart. I was inspired and thought that I should share my thoughts on what I think it means to guard your heart. Guarding our hearts is a concept and phrase that is traditionally overused yet misunderstood. I whipped out my handy-dandy Dictionary for a better understanding, and I discovered two important facets.

1. Keep Thy Heart

I find it intriguing that the KJV says to keep—not guard—your heart. Now, in order to keep something, you have to have first received it into your possession. Whatever is “kept” is something that was given to you. If we look in the verses before Proverbs 4:20-22, it reads:

My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

We can see that there are things within our heart that should be kept, not just our emotional feelings alone. God wants us to keep His words hidden in our heart. Our hearts serve as the womb of the Word; just as an expectant mother would protect her stomach from external assault or carefully choose what food to consume, so must we be mindful of the Word we are carrying in our spiritual wombs.

2. Guard Your Emotions

Imagine you are a prison guard and you are responsible for the night watch to guard a detained prisoner in his cell. He is guilty of the most heinous crimes that could ever be committed. He has stolen, murdered, abused, cheated, raped, kidnapped, and robbed so many innocent people. The trail of broken people left in his past appears to be endless; he is greatly feared. You are the sole prison guard in charge of keeping this man detained, and ensuring he doesn’t attempt to escape under your nose. You know the world is safer while he is off the streets, so you don’t dare take your eyes off of him for a second. If he were to escape, the possibilities of evil are infinite.

That man represents the fickle emotions in our hearts—evil and deceiving. The prison guard is our spirit man. Our spirit should be diligent, as the Bible says, in holding our hearts (emotions) in custody because if the evil tendencies of the heart escapes, then there are no limits to the horrors that could occur. Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) says,

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Guarding our hearts has a lot to do with guarding our emotions under a watchful eye. The same intensity and seriousness we would approach guarding a serial killer is the the same way we should keep our deceitful emotions away. If we allow our emotions to run rampant in our relationships, friendships, or businesses, we would wreak havoc that could cause mass destruction. Does this mean we should never allow our emotions to be displayed? Not so! God created our emotions.  However, we should be intentional about allowing the Word (keep thy heart) to wash and cleanse our emotions until our heart is transformed to look like Jesus.

My prayer is that we will receive the Word, keep the Word, and use it to combat our ungodly emotional tendencies. May our deepest desires please Him. May He wreck us and make our hearts brand new. May He transform us and give us hearts like His. May Holy Spirit control my emotions in every aspect. May our hearts your home, Jesus.