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Arming Not Alarming Women of Grace

Wonderland

March 27, 2017

This past weekend our church had our Women’s Tea.  It was a lovely time of fellowship and yummy food.  This was the message I had the honor of sharing.  It starts with a story…

Once upon a time, there lived a little girl.  At birth, she was displaced, living estranged in a foreign land.  This land offered her visions of awesome mountains, vast seas, flowers fragranced with springtime itself, the bluest of skies, trees aflame with color…beauty displayed in abundance.  The land was a wondrous land to be sure.

In the pocket of her heart, the little girl carried a note…a love note from the King, declaring her loved.  Declaring her worthy.  And in this note, the King explained everything to her.  But in this land, there prowled an evil.  This evil called herself the queen, and though not the true queen of the land, she was indeed the queen of deceiving hearts, and had deceived many walking through wonderland.  And hidden along the paths were her soldiers, looking to ambush the unprepared.

Yet the girl could still be safe.  You see, the King had sent His Son, the Prince, to clothe her and arm her for the journey, and to be her guide.

She kept the Prince close-by as she traveled through this wonderland, but hesitated accepting the robe He held out.  There were others traveling through wonderland, who had accepted His robes, and she noticed that though they came out victorious, it did not save them from being attacked.

So she glanced away from the Prince…

A smile caught her eye…and she ignored the discomfort it gave her to look upon it.  The smile danced above the ever abounding signs and directions, promising this road to fame; that road to money.  Over here, pleasure.  Around there, glory.  U-turn to security.  And straight ahead to independence.

Laughter lilted from amongst the trees, drawing her curiosity.  Surely a peak wouldn’t hurt.  “This way” led into the woods…beyond the safety of the path.  And yet…where were the queen’s soldiers?  Not to the left.  Nor to the right.  But just a bit further there lie a tea.   And oh what a sight it was to behold.

A table of splendor arrayed for any who beheld it.  Table cloths and napkins spun in the brightest colors, looking of the softest of fabrics.  High-backed chairs with polished oak carvings and over-stuffed plush cushions.  Drinks served in ornately painted urns and pots, sipped from silver and gold, delicately shaped into the daintiest of cups.  Treats temping the tongue to partake and taste the tantalizing flavors piled high on tiered platters.  Piped onto one, Eat Me.  On another, Try Me.  And the other guests had obeyed, eating and drinking to more than their fill; each drink enchanting them…each bite bewitching.  Their cackled laughter carrying across the wood.

Whispers began to register in her ears.  Eat me….Try me…

She moved to reach out, but her spirit recoiled, and her hand hesitated.

From where did these voices emanate?  Her unease grew…  This wasn’t right.  Something was off.

Louder they called until their cries overtook her senses.

How could these people be laughing?  This was shear madness!

Desperate now, she looked for her Prince, but before her foot could take a step, cold iron clamped down around her ankle.  The queen’s men were upon her.

She cried and she clawed, but these men were trained, experienced at taking captives.  All too easily, her battle was lost; and tightly bound, she was pulled deeper into the forest.

I belong to the King! She tried.  She’d seen it work before.  In His name, Unhand me!

You hold no authority, they sneered.  You belong to the queen.

Her pleas continued all through the night, until her eyes beheld the guillotine awaiting her, and fear paralyzed any thought of escape.

No trial was offered as they strapped her neck to the wooden plank.  The queen stood by watching with sheer delight.  Turning from the sight of her, the girl’s eyes found the Prince.

Tears streamed down his face.  He still held the robe.  Why had she not taken it?  Why had she questioned her need for him?

With every ounce of strength she could muster, she cried out to the Prince.

I am so sorry, she wept.  He had always been so kind to her.  He’d never turned a deaf ear, never grown tired of offering her help, of offering his robe.  Fear of her death suddenly paled in comparison to the pain of causing her Prince grief.  Forgive me.

The queen’s shrill voice rang out: OFF WITH HER HEAD!!!!

The guillotine came down.  She felt the wind of it.  Heard the thunk against the plank.  And she took another breath.

She was alive!  Standing, somehow free of the bondage that moments ago had held her captive to death.

She glanced down and saw the folds of the Prince’s robe hanging off of her.

How?

The Prince smiled.  You’re a daughter of the King now.  The queen’s guillotine cannot touch anyone wearing this royal robe. 

She silently pondered these things as she followed her Prince.  The queen and her men stood by, unable to accuse her, unable to attack her…for she walked with the Prince.

Amazing peace washed over the girl as they stepped out of the woods, and the familiar crunch of the path sounded under her feat.

