From a Worrier to a Warrior

From a Worrier to a Warrior

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a worrier. The constant worrying kept me up all night in grade school and gave me anxiety attacks in high school. I worried about school, boys, my grades, my salvation, my family, my friends, my weight… you name it, I probably worried about it.

A few years ago, though, while I was reading in Exodus, God gave me a revelation about worry that changed my life. In Exodus 12, the Angel of Death was about to come through Egypt. The Israelites were told to smear blood on the top and both sides of the door frame, so that the Angel would pass over their homes.

“When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, He will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and He will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.” – Exodus 12:23

In general, reading that verse, it sounds pretty simple. You smear blood on the door and the Angel of Death passes you by. However, when reading the verse, all I could think of was how I would have reacted in that situation. As a mom, there’s no way I would have been able to sleep that night. I would have been up all night, twisting my hands together, wondering if I was about to lose my first-born child to a technicality. Maybe I didn’t get enough blood on the door, or maybe I did the wrong pattern on the doorframe and the Angel was going to come through anyways.

Mid-thought, God revealed to me the sentence that would stop me in my tracks: “The blood would still have covered you.”

There probably were parents who stayed up all night wondering if the blood would work, and there were probably also parents who slept peacefully through the night—but the blood covered them either way. The only difference was how they spent their night. How do you think God would rather us spend our night: anxious and worried or at total peace?

Proberbs 3:24 says, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”

God promises He will be by our side (Proverbs 3:26) and that He will never sleep (Psalm 121:3), so that we can put our minds at ease. He says He will watch over our lives and keep us from all harm (Psalm 121:7). He has already made us those promises.

We have the right to lay down our heads in peace if we have the faith to do it. Our faith is what helps us gain access to the things He has already promised us: peace of mind, rest, protection, favor.

I’ve never seen a clearer picture of grace than this: as Christians, whether we access those promises or not, whether we live the life He has planned for us or not, we are still covered by His blood.

We can stay up all night wondering if we are going to miss out on Heaven on a technicality, or we can trust that Jesus’ blood was enough. The blood covers us either way. When we stay up and worry, all it does is keep us from accessing the abundant blessings He has poured over our lives.

After God revealed this sweet truth to me, I chose to fight back against the enemy’s attacks on my peace of mind. I kept Psalm 4:8 on my nightstand, and when I started to feel the anxiety creep in at night, I would repeat it over and over: In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.

We are not called to be worriers; we are called to be warriors—so put on your armor and fight. Fasten your belt of truth, and put on your breastplate of righteousness. Claim the gospel of peace and take up your shield of faith. Firmly take your helmet of salvation and use the Word of God to fight back against the enemy’s lies.

White as Snow

White as Snow

A popular idea in Christianity is that we have been made clean, or given a blank slate, or washed white as snow. There are countless worship songs that mention this, and it’s such a beautiful picture. Our sins were scarlet, our account was marred, but Jesus washed us white as snow.

But what happens when we mess up? When we miss the mark, it feels like we smear black on our slate and we have to start all over again to get clean. Growing up, I thought I needed to be re-baptized, or re-dedicated, or re-saved every single time I did something I shouldn’t have. I wanted to be white as snow again.

I didn’t realize that my clean slate was unstainable.

Our slate is spotless, fresh, and white because Jesus gave us His own slate when He took the punishment for our sin upon Himself. As Christians, when we mess up, it doesn’t go on our slate; it goes to the cross, where it has already been covered. Our sins, past, present, and future, have been accounted for.

My slate was unstainable, because it was never about my work; it was about Christ’s finished work.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

When we said in faith that Jesus is Lord, and believed in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we were justified through His blood, and sanctified through His Spirit. We were washed clean forever.

“He concludes, I’ll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins. Once sins are taken care of for good, there’s no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them. Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of His sacrifice, acting as our priest before God.” – Hebrews 10:17-18, 20 (The Message)

When we hear those words in worship songs—washed white as snow—they are meant to remind us of the punishment Jesus took on our behalf, and the grave He conquered to secure our eternity. We are washed white as snow, not because of our own actions, but because of Jesus. Even if we mess up, or miss the mark, our slate remains clean because Jesus finished His work.

Adopting God’s Vision

Adopting God’s Vision

Several years ago, I had a friend in my life who couldn’t understand why I believed in God. It was the first time I’d been around someone who constantly questioned my faith. When something bad would happen, she would always ask me, “Where’s your God? Couldn’t He have stopped that?” When I would read my Bible, she would begin listing the reasons the scriptures couldn’t be true. When I would pray in front of her, she would ask me if that was really helping the people living in poverty every day. Usually I was able to respond to her, but sometimes I would get frustrated, or even angry. One time, when I was at my breaking point, I turned to give her a harsh response, and God stopped me. “Look at her passion and tenacity. When I change her heart, imagine what she’s going to do for my Kingdom.”

