Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Restlessness

“Our hearts are meant to be connected to the Creator of our souls, when they are not we are restless. Augustine of Hippo said, ‘You have made us for yourself, o Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you’” (p. 25, Beautifully Gifted, Angela Bisignano, 2011).

New Year’s Day we went around the sanctuary of the church, and each one of us pulled a scripture from the “Promise Box”. This was to be your verse for the coming year, and we all committed to pray the verse, and ask God to reveal Himself through it. The verse I pulled was Ex. 33:14, “The LORD replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Five weeks later we were asked to resign.

My verse has been plaguing me ever since. Nothing about this year has been restful—from losing our job and ministry, moving to another county, joining another church, beginning my secular job—everything seems to be another level of pain and despair, not rest with one loss after another. I have felt like my heart has been a constant place of turmoil.

As I began reading Beautifully Gifted, I wondered, “Is this the piece of the puzzle that I’ve been missing?”

Throughout this whole season, I have continued to seek God, worship God and study His Word, albeit in a much different form. My heart has been hurt. I feel embarrassed to say that He has hurt my feelings. I didn’t have any desire to be a Job—I wasn’t looking to have a book written about me, or have my life used in deep theological debates about the love and provision of God toward those who follow Him. But here we are. And even typing those words out seems to be a pompous, conceited thing. Who am I, in the big scheme of Kingdom thinking, to even imagine that I would be considered a Job?

I keep hearing that we give too much credit to the enemy, and that many more times than not, we are not under attack from the Satan, we are reaping the harvest of our own stupidity. While I agree with that thought to a point, but when we are following the commands listed in the Word to tithe, to be merciful, to love and forgive, and everything is still going south, isn’t it safe to think that the enemy has something to do with it?

I have repeatedly asked God to show me what is lurking beneath the surface of my heart. Those things that I am embarrassed to show anyone; frankly, I’m too embarrassed to view them myself. But as each part of what I thought was my life has been stripped away, I have found ugliness hiding in the shadowplaces. Anger, rage, bitterness, fear—all reared their replusive heads as my world began to shake and crumble. With each new issue, some other sinful attitude displayed itself, and I repented as I saw it. How could I have so much still there?

But they just keep coming, one after another. So many issues, so many attitudes and emotions. Then I watched a video of “Wednesdays with Beth Moore” today. She said at one point that everything comes back to faith, and that God cares more about our faith than our righteous acts. Often we are confused about feeling like we are back to Faith 101 class in our lives, but that is because we always come back to faith in our walk with Christ. It is part of the process that God has in place; each level of our relationship with Jesus requires a deeper level of faith. So maybe the feeling of going back to Faith 101 means that we are on the brink of a new level, a new deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus that demands that our faith be stretched, and our spiritual capacity enlarged.

This gave me hope today. I’ve felt so lost and confused, like I’ve been trying to look through a dirty window caked with mud. I can see shapes and shadows of something out there, but I can’t quite make out what it is. Now I think the point is found in Romans 4:20-22. “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised. This is why it was credited to him as righteousness.” Beth Moore went on to say that there is always a “yet” when it comes to faith, always an opportunity to doubt. But when we choose to look beyond what we can see with our natural eyes, and focus with eyes of faith, we will not waiver in our belief of God’s promises either.

I’d like to tell you that everything is clear now, and I understand why God is taking us down this path. But that is not true. What is true, however, is that I’m more convinced than ever that God is working His character in our lives, and it is our job to cooperate with Him by choosing to believe in the promises in His word, and not what we see with our eyes. I’m searching for ways to rest in God, so my heart will not be restless.

I’m rewriting Romans 4:20-22 out on another index card, but I’m changing the pronoun from “he” (Abraham) to “she” (Judi). Want to join me in praying these promises this week, and see how God transforms our thoughts?

I’d love to hear how God is teaching you to overcome your own soul restlessness.

In pursuit of Zoe,

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Check this out....

Hey friends!

Still processing my weekend at She Speaks, and preparing for my first Bible study coming out this Monday, but I wanted to share a post my friend Melinda Todd wrote on helping a friend with depression. A must read.....

In pursuit of zoe,

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Short Hiatus

Hey friends!

I need to take a short hiatus as I prepare for She Speaks. I have two messages to prepare, as well as trying to finish moving to our new city, and several speaking engagements between now and then.

It is an incredibly exciting time....but I covet your prayers as we begin the next step in this new adventure.

Thank you for following along with the ride!

In pursuit of zoe,

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Encouragement is a Powerful Thing

Did you know that encouragement can literally change the course of a person's day or even week? How could something as simple as a card really have any effect on anyone?

In our world filled with technology and information that connects us to others more quickly and easily, we have less human personal contact than ever before. We can send texts messages, emails, Tweets, IMs, and not know much more about a person than their screen name.

But taking a moment to handpick a card, to write a message and sign your name, allows the receiver know how much your care. Often you will find a card that says exactly what you wanted and needed to say, and what the other person needed to hear.

I have a box of all of the cards and letters I have received over the years. During times of discouragement and loss I have taken them out and reread the messages that others sent to me. Often that has been enough to spur me to keep fighting the good faith.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." (Gal 6:9 &10)

Is there someone in your life who could use some encouragement today? I know just the place to find beautiful, uplifting cards for any occasion! Below are two links to DaySpring Cards, where you will find beautiful cards and gifts that will allow you to send be God's hands extended to someone in need.

I personally have been so excited to be able to send these beautiful cards to my friends and family. Receiving one of these lovely cards is like getting a warm hug through the mail!

Hope you enjoy! Be an encouragement to someone today! "So encourage each other, and build each other up, just as you are already doing...." 1 Thess. 5:11

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Bright Blessings card pack from DaySpring to review for {in}courage. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising".

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rejection is Whispering

Rejection is whispering at my door.

This has been my enduring thought over the last few weeks. Have you ever been in the middle of a fierce battle, and one thought keeps replaying in your mind like a broken record?

Several months ago I read a blog post by Lysa TyrKeurst entitled, “The Root of Mt Rot”. The post talked about how we all have a root issue that motivates us to react to situations, often without us even understanding why we reacted in the way we did.

I mentally stated what my root issue was, and left it at that. But a couple of weeks ago, God gently reminded me of the post, and showed me what my real issue is, and always has been: fear of rejection.