You’ll still have to fight.  The Prince told her as they entered a small, humble building; almost a shack, really.  But an armory awaited them inside.  Armor of every kind.  Swords.  Shields.  Spears.  Arrows.

Clothe yourself in these, the Prince instructed.  Take up my sword. 

But I don’t know how to fight, the little girl stuttered.  How will I learn?

Kindness and love poured through the Prince’s eyes.  Practice.  Though she will never claim your life, the queen will hunt you still.  Watch me, and learn.  Listen to me, and learn.  Then fight.  Not just for yourself, but for others as well.  You are a daughter of the King, so fight in His name.

 

So why a story?  Well, instead of essays and well-structured sentences, God created me to see scenes played out in my mind.  And as I sought God’s leading, I saw twisted signs, tea parties in elaborate colors and décor, and battle scenes played out…

But though I do hope you enjoyed the story, even if just a little, what I hope you got from it is that we live in a wonderland.  Just like the original Alice in Wonderland, all the versions given to us by Disney, and the one I just described, Wonderland is beautiful.  There are many grand things to behold.

Just like the little girl, we have a King.  A wonderful King, the Creator of our wonderland.  A King who declares us loved.  A King who did not spare even His own Son, but sent Him to die on a cross and raised him again on the third day, giving us a right standing with himself.  (Romans 8:32-33).

But in this land, we too face a dangerous enemy.

Unlike the little girl in the story, we face a much greater enemy: Satan.  In the New Living Translation of 2 Corinthians 4:4, it refers to Satan as the “god of this world”.  Ladies, he does have power.  He is familiar with the terrain he wages war on.  He knows his kingdom.  And he oppresses it.  If it weren’t so, the Bible wouldn’t say so.  1 Peter 5:8 warns us, telling us to “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

These days, doesn’t it seem like the devil is “the one that shall not be named.”  We try to keep him as just a character in these Bible stories, and pretend that all we have to do is keep away from “the world.”  Now yes.  The world, and we ourselves, are fallen.  Sin has entered both the world, and our own hearts, and we do have to resist those things.  But Satan is real!  He’s horribly aggressive, sneaky, and not just seeking – but plotting our destruction!  And he’s hungry!!!

And because he is real, the battle he wages is real too.  We cannot be blind to that reality.

Now we need to take a moment to remember the end of our real-life story.  Spoiler alter: God wins!  John 16:33 and Romans 10:9 tell us that Jesus has not only overcome this world, but because of His love poured out through the cross, He defeated death and its grip on those of us who confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead!  For those of us who belong to Jesus, we have nothing to fear.

But the devil does.

The day is coming when Satan will be destroyed.  Revelation gives us a window into the end days, when the devil will be thrown into the lake fire to be tormented day and night for all eternity.

He knows this is coming.  He knows his days are numbered.  And he’s going to fight until his dying breath.

So here we are, living in the battle that is waged in the days between the cross and bye-bye satan, and hello God forever and ever!  And we have to figure out what to do with our time.

My suggestion: we fight.

Now in our story, once the little girl accepted her Prince, she had a few things in her arsenal…a robe, armor, a sword, and shield.

The robe identified her.  She belonged to the King.  She had the robe of royalty.

The armor would protect her.

The sword and shield would allow her to fight back.

And guess what?  Just like the little girl in the story, we have a well-stocked arsenal.

We too have a robe!

…For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness… {Isaiah 61:10}

And yes we have armor, a shield, and a sword.

So let’s look at Ephesians chapter 6, verses 10 through 18 and check out this arsenal we’re given.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. {EPHESIANS 6:10-18 }

So yes, if you’re wondering, you have indeed been invited to a tea, to talk about suiting up for battle.

There are two things about the armor I want to talk about today.  The Sword, and the back of our armor…or lack thereof…

First, the Sword.

Ladies, I want you to imagine yourself in wonderland.  You’re in a field, holding a sword, and all around you is a forest.  The sword is heavy.  Sharp!  It sits awkwardly in your hands.  Now look around you at the woods.  Shadows shift, sticks snap…the enemy is close.

2 Corinthians 10, verses 3 – 5 tells us that “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”

God’s Word…the Bible…is our sword – one of God’s mighty weapons.  Just like a made-of-steal sword, it can feel really awkward learning how to wield it.  But we must!  And how do we learn how to use it?  You guessed it…by using it!  Opening it up.  Reading it.  Meditating on it.  Memorizing it.  Speaking it out loud!

