No Longer a Victim

heartsContinued from here.

I cannot remember who said this (probably Joyce Meyer or Beth Moore): we live what we believe, not what we know. I knew that I had on the Armor of God, but I believed I was a victim. Thus, I behaved as a victim rather than a warrior, metaphorically cowering in my church’s parking lot like a wounded child rather than standing up and fighting, using the Armor of God.

My problem was believing that God is distant, with the Holy Spirit being my “walkie talkie” lifeline to Him. I saw the world as an unsafe place, with God always with me in more of a long distance way … like a Skype relationship rather than a face-to-face one. Through His book The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God, Williard has blown this lie to smithereens!

Willard points out that God is located everywhere, viewing the most beautiful places and hearing the most beautiful sounds of the world while also surrounding me. Because of this reality, I have complete access to unbounding love, joy, and peace at all times. This is the truth that Jesus knew, enabling Him to be joyful despite also being a man of suffering and pain.

To help me process this reality, I have been seeking to view the world through spiritual eyes, recognizing that no matter where my eyes look, the God who created the universe is there. Whether I look up to the cloud or stars, down into a valley, or as far as I can see over the ocean, He is there. This means there’s nowhere I can go without being surrounded by boundless love, joy, and peace. This makes this world a safe place, regardless of what my past experience has been.

This also means that the vast majority of this world is filled with God. There are only pockets of places that aren’t, which are inhabited by people who choose to reject God. They are the masters of their own space, and when they congregate, they create a bigger bubble of rebellion against God. However, compared to the enormity of the earth – the mountains, oceans, and everything in between, they are a small percentage of this world. Even when I am in their presence, the God who created the heavens and earth is both around me and in me, so I am never in an “unsafe” place. Where there is God, there is limitless love, joy, and peace for the asking.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace surrounded by hearts. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Digesting God’s Word: “If We”

you_got_thisContinued from here.

Up to this point in our study of this one verse, we have explored God’s expectation that we “do good” while preventing ourselves from becoming weary of doing so. We also talked about why: God will give us a future harvest (blessings!) if we do so. Too bad the verse doesn’t stop there. It turns out that this is a conditional promise, as is evidenced by the next two words: “if we.”

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9

The Bible is filled with awesome promises the hinge upon a two-letter word: if. In the legal world, this is called a condition precedent. In layman’s terms, this means that something is guaranteed to happen but only if a condition is met first. Meeting that condition is the trigger that sets the guarantee in motion. So, God makes us this great promise – Don’t grow weary in doing good because a future blessing is coming … IF.

The next word in the verse tells us whose responsibility meeting that condition is: OURS! Sometimes we find ourselves waiting on God to fulfill a promise when we haven’t met the condition precedent to trigger the blessing. This is an example of one of those times. Our choices can trigger the blessing or withhold it, so we need to pay careful attention to what God requires of us. In other words, what’s our part in this exchange?

On her television show, Enjoying Everyday Life, Joyce Meyer has repeatedly pointed out that we work together with God. It’s a partnership in which we cannot do His part, and He will not do our part. Whenever our part is specifically identified in scripture after the word if, we can rest assured that the blessing isn’t coming until we do our part. And then, after we do our part, we can know in the marrow of our bones that the blessing IS coming because God said it is. He would have to cease to be God if the blessing doesn’t come “at the proper time.”

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace smiling while standing in the corner of a boxing ring holding up a sign that says, “You got this.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Bible Study: Digesting God’s Word

bibleStudying the Bible is a fundamental practice that you simply cannot afford to skip. God’s Word is power. It is medicine to heal your wounds, and it’s a weapon to fight spiritual battles. If you believe you are “too busy” to study the Bible, then it’s time to reconsider what role, if any, your faith has in your life. Saying you are a Christian who is “too busy” to study the Bible is like saying you are married but “too busy” to live with your spouse. Jesus didn’t call us to warm a pew for an hour on Sundays. God wants a relationship with you, and an integral part of that relationship is getting to know God by studying His Word.

I would like to share a method for studying the Bible that I learned from Tony Evans and Joyce Meyer. Tony Evans taught me that God’s Word needs to be “digested.” We don’t just read it – we “chew on it” and invite it to become a part of who we are. Joyce Meyer taught me that a great way to do this is by really focusing on each word in a passage. Don’t just skim through the words, but really focus on what they mean and how you can apply them to your life.