Rejection has been the motivation to stay quiet when I should have spoken up. Rejection has been the noose that has tied me to relationships that needed to be severed. Rejection has kept me in positions of leadership and ministry that God was calling me away from. Rejection has prodded me to do and say things that are no longer in character for me. Can you relate?

The past four months have been a time for dealing with the root of my rot, rejection. People I have loved and ministered to have rejected e, gossiped about me, and delighted in my seeming defeat. People I have respected and seen as mentors and ministry leaders have chosen to believe lies, instead of clarifying facts, or simply choosing to not be involved in gossip. I have watched my girls get hurt and rejected by adults who really wanted to hurt my husband and me, and chose to use them to accomplish the deed.

This has been a time of soul searching, or crying out to God, of being silent in His Presence. It has been a time of asking Him to show me the things I have used as bricks to erect a wall of protection around myself, and to give Him each brick, no matter how much it hurt to remove.

Anyone who tells you that it doesn’t hurt to follow Christ is trying to sell you something. Please don’t misunderstand; following Him wholeheartedly is the only stable, restorative, life-giving choice I could make, but it hurts to die to myself, my pride, my anger, my fear, my rejection. Some of these issues have been such a part of me for so long that I no longer see them as sins. They have become “issues” instead.

But these “issues” have placed static between me and the voice of the Holy Spirit, and that is not acceptable. I have no choice but to accept where I am right now in my finances, in my employment, and in my ministry, but I choose whether I am there in joy or discontentment.

Starting over is difficult—we have sown seeds here that we wanted to see bear fruit. But starting over can also be exciting and exhilarating! However, it is my choice: I can grumble and complain, or I can embrace the process, and ask God to give me true joy in the journey.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:2-5)

It struck me that this time of trial has stretched me: my faith, my trust in God, my willingness to love and forgive, my obedience. He is creating a new wineskin to hold the new wine He is getting ready to pour into me (see Matt. 9:16-17), and I’m preparing myself to receive it.

What about you, friend? Is there a reoccurring theme in your life that God is trying to point out? Are there “issues” that you won’t deal with, even though you know they are sin? Don’t put off what you know God is asking you to do—no matter how much you think it is going to hurt. These short-lived trials pale in comparison to what God will give you in exchange. (2 Cor. 4:17) You can trust Him to keep His promises to you, and I can trust Him to keep His promises to me.

This isn’t for the weak or faint-hearted, but it is worth it!

In pursuit of zoe,

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happily Ever After

It took me by surprise when my husband said that Disney Corporation would no longer make movies about princesses because their research showed that little girls no longer dreamed of a prince would come to fight for them, and be victorious over some evil in their lives. They no longer believed in “happily ever after.”

As a mother of three girls, this made me sad. But as a spiritual mother of women within the body of Christ, this made me heartbroken.

A couple of years ago, I shared a hotel room with another woman in fulltime vocational ministry. I had never personally met her, but she was a college friend with a friend of mine. Within moments of meeting her, she stuck her finger in my jello, so to speak, and I should have realized then what a hurting and disillusioned woman she was, but I was too shocked by her rudeness to catch it at first. That evening, after a beautiful time of praise and worship, where the Spirit of God just enveloped the room, God spoke one word to my heart: mercy. Little did I know how quickly I would need to put the word into practice.

Within moments of returning to our room, she blurted out, “I hate songs that make Jesus sound like He is our boyfriend or something. The whole thing is ridiculous!” I silently listened as she went on and on about how modern songs took Jesus and reduced Him to a man that we could love romantically, and how disrespectful that was.

As she spoke, I furiously prayed for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. I didn’t want to inflame the situation, but she was missing a vital part of the relationship God wishes to have with each of us.

So I started asking questions; “tell me your story” type of questions. In her answers she revealed the hidden hurt and disillusionment she felt over the cards she had been dealt in life. Her husband was a chaplin within the prison system where politics and violence reigned. She had three special needs children--two adopted and one biological—with one demanding 24-hour care to do everything, and with no hope of any significant progress in the future. They pastored a very small church of mainly senior citizens who complained and criticized because she missed so many services due to the children’s issues.

As I listened, I heard more than she wanted me to. I heard her heart say, “God couldn’t truly love me and allow me to feel so alone. God couldn’t truly love me when my life hurts this much. God’s Word says that He loves us, but it must be from afar, because I don’t know if I’ve ever felt Him close to me. I have not personally experienced God’s unconditional love for me, so it must not exist at all.”

She no longer believed in “happily ever after” either. And truthfully, who of us hasn’t asked God, “Where are You in this? Don’t You care that my heart is breaking?”

In the midst of our pain, it is often so difficult to grasp how much God loves us. Oh, we can quote John 3:16, but it often doesn’t move from God loves the world to God loves me.

But, friend, let your heart soak up these words: He sees you. He hears you. He knows you. He. Loves. You. And if you were the only person in the history of the world to not believe in Him, He would have still sent Christ to die for you, and you alone. He loves you.

In Deuteronomy 6:5, God tells His children to love Him with all of our heart, soul and strength. This word love is translated as “delight, desire, be beloved.” Now it may make us feel uncomfortable, but God wants to be our first Beloved. My commentary went on to say that this word “denotes a strong emotional attachment for and the desire to be in the presence of a person.”

When my husband and I were dating and first married, I desired to be in his presence—no matter what he was doing. In those days he traveled a lot, working several Christian artists, and I would go with him. He would virtually ignore me for hours at a time while he intently worked, but we were together, and that was what mattered.

Is that how we feel about Jesus? Do we understand, truly understand, that is how He feels for us?

In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus repeats the command given in Deuteronomy, and goes onto say that the entire Law of the Prophets hang or hinge on the following of these commands: Love God and love others. 1 John goes on to say that we can love others because we have received and comprehended the love of God, and that if we don’t love others, we can’t say we love God.

We can’t begin to love others until we get how much He loves us. And not just collectively, but personally. He wants to have a relationship with you, an intimate relationship with you.

In nine different places within the New Testament, Jesus is called the Bridegroom and the church is the Bride. This isn’t a marriage of convenience or a political pact—this is a description of a marriage of love! This unconditional love, that defies our limited understanding, covers our sin and creates within us a purity and confidence in the One who loved us first. From that confidence in Him, we desire to respond with the only thing we can offer: our whole selves. He loves me so much that my only reasonable response is to love Him back with all that I have and all that I am.