Now I know, it can be really embarrassing letting people see us stumble around trying to find where the books of the bible are.  Or reciting verses to each other that we’re trying to memorize.  Or, standing up in front of a bunch of ladies and sharing the message God’s put on your heart.  But God’s Word is life-saving, and can give lethal blows to the attacks of our enemy.  Our sword is a sword of truth, and it’s the only Truth that can fight the lies of our enemy.

I’d like you to imagine yourself in wonderland one more time.  You’re exactly where we left off…in the field, holding a sword.  Now look down, and I want you to visualize a young child next to you.  If you’re a mother, picture your child.  If not, picture your niece, nephew, friend’s child, neighbor down the street…any child you cross paths with.  Now glance back to the woods and see the enemy as wolves, waiting just at the edge of the field, teeth bared, salivating at the sight of the child.

My guess is that any one of us would cast aside the embarrassment of letting that child see us stumbling around with this sword and we’d practice!  We’d practice using it day and night!  It’d be with us always!  We’d even set it in the child’s hands and let them get used to holding it…learn some basic defensive moves with it.  Because it’d be a matter of life and death…

Do you get what I’m saying ladies?

Some of our little ones are just outside those doors, doing crafts and having a great time.  Just like us, they need to know God’s Word.  They need to know God!  Their salvation is not in our hands, but that does not mean we sit back and do nothing.  They need to see their mommies and the women in their lives valuing God’s Word.  Not just being sent to Sunday School or being told to read their Bibles…they need to see that God’s Word is PRECIOUS to us.  They need their mommies, and every other Christian they know, showing them how to use it!  How to fight!

And ladies, this doesn’t stop at the concept of kids.  There is a world of lost people who need to know there’s power in God’s Word.  And believe it or not, there’s not a short supply of believers who are young in their faith!  Proverbs 27:17 says one friend sharpens another.  So don’t think age has anything to do with this concept.

How do we do this?  How do we learn to use our sword, while simultaneously equipping and sharpening others?

Lucky for us, the Bible tells us!  One way we do this:

“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 11:18-20)

For a lot of us, that will be so awkward, it might even be painful.  But we have to do it.  We’re told to do it.  If you don’t know how to do this, ask.  We have a number of women who serve in Children’s Ministry who are blessed with the talent of teaching children.  Talk to Dana, Marin, Brittany, Kristen, or Vanessa…to name a few!  We each have different talents, and it’s not shameful to ask for help…it’s wise!

So no excuses.  We just have to do it.

And as we learn to use our Sword, and teach others to use it – adults and children alike-, we receive the amazing blessing of getting to know God himself!  No other sword, but God’s Sword of Truth, lets us know The Maker.

Now let’s talk about this whole, nothing on our backs situation.  As we venture into this concept, let me clarify that this is a Janna-Thought…not biblical insight.  Some translations read “body armor”, but I’m looking at the NIV translation of Breastplate of Righteousness .

But I think perhaps we weren’t given back-armor… because just maybe, we’re supposed to be that for each other.

As I was reading about the armor of God, my mind wandered to 1 Samuel 14.  I’d like for us to jump over there for just a moment so we can take a look together.

One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate treein Migron. With him were about six hundred men, among whom was Ahijah, who was wearing an ephod. He was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh. No one was aware that Jonathan had left. On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez and the other Seneh. One cliff stood to the north toward Mikmash, the other to the south toward Geba. Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the Lord has given them into our hands.” 11 So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. “Look!” said the Philistines. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.” 12 The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.” So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Climb up after me; the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” 13 Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him. 14 In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre. 15 Then panic struck the whole army—those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties—and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God. {1 SAMUEL 14:1-15}

 

I’ve read this passage quite a few times, but until I began working on the tea, I had always kind of read-over the armor bearer, because I love Jonathan’s story!  But this time around I was so struck by the image of the armor bearer.  Now I’ll confess to you that the first thing this passage did was convict me as a wife.  This, along with a verse we had studied in our Monday Night Bible Study set off the motion-picture in my mind, and I saw me and Russell – husband and wife – stepping into the battle of life together: And as Russell led us into battle, instead of being a faithful armor bearer and defending him from behind, well…I just turned around and started giving orders, leaving both of us open to attack.

I confessed right then to God, and that night to Russell, asking for his forgiveness, and he graciously gave it.  But I think that picture holds true for us women as well…as a community of believers.  Regardless of whether or not the breastplate of righteousness wraps around to our backs or not, we should be defending each other.

Like the familiar verses of Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 state, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

What does this look like for us?

