Gratitude, thankful, shepherd, God’s Word, scripture, Psalm 23, provision, presence, perception, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Psalm 23: Trading Our Perception with the Truth of Our Good Shepherd

We respond to Scripture based on how we perceive our current circumstances of life. That is one of the beauties of God’s Word; it becomes new each day just as our circumstances and moods do. It’s a lifelong process to take God at His word and not allow perception to filter out the truth. Psalm 23 is an easy passage to help us trade our perception with God’s truth.



Psalm 23

A dear sister recently told me she is not a fan of Psalm 23. I got the impression she felt bad about admitting it since it’s part of the Bible, but her reasoning made perfect sense.

After a little inquiry, I learned it was the chapter she was forced to read and recite when she got in trouble as a child. So it’s not hard to see how one of the most well-known passages in Scripture became tarnished in her mind. Let’s dig into Psalm 23 together and see what it says and how it may challenge our perception.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.

Psalm 23:1

We respond to Scripture based on the perception of our circumstances in life. Psalm 23 is an easy passage to help us trade our perception, with God's truth. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #provision #GodsWord #scripture #perception #Psalm23

Our Perception

Two specific thoughts come to my mind after reading verse one:

  1. Do I view God as my personal Shepherd, or is He too busy with more important tasks?
  2. What do I perceive I am lacking?

In this passage, God presents Himself as a caretaker. He is seen as a provider, a leader, and One who is responsible for care. Because of that fact, David’s response is: there is nothing I lack. The first part of verse one speaks to God’s character. I wonder what causes us to feel He is holding out on us? Lately, a bit of careful reflection will quickly illuminate I have everything I need.

For example, a few weeks ago our kitchen was wrecked after a weekend of grilling out with neighbors and running around town. No one wanted to clean up the mess. My man is an excellent helper around the house, but he was working late and I needed to clean up before I had room to cook. Has anyone else encountered this yucky phenomenon?

Anyway, as I dove into the mountain I asked God to help me see the positive instead of feeling sorry for myself that no one was helping me. The Father quickly reminded me of the sweet time we had spent with our neighbors and the laundry list of blessings which made it possible. And He showed me what a joy it is to have a family and a home to share. Before I knew it, I was actually smiling while washing dishes. But don’t spread that around.

God’s Provision

He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths.

Psalm 23:2-3

Three more reflections appear to me here:

  1. Green pastures mean God knows where the food is.
  2. Quiet waters represent that God knows we are like sheep.
  3. Comfort is always going to be greater on God’s path.

Sometimes, our perception tells us something looks really tantalizing, or maybe even righteous. Yet the Father, in His omniscience, knows what will nourish us completely. If sheep are steered to rushing waters they will stick their head in and be swept downstream. God understands what His children need and how best to provide for them.

That means, if we truly accept that He knows best and does provide for us, then we must dare to challenge beliefs that set themselves against God’s goodness to us. Sheep may lack water and be willing to go toward a stream to quench their thirst, but they may be pulled under rushing waters. The Good Shepherd will always lead us to quiet waters, even if it means we have to walk away from a seemingly sure thing.

His purposes are better than ours, and therefore His paths are better than ours.

Jeremy Pierre, Author & Dean of Students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Sometimes, our perception tells us something looks really tantalizing, or maybe even righteous. Yet the Father, in His omniscience, knows what will nourish us completely. Click To Tweet

God’s Presence

Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

Two big things stand out:

  1. There’s no question of if we will go through dark times; it’s merely a question of when.
  2. Yet God is present in the darkness.

In verse 4, David is allowing his understanding of God’s nearness and comfort to guide his perception of a truly agonizing situation. There are times in life when we feel such thick darkness we can practically taste it. Normally that causes fear. But God is with you. He is with me. Darkness and death cannot separate us from the love of God, so in reality, it can do no infinite harm. It may trifle with our body, but it cannot touch the souls of the children of God. We are secure through Christ Jesus.

God’s Attention

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in house of the Lord as long as I live.

Psalm 23:5-6

Two observations:

  1. God hosted David on the battlefield in the face of his biggest threat.
  2. David has the assurance of complete rest in God’s steadfast love.

In this last stanza, David shifts the descriptive symbols used for God. He went from describing God as Shepherd in verses 1-4 to a Host in verses 5-6. God lavishes us with His individual attention and exclusive exaltation. He can do that because He’s God! And because the things that concern us concern the Father.