The words reminded me of Paul. When people looked at Paul, they saw a persecutor, but God saw an apostle. Man does not see the way that God sees. We focus on the natural instead of the supernatural. We focus on what we can see instead of what we believe about God. We focus on the lack instead of the supply.

Take the five loaves. We look at the bread in front of us and we know it’s not enough to feed the multitude. We look at our circumstance and lose sight of God’s vision.

In 2018, I challenge you to seek God’s vision. In Psalm 1:3, it says this about those that delight in the Lord:

They are like trees, planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither. Whatever they do, they prosper.

Let’s break down this verse:

We are like trees. Note that the verse says that we are planted, not grown. We are chosen, prepared, nourished, and secured. We are here intentionally, and we have purpose.

We are planted by streams of water. Not a stream, but multiple streams, which means we are always surrounded by a super-abundant supply: of grace, and promise, and cleansing, and eternal life.

We bring forth fruit in our season. We bring patience in a season of frustration, faith in a season of doubt, hope in a season of disappointment, and joy in a season of sorrow.

And our leaves do not wither. We don’t grow weary. We are strong and refreshed through all of our seasons. We serve through an overflow of the grace God pours into us.

Whatever we do, we shall prosper. How amazing is that promise to us, as those who delight in the Lord? This is the time of year when we are making resolutions, and it’s so important to remember that whether we hit our goal or miss the mark, WHATEVER we do shall prosper when we delight in Him.

This year, let’s return to God’s view: when it seems like everything is against us; when it seems like we just can’t hit our goals; when it seems like we are hitting walls at every turn, remember that our works are prospered. Just because we don’t see our purpose doesn’t mean we don’t have one. Just because we don’t see our fruit doesn’t mean we aren’t producing any. Just because we don’t see the supply doesn’t mean it’s not abundant. We have to adopt God’s vision instead of our own.

The Power of Life and Death

The Power of Life and Death

Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death.”

So often, we choose to put our value and worth into what other people say about us. We also tend to let the negative overpower the positive. We remember and hold on to something negative someone has said and we let it defeat us. We let men condemn us when Jesus has not condemned us. In fact, if we look at scripture, it tells us we are kings and priests (Revelations 5:10), we are a chosen people (1 Peter 2:9), and we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). We have the authority to speak life or death.

In Mark 11:23, look at the importance of our words: “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”

God spoke the earth into creation. He said, “Let there be light.” He said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place.”

Christians have been given that same authority and if we aren’t using God’s words, whose are we using? Our pastor once said, “When you speak something negative over someone, you are only putting them further from the cross.” This challenged me and made me think about the words I was speaking over my friends, my co-workers, my husband, my daughter, and even myself.

What words are you speaking over people in your life? What are you choosing to speak over yourself?

James 3:5 says, “The tongue is also a small part of the body, but it can speak big things.” As Christians, we have power that is not given to the devil. If we speak words of defeat, we are doing the devil’s work for him. Luke 10:19 says, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy.”

We can choose to live victoriously every day. We do that by not speaking what we see or feel (for the devil is a deceiver), but by speaking what we know is true. We speak what scripture tells us, which is that by His stripes we are healed, by His sacrifice we are made whole, by His grace we are saved, and by His love we are set free.

When You Bury Lazarus Too Soon

When You Bury Lazarus Too Soon

Sometimes our burdens are heavy. Scripture doesn’t dispute that—in fact, it says that we are going to be loaded down by them. Whether it’s a broken relationship, or a shattered dream, or a difficult loss, our instinct is to shut down. We go numb. We throw in the towel. We give up. We bury Lazarus too soon.

When Lazarus was sick, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death.” Jesus knew the end from the beginning. He knew that Lazarus would die, but he also knew that his death would only be the middle of the story. He spoke to the end, not to the middle.

Jesus is the author and the finisher, the beginning and the end. Has He not said He will strengthen and protect you? Has He not said He will never leave you nor forsake you? Yet in the midst of our storms, we have a tendency to look at what’s right in front of us and forget about the words spoken over us. The same way Martha and Mary buried Lazarus four days before Jesus arrived, we give up the fight before Jesus makes it to the scene. All we can see is the dead body when we stop focusing on the resurrected one. We get lost in the middle and forget to look to the end.

After saying the sickness would not be unto death, Jesus continued, “No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” He later tells the disciples. “For your sake, I am glad I was not there [when Lazarus was dying], so that you may believe.”

Sometimes the storms aren’t about us. People can’t see your faith, but they can see your suffering. They can see what you’re going through, and when they watch you withstand it, they can see His glory.

We are going to go through storms, but remember that Jesus sees the end of the storm. Praise Him in the middle—not because you feel like it, but because He is worthy. Take His hand and lead Him to where you gave up, where you laid it down. Let Him restore you. Let Him raise you up, for His glory.