I think this could look like our tea party…us ladies coming together to gather in fellowship and worshipping our God.  It could look like our Bible study groups, digging in to God’s Word each week together.  It could be holding a friend’s hand as they weep.  Praying over her through her struggles.  Speaking Truth into a difficult situation.  Rejoicing with her in victories and celebrations. Sharing verses with her as God brings them to our minds.  And simply going to church each week…encouraging others simply by our faithful presence.

Verse 18 of Ephesians 6 that we read earlier tells us to “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.  Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

Even if we can’t be physically present to fight alongside each other, we can and should pray!  God is the ultimate Commander in Chief…He’s the Commander of Heaven’s Armies!  And He invites us to bring our cares to Him, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).  Jesus taught parables about knocking and seeking, telling us that our Heavenly Father delights in giving us good things.  So let’s do as Hebrews 4:16 says and boldly approach the throne of grace.

And as we do so, let’s remember that the battle is the Lord’s.  If I’m going to fight, I want to be as close to the Guy who wins as possible!  And God wins…so He’s the guy to stick close to.

So let’s sum things up here.  We live in a wonderful world…that has lost its mind and gone absolutely mad.  Our enemy is fighting, but God wins.  And while we wait with expectation for the end of our enemy and eternity with our God, we have some armor to put on, a sword to learn how to use, and much shielding and praying to do!

And above all, let’s remember who’s King.

Women of Grace

Who Are You Urging Away?

July 11, 2016

“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods.  Go back with her.” But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.             ~Ruth 1:15-18

Not many of us have been in the situation that Naomi found herself in. Widowed, childless, in a foreign country, and with daughters-in-law to provide for in a world where women were very dependent upon a man for survival. Not only that, but she decides to go home, to travel alone, during a time when “everyone did as they saw fit,” (Judges 21:25). If you’d like to see a rather descriptive example of what that means, read Judges 19.

Often times I’ve wondered why Naomi would urge her daughters-in-law away from her. To encourage them back to their families – ok, that makes sense. But back to their gods? Even if she hadn’t brought up their gods, sending them to their families was sending them back to a culture of false gods. But in light of what their journey could have held for them, it’s a bit easier to understand. Horrible dangers faced them either way!

And then those thoughts got turned on myself.  Who am I urging away?

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I think I can safely say we all have those people in our lives that we urge away from us. We think we’re being responsible, or sensible, in our actions. We just don’t click.  We don’t have the same lifestyle. They don’t really need our friendship. They’d never want to go to church with me. They don’t want to hear what I have to say.

And then there’s these: I just don’t have time for another friendship. I’m done investing in relationships that I’m not getting anything out of.

There’s an unending list of excuses of why we urge people away from us, but what happens when we do that? Are we not essentially saying, “You’re not worth it”?

I’m not saying that we need to be BFFs with everyone, or that we’ll even be friends with everyone. But I am saying, we all have Ruths in our lives, women who have been strategically placed in our lives by God, that we push away because we decide that it’s best.

But it’s not.

Sisters, I encourage you – and I’m urging myself – to not do what you see fit.  Do what Jesus calls us to do: Let’s fulfill the great commission, and let us be the good Samaritan, (Luke 10:25-37).  Don’t turn away from ladies who are different, who you think you can’t help or protect. Just invite them to walk with you as you walk to Jesus.  That’s all any of us can really do.  Jesus will do the rest.

Naomi and Ruth’s story journey, and the safety & blessings God gave them, astonishes me entirely. In a world hostile to all things pure and good, they remained safe. Widowed and childless, they were provided for, protected, and Ruth was blessed with Boaz.

It all started with a girl willing to leave all she had ever known to stay with her mother-in-law, and a mother-in-law who finally understood she was determined to stay.

So let’s be Ruth, and let’s refuse to leave one another. Not just for blessings, not just for friendship, but because salvation could be at hand.

Women of Grace

Of Some Good

November 14, 2015

 

I recently joined a gym.  (Kind of a lame way to start a blog post…I know…but, goodness me, I can’t figure out a way to start this thing in a captivating way!)

Anyway, I joined a gym.  A girlfriend and I saw an advertisement for a boot-camp program on Facebook and decided we were going to do it.  So we drove ourselves down to the gym, met with the owner, and signed up!  Six months of training…here we come!

About thirty seconds into the first day, let’s just say I had a wake-up call.  Now if I’m being honest, the scale isn’t my enemy.  My pants aren’t loose, but they fit fine.  From an outward appearance, I looked healthy.  I even eat healthy…with the exception of my weekly donut (Yes, my donut shop friends know me by name.).  But looking healthy and being healthy are two different things.  And my wonderful trainer quickly helped me see how weak I was.