A Few Questions

  • How would it change your life to believe God “leaves the 99” to find you (Luke 15:4)?
  • What is the thing you feel you’re lacking or desiring that you don’t have?
  • Do you believe you can continually leave your desires at the feet of Jesus because He cares for you (Philippians 4:6-7) and will fulfill His purpose for you (Psalm 138:8)?

I hope this encourages your heart and has sparked some rich thoughts about our Good Shepherd and Host. My journal is filled to the brim as I read the beautiful Word of God. It is all at once penetrating and comforting my soul.

We respond to Scripture based on the perception of our circumstances in life. Psalm 23 is an easy passage to help us trade our perception, with God's truth. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #provision #GodsWord #scripture #perception #Psalm23

All scripture is referenced from the HCSB version of the Bible.
unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
Bible, God’s Word, meditation, prayer, scripture, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Tools: Reading, Meditating On, and Praying God’s Word

Have you ever opened up about something to a fellow Jesus follower, and without skipping a beat they ask, “Are you reading your Bible? Have you been praying?” The thing is, they’re not wrong to ask that. But there is so much more to it. What tools do we have? 



We were on our way to pick up a friend when my son asked, “How do I stop myself from being so angry when people make fun of me? I break pencils to calm down, but I know that’s not the best thing to do. And really, I don’t want to get to the place where I’m so mad that…” He trailed off and I inserted, “…that you want to start breaking other things.” He hung his head and said sadly, “Yeah. Pretty much.” I immediately told him I was proud of him for being bold enough to ask me that question. And I told him it is brave to be vulnerable, and it is wise to ask for help.

Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Proverbs 11:14, NASB

Confided in a fellow Jesus follower and they immediately ask if you are reading your Bible and praying? They're not wrong but there is so much more to it... Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #prayer #meditation #Bible

Gathering Tools

I told my son, “The church will say ‘read your Bible and pray’ as an answer to every single one of your problems. And that is the answer, my love. But it goes beyond; there are more layers.”

What if we are reading the Bible? What if we are praying, but we still face the same giants every day with no victory in sight? I went on to tell him, “It sounds like good advice to read your Bible and pray because it is good! But it’s helpful to know how to read it to where you’re able to understand it. It’s also helpful to know how to pray! I’ll share with you some of the tools I’ve been learning so you can dig a little deeper and find some peace.”

Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.

Psalm 4:4, NKJV

Meditate on What?

Meditation is totally trending these days. Perhaps you’ve seen these hashtags in your Instagram feed…

  • #meditate
  • #mindright
  • #reflection

Meditation has been described as thoughtlessness for the purpose of achieving calmness over mind and body. Thoughtlessness. Emptying the mind. I admit I spent some time in the past, practicing this concept. I can report to you that I was unsuccessful. Honestly, thoughtlessness doesn’t even happen in my sleep! My goal was to de-stress; but Sis, the only truly proven stress relief in my life is meditating on the words of God.

How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the company of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2, CSB

Here’s the Tea

Dr. Donald S. Whitney likened reading Scripture to the process of steeping tea (another trending topic!). The more a verse or passage is poured over and soaked in, the richer its color and flavor. Dr. Whitney was using the analogy in relation to Bible reading, but I believe it applies to meditating on Scripture as well. You may be asking the same thing I was: What’s the difference between reading and meditating on what you read from the Bible?

Biblical meditation is the process of taking time to reflect and dwell on passages in God’s Word. There are many ways to do this, but my favorite is to read it out loud with as much inflection as I can muster. I’ve found meditating on the truths of Scripture leads to a better understanding of the Bible and what God is communicating to His people. It’s created an opportunity for me to retain what I read and has enabled a deeper knowing—much more so than merely reading and moving on with my day. Consequently, it has amped the way I talk to God.

Praying on Purpose

There have been times in the past when my communication with God seemed selfish. The only time I would go to Him was when I needed something. I started to feel guilty for treating God like a magic genie. Sadly, instead of allowing the conviction to incite change, I stopped going to Him for anything at all. I told myself the lie that if His will was going to be done eventually anyway, He certainly didn’t need me bombarding Him with requests all the time.

I have also experienced the feeling of having mediocre prayers. They had all the right churchy phrases in them like “thank You for Your grace,” “pour out Your Spirit on us,” and “be glorified.” And those are not bad things to say in prayer; yet when I spoke them, they lacked an intimate knowing of my Maker. Nor did they mirror an understanding of being known by my Father.

