Faith Through Fog

Foggy days are fun as long as I don’t have to drive in them. There’s something mysterious and quiet when the clouds enfold us. It makes me want to slow down, have coffee, read a book and rest. We have few days like this in Southern California, so I make the most of it when we do.

But extreme fog while driving is stressful. It’s unnerving to drive when you can’t see what is coming. Wise drivers will slow down, inching their way through the unknown, keeping their eyes on the lines so as not to cross into oncoming traffic.

I’ve found much of life to be foggy days, the not knowing how situations will turn out. When will we meet the “right one”, get married, have babies, figure out career goals, buy a house…and all of the how’s? How will we overcome the obstacles…marital strife, financial challenges, health issues, family dynamics, relationship tensions, employment disappointments? So many questions and so few certainties. We have little control, really none, outside of our own choices. Life is foggy.

We can choose how we approach the fog. Either plow ahead, taking chances, and trying to control the unforeseen in our way and our timing, or maintain a posture of surrender, trusting God for the unknown, moving in His timing and His way.

I remember the fog being thick as pea soup through my infertility days. It seemed endless; an abyss of heartache. Nothing seemed certain except my relentless desire to have what I couldn’t. How could that be God’s plan?

The fog settled long, dark and suffocating. I stopped seeking God’s will and went my own way…getting lost, causing injury to my marriage and even my own body. It was only in my surrender that I began to believe God could see what I couldn’t. He required that I let go of my own pursuit, pick up my cross and follow Him. There was great pain in letting it go, trusting the Lord for what my future would look like, possibly far different than my hopes and dreams. Still, inching along with Jesus through the fog was safer than my own instincts and choices.

As I began trusting again and moving forward with Jesus, the fog lifted and I could see new plans on the horizon. My husband and I made plans to birth a new church. It was exhilarating, scary, and purpose-filled. We couldn’t birth a baby, but we could birth and build a church. (Want to grow your faith, plant a church!😉) While on this new path, a week before our first church service, God provided for my hearts desire. We were pregnant! Doctors had said it would never happen, but I know someone that makes the impossible possible.

We only see in part what God sees fully, and that is probably better. It forces us to trust the One that sees it all, made it all, and knows it all. There are no obstacles for God. He sees with perfect clarity.

I’m sure of one thing, what we see as impossible in our lives, is actually completely possible through God. Our inability to see it just makes us human and Him God.

What are your how’s, when’s or why’s? Do not be discouraged or dismayed my friends. Slow down and seek Him through the fog. Rest in Him knowing He will make a way where there seems to be no way, but don’t stop moving! (Uncertainties and depression can cause us to stop altogether.) Move forward, drawing closer to Jesus. He’s always the right direction. He has a plan for you through the foggy uncertainties. While you are living and breathing there is purpose for your life…don’t get stuck in the muck of unknowns. Pain can propel us into His purposes….like church planting.😉

There is great freedom in surrender; accepting we are not in control. Breathe in His presence, grab hold of His hand and let Him walk you through the fog. He knows where He is going. He’s got great things in store. You just can’t see it yet.

Prayer: Lord, so much of life is uncertain for us, but You are certain. You are our constant, even when we lose sight of You. Help us trust You through foggy days. Increase our faith as we walk through the valleys without visibility. You can make the impossible possible. Help us trust You as we inch along the road of life with our poor visibility. Allow us to enjoy the journey, finding strength and rest in You alone. Your will be done, not ours. In Jesus name, Amen

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Alabaster Offering

The woman came to Jesus repentant, broken as her alabaster jar. Luke, chapter 7, reveals that she had lead a “sinful life”…haven’t we all? She came to Jesus weeping, bringing what was likely her most expensive possession, her alabaster jar of perfume, seeking compassion and forgiveness. She came to the right One.

She poured the fragrant contents of her broken jar upon Jesus head and fell to His feet weeping. The scent must have overwhelmed the room. It certainly got the attention of many at the table. Mark, chapter 14, tells of the crowds indignant chatter as they questioned her wastefulness…”why this waste of perfume?”. False assumptions and shame followed…“It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” She must not care about the poor…you can almost hear the pride swelling behind these statements, as if they would NEVER have done such an irresponsible thing. The final punch…”they rebuked her harshly.” Talk about some serious bullies. These bullies didn’t even care that the Teacher was in the room. They did all of this in front of Jesus! Can you imagine? Unfortunately, I can.