Even as ministry leaders, I believe that we must keep coming back to this concept of love and relationship. We continue in ministry because we are called, yes, but ultimately it must stem from our deep, unshakable love and affection for God. If it does not, ministry to others will become an arduous, unfulfilling burden.

We can believe in “happily ever after”, because that is what Revelation 18:6-7 tells us will happen. The Bridegroom will come for His Bride, our Prince of Peace will ride in on His white horse, and we will live with Him forever. There will be no more sin, no more pain, no more questions. And that is the best definition of happily ever after that I know!

In pursuit of zoe,

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Least of These

Pastor Robbie, the youth pastor at our new church, preached a fantastic sermon tonight based on Matt. 25:31-46. Although the passage in my Bible has the title of “The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats”, the words that jump out at me are “the least of these…”

In some circles, I am now the least of these. I no longer have a ministry position, I am unemployed, and my future seems uncertain at this point. Some people I respect and care about seem to not see me anymore; it appears that I have become invisible.

In Matthew 25:44, the group of people identified by Christ as the “goats” ask Him, “When did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?” And the answer is simple: they didn’t see Him, because they didn’t see anyone. They were blind to the people in need all around them.

Which begs the question: who am I not seeing? Who needs me, but I’m too busy, too distracted, too selfish, too whatever, to stop what I’m doing and put someone else’s needs before my own?

Our former church has had a food pantry and distribution center for several years that reaches out to our local community. I volunteered mostly every week, not necessarily because they needed my help, but because I truly love the people. I received many complaints that I “held up the line”, because I stopped and talked to the people, hugged them and learned their names. I’m not trying to brag; I simply wanted my neighbors to know that I saw them as people, not just numbers on our “Families Served” list.

But I can’t just say that my church feeds the hungry so my responsibility is completed. I need to do more. We volunteer at our girls’ school, but one day a week doesn’t relieve my responsibility either. Is the answer more days a week? More volunteering? More social type work?

No, the answer is to see. See the people around me. See the kids in my neighborhood. See the people in the grocery store. See the people in my church. To look at my life, my circumstances, my situations like Jesus would. To respect people just for whom they are, not what they can do for me. To talk to people I come in contact with, not just the ones in my circle of friends. To remember the power in physical touch and eye contact.

Will you join me in asking God to open your eyes to see the people we would normally walk by? Will you ask Him to allow you to truly see the ones who have been praying for someone, anyone, to notice them? You will be doing it for Jesus, not just the least of these.

In pursuit of zoe,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Many Roles, One Call

We just returned from District Council where I saw some dear friends, colleagues and ministry leaders. For the ones who already knew about our present situation, person after person asked the same question: “So what are you doing now?”

Such an interesting question. No harm in the asking, no malice intended, but my answer seems so sad and lame to my own ears. We don’t seem to be doing much of anything right now, or at least that is how it feels many times.

Then this morning I received a copy of the Pentecostal Evangel featuring Dr. Beth Grant. Across the front of the magazine are written the words, “Many Roles, One Call.” As I read Dr. Grant’s story, I felt the Holy Spirit’s gentle whisper asking, “What did I call you to do?” I stopped and pondered that for a moment. Being a pastor for the last nine years, my calling has been wrapped up in my occupation and vocation. So being unemployed right now, my calling must be put on hold too, right?

But God’s callings are irrevocable, correct? (Rom. 11:29) So where does that leave me, and others in my present situation?

Several years ago, God asked me to read and study Isaiah 61:1-3—really study it. At the time, I thought it was to describe the feeding ministry at our church. But as time went on, I realized this was the calling for Mark and me, not necessarily our church at large.

As the years have gone on, this passage has become more and more dear to me. “God has anointed me to preach….” What a concept! The Maker of the universe anointed ME, simple me, to preach, to speak, to lead!

So right now I lead from my pew, my computer, or my phone. I preach through my blog, my emails, my conversation, my smile, my hugs, my touch. Right now my platform has been removed in the way I was used to, but my platform will never be gone.

Just today I read this additional verse: “I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills His purpose for me.” Even in this time when I seem to be jobless, I am not purposeless! I’m still anointed! I still have purpose!

How about you? Are you feeling like your calling has become vague or even misplaced? Don’t despair—you too have purpose! You are not forgotten and neglected by God. What can you do to live your calling, your anointing, your purpose out loud?

My role is definitely changing, but my calling hasn’t changed. Many roles, one call.

In pursuit of zoe,

Friday, April 29, 2011

"And WE know...."

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Rom. 8:28 (NIV)

This is a verse I memorized in Missionettes as a young girl, and I’ve heard it quoted to other people when trouble seemed to be invading their lives. Sometimes it is said almost as a platitude, and when that happens, the hope and comfort of the verse is lost.

This week a dear friend of mine sent me an S.O.S email. Her ministry life had just imploded. She had just found out that people within her church had been meeting secretly about her and her husband, and were spreading lies about her family to whomever would listen. They made slanderous comments about her character, her motives, her intentions at the church, and demanded her immediate removal. “Will you pray with me?” she asked.

The similarities in our situations were too obvious to miss, and not taken as God’s gentle nudging. She could have written to dozens of other women, but she wrote to me. And I’ve known all along that if I chose to handle my situation the way the Bible says to, that God would somehow use me to help others. I just didn’t think it would be so soon.

God has been showing me that one of the greatest tools of the enemy against us is isolation. I too am often embarrassed to tell people how deep my pit has become. I think I should be able to draw more readily upon the scripture I have read and taught to others. But sometimes I am simply too exhausted.

I was reading Rom. 8:28 again, when a simple pronoun jumped out at me. "For WE know..." Paul doesn't say that he knows, but we know. Sometimes my problems seem so overwhelming that I can’t see out from under it by myself. But then God sends others to walk with me, beside me, and remind me of the power God has given me; not a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:8). I am convinced that the enemy is trying to assault us like never before because he knows his time is short, and he is intimidated by what could happen if we were totally united by the love of God.

I did pray for my friend, and I don’t plan on stopping. I also encouraged and cheered her on by telling her the things I needed to hear myself not so long ago. Gal. 6:2 tells us to carry each other’s burdens, and when we do, we fulfill the law of Christ. But maybe more importantly, it gives glory to God because it proves that He has taken our ashes, and given us beauty in it’s place. And His beauty is to be shared.