I felt the disconnect. It was like having a piece of the puzzle, but no finished picture for direction. I didn’t recognize the Bible as sufficient guidance for rich communion with God. Now, by His amazing grace, I am learning to utilize specific verses from the Bible as a basis for prayer. When I don’t have words, Scripture provides them.

The Bible speaks the language of the Spirit who originally breathed out all the words of Scripture. Praying the Bible has helped to illuminate God’s intentions, love, purposes, and faithfulness. It has also created an ability to recall God’s Word in times of rejoicing and sorrow, which has ushered in a peace and joy I had not previously known or understood!

That’s Delightful

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4, ESV

This verse completely changed my understanding of what it means to get my heart’s desires. If we are taking delight in the Lord, our motivation will be to bring glory to Him. Then our desires align with His! As we go through our days, whether in seasons of rejoicing or sorrow, I pray we will practice reading, meditating on, and praying the Bible. 

The Bible speaks the language of the Spirit who originally breathed out all the words of Scripture. Praying the Bible helps to illuminate God's intentions, love, purposes, and faithfulness. Click To Tweet

Confided in a fellow Jesus follower and they immediately ask if you are reading your Bible and praying? They're not wrong but there is so much more to it... Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #prayer #meditation #Bible

Neven Krcmarek

perception, provision, scripture, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Perception: Reading Psalm 23 Without the Filter of Circumstance

We respond to Scripture based on how we perceive the goings on in our life. That is one of the beauties of God’s Word; it becomes new each day just as our circumstances and moods do. It’s a lifelong process to take God at His word and not allow perception to filter out the truth. 



A dear sister recently told me she is not a fan of Psalm 23. I got the feeling she felt bad about admitting it since it’s part of the Bible, but her reasoning made perfect sense.

After a little inquiry, I learned it was the chapter she was forced to read and recite when she got in trouble as a child. So it’s not hard to see how one of the most well-known passages in Scripture became tarnished in her mind. Let’s dig into Psalm 23 together and see what it says and how it may challenge our perception.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.

Psalm 23:1

We respond to Scripture based on perceived circumstances in life. It is difficult to take God at His word and not allow perception to overrule the truth. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Our Perception

Two specific thoughts come to my mind after reading verse one:

  1. Do I view God as my personal Shepherd, or is He too busy with more important tasks?
  2. What do I perceive I am lacking?

In this passage, God presents Himself as a caretaker. He is seen as a provider, a leader, and One who is responsible for care. Because of that fact, David’s response is: there is nothing I lack. The first part of verse one speaks to God’s character. I wonder what causes us to feel He is holding out on us? Lately, a bit of careful reflection will quickly illuminate I have everything I need.

For example, a few weeks ago our kitchen was wrecked after a weekend of grilling out with neighbors and running around town. No one wanted to clean up the mess. My man is an excellent helper around the house, but he was working late and I needed to clean up before I had room to cook. Has anyone else encountered this yucky phenomenon?

Anyway, as I dove into the mountain I asked God to help me see the positive instead of feeling sorry for myself that no one was helping me. The Father quickly reminded me of the sweet time we had spent with our neighbors and the laundry list of blessings which made it possible. And He showed me what a joy it is to have a family and a home to share. Before I knew it, I was actually smiling while washing dishes. But don’t spread that around… 😉

God’s Provision

He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths.

Psalm 23:2-3

Three more reflections appear to me here:

  1. Green pastures mean God knows where the food is.
  2. Quiet waters represent that God knows we are like sheep.
  3. Comfort is always going to be greater on God’s path.

Sometimes, our perception tells us something looks really tantalizing, or maybe even righteous. Yet the Father, in His omniscience, knows what will nourish us completely. If sheep are steered to rushing waters they will stick their head in and be swept downstream. God understands what His children need and how best to provide for them.

That means, if we truly accept that He knows best and does provide for us, then we must dare to challenge beliefs that set themselves against God’s goodness to us. Sheep may lack water and be willing to go toward a stream to quench their thirst, but they may be pulled under rushing waters. The Good Shepherd will always lead us to quiet waters, even if it means we have to walk away from a seemingly sure thing.

His purposes are better than ours, and therefore His paths are better than ours.

-Jeremy Pierre, Author & Dean of Students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Sometimes, our perception tells us something looks really tantalizing, or maybe even righteous. Yet the Father, in His omniscience, knows what will nourish us completely. Click To Tweet

God’s Presence

Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

Two big things stand out:

  1. There’s no question of if we will go through dark times; it’s merely a question of when.
  2. Yet God is present in the darkness.