It was a good place for me, knowing my weakness. It’s still a good place for me.  I know I’m weak, but I’m getting stronger.  I look forward to our early morning sessions, to seeing the group I work out with and experiencing the encouragement from and with them, and the confidence in knowing that the person leading us knows what he’s doing!

And I can see getting lost in it.  In the idea that physical strength is what is important.  In the lies that the TV and marketing tell us that it’s all about looking good in that bikini, or dress, or Facebook picture.  Insecurities are ready to jump into our hearts and minds about our bodies at every turn, even at every moment of strengthening our bodies!  But is our physical appearance or our physical abilities really the root of our deep-seeded insecurities?

Reality is that our frustrations and insecurities are founded in our own broken relationship with our Creator. God created us to know no shame (Genesis 2:25). God made us in His image, male and female, and said it was very good. He created us to walk with Him daily in paradise. Yet shame, insecurities, and frustrations are our constant companions.  And though we are still made in God’s image, sin has made its home in our hearts and we are separated from our Creator because of it and are exiled from our home until death or Christ’s return.

Yes, I’m saying that our modern-day insecurities and self-centeredness all started at the beginning of time, with that forbidden fruit eaten by Adam and Eve.  At that moment of “first sin,” shame entered our world. John Piper addresses shame in his book, “This Momentary Marriage,” (which I highly recommend to EVERYONE), when he says, “Why then the shame? Because the foundation of covenant keeping love collapsed.”

You see, by declaring their independence and deciding that their desire to eat of the fruit was more important than God’s command, Adam and Eve shattered the covenant love relationship.

It, of course, is not something that only Adam and Eve did. We do this daily in our own hearts. We make ourselves the judge and jury, writing and rewriting the laws in our hearts according to our convenience, we set ourselves up as our own god. We want to be strong in our own strength.  We want to be noticed for our glory.  And the further our hearts are from the true God, the deeper our frustrations and the more devastating our insecurities.

We have it all backwards! 1 Timothy 4:8 says:

 “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”

Physical training is good…very good! But let’s use it as it’s intended: to give ourselves a physical example of perseverance, to use the pain of sore and strained muscles that are every day being torn down to accomplish physical strengthening, and to see the habit of waking up early to train our bodies, as a physical example of our faith (1 Corinthians 9:27).

Faith is persevering through the pain and heartache that goes beyond the pain of physical exertion.  Setting aside our first moments of the day for exercise is good. Setting aside our first moments of the day for God is great.

We need to be healthy. Proverbs 31:17 says that a wife (may I substitute woman?) of noble character’s arms are strong for her tasks.  Let’s become physically strong so we can set about the tasks in our lives with strength and confidence.

And let’s get healthy together!  There is amazing encouragement when a woman is weak and her peers cheer her on, the accountability of knowing someone’s going to ask “Where were you?” if you miss a session, and the blessing of having someone stronger to look to as an example and help steer you onto a healthy path.  But I don’t want that just in my physical training.  My spirit begs for that for my faith and relationship with Jesus.

Can you imagine if we took the truths of working out and applied them to our faith?   Knowing accountability is crucial (Galatians 6:1-2 & Proverbs 27:17), that we are stronger together (Ecclesiastes 4:12), and the amazing benefit and grace of mentor-ship & discipleship (Matthew 28:19-20 & 1 Corinthians 11:1).

The solution to our frustrations and insecurities is not found in a gym.  It’s not in that pair of running shoes, or that magical number on the scale, or that perfect pant size.  The solution is to run straight to the cross and find our identity in a God who loves us so much that He sent his son to die on a cross, a God who is so strong that death could not defeat him, and a God so glorious that His Son rose again, defeating death and offering eternal forgiveness and salvation to everyone who believes in Him.

I’ve admitted my physical weakness, and I refuse to be ashamed of it.  Because I am seeking strength.

And I confess my weakness of faith.

But you know what?  It’s a good place for me, knowing my weakness.  I know I’m weak, but I’m committed to getting stronger.  I look forward to my early morning time with Jesus, to seeing the group of girls I do life with and Bible study with and receiving encouragement from their faith, and I rest in the confidence of knowing that the God leading me knows what He’s doing!

And let’s be honest, it’s not my strength anyway.

“‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” {Zechariah 4:6}

It’s Christ in 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. {2 Corinthians 12:19-20}