In pursuit of zoe,

Monday, April 18, 2011


“Indeed, it’s because God loves us, He sometimes says no.” Lysa TerKeurst

That was the sum of a recent blog by Lysa. Ouch. That one hurts.

Often I am unwilling to see God’s answer no to my desires as being loving on His part. Often I am unable to move beyond my own human reasoning to see a bigger, more holy picture. Often I just plain don’t want to.

As a mom, sometimes I say no to a request because I know my girls aren’t ready or mature enough to participate. Sometimes I say no because I understand that the activity or the others participating aren’t what is best for them. Why then do I question God’s judgment when He does the same with me?

It’s been about ten weeks since my husband and I were asked to resign as leaders from our ministry. Thankfully, there wasn't a moral or ethical failure; just a difference in ministry views and passions. But for the first time in nine years, I wasn't a leader of a Bible study, part of a speaking team, or training leaders for various ministries. I felt lost and abandoned by God.

Yesterday while getting ready for church, I heard the song,"I Am Free" by Jared Anderson. For the first time I realized that I have been whining and wallowing in self-pity instead of seeing this as being freed from the confines that my previous ministry had placed on me. Now, perhaps for the first time in my adult life, I can be exactly who God called and designed me to be--nothing more, nothing less.

Now I have the time to work on my personal character, to study and learn from great leaders God has placed in my path, and relearn the value of humility. And I am learning the value of the discipline of rest. (More on that this week…)

So as painful as this "no" has been, I am thanking Him for it. And I have been asking Him to make sure my character is ready and fully baked for the next step and season of ministry. Because this is just the beginning.

What ‘no’ have you thanked God for lately? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In pursuit of zoe,

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Little Interruptions Turned Into Big Blessings

I try to walk through my neighborhood every week night with my oldest daughter. It’s a way to get fresh air and exercise, but also a way to steal a few moments with my precious girl before she decides she is embarrassed to be with me in public. Well, last night my sweet husband was working feverishly on a project, and I knew that if I left the two younger girls there, they would pester him for attention, so all four of us went walking.

Just in case you are beginning to picture some sweet family scene, allow me to dispel the myth. Walking with all of them is a little like trying to dog walk with a Great Dane, a Lab and a Chichuchua. Everyone wants to walk next to me, and no one wants to walk behind anyone else. So the first half of the walk was consumed with trying to teach them to walk two-by-two and not step on each other. Sigh.

Carly and I normally follow a certain path when we walk, mainly so I don’t have to think about it constantly, and I can I use the time to coax conversation from her. But last night we had used so much of our time learning how to safely walk on the sidewalk, that I decided to cut things short and turn left onto the street that runs along the side of my house. Thankfully, by this time we had found our groove, and were laughing and chatting, waving to our neighbors.

As we neared our block, I noticed one of our neighbors sitting outside at her wrought-iron bistro table, and I waved. But instead of waving back, she spoke to me. But she spoke so softly, that I couldn’t hear her. So I motioned to the girls, and we walked up her driveway. As I neared her, I could see that she was quite distressed. She struggled to stand with the aid of her walker, and said, “I’m locked out.” She went on to say that the hidden key was missing, and the door closed behind her, and she didn’t have a phone. I offered her my cell phone, and she asked me to dial several numbers, to no avail. With each failed attempt to reach someone, she became more and more anxious. It was beginning to get dark, and she had no idea when her granddaughter would be home, and she couldn’t remember anyone else’s phone number. I turned to my girls and told them to walk home, and tell their daddy that I was going to stay with the neighbor until her family returned.

Under much protest, she finally agreed to allow me to sit with her. Over the next hour, she told me about meeting her husband as a Red Cross volunteer during WWII, about moving back to Florida with him, building the house she still lives in, about raising a family. She talked about losing her son this year, and the pain of burying a child, no matter how old. She also told me the history of my own house, and she complimented me on our color choices and the landscaping. As it continued to get dark around us, she asked what my husband and I did for a living. So I told her about the last nine years at the church, about the marketing work we are doing now, and about waiting for God to open another door. She listened intently, nodding as I spoke. She commented on the people she knew who had attended the church over the years, and then changed the subject.

Her family came home shortly after that, upset that she had bothered me, and that we had been sitting outside. As I stood to shake her hand, she said, “My name is Triscka. Now we are truly neighbors. Come back and visit with me again.” After promising I would, I walked home in the dark.

As I read the Gospels, I am again and again struck by the interruptions into Jesus’ schedule. Each healing seemed to occur as an interruption as Jesus was on His way somewhere else, to do something else. As we have been at home more recently, I have asked God to show me the everyday interruptions that are really divine encounters, that in my busyness, I would normally walk right by. The person in the grocery store, the man on the side of the road, the elderly neighbor locked out of her house.

It’s funny; I was telling God over the weekend that I feel like I have no one to minister to, that I have seemingly lost my identity as a leader. Then I met Triscka. Such a simple thing, really. Sit with her until her family returns. Ask her about her story. Let her talk. I didn’t give her the steps to salvation according to the “Roman Road”; I just tried to show her that I cared. And maybe plant a seed to someday share how much the God of the universe cares about her.

All last evening, I felt so close to God. I felt His Presence everywhere, in everything I read, everything I watched. He seemed to just be hovering around me, wrapping His arms around me. And I wonder as I write this, is this where I display my passion for the Savior, in the little interruptions that I’m willing allow Him to use?

Triscka thanked me repeatedly, but I truly am the one who was blessed by our “chance” meeting. So, friends, who has God placed in your overloaded schedule today? Who might He be asking you to reflect His love and mercy to? “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16)

Let me know how your opportunities pan out today……

In pursuit of zoe,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lysa TerKeurst: Accountability...helpful or detrimental?

Dear SheTribe,

This post is actually from Lysa TerKeurst's blog, and I thought it deserved to be reprinted here. I'd love to here your comments or thoughts.

Accountability…helpful or detrimental?

In the middle of a radio interview about “Made to Crave” recently, the show’s host opened the phone lines for questions. Much to my surprise the first caller was a man. He was using the message of Made to Crave to overcome his struggles with a pornography addiction. He confessed that for years he’d tried to win this battle using an accountability partner.

It sounds good to have a friend who will hold you accountable.