In verse 4, David is allowing his understanding of God’s nearness and comfort to guide his perception of a truly agonizing situation. There are times in life when we feel such thick darkness we can practically taste it. Normally that causes fear. But God is with you. He is with me. Darkness and death cannot separate us from the love of God, so in reality, it can do no infinite harm. It may trifle with our body, but it cannot touch the souls of the children of God. We are secure through Christ Jesus.

God’s Attention

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in house of the Lord as long as I live.

Psalm 23:5-6

Two observations:

  1. God hosted David on the battlefield in the face of his biggest threat.
  2. David has the assurance of complete rest in God’s steadfast love.

In this last stanza, David shifts the descriptive symbols used for God. He went from describing God as Shepherd in verses 1-4 to a Host in verses 5-6. God lavishes us with His individual attention and exclusive exaltation. He can do that because He’s God! And because the things that concern us concern the Father.

A Few Questions

  • How would it change your life to believe God “leaves the 99” to find you (Luke 15:4)?
  • What is the thing you feel you’re lacking or desiring that you don’t have?
  • Do you believe you can continually leave your desires at the feet of Jesus because He cares for you (Philippians 4:6-7) and will fulfill His purpose for you (Psalm 138:8)?

I hope this encourages your heart and has sparked some rich thoughts about our Good Shepherd and Host. My personal journal is being filled to the brim as I read the beautiful Word of God. It is all at once penetrating and comforting my soul.

We respond to Scripture based on perceived circumstances in life. It is difficult to take God at His word and not allow perception to overrule the truth. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

All scripture is referenced from the HCSB version of the Bible.
life verse, scripture, God's word, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, ministry, encouragement

Life Verse: Discover Personal Meaning in God’s Word

What is a life verse? Do I need a life verse? Am I the only one without a life verse? This discusses the what, why, and how to discover God’s personal message for us through His word.



It seems like everything we do at our church asks us to list our “life verse”. Baptism – life verse; New Comers lunch – life verse; Starting Point sign up – life verse; Awana – life verse; Join the church – life verse. You get it.

But here is the thing….I don’t have a life verse. Yes, I read my bible quite a bit. And I have a fairly good working knowledge of God’s word and love all the history contained within its books. I know that it is a road map of mandates that will help me see my heavenly Father one day and spend eternity with Him. There have been many times in my life when I needed guidance and the verse was there to help me through. No life verse though. So I began a quest for one.

What is a life verse? Do I need a life verse? Am I the only one without a life verse? This discusses the what, why, and how to discover God's personal message for us through His word.

Step one: What the heck is a life verse?

After reading many sources, it seems that a life verse is just your “go to” when you need reassurance of God and his position in your life. It is a verse that speaks truth to you no matter what else or who else crowds your life. The truth that God loves you, Jesus died for you, and the Holy Spirit can guide you through the trials of earthly life.

As with any question I start researching, I found a lot of information. Other blogs about how to find a life verse, lists of other people’s verses, and some cautionary discussions.

When I am struggling with something, I like to see all the sides. Take it apart and really look at the basic reasons for its existence. I think that God want us to be more conscious of His word. He gave us these stories to guide us through this life so we can join Him in the next. Being so familiar with His work that I can quote it chapter and verse seems like a good use of my time and will ultimately help me in my quest to be the best reflection of His light possible.

Step two: Choose some verses to “try on”.

I was light hearted with this at first and took a quiz. It did give me a pretty good verse:

Trust the Lord with all; your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV

But as I accepted that the quiz did a really good job giving me a verse that totally fit the criteria of a life verse, I realized something. I forgot to pray about it first. So I talked with God:

Father,

This idea of a life verse keeps coming up. I have no idea what to say and it keeps coming up. Guide me to the verse that You know will be a cornerstone in my life. Help me discern Your meaning and show me how You want my light to shine for You.

love,
me

Then I opened my Bible. I used my copy of The New Oxford Annotated Bible. I landed on The Wisdom of Solomon 18:1, “But for your holy ones there was very great light. Their enemies heard their voices but did not see their forms, and counted them happy for not having suffered.”

Problem is, Protestants don’t include this book in their Bibles. Catholics and Orthodox religions do. I’m not really clear on why, though that is now a question in my research log: A list of questions I don’t know the answer to, but would like to know more about.