There have been times I’ve poured myself out for God, sharing vulnerably, encouraging people, giving of myself until I had nothing left, only to be falsely accused, misunderstood and taken for granted. Such is the life of a Jesus follower. There’s nothing quite like having a brother or sister in the faith emotionally wound you, especially when they group together. Yes, bullies are in the church too, BUT so is Jesus.

Jesus, with His lazer beam focus, looks straight at the heart of the alabaster lady and looks at the crowd gathered. He cuts through all of their pretense, manipulation, greed and what I perceive as jealousy of this humble woman. Maybe they were jealous that they didn’t think of doing something so thoughtful and heart felt for Jesus? Maybe they were annoyed at the ease with which Jesus accepted her….shouldn’t she be ashamed of herself? Who does she think she is….I mean, she’s not part of their “inner circle”, yet she was exactly where Jesus wanted her.

Jesus quiets the room. “Leave her alone.” She is with Him and nobody is going to talk smack about His daughter. He calls out their hidden agendas. “”Why are you bothering her?” And by the way, you do know you can help the poor anytime you want, right? While helping the poor is a good thing, what this woman does is more urgent. “She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.” I love that He says, “she did what she could.” She had a jar of perfume and in that moment what she could do was sacrifice it for the One that would sacrifice everything for her, for you, for me and for all. Her action demonstrated the condition of her heart. Yes, she was broken, but that brokenness lead her to Jesus.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.~Psalm 147:3

She did what she could do in her brokenness, despite the judgmental murmurs of those present. It was a risk and I’m sure it hurt her feelings, but it was worth it. Approaching Jesus will always lead to grace, forgiveness and restoration. He’s in the healing business and He’s masterful at mending broken hearts…they are the easiest to reshape. A prideful heart becomes like stone, un-moldable. Remember, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness, not our pride. What’s the condition of your heart?

2 Cor.12:9~But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

She brought her perfume. What can you do, or what can you bring to Jesus today? Maybe your offering is just a broken heart, wounded by people and trials of life. He alone can restore what people have broken in you. Maybe, like her, you feel judged, accused and exposed…He sees you as blemish free, beautiful and whole in Him. Keep going to Him to find rest and renewal. He will quiet the bullies and strengthen you to rise above.

Do what you can to love God and love people, regardless if people love you back. You and I have been given gifts to be used for Him. Use them for His glory. You can expect people will challenge your motives, make assumptions, and even accuse. That’s ok. Pour out what you have for Jesus and He will defend You. Remember His words to this crowd and know He is saying them for you too, “Leave her/him alone.” He’s got your back and one day there will be an account for all things. If God is for you, who can be against you?

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for how graciously you receive us, even when we are at our worst. Your love restores us to wholeness as we put our trust in You. Help us seek You first in every situation so that we are empowered by You, not being lead by our feelings. Emotions ebb and flow, but You are consistent in love, grace and forgiveness. Help us speak and behave in ways that reflect Your goodness. You are so good to us. In Jesus name, Amen

The other side of the “but”

 

There are “buts” in life that are out of our control. We wanted to have a baby way sooner than we did BUT God had other plans for us. We finally had babies BUT we had major complications in all 3 pregnancies and nearly lost one child. My hubby and I have tried our best to lead people to Jesus, though imperfectly, BUT some people have still found reasons to focus on our flaws, missing the whole point. We have loved “the church” BUT have been deeply hurt by it at times. I’ve tried to be a good friend BUT I’ve still lost friends along the way. I’m passionate about dance and exercise, BUT I got injured many years ago, forcing me to lay down my passion for a season and modify it for life. These are just a few of my “buts”…what are yours?

Some buts can’t be helped, they are just a part of life. Others, we choose, out of pride, fear and pain; those times we don’t want to go God’s way or wait on His timing. I have a laundry list of those buts too, but that’s a subject for another time.

Joseph and Mary had to deal with some major unexpected buts. They were pledged to be married, BUT before they “came together, she was found to be with child.” (Matt. 2) Yikes, Houston we have a problem! Imagine the shock they both felt, the initial shame, and the dreaded rumors they would face. I wonder if they had thoughts of, “what did we do to deserve this?” They were trying to do things the right way, BUT here they were dealing with pregnancy before marriage and Joseph knew he wasn’t involved. I’m sure that was a pain in the….gut! 😉 Joseph, being the righteous dude that he was, decided he would break things off quietly, so Mary wouldn’t be publicly disgraced, BUT “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream” and told him not to be afraid of marrying her. God had WAY bigger plans for Joseph than he could have ever dreamed…it was just on the other side of the but.