And it can be crucial.

But, it can be detrimental as well.

Whether accountability is positive or negative depends on where the conversations are focused. What we focus on will become bigger and more magnified.

The radio caller confessed when meeting with his accountability partner, he’d make note of all the inappropriate sites his accountability partner confessed during their time together… and made a point to visit there later. Instead of helping his addiction, this accountability relationship was actually fueling his failure.

It wasn’t until they changed their focus from porn to Truth that positive progress started to be made. When he focused on the porn, his thoughts became more and more conformed to his pattern of sin. When he focused on Truth, he became more and more transformed into a pure man of God.

Wow, did this make complete sense to me. My physical struggle is not the same as this man. But, my physical struggle with food can be just as luring and consuming. What might happen if instead of focusing on the scale, the food, and the hardship of sacrifice we turned our dialog to this:

1. Our goal is letting the peace of God rule in us. Are you at peace?

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you,” Isaiah 26:3

2. Our desire is to honor God with our bodies. How did you honor God this week?

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies,” 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20.

3. Our perspective is to fill our soul with an abundance of truth instead of our stomach with an abundance of food. What truths were you filled with this week?
“…and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” John 8:32.

Of course part of accountability is to ask the tough questions about the physical struggles.

But we shouldn’t make this our focus.

If we want to grow closer to God, we have to distance ourselves from the distractions holding us back. And part of the distancing process is focusing and magnifying God more and more…especially in our times of accountability.

Do you participate in an accountability relationship. If not, why? Do you believe that God wants us to be involved in accountability, and if so, why do so many Christians ignore this?

In pursuit of zoe,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


After a blood test revealed that I am pre-diabetic, I have been on a weight loss journey for the last two years. It is a matter of trying to be healthy, of trying to find a balance in my post-40 body. It hasn’t been the easiest or most enjoyable time of my life, but I have been successful at losing the unwanted pounds, and I am finally in much better shape.

This week while at the doctor, the nurse took my blood pressure and weight, and then used a machine to check my BMI. Suddenly she jumped up, clapped her hands and exclaimed, “Oh, Judi, you’re perfect! Just perfect!” I was so shocked by her statement that I didn’t even respond at first. I have never heard myself been described as perfect, and had no idea what she was even talking about.

The nurse was referring to my BMI and weight, which for the first time in my adult life, was within the correct parameters; therefore I was deemed as perfect. But oddly enough, I didn’t feel perfect, I didn’t think I looked perfect, and I felt uncomfortable even being called “perfect”.

See, although this present weight loss challenge has only been going on for two years, the quest for beauty has been going on all of my life. It has always been this elusive, somehow unattainable goal. No diet made me feel beautiful; there was always something missing. And I could never explain why.

Earlier this year, while reading the Psalms, I came across a verse that stopped me in my tracks. Ps. 45:11, “The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” (NIV) Many other translations capitalize the word “King”, referring to God. So the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Creator of the entire universe, is charmed and fascinated by me! He knows the color of my eyes and my hair, He has counted each freckle and birthmark, and He declares me to be beautiful.

The second part of that verse reads that I am to honor Him because He is my Lord. How do I honor God in my pursuit of beauty? First, I recognize that God created me to look just as I am, no matter where I am in my health journey. He thinks I’m beautiful, and it offends Him when I constantly complain or abase what He has created. If He thinks I’m charming and fascinating, can I at least agree that what He has created is worth not criticizing?

Father, thank you for calling me Your masterpiece and letting me know that my life has purpose and meaning. God help me to begin to see myself through Your eyes, eyes of love and grace. Help me to not pursue what the world views as beauty, but what You call beautiful. Thank you for loving me just as I am. Amen.

In pursuit of zoe,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent 2011: The Discipleship Challenge

Dear Jesus Girls,

Lent officially began yesterday, and I would like to challenge you to rethink (or consider for the first time) how to make lasting changes in your walk with Christ. I can't think of a better way to pursue zoe over the next six weeks than to follow the Discipleship Challenge suggestions. Will you join me on a quest to know God more intimately this Lent season?

The Discipleship Challenge
Would you like to become closer to God? Would you like to better understand your purpose in life and how you can make a difference? Would you like your faith to grow and become a bigger part of your life? If so, the 40 days of Lent this year are for you!

Growing up the first thing I learned about Lent was it was time when you had to give something. Whether it was chocolate, pop, TV, or something else, the emphasis was always on taking something away. When such sacrifices are done with the right spirit it can be liberating and edifying, but more often than not these Lenten sacrifices ring hallow, and not just because we aren’t very successful at keeping them. I would like to suggest that this year be a year where we focus intentionally on growing in our faith. This year I hope you will join in 40 Days of Discipleship.

Over the 40 days of Lent, I ask you to prayerfully consider taking time to grow your relationship with Christ and take the Discipleship Challenge. I believe that we can grow in our relationship to God by pursuing a path of discipleship; when we work at our faith and our spiritual life we will become closer to Jesus and be blessed. To be a disciple means to be a follower of Jesus, it means connecting to God in serious, disciplined, and intentional ways. When we make the time for God in our life and work at our spiritual lives, God will work and transform us in amazing ways.

Here is how the Discipleship Challenge will work. During the 6 weeks of Lent, intentional time will be given to each Mark of Discipleship. The Marks of Discipleship are areas of our spiritual lives that if we work on will help us grow closer to God. The Marks of Discipleship are: prayer, Bible study, service, generous financial giving, spiritual friendships, and worship. Each week you will focus on a different mark and take time for God in that area.

Week 1 (March 9-March 15) Prayer: Take time each day, at the same time, for at least 10-20 minutes of personal prayer time. Multiple times a day is preferred.

Week 2 (March 16-March 22) Bible Study: Take time each day for 30-45 minutes of focused time for devotional bible study. You can read any scriptures you wish. The goal of devotional reading is not acquiring knowledge but growing in God’s Word.

Week 3 (March 23-March 29) Service: Take time and energy do something each day to serve the needs of someone else. Be creative and try to serve someone else you normally would not connect with.

Week 4 (March 30-April 5) Generous Financial Giving: Each day find some way to give money to someone in need. Whether this giving is to an individual or through an organization doesn’t matter. Give generously and give until you feel it. Consider giving away whatever money you might normally spend on entertainment, dining out, shopping, or any other extraneous spending. (I know this one is tough—the marks of discipleship are supposed to be!)