Not one to give up too easily, I went and got another Bible. After a few flips through, I landed on one that spoke loudly:

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Matthew 22:37-39, CEB

But I really wanted a third option. I was really focused on the idea of the trinity here. So I pulled out my bible app and found the verse of the day. I admit, I read through a few before I found one that called out.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33, ESV

Step three: Pray and read the verses daily.

I am still on this step. I am asking God to speak His truth into my life. My problem seems to come down to this: I need all three of these verses in my life.

If I’m discouraged or unclear about God’s path for my life, Proverbs 3:5-6 seems like God’s answer. For those times when I am not being nice or am impatient with those around me, Matthew 22:37-39 helps me find my footing in God’s light again. And when life gets hard John 16:33 is full of encouragement.

I had hoped to have an ANSWER to the question, what is your life verse? by the time I was done with this post. I haven’t found it yet. However, it has dawned on me that the idea of a life verse doesn’t have to be permanent. It can be fluid and change as life changes and your faith grows. That thinking has made it easier for me to acknowledge that I haven’t found “THE VERSE” for my life yet, but the journey to find one (or three) has been enlightening and has caused me to be reflective of my life and God’s purpose in it, which I think is the point.

A life verse doesn't have to be permanent. It can be fluid and change as life changes and your faith grows. Click To Tweet

What is your life verse (or three)? Share in the comments.

What is a life verse? Do I need a life verse? Am I the only one without a life verse? This discusses the what, why, and how to discover God's personal message for us through His word.

Aaron Burden

exposure, vulnerability, relationships, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, ministry, encouragement

Exposure: Enriching Relationships With Vulnerability

Exposing our hearts can be uncomfortable. Especially when it involves our spouses, friends, God, and even ourselves. Vulnerability has the ability to enrich our relationships and the results are beautiful. 



Vulnerability. There’s that word. I shiver when I hear it and cringe at the thought of opening up. I need the comfort of my couch and a warm cup of coffee; STAT!

Over these last few weeks, God has pushed me to learn one specific lesson: exposure. One thing that is incredibly difficult for me to do is speak my mind. To verbally expose feelings I have. There are two reasons I have difficulty in this area. One: confrontations make me uncomfortable. Two: I NEVER want others to feel uncomfortable because of me.

So why is “exposure” my lesson from God? It might be that 8 years is the exact time it takes for me to confront real issues within my marriage. Maybe it’s because of the adult friendships I am learning to navigate. Or, I’m finally understanding the importance of being vulnerable with myself. Perhaps, my spiritual growth in the Lord is drawing me towards a posture of exposure. I’m certain, these all apply.

Exposing our hearts can be uncomfortable. Especially when it involves our spouses, friends, God, and even ourselves. Vulnerability has the ability to enrich our relationships and the results are beautiful.

Types of Vulnerability

Marriage Vulnerability

One thing “they” don’t tell us about marriage: we will sooner or later be completely exposed. Yeah, we all know about physical exposure, but no one tells us our insides are completely laid bare for our spouse to see. This is something extremely uncomfortable for me.

When you are living every day of your life with someone, it’s inevitable they will see sides of you that no ones else sees…

My husband hears my true voice, sees my true reactions, and witnesses my most vulnerable moments. He sees the food I eat, the shows I watch, and when I have a booger hanging out of my nose. He’s seen me cry uncontrollably and that one time I punched something. Okay, maybe a couple times.

Because he sees all this, I feel the need to keep some things hidden. Something! Anything! I feel like I need to keep some sort of dignity. Or, that thing that is just too painful; it’s mine.

Relational Vulnerability

In any relationship, there is hurt. In my experience, pain comes most intensely when I’ve been unguarded, only to be rejected. Sometimes this happens instantly, but mostly this is a damage over time effect. Meaning, we slowly allow others a glimpse inside. Then, wham!! Which feels like complete betrayal.

My gut reaction if someone hurts me, is to walk away or distance myself. The flight response is strong in me. I build those walls, create boundaries, and mask my feelings. I hold on tight; they are mine.

Personal Vulnerability

I’m not sure about you, but I also build borders to keep myself away. Kind of like I’m refusing to be honest with myself. It’s uncomfortable to go there; to push through self-inflicted pain and allow healing.

Being vulnerable with ourselves, is to be completely raw with honesty. To acknowledge our part in the pain. It’s mine. No one else can see it, so why should I have to be brutally honest? Yeah, that’s not super fun for anyone, but it’s vital.