The truth is Joseph and Mary had a good plan for their lives, but God had something way bigger in mind for them. I’m sure there were days they wondered “why them”, maybe they even secretly wished God would have chosen someone else. Parenting Jesus required a lifetime of sacrifice and we all know sacrifice isn’t easy.

When we follow Jesus, sacrifice is required. We will make big plans and God might send us a big BUT, altering our course, but it will be gloriously better. Joseph probably never would have chosen the path God had for him, but he would have missed out on the honor of knowing Jesus as his son…and his Lord! Talk about the perfect kid! God knew Joseph would handle the challenge like a champ. Instead of doing what seemed natural, breaking up with Mary, He trusted God. His obedience helped usher in God’s precense, not only to their family, but to the world. It only takes one to do the right thing. Be that one.

Don’t trip over the but you’re dealing with. When you encounter the trial, remember it is likely the perfect place for Jesus to enter into. If You persevere, He will. Trust Him with what you don’t understand. His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours. He works ALL things to the good, even the buts that others meant to hurt us with…He makes everything beautiful in His time. Pray, persevere, and patiently proceed with God’s plan.

Are you struggling with the unexpected buts of life? Maybe you’re not where you hoped you would be; happily married, in the career of your choice, with the “perfect” kids, loved by many, in the “perfect church”. (PSA, there isn’t one.) Or maybe you have physical limitations you never dreamed you would deal with, but it’s now your reality. Do not be discouraged or dismayed my friends for God is with you through it all. Don’t give in to negative thinking and behaving. It will only make things worse. Choose to trust Him. He’s got great plans for you…just beyond the buts.😉

Prayer:  Lord, thank you that you are with us wherever we go. You are in every moment we face, the triumphs, the trials, the unexpected, the failures. You see us through loving lenses, not critical ones. Help us trust you through the buts in life, those you designed for our growth and those that are thrust upon us because of other people’s sin. Make each of us fully dependent upon You so that we can persevere through this race of life, growing in our endurance and hope. This life is not the end. We thank You for the future You have in store for us. In Jesus name, Amen

Good Endings

I love a good book, especially if it ends well. When I get swept up in the words of a novel, it seems I can hardly wait to find out how it will end, and yet, I hasten to finish it. I mean, when it’s over…it’s over! I can re-read it, but it’s not the same, since I already know the ending. There’s a bit of a let down when finishing a book that has captured my heart. I guess I’ve always struggled with endings. It’s a love/hate relationship.
We are nearing the end of a chapter in our lives this week. Well, it’s more like finishing a book in a volume of books. It’s our last week pastoring a church my husband and I planted eight years ago. I remember the day we moved to the city of Modesto so clearly. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, but it hasn’t always felt that way.
My initial feelings towards Modesto were, ummm….less than thrilling. 😬😉Yet, I knew we were called and I’ve always desired obedience to the Lord. We came to this city excited about what God might do, and terrified about what on earth we were getting ourselves into. We didn’t know a single soul here and we had benchmarks to meet in order to meet our basic necessities. My husband and I agreed we would hold it all with an open hand and trust God to bless it. If things didn’t work out, no shame in that, we would just pack it up and move on. So, we pressed on, seeking Him, meandering through this unknown journey, getting glimpses of God, as He revealed the story of this exhilarating chapter. (“Terrifying chapter” would better describe how I used to feel, but now as I look back at those early pages I see them more as an adventure ride. I’m so glad we hopped on and didn’t let fear hold us back!😄) Honestly, that first year, was harder than I ever could have imagined and also more thrilling than I can explain in a few sentences. To trust God weekly for His basic provision, was a nail biter, but my faith grew immeasurably as I witnessed miracles from living a life surrendered to Him, even when it hurts.

We cashed out 401k’s, sold one of our two cars, prayed tirelessly, reached out to every stranger, cried a lot (at least I did), adjusted to quiet holidays where the only people at the dinner table were the same people we saw every day….our party of five. Those were some lonely days. I eagerly anticipated the next chapter in those early pages, even praying that God would bring us back home, but God is infinitely smarter than I am and when we allow Him, He writes the most beautiful stories through the challenges of our lives. He’s a far better story teller than I could ever hope to be and so it’s best to let the author of life create our stories.