Week 5 (April 6-April 12) Spiritual Friendships: Take time each day to check in spiritually with a friend. This is not a conversation about how busy you are. This is a conversation about your prayer life, what God is up to, or scripture. Your spiritual friend can be a spouse, small group member, or friend. If you currently do not have someone in your life who is a spiritual friend, consider asking someone.

Week 6 (April 13-April 19) Worship: Take time each day to worship the Lord. This can include but is not limited to organized worship services. You can worship on your own or with family or friends at your home. Read scripture, pray, listen or play inspiring music and you have worship!

If you want to see intensified results, add fasting and prayer three times a week too. (If you need clarification on fasting, please contact me.)

After 40 days of intentional work on your faith, I guarantee you will grow closer to the Lord. I pray you will take the Discipleship Challenge and see how God will work in your life!

This is not my own study outline, it was written by one of our brothers, and sent to me by my friend Pat. Please do something special this year to show God how much you trust Him.

Nothing to buy, no questions to answer, simple but powerful.

I am so excited and just can't wait to see what God is going to do. Let me know what God does in your life over the next six weeks.

In pursuit of zoe,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"This is the way; walk in it."

For the past eight years, my husband and I have co-pastored a church. During this time, my greatest joy has been to lead my two ladies’ Bible studies, and preach each Sunday evening. I have also been writing a blog/newsletter for the ladies in my church, to encourage and challenge my Jesus girls to read God’s Word for themselves—to be” self-feeders.” Through the blog, we continued conversations begun during our weekly Bible study, and I was able to go into more depth than often our time each week allowed.

During the first week of February, God allowed this door of ministry to close. Overnight I went from speaking and leading two groups per week, to being a girl with no one to minister to. I felt I had lost my voice, my purpose.

One day my husband asked why I didn’t start my blog again, but to not limit it to the girls within our area. In other words, relaunch it as a regular blog, and post the link on my Facebook page. What a fantastic idea!

Since then, God has been stirring my heart and allowing me to dream again. But this time my dreams go beyond my town, my county, my area.

Then I received Lysa’s email about the She Speaks Conference, and thought that this could be God’s reply to my questions about my future ministry. On that same day, one of my devotional readings was based on Jeremiah 29:11, and another on Isaiah 30:21. I could hardly contain my excitement! This could be God’s answer! I had to find out more information.

The She Speaks Conference is for any speaker, writer, blogger, Women’s Ministries leader, or any Jesus girl who is dreaming of becoming one of those. The conference promises to supply you with the necessary tools to learn to speak to large audiences, give your messages mass appeal, and make them memorable.

For the writers who are bursting with messages from God to share, the conference will show you how to get started, how to find your unique, God-given voice, and how to impact your audience. And isn’t that what we all want?

For Women’s Ministry leaders, there is a special track just for you, with the opportunity of a Pre-conference Intensive. The conference will give you the tools to cast God’s vision for your ministry, and build a team that will help you to bring that vision to life.

For me, what a blessing to go to a conference, and learn how to effectively speak to large groups, learn how to give my blog a larger mass audience, and perhaps even get confirmation of what God has in store for my future.

I believe that God’s greatest desire is to take my ashes and turn them into beauty, to give me the oil of joy in place of mourning, and a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. The hard part is that I must let go of my ashes, my mourning, and my heaviness, and allow Him to give me what I can never find on my own. I believe that God wants to use the experiences of my life to not only minister to the ladies I see every day, but even to ladies around the world.

I have spoken 2-3 times per week for the last five years, but I normally speak to groups of 100 or less. However, I have already been asked to come and speak at two conferences during the summer, and I need help!

Because my husband and I are now unemployed, winning this scholarship would be a true God-sent gift. And I’m praying for God to open a door for me to get to this conference! I know that I need help to polish my skills, and I’m willing to put in the hard work to do it!

Is that the cry of your heart too? Then join us at the She Speaks Conference. Look for me—I’ll be the one who is grinning from ear-to-ear!

If you would like to find out more about the She Speaks Contest follow the link below.

She Speaks Conference link.

In pursuit of zoe,

A Merry Heart

I woke up tired yesterday. Not completely sure why, but I just felt drained. After a couple of cups of coffee and reading my devotional passage for the day, I felt a bit more human.

Then the phone call came.

A phone call from the place that said that they no longer needed or wanted our service, thank you very much. Now there was a crisis, and we had to fix it. Now.

Two hours later, I was angry, frustrated and irritable. All in all, I had one nerve left, and someone’s foot was poised to step on it.

Can you relate yet?

See, we had planned a family day at one of the local theme parks, and now we were two hours late. Then everyone decided that we should probably stop to eat lunch, which put us behind even more. This was not turning out the way I had planned or pictured it.

Fast forward several hours, a couple of shows and a roller coaster ride later. We were walking back to our car, arm in arm, laughing about our unpredictable Florida weather. What made such a huge difference?

I decided to have fun. I decided to enjoy the beautiful weather, the incredible scenery, and the sound of my children’s laughter. I decided to enjoy this day I had been given and not allow the enemy to steal one more moment of it from me. I decided to experience God’s one of God’s most precious gifts: joy.

I believe God gets a real kick out of seeing us have fun together. He wants us to laugh. He wants us to stop and notice His beauty all around us, and be thankful.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Prov. 17:22) Better than any pill I could have taken, I needed to decide to be happy in the moment, and allow my heart to be cheerful. Did you notice that I keep saying “decide”? I never said that I felt that way—especially at first. But I know that it is a decision to be happy, or to be grumpy. We each decide every day how to respond to what life throws at us.

So, girlfriend, how will you decide to react today? Sometimes we have to decide to be cheerful long before the feelings catch up. But hold on! They will get there too.

In pursuit of zoe,

Friday, March 4, 2011

"I believed; therefore, I have spoken."

Several years ago the national women’s ministry department of the organization I belong to had these words as its yearly theme: “I believed; therefore, I have spoken.” I was not the director for women’s ministries at that time, so I had no background or information concerning the theme. I remember reading the poster for the first time and thinking, “What in the world does that mean?” Today I was listening to a sermon and this same scripture was read, but this time I read it context, and God brought out a powerful truth that I’d like to share.