Spiritual Vulnerability

My past is so filthy, my sin too great, my road so dark…. I’m not sure what makes me think this is all mine. If I’ve truly given my life to God, all of it is His. Every dirty, sinful moment is used for His glory. It’s called testimony.

However, I often find myself trying to hide from God. If I have to endure one more probing of the Spirit, I may just implode. Not really, but we all know there’s a lesson to learn when we are vulnerable with the Lord. Most times, I’m a child and I fight against lesson learning.

My past is so filthy, my sin too great, my road so dark... If I've truly given my life to God, all of it is His. Every dirty, sinful moment is used for His glory. It's called testimony. Click To Tweet

Responding Vulnerably

So how do we overcome? We can all benefit from practical application. We need to know what to do. We need to let go of the “mines” to strengthen every meaningful relationship we care for…

Humility

Saying “I’m sorry” is so incredibly vulnerable. It proves we are human. It proves we are NOT perfect (gasp). We hurt the people we love, the God who created us, and even ourselves. I have this rule: if you feel sorry, just say it. It shows you are thinking of the other person’s feelings, apart from their words. Also, repentance is the key to our relationship with God.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves

Philippians 2:3, NIV

Prayer

This one is easy to apply to our relationship with God, but what about our marriages? What about our friendships? How often do we kneel with our spouses or start a coffee date with a prayer? Do we pray for each other face to face? I find it easy to pray for others, but shy away from praying for things I know I need help with.

Here are my directions: Pray much for others; plead for God’s mercy upon them; give thanks for all he is going to do for them.

1 Timothy 2:1, TLB

Scripture

Another easy one to incorporate in our walk with God. Maybe a little easier to have Bible time with our families, but what about our friendships? Do we approach times spent together with bible studies and scriptures close to our hearts? We should tackle issues and problems with the Truth of God.

All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV

Alone Time

I find this most easy with my husband. Others find alone time with the Lord easiest. I find it most difficult to spend quality, one on one time with a friend. Mostly because…children. I would say, focus on a relationship where you know this is lacking. Even alone time with yourself (self-care).

What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.

1 Corinthians 14:26, NIV

Working/Creating Together

I often forget that my ability to work and create comes from the Lord. When I say forget, I mean I don’t invite Him to help me or be a part of it. Allowing my husband to create with me, or see an unfinished work of art is completely vulnerable to me. The same is true in friendships. My creations are very dear to me (whatever it is) and I feel exposed showing others.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:23-24, NIV

Common Ground

In almost all my relationships, salvation is a common ground. Testimonies are meant to be shared. My testimony is growing. God is shaping and molding it. I believe, with all of my heart, that my testimony glorifies Him…as long as I’m obedient and share it.

I will praise you to all my brothers; I will stand up before the congregation and testify of the wonderful things you have done.

Psalm 22:22, TLB

I urge all of us to evaluate how we can actively utilize vulnerability to strengthen and enrich our relationships. I know, without a doubt, our obedience to the Lord’s design, will create beautiful, fulfilling friendships.

Exposing our hearts can be uncomfortable. Especially when it involves our spouses, friends, God, and even ourselves. Vulnerability has the ability to enrich our relationships and the results are beautiful.

wayne dahlberg

freedom, bondage, should, ought

Freedom: Seven Verses to Break the Bondage of Should and Ought

Many of us women find ourselves enslaved to the bondage of what we “should” and “ought” to do. Freedom from this way of life is possible if we fight for it.



You should eat more vegetables.

You should get more exercise.

You should lose that ten pounds…yesterday.

You should read your Bible more. And while we’re at it, you should pray more.

You ought to be more kind…and really, you should visit your mother more often.

You ought to adopt one of those Compassion children… Or give money to save those sad, quivering dogs shown on the commercials during your favorite television shows. (Why are they always cold?)

Freedom From: Measuring Up

Sometimes it’s like a ceaseless loop spinning in my brain, the constant ‘shoulds and oughts’ whispering. Or screaming, depending on the day. Each whisper holds the same underlying message: I don’t make the bar; I didn’t measure up to an unknowable goal.

This is a battle of the mind, and a battle of the spirit and a war too many women fight. Regardless of age, race, or education, there are few women with whom I have been acquainted who have not struggled with the inner voice of ‘shoulds and oughts.’