Over time God brought people to The Well that loved us like family. We saw many surrender their lives wholeheartedly to Jesus; an experience that makes the whole journey worth the pain. Life became full of meaning and loneliness subsided. God faithfully filled this chapter with people that will forever be in our hearts. We grew in numbers at the church, but more importantly, we grew in Jesus. Each milestone was so miraculous, we couldn’t possibly take the credit. Christ alone is the Cornerstone. The church became a beacon of light in our community, drawing people in need of hope and healing. While we are still far from perfect, grace abounds at The Well….most of the time. (There is no perfect. Thank goodness, or they wouldn’t let me attend.)😉

This story has unfolded rapidly as I’ve watched our kids grow and thrive, both at church and at school. We’ve experienced the blessing of baptizing two of our kids at The Well, and all three of our children asked Jesus into their hearts during this chapter of life. Kids have a way of making time move at the speed of light. If only I could freeze time….sort of like you can when you put a good book down, forcing the ending to wait a little longer.

It’s Saturday night. Tomorrow morning will be the last time I wake up early to drive to that cute little church on the edge of town. It figures that tomorrow is “Spring forward”…if you know me, you know I’m allergic to mornings.😉🤧 I usually dread when we lose an hour of sleep! Yet, it feels completely appropriate on our last Sunday at The Well. God’s going to catapult us all forward into our next chapters; no more dog earring those pages and saving them until later. It’s time to finish, so we can start anew.

Here’s what I know for sure; He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It won’t be easy, but it will be faith building, hope filled, and soul refining. God will do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine and the pages of our lives will be rich in His stories of grace, healing, restorative power and above all, His love.❤️
I can’t wait to read the beginning of the next book in the volume of our lives, but first, I will savor the ending of this one. I love a good ending.🙏❤️🙌

Phil.1:3-11~3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Unwelcome Cross

A court ordered mandate enforced the removal of a cross from the top of a Christmas tree in Indiana this week. The man that filed the lawsuit said it caused him “irreparable harm”. Just seeing the cross as he drove was a source of “unwelcome contact.” It was so unwelcome by him that he went through legal proceedings to have it removed. Imagine the harm Jesus actually endured on the cross for you, for me, and for the man insisting the cross be removed. Jesus is so gracious. His response to the man would be something like, “Father forgive him, for he knows not what he is doing.” He’s way more grace filled than I am. I can think of a lot more colorful, defensive, self-righteous responses. But, thank you Jesus for the Holy Spirit, which enables us to do what we can not do on our own strength. Often He helps us do and say nothing. Phew! Keeping our mouths closed takes divine intervention.😉

The thought of us “not knowing what we are doing” percolated through my mind as I considered the cross. My first thought was, Jesus how can you claim that we don’t know what we are doing? I mean seriously, did the Roman guards not know it was barbaric to beat you, whip you, hurl insults at you, while leading you to a torturous death on the cross? How could they not know??? How brainless did they have to be not to know that kind of behavior is wrong….even if you weren’t the Son of God? But you were…and they did. And Jesus, seriously, how can that man not know getting a court order to remove a small cross from a big tree is…wrong…and lame? Oh, but then the conviction set in. In the words of John Bradford, “There but for the grace of God, go I”.

The thing is, there was a time I was completely blinded to the truth….spiritually blind. I remember rolling my eyes at Christian friends as a teen; laughing at their pursuit of this unknown God. The cross carried no value for me until I met Jesus. In fact, I was agitated by it and felt antagonist toward it…though there was no rational explanation for my feelings. I truly did not know what I was doing.

Even while walking with Jesus, I’ve gotten lost along the journey, and needed Him to set me back on track. I get uncomfortable with the cross too, like the man in the article. It confronts my own behavior, selfishness, judgements and offenses. So much about the cross makes me uncomfortable, but the Bible says to pick up our crosses and follow Him.

When we carry our crosses, we can’t carry much else. There was so much love demonstrated on His cross, such selflessness. At times I’m so overwhelmed by His love that I’m eager to pick mine up. Other days, I’m ashamed to admit, I’d rather remove the cross from the tree, so I can focus on how offended I feel, how wrong someone else is, and throw myself a little pity party. Yet, Jesus so willingly gave it all for me and you, that there isn’t room for petty offenses, grudges, or self-righteous behavior in light of His love. Though my humanness tries to persuade me to speak out, get angry, push back when offended, I can lay the offense down knowing He called me to a different way of living; to carry my cross.