These six words come from a chapter that God has used numerous times to speak to me. In 2 Corinthians 4, the apostle Paul uses his powerful words to create an imagery of the power of the Spirit of God living within us. As you read the passage below, I will put explanatory information about the words or phrases in parenthesis.

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry (of reconciliation), we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God (even if it reveals our own faults). On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend (prove or establish) ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay (“cracked pots”) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.

There are so many nuggets of Truth here, but I want to focus today on verse 13. The word “spirit” there is “pneuma”, meaning “breath of God”, as in Gen. 2:7 where God breathed into man and gave him life. When we read the Scriptures, and choose to believe that they are God’s undeniable Truth, we breath in the Word, and it builds our faith. John 1:1 reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” When we read and meditate on the Word of God, we breath in the Spirit of God, because God’s Word is God.

We must believe the Word of God, and apply it to our lives before we can have the spirit of faith. Some people seem to believe that faith is only necessary for salvation, and then we just need to obey the law and we will be fine. Not so! We need to have the spirit of faith just to live every day. A spirit of faith in God is necessary to be successful in our Christian walk, no matter how long you have been following Christ. It is my opinion that this is why so many “Christ followers” don’t seem to have made any change in their live since they accepted Christ: they don’t have the spirit of faith.

Years ago I spoke to my church about the power of praying God’s Word, speaking God’s Word, and allowing it to transform the way they think and act. Many people said “Amen!”, but few people accepted the challenge and actually did it. We are so critical of the Israelites coming out of Egypt because an eleven day journey took them 40 years. But how many of us would have to say that we have been dealing with the same issues in our own lives for 10 years, 20 years, or 40 years? The Scriptures tell us that the Israelites died in the wilderness because of unbelief, but how could they be unbelieving in God when He performed daily miracles for them? Maybe it wasn’t that they didn’t believe in God’s power, but that they didn’t believe in God’s ability or power to work through them. Ouch. How many of my sisters would have to say “ouch” with me?

See I will tell you that I believe that God can do anything, so why am I not living in faith in my own situation? Could it be that I too have issues with believing that God can do what He says through me?

This is where the six-worded theme comes into play. When I choose to believe the Word of God, even when or especially when I can’t see any evidence, I am believing in faith. I have the spirit of faith when I choose to believe God in the face of my crisis or circumstance.

Now add the second stick of dynamite. Speak out what you believe. “I believed; therefore, I have spoken.” I must speak out the Word of God in faith. I must speak out what God’s Word says, even when everything I see with my natural eyes says it can’t be true. This is Faith!

Reread verses 7 and 8. How is Paul able to say these things? How they possibly be true? Because he knows Who he believes in, and chooses to speak out His Word as Truth.

If you are new to this concept, let me help you take the first step. Read over the verses above again, and pick out the one or two verses that really seem to speak to you. Write them on a sheet of paper, or on an index card. Now insert your name or situation into the verse to make it truly personal, and throughout today, read the personalized verse aloud. If you can, put it up at your job. Hang it on the bathroom mirror. Tape it on the visor of your car. Carry it in your purse. And read it, read it, read it! Watch how your faith grows as that verse causes new seeds of encouragement and confidence to come to life.

I believe the Word of God; therefore I speak out the Word of God, and my belief just keeps getting stronger.

Be blessed today! And keep building your faith!

In pursuit of zoe,

Friday, February 18, 2011

My Daddy God

I have a great natural dad, but he can appear a bit off-putting when people first meet him because he is so big. He is tall, but he has a very large frame and huge chest. Many a boyfriend in my young life had second thoughts about me after meeting my daddy.

My daddy was very strict about my appearance as a teenager, and this often caused issues between us. And although both of my parents told us that we could talk to them about anything, the angst of being a teen created inevitable rifts between me and my daddy.

My parents have been pastors my whole life, and often this calling caused problems between us. I could not do the things that other kids did, and I sometimes acted out to show my displeasure at the perceived inequity.

The summer between ninth and tenth grade, my parents resigned our church in New England and prepared to move to the Eastern seaboard. I was not a happy teen. I didn’t want to leave my friends, my school, my church, my life. And, if memory serves, I told my parents exactly how I felt.

On one particular Sunday afternoon, the whole church had been invited over to a member’s house for a good-bye party. The house was crammed full of people. There was food to share as friends laughed and told their favorite memories of our time there. The smell of coffee floated through the whole apartment.

The teens had moved out to the porch where we sat close together, shoulders touching, watching people going to the beach. Then suddenly, the conversation changed. My friends began discussing me. First, it was just about my leaving and moving far away, but soon it turned to nasty, hateful comments about things they didn’t like about me but had never shared.

I sat for as long as I could, and then I jumped up and ran into the house. I don’t know what I was looking for inside, because there was no privacy anywhere. And then I saw him, my daddy. He was sitting in a recliner with a circle of men around him, talking and laughing. I don’t think I even had a second thought in that moment, I simply ran over to him. I had to be near someone strong, someone to protect me, someone who loved me.

He let me sit on the arm of the recliner for only a second before he drew me onto his lap. All conversation around us stopped as I buried my head in his shoulder and sobbed. He wrapped one arm around me and shielded my face with his huge hand, and with the other he patted my leg and began to rock the chair gently. Then he raised his eyes, and said, “I’m sorry, Mike, you were saying?”

What a picture we must have made! This half-woman, half-child sitting on a man’s lap as he rocked her like a baby. But I didn’t care at that moment what people thought of me or what I did. My heart was being broken, and I had to run to the only man I knew I could trust: my Daddy.

In Mark 14:36, Jesus prays, calling God “Abba, Father”, literally translated, “Daddy.” Then in Romans 8:15 & 16, the apostle Paul writes, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Paul is trying to help the Roman church and us to understand that God has given us a spirit of sonship and daughtership through Christ and His sacrifice on the cross, so we no longer need to be afraid to approach God with any need, any request, any fear, any triumph. Nothing is too big or small to bring to Him.

In Galatians 4:6, Paul states this concept again. “Because you are sons [and daughters], God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, you have the Spirit of God living within you, and when you pray, your Spirit cries out to God calling Him “Daddy!” What a concept!

I have people tell me that my friendship and relationship with God seems irreverent because I dare to call Him “Daddy”, or say that He is the “lover of my soul”, like He is my boyfriend or something. But He is! He thinks I’m beautiful (Ps. 45:11); I’m His friend (John 15:15); I am His masterpiece (Eph. 2:10); and as an heir to all that Christ has, I am a princess! (Rom. 8:17, Gal 4:7).