I recently did this with the following verse and was so blessed by the process that I would like to share it with you. If you are a “big picture” person, you might find this process to be a bit tedious, but I encourage you to follow along, anyhow. Just as I was blessed to read the entire Bible despite being a detail-oriented person, you will be blessed even though this method might not fall within your comfort zone.

Here is the Bible verse we are going to digest together over the next several blog entries:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9

For now, read the verse in its entirety. Think about what it means to you, and consider writing down your first impressions. Then, tune in tomorrow as we digest this wonderful verse a little at a time. I promise you – you will be blessed!

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace reading the Bible. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Promised Land Living: Choosing Between God’s Energy and Unholy Energy

holy_unholy_energyI recently wrote a series about Promised Land Living. To help explain my points, I included graphics showing how we have to choose between pulling in God’s holy energy or allowing Satan to push in unholy energy. Today’s graphic zooms in on that part of the illustration.

I received the following question from a reader via email:

When you talk about unholy or God’s energy on your blogs, what does that mean? Please explain.” ~ Walking in the Now

Because God is holy, He is only capable to giving holy energy, such as love, joy, and peace. God gives freely without pushing that holy energy into anyone. So, while he makes His holy energy available, He will never “force” you to receive it. If you are a Christian, you have access to all of the love, joy, peace, and contentment you could ever want and more, but you must reach for it to receive it. This requires effort. If you do nothing, then you (sadly) won’t receive the holy energy that God offers you.

Unlike God, Satan is no gentleman. He actively pushes unholy energy into us, such as anger, bitterness, and strife. The unholy energy he offers is the opposite of God’s. Here’s a rundown of fruit of the spirit (holy energy) that God offers versus its opposite (unholy energy), which Satan pushes:

Holy Energy Unholy Energy
Love Selfishness
Joy Despair
Peace Discontentment
Patience Impatience
Kindness Rudeness
Goodness Evil
Faithfulness Disunity
Gentleness Harshness
Self-control Overindulgence

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I hope this helps explain what I mean by holy versus unholy energy.

In our flesh, our default setting is passivity. We don’t “pull” holy energy from God. Instead, we passively allow Satan to push all of this unholy/negative energy into our souls and then wonder why we feel so miserable all the time. On her TV show, Enjoying Everyday Life, Joyce Meyer words it this way: “Stop letting Satan use your mind as a garbage dump.” I’ll explain more about this in my next blog entry.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace receiving holy energy freely offered from God but also Satan pushing unholy energy. She is wearing the helmet of salvation, which enables her to send unholy energy to the cross. The helmet of salvation limits unholy thoughts pushed in & digested. Courtesy Grace Daniels and Bitmoji.]

More Reflections after Weeks of Illness

life_is_hardContinued from here.

When I was in physical pain, it felt like it would never end. During the 17 days of illness, it felt like I always had been – and always would be – in pain. I used to feel that way when I was in therapy for the childhood abuse as well. I couldn’t remember that I had ever known joy or believe that I would ever know it again.

I kept trying to remind myself that what I was going through was temporary. When I couldn’t believe that, I broadened the perspective to this life being temporary. Even though I felt every minute of pain across those 17 days (and across years of healing from the trauma of childhood abuse), this temporal experience in this one life on earth is just a drop in the bucket of eternity. I cannot allow the screaming of my flesh in this moment to drown out God’s truths of eternity.

I was also ashamed of some of my poor behaviors when I was sick. Ever since I did the Love Dare to my husband in 2014, I have been mindful that I choose my behavior. It doesn’t matter how I feel — I can choose love, and I can choose grace. That’s not what I chose at various moments when I was sick (although I certainly made imperfect progress from prior illnesses). No matter how much progress I make or how much success I have experienced over a long period of time, I remain vulnerable to allowing my flesh to drown out the Spirit’s leading.

On Joyce Meyer’s TV show, Enjoying Everyday Life, she shared a story about a man who was facing the death of a loved one. His prayer was, “Help me do this right.” He knew that in his flesh, he would be unable to stay faithful to God, so He needed God to show him … and empower him … to do it.

That will become my prayer the next time I am sick (and was for the last few days after I heard this) because I am painfully aware that, in my flesh, I don’t have a chance of remaining faithful to God. Regardless of my best intentions, I cannot do it on my own. The cries of my flesh are too strong, and in the turmoil of physical pain, I have trouble hearing God’s still, small voice guiding me through “doing this right.” However, I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Through God, I can “do this right.”

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace lying on a coach with her hand on her head above the words, “Life is hard.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Being “Squeezed” by Your Achilles’ Heel

sickContinued from here.