Bondage: The Source

From where or whom does it originate? Obviously, it belies a lack of self-esteem, but it appears to be most rampant among females. There are many possible reasons.

Home

For some, it began in a home where perfection was expected and average was seldom accepted as ‘good enough.’ For others, abandonment or neglect in childhood bred feelings of not being valuable. Childhood sexual abuse also kills self-worth.

Church

Others attend, or grew up attending churches with rigid doctrine concerning God. God was used as a threat. He was angry or didn’t love us if we did this or that (or didn’t do this or that). This is completely NOT scriptural. However, it is completely controlling for a leader to use in manipulating the flock to do his own will. In reality, Scripture teaches clearly of the Father’s unfailing love for us, of His infinite patience, and His desire that none should perish. But that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). (Please don’t read this to mean I believe that God doesn’t punish sin. However, His punishment is never punitive, as a person’s might be).

Culture

The culture in which we live has placed a great deal of ‘shoulds’ on females today. For instance, every single girl or woman should have peaches and cream skin, be at least 5 feet 7 inches, and have the body of a size 2…with a bra size of at least 36C. Probably 98% of the females who walk the planet do not possess these traits. Consequently, there is an epidemic of women everywhere who are ashamed of their bodies and/or looks. In the seventies, PR departments of clothing and makeup companies co-opted what was once a normal, average female body and convinced at least half of the population that they were not as thin or beautiful as they should be…

And Satan loved it so.

Bondage: The Result

As a result, depression has taken a significant leap in teen girls in recent years and eating disorders are not just for kids

 

Scripture’s Should and Ought’s

Then He spoke a parable to them that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…
Luke 18:1

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
John 13:14-15

But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
Acts 5:29

We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples [weaknesses] of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Romans 15:1

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
I Corinthians 2:4-5

…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so also should you.
Colossians 3:13

For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
I John 3:11

Many of us women find ourselves enslaved to the bondage of what we "should" and "ought" to do. Freedom from this way of life is possible if we fight for it.

Freedom

There are several more verses to offer, but truthfully, if my heart and mind will focus on Scripture’s oughts, the lies will cease. In fact, they have stopped occurring as often as they did in the past. Satan is a slow learner, but he does finally get the hint.

And in the midst of it all, I am learning how to be a little more like my Lord and Teacher, Jesus Christ.

The next time you find yourself trapped in the bondage of should and ought, fight for freedom with the Word.


If you have found this inspiring, share the encouragement…

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Many of us women find ourselves enslaved to the bondage of what we "should" and "ought" to do. Freedom from this way of life is possible if we fight for it.


The world continually feeds us the lie that we need to be different. Replace that lie with truth. Because you have been loved, pursued, and redeemed by Christ, you are enough!

tote, bag, striving, but God, enough

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Dawid Zawiła

Bold: Living Like Wonder Woman

We all have the ability to fight for love and goodness. We all have the ability to change the world. This post looks to a role model to find out how we can achieve this.



I have loved Wonder Woman even as a little girl. There are stories told of how, at the age of three, I would spin around as I turned into the strong beautiful woman ready to fight evil. I still have a scar on my scalp from when I, as Wonder Woman, was chasing my brother, the villain, and ran into the corner of the wall (I’ve never been super graceful).

This past summer, my husband and I went to see the new Wonder Woman movie. I was once again that little girl. I left the movie theater ready to fight evil. I was ready to fight for love.

Esther is the perfect example of a “wonder woman” in real life. She was in fact very beautiful, but it was her love for the Lord that made her radiate. When I picture Esther, I picture Wonder Woman! It may have been the 12 months of beauty treatments that got the attention of the king, but it was her character that won his favor.

Beauty may get the attention of others, but character is what will win their favor. Click To Tweet


Living like Wonder Woman…

She sought advice.

Esther 2:15-17: When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.

She did what was right because it was the right thing to do

Esther 2:21- 23: In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.

She used her influence to help others, rather than herself

Esther 4:13-16: Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”

She was patient

Esther 5:4-8: And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.” Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther has asked.” So the king and Haman came to the feast that Esther had prepared. And as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king said to Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Esther answered, “My wish and my request is: If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my wish and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come to the feast that I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.”

She was bold when the timing was right

Esther 7:1-6 So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king.” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has dared to do this?” And Esther said, “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.

Esther was truly a wonder woman who I want to learn from!