In the last few troubled weeks at my house, I have had to find time to crawl up in my Daddy God’s lap and cry through some things. I have poured out my emotions, even the truly ugly ones, I have tattled on people who hurt me, I have told Him my fears for the future. And through it all, He has rocked me in His big chair, listened and allowed me to gain new strength as He poured His Truth back in my heart.

If you don’t know my Daddy God like this, but you would like to, please contact me. I’d love to share Scripture with you, and reassure you that He wants to be Daddy God to you too. If you used to know Him in this way, but it has been a while, find time today to escape from the noise and confusion. Spend time just talking to Him today, and letting Him love on you. He’s waiting for you (Rev. 3:20).

In pursuit of zoe,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day, part 2

Good evening, Jesus Girls!

Sorry for the late post, but I have been running all day. For a girl who is presenting not gainfully employed, I sure have been busy. Lest you hear fussing in those words, let me just say that I love it! Idleness is indeed the devil’s workshop in my personal life.

Yesterday we began discussing 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” We discussed verse 16, so let’s press on to verse 17.

Ok, now let’s be honest. How many of you read that verse, and thought, “Light and momentary troubles? Are you serious? Light for whom?” Before we get up on our high horse with the apostle Paul, let’s look back at verses 8 & 9. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Well, those things don’t seem “light or momentary” either, at least not until we begin to look at things from God’s perspective.

The word “light” used in this verse means “light in weight.” Keep that in mind as we continue to read the rest of verse 17. Our “troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all.” Paul is using a compare and contrast technique here to help us to understand that our trials have a purpose: to create in us a faith that is of greater worth than gold. (1 Peter 1:6&7) Glory is a that means “weightiness”, and gives the mental picture of a scale that is so heavy on one side that the other side cannot even come close. This glory, this weightiness of God, is so much more valuable, worth so much more, that even gold couldn’t come close it.

Verse 18 continues, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” This is a common theme for Paul to keep reminding us that what we see around us is not all there is. If fact, in light of eternity with Jesus, it isn’t even what is the important thing to be concerned about. Now before you think I have lost my mind altogether (cabin fever has been known to do that to a girl!), please know that I am not talking about ignoring your reality to live in la-la land. Our “light and momentary troubles” can steal our joy, our excitement, and our power if we don’t understand what Paul is trying to say.

Thing is, troubles come. And usually at the most inopportune times. Our days seem to be filled with children who need attitude adjustments, husbands who need clean laundry, bills that must be paid, checkbooks that are slim-pickins. Don’t deny these things, but don’t dwell on these things.

Do you want to know the secret weapon God has shown me through this trial at the Cotignola home? Praise and thanksgiving confuses the enemy half to death. And praise and thanksgiving are habits that can be learned, and can become as natural as breathing, no matter what our circumstance looks like.

See the beauty of God is that He never changes. Our circumstances change, but He never does. He is the “I AM”, the ever “ISING” one. Yes, I know that is horrible grammar, (sorry Mrs. Eisman), but it seems to fit better that when we say the One was, and is, and is to come. To me, that almost seems like we are saying He was one person is the past, He is another person now, and He will be someone else in the future. But truthfully, He just IS. Don’t try to wrap your head around it; just settle it in your heart. He IS. He is faithful, He is trustworthy, He is always there, He gets the real me. He Is.

So what do your light and momentary trials look like today? In spite of there appearance, can you thank Him for Who HE is: Creator, Protector, Healer, Restorer, Provider, Friend? When we do, He makes the trials that feel monumental to seem like they are truly light and momentary.

In pursuit of zoe,

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day, part 1

Hey Jesus Girls!

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, the holiday my thirteen-year-old officially dubbed the “stupidest holiday EVER!” Now, I don’t normally allow the “stupid” word to be part of her vocabulary, but I have shared this same thought many times in my life. Funny thing, I know more married women who dread the holiday than young women. Somehow our expectations don’t make it into reality. Can I hear an amen from my girls?

So what is Jesus girl to do? How do we deal with the disappointments that want to steal our joy, our peace, our contentment.

Don’t wallow in the “if only’s” or “I wishes.” We need to grab some Truth, God’s Truth, and allow it to soothe our broken expectations and hearts.

Here’s what God gave me last night. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 reads, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

First, let’s take this apart of bit. These verses begin with the word, “therefore”. This basically means, because of what I already stated. Whenever you see that word, go back and read the verses that came before so you will understand what the author is referring to. In this case, the apostle Paul is talking about how we have the glory of God living inside our jars of clay (literally in cracked pots.) Ponder that for a moment. We have the glory of God residing inside of our hearts. We don’t have to go to a temple somewhere to feel His Presence; He is living inside of us!

Now look at the next part. Because we have the glory of God living within us, “we do not lose heart.” In the Greek this means to be utterly spiritless, completely exhausted, weary beyond explanation. We aren’t talking about the kind of tired that requires a mental health day. We’re talking about the funk that comes over us, causing us to not want to get out of bed—ever.
Before I touch on that, let’s keep reading.

“Though outwardly we are wasting away,” (does anyone else’s mirror remind them of this daily??), “yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” Our spirits, the part of us that is reborn at salvation, is being renewed every day.

In the Greek, this means to mature, to make new, to be changed into a new kind of life as opposed to the former corrupt state. Those girls who have been a part of my Bible study should write in the margin of your Bible the word “zoe”! As our outer body continues to age and wrinkle and shift, our inner person continues to mature into the zoe, the greater life, that Jesus promised His followers. How is this possible? Because His glory lives within us, enabling us to look beyond our circumstances, and to rely on His power.

Look at Isaiah 40:29-31, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Another phrase for “hope in the Lord” is to wait expectantly, to trust completely and confidently, to bind together. Our strength is renewed as we bind ourselves to the Truth of His Word, and trust Him confidently and completely. To me, binding means to read the Word, speak the Word, write it out and memorize it—make it a natural part of your daily life. That is how we renew our spirits, through the Truth of God.

Let these scriptures soothe your spirit and remind you that God wants to renew you, not just on the days when you feel spent, but every day!

Be blessed by His Truth. We’ll continue the rest tomorrow.

In pursuit of zoe,