I wish I could say things got better after Day 11, but they didn’t. Day 12 put me completely over the edge when my teenage son was diagnosed with the flu. I did not handle that information well.

On her TV show, Enjoying Everyday Life,  Joyce Meyer talks about how we don’t know what’s inside a fruit until it is squeezed. The fruit might look good from the outside, but it’s only when you squeeze it that you learn whether that fruit contains sweet or bitter juice. Let’s just say that the juice that came out of me on Day 12 was not sweet.

I don’t know why battling illness is such a trigger for me, only that it is. I am grateful that God understands why I react the way I do and is not perplexed by it. Perhaps you are like my son and go with the flow when you are physically ill. If so, you likely have something else – some other life event – that shakes you up and squeezes out juice that isn’t sweet. Regardless of what your Achilles’ heel is, you can rest assured that Satan knows what it is and will squeeze you at just the right time to get the worst possible reaction out of you. When that happens, here’s what you need to remember…

God already knows what’s going to come out of you when life squeezes you, and He loves you, anyhow. One reason He allows us to be squeezed is so we can become aware of areas in which we need work. He also allows these painful seasons to provide us with opportunities to grow. If I had not gone through that horrible day, I never would have known that God and I still had more work to do in that area.

One thing that helped me get back on track was reading my journal. In one of her Bible studies, Priscilla Shirer recommended writing down the things that God teaches you in a journal so you don’t have to keep “relearning” the same things. I have been doing this for over a year, and this offered me a lifeline when I thought I was going to lose my mind on Day 11. As I read through my journal, I remembered various ways to fight back and find my footing on God’s solid rock. Later, when I was in a calmer place, I added information to read the next time I am sick so I don’t have to start from scratch. I’ll share that information in tomorrow’s blog entry.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace’s head on a pillow under the words, “I’m sick.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Promised Land Living: Importance of Humility

If you want to experience Promised Land living, you are going to need to become more humble, which is the key to Christian discipleship. Most of us balk at the term humility, but we wouldn’t if we understood what it actually means. The Bible tells us to walk humbly with our God and that humility is the fear of the LORD, which brings us riches, honor, and life. Considering that humility is the vehicle that brings us riches, honor, and life, shouldn’t we at least ask what it is?

Let me start by explaining what humility is not. It is not humiliation. God promises us a double portion instead of our shame, so He’s not telling us to humiliate or shame ourselves. Humility is also not weakness. C.S. Lewis defined humility best:

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

I’m no C.S. Lewis, but I’ll give you my own personal definition of humility: It’s choosing to stop being so full of yourself so you can start being full of God.

While I am no artist, I took a shot at trying to illustrate the stages of humility in the graphic.

progression_of_humility

The first graphic shows someone before receiving Christ as Savior. As you can see, this person’s body outline is completely filled by the person. In other words, the person has no humility and is completely full of herself. To quote Joyce Meyer, nothing makes you more miserable than thinking of yourself all the time. Sadly, this is our default setting without Christ.

The second body outline shows someone who has received Christ as Savior but not as Lord. Notice that she now has a yellow heart but otherwise still fills her body outline with herself. God has planted the seeds of the fruit of the spirit inside of her, but she is too full of herself for those seeds to bear fruit yet. Unfortunately, far too many Christians never progress from this infant stage. They can check “going to hell” off their list of worries, but their daily lives don’t look much different than the lives of those without a relationship with God.

The third graphic shows a Christian who is bearing spiritual fruit through discipleship. She is no longer full of herself, so her body outline is progressively filling up with God. Her life looks different from the lives of those around her, and people can see God’s light shining through her life. She still struggles with self-focus, as can be seen by contrasting this stage with the fourth graphic, which shows someone with perfect humility, a state that only Jesus ever accomplished. While you and I are never going to achieve perfect humility, we can choose to grow in humility by becoming less full of ourselves, leaving more room for God to shine His light through us. This is the key to discipleship.

Continued here.

[Graphic: “Progression of Humility.” Shows four body outlines. First: Cartoon of Grace taking up all of the space in the body outline. Second: Same graphic as the first but with a yellow heart at the center. Third: Yellow heart is the same size, cartoon of Grace is much smaller, and yellow fills the rest of the space in the body outline. Fourth: Grace’s body is so small that it is almost hidden behind the yellow heart. Almost everything in the body outline is yellow. Courtesy Bitmoji and Grace Daniels.]