How do you handle the offenses of others? It’s going to happen, a lot, especially this time of year. Christmas can bring about lots of expectations while visiting with family; fuel for big offenses to occur. We have in our minds how things should be, people should speak and behave. Here’s what I know for sure; an offense + a defense = a relational train wreck. If we choose to get defensive and offended by every offense we encounter, we are headed to a very un-merry Christmas.

Our closest friends and family can often feel like our biggest offenders, since their opinions tend to carry greater value than strangers or acquaintances. Great expectations can leave us feeling greatly offended. We expect that they are going to speak and behave differently than last year, but they don’t. We expect they will offer concern, care, or even just a little kindness to us, wrong again. We expect everyone will get along, enjoying all the food and festivities, much of which took weeks to prepare, but that awkward tension remains….it’s like cutting through caramel, only not as sweet. 😬

I’ve felt offended and unknowingly have offended family and friends more times than can be remembered. Unfortunately, I have a pretty good memory, so offenses can often be churned again and again in my mind, leaving a curdled mess in my heart. Nothing good comes from sour thinking.

Jesus set an amazing example for us when it comes to feeling offended. He laid down his life for us while we were still sinners. Think about how offended and defensive He could have been. He was perfect, and yet constantly accused. He offended people by loving them, healing them, working on his day off, caring for the marginalized in society, waiting on His Father’s timing, and claiming to be who He was….God. The gossip train was out of control when Jesus walked the earth, and yet, Jesus refused to hop on. He did not get defensive, wasting energy on what wouldn’t change. He stayed on course; headed toward His Father’s will; a pain filled, arduous journey that no one else could endure. His love fueled that train which lead to His death as He welcomed the cross.

Are you prepared for the possible “unwelcome contact” you might have with family over the next couple of weeks? Will you collide with your offenders, offering up defenses, finding flaw in them, hurling insults, withdrawing emotionally, or starting your own gossip train? There’s a better way. Offer grace, offer forgiveness, offer Jesus in those moments. It will keep you on track and you will be blessed beyond the circumstance by remaining close to the conductor of your soul. You’re bound to have moments of feeling offended this Christmas…just remember the cross atop of the tree. He is why we celebrate. Let Him be why you forgive, offer grace, and understanding. The offense is just a blip on your travel plans. Offer your loved ones the greatest gift, His unconditional love. They don’t need your stuff, wrapped in pretty packaging. They need His grace and if you know Him, you have it to give. Let’s carry our crosses into Christmas. You can do all things through Him!

Luke 23:34~Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Matt. 16:24~Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
1Peter 4:8~Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Proverbs 19:11~Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Avoid The Race

On your mark, get set….the tension is mounting, do you feel it? The Christmas decor is beckoning to be dusted off from attics and storage. Carols are playing, filling our senses with joy, memories, and anxiety for all that needs to be purchased, baked, wrapped, and given. Our days seem shorter and our lists seem longer. What ever happened to Thanksgiving? That day of being grateful for all we have  so generously been blessed with…it’s become a day for the race to begin…..ready….GO!

Martha understood the frenzy. People were coming to her house for dinner, not just “people”, but Jesus! How thrilling, overwhelming and exhausting. I can only imagine what she must have been feeling as she “opened her home to Him.” What an honor. What a blessing. What a frenzied ball of nerves she must have been, like a turkey avoiding the dinner plate. Everything must be in place for such an honored guest. But then, that annoying sister….

Mary, Martha’s sister, “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said.” She just sat there! How rude. Martha is racing around preparing for their distinguished guest and her sister is just sitting, effortlessly at Jesus feet. How lazy, how wrong, how blind Mary was to poor Martha’s full blown anxiety attack. So, like many sisters would do, Martha tattles. She runs to Jesus, like a child, whining of how unfair life seems and demands a change. Commanding Jesus.   It’s like when our kids run to us demanding we reprimand their sibling for whatever alarming offense just occurred. Likely, there is blame to share.

Jesus response touches my own anxious heart. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better…”. Can you hear the gentleness in His voice, the tenderness? He doesn’t scold her or seem indifferent to her temper tantrum. He sees her anxiety and reminds her of what she really needs. She only needs ONE thing…and that is Him.