Lord, I desire to be a part of your plan. I pray that I will be humble, and seek advice. I pray that I would be a woman of integrity. I pray that I will recognize the influence that I have and use it wisely and with care. I pray that I will be patient and wait upon you until it is time to act. And I pray that I will act boldly when that time has come. Amen.

 

 

Sean Brown

All scripture used is from the English Standard Version.

Rage: Getting Ready to Fight

Today we are talking about knowing when, who, and how to fight. Not with people, but against an enemy who wants to destroy us and our influence. We will not sit back and let our spirits be crushed!


He came running through the door sobbing so heavily I could not understand what he was trying to tell me. After several attempts of trying to get him to take a deep breath, I finally was able to coax the story out of my nine year old (with some additional details from his 5 year old brother).

Let’s back up… My nine year old loves people. From the age of 2, he has been able to make friends at a playground, any playground, any city. He thrives from being around his friends, so when we moved to this street that is full of little boys and girls, it was like he arrived at heaven’s gate ready to get rowdy! And he instantly connected with everyone, believing all were his new best friend.

My younger son is friendly, but not quite so eager, and one of these “new best friends” was not being so friendly towards him. After about the third time of my younger son complaining, I was quickly going into mama bear mode. I remained calm and cool though, giving him the advice of, “When he does this, you need to tell him to stop, and if he doesn’t stop, then you need to leave.”

During this excellent parenting, my older son was making excuses for the friend, saying things like, “that is just how he plays,” and “he doesn’t mean anything by it.” At this point, my parenting shifted to him. I told him, “It is not ok for him to play like this. If he is told to stop, then he needs to stop” (I am a big believer that “no” means “no” with any gender, any age). I also told him that he needs to always have his brother’s back (I don’t believe in picking fights, but I do believe in fighting for those who need our protection).

The day came. The friend was being a punk not nice, and even though he was told to stop, he didn’t. This is where my boys went wrong. They should have left, but instead kept pleading with him to no avail. Then, saliva happened. Yes, saliva. The friend was trying to spit, or drool, or something, and my germaphobic son was having none of it. He snapped, or in his words, “Mom, I’ve never gone so crazy in my life!” And this is how my son got into his first fight.

For the first time in his life, he was pushed past his limit. I was honestly relieved to know he has a limit. He has such a desire to like people and be liked back, that he tends to do whatever it takes to make this happen. I was also proud of him for standing up for his little brother. My prayer for him has always been for him to be strong, and to bring strength to others, and in this moment, he did that. I will not encourage him to wrestle other kids to the ground when he is angry, but I will encourage him to stand up against what is wrong. And sometimes when you are a little boy, wrestling is the best way to communicate.



Ready to Fight

There are times in life when we need to stand and fight. Whether it is against injustice, or to protect someone we love, we better be ready to wrestle when we get pushed past our limit.

We need to know, however, who it is we’re fighting, because it’s not the neighbor kid across the street.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:11-12, ESV)

We also need to know how to fight, because the moves you learned in cardio kickboxing at the gym aren’t going to help. In Ephesians when the author is talking about the armor, the only part that is for fighting, rather than defending, is the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

We need to know how to fight, because the moves you learned in cardio kickboxing at the gym aren't going to help. Click To Tweet

This is how Jesus fought. When he was being attacked in the wilderness, he repeatedly spoke the Word of God to Satan. And eventually, Satan did flee (Matthew chapter 4).

 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7, ESV)

Finally, knowing who we are fighting, and how to fight is not enough. We also need to put our knowledge into practice. My son has watched many episodes of Ninjago (a Lego show with ninjas), but this is not where he learned how to fight. The fight with our neighbor may have been his first fight of rage, but he has wrestled countless times in his life (just ask his dad and grandfathers). It is important to practice fighting in the spirit so that when we are being attacked, we can fight back with confidence.

Practice fighting in the spirit so that when we are being attacked, we can fight back with confidence. Click To Tweet



Your Turn

What are you fighting for?

A child? Your marriage? Your identity in Christ?

I challenge you to…

  • Search, and find scripture declaring truth over you and your situation.
  • Speak the scripture, audibly, and say, “Be gone, Satan!”
  • Share it with trusted loved ones who will fight with you and help hold you up as you become weary from the battle.

I want to hear from you! Let me know what battles you have been fighting, and how I can be praying for you.

xoxo, Rachael

ps. My boys and this little boy across the street are now the best of buds. There has been no more inappropriate play, and they all truly enjoy being around each other. If only all our battles ended so sweetly…

Jack Alexander