Oh to sit at the feet of Jesus, enjoying the company of our Father who adores and delights in us. To stop running about with our long lists, checking them twice, trying to be nice…but at the end of the day feeling worn out and more like Scrooge. What if we just sit and linger with Jesus? He is our source of joy, peace and love. Those are the gifts that our family and friends REALLY need, and we have it to offer, IF we receive it ourselves.

Thanksgiving is this Thursday. Don’t race past it my friends. When your internal alarms start sounding, feeling the tension of all that needs to be done, remember Mary. Choose what is better. Wake up in the morning and sit at Jesus feet. Drink in the goodness of time spent with Him so you can pour it out on your family and friends. Don’t put all your hopes into the perfect dinner, or expect perfect behavior from your family, setting yourself up to be perfectly disappointed. Put your hope in the perfect One, who brings perfect peace. You can do all things through Him!

May His peace flood your homes this Thanksgiving. Enjoy your family, friends, food and fellowship. What a blessed life we have been given!

Luke 10:38-42~38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Distortion Glasses

“I see J-Lo.” I can only imagine how challenging it must have been for her to keep a straight face when I said that. The corners of her mouth were doing tug-of-war with the knowledge that this was not a moment for laughter. Honestly, as I think back to that moment, I laugh at myself. It’s like I was wearing distortion glasses; seeing my image in front of a fun house carnival mirror. Sin scrambles the brain.

Yesterday I was at the gym in my Muvz class and the instructor made a random comment,”this is what J-Lo does every morning.” (We were doing a routine full of squats and lunges, to a J-Lo song.) It’s crazy how our memories can get jarred by a simple statement. A memory flickered across my mind in the middle of class. Suddenly I was back in my counselors office 15 years ago, explaining to her that I didn’t want to have a….uhhh, ummm, errrr, J-Lo behind. 😳 I’m embarrassed to admit this conversation, but it’s a reflection of how warped my thinking was at that time.

My brain had been distorted by my own sin. I no longer viewed my own body image, or anyone else’s, in the same way God does. It became my goal to be the perfect weight and shape….a non-existent possibility. The counselor helping me was a wonderful, Jesus follower who had faced her own body image distortion years prior, so she knew all the tricks and blind spots. She had me draw my perceived body shape on butcher paper that was taped to a wall. When I was done she asked me what I thought was wrong with the outline I had drawn…that’s where the J-Lo comment happened. 😬 The only thing I saw on my drawing was a very large, round….well you know. 😉 Apparently, not even J-Lo’s body was perfect enough in my mind. Crazy, I know.

Our minds can get warped and out of alignment with God’s word and we don’t even know it. At the time I believed that I was loving Jesus and worshiping Him from the platform at church almost every Sunday, and yet I was literally dying in my own stinking thinking.

Once I realized I had a problem, I got down to business and did the hard work of cleaning out the garbage I had believed, making room for God’s word to be firmly planted in my mind and heart. It took years to fully embrace my new way of thinking. There are no quick fixes in our healing and growth.  It starts by taking one step in the right direction, and then another step, and then another….until one day you realize that sin no longer has any grip on your life….then you can run freely without any baggage. Not to say that I never tripped and fell along the way. Having partners in this race is vital to finishing well. If I fall, someone is there to help me up and encourage me along the way; reminding me of what is true.

Do you have stinking thinking? Ideas and beliefs that aren’t congruent with God’s word? Maybe you are stuck in a rut and you don’t know it; looking through your own fun house mirrors, unaware of how distorted your vision has become. Pray, ask Him to reveal if there is any offensive way in you. Be sure to check your thoughts with God’s word. These “offensive ways” will lead you down a dark path, unintentionally hurting you and those in your life. To be honest, I thought it felt good to be hungry. It didn’t bother me one bit, though it was hurting my marriage and my body. We can be fooled by our own selfish desires and foolish thinking. The longer you walk in the dark, the harder it gets to distinguish God’s perfect plan and will for your life. You can know Jesus, but not be able to walk in His footsteps…it’s hard to see footsteps when the lights are out.
Cry out to Him, He will set you free, and set you back on track. You don’t have to figure it all out in a day, just take the first step. The first step is always the hardest. You can do it! I’m rooting for you and so is Jesus! You can do ALL things through Him!

Colossians 2:6-7~Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

Psalm 139:24~See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

1John 1:7~But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.