When Time Becomes an Idol

When Time Becomes an Idol

I’ve never been a super spontaneous person. I’m more of a “make a list and check it twice” type person. Before I got married, I had almost every day planned out, and considered it a wild night when I went out after 8 pm. After getting married, it felt like a personal challenge to merge two individual schedules into one, smooth timeline. And then we had a baby. I thought I was a planner before, but suddenly every moment of my day had to be perfectly mapped out between nursing, pumping, working, cleaning, eating, diaper changing, and—when the stars aligned—sleeping.

I’ve been in that survival planning mode for almost two years, and even though our lives have slowed down, I still sometimes feel like I’m forgetting something. On car rides home from work, I have to verbally go through the to-do list with my husband: We will get home (check), you fill up the diaper bag with juice and snacks (check), I will do her diaper and change her clothes (check), then we can run to the store (check), and stop by and say hi to your mom on the way back (check).

I spend so much time planning my day, that when my plans are interrupted, it usually leads to anger and frustration. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for fun, spontaneous play dates. It also doesn’t leave a lot of room for me to have one on one time with Jesus. I was convicted about that lack of time when our daughter was about a year old. I realized that I had to fight for that time, so I scheduled it into our daily routine.

After a few months of being refilled and restored, my coveted alone time took a hit. My daughter would seek me out, screaming for me, or my husband would need to run an unexpected errand leaving her with me, and I would get so frustrated. I found myself throwing up my hands and calling out in exasperation, “I’m trying to spend time with you! I’ve tried to protect this time, but clearly this child that I’ve birthed has other plans.” And gently, so gently, the response: Why are you keeping her from me?

I want to be very clear that there is nothing wrong with expectantly awaiting that alone time with our Father. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be in the presence of God, but there needs to be flexibility in what that time might look like.

My alone time with God had become an idol to me. I turned to anger when it was interrupted. The Spirit impressed on my heart that I couldn’t show my daughter what a relationship with the Lord looked like if I only had real relationship with Him when I was alone.

So what does it look like to protect your time with God while still being flexible?

  • Remember that your location is not as important as His presence. God is not confined to one specific room or one specific time. If something unexpected comes up, instead of letting that anger you, remind yourself that He is always waiting and willing to speak with you.
  • Remember that your solitude is not as important as His grace. There are absolutely reasons to be alone with God and to seek that private time with Him, but it becomes a problem when you react in anger if someone interrupts you. If someone unexpectedly walks in, address them with the grace you are also seeking. And if it’s your child, invite them in. Show them what it looks like to spend time with the one person who will always comfort them, love them, and cherish them.

As parents, we aren’t perfect, and we shouldn’t expect to be. No amount of planning, organizing, or scheduling is going to allow us to be there every single time our child needs us, so what could be more important than introducing them to someone who can be? I love my one-on-one time with Jesus, but I am also learning to treasure my two-on-one time when I can watch my daughter fall in love with Him, too.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. – Proverbs 22:6

Dear God: Where Are You?

Dear God: Where Are You?

Dear God,

You say that all I have to do is call to you and you will tell me things I do not know, so tell me this: Where are you?

I tried to read the news today, and I found myself in tears. There’s such hatred and such evil in the world, and so much of it done in your name. The times we live in are so dark, and I can’t help but wonder – where is your light? You say you have overcome the world, but we still have to live in it. I tell my daughter that you’re a good God, who will protect and take care of her, and in the same breath have to explain why she can’t let go of my hand in the store.

I finally took control of my life. I made time for you. I cut out the things in my life that were distracting me. I spend my mornings in devotions and my evenings serving at the church. Those things brought me such joy before and I thought it would be empowering, but I feel empty and tired. It’s like I just can’t get to you. I’m trying so hard – at home, at work, at church. For my daughter, for my friends, for my husband. I am trying so hard to shine your love, to serve with your grace, yet I still feel like I’m failing.

I can’t hear your voice anymore, and I wonder if I’ve done something wrong. Are you mad? Are we fighting?

Are you there?

My Child,

I am where I’ve always been.

The times you live in may seem dark, but remember what has been done for you. Turn off the news and open the Word. You live in a time of better promises. You live in a time of no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Your iniquities have been forgiven and your sins are remembered no more. You live in a time where you are not under law, but under grace. You live in a time after the third day.

You live in a time with the Holy Spirit, the Helper, the Counselor, the Advocate, the Intercessor, the Strengthener, who comes to your aide and bears you up in your weakness. Because you have Him, you are not comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, or helpless. I can be with you every moment of every day. And I am.

The world may tell you to take control of your life, but I’m telling you to give it up. You keep trying to do things in my name, in your own power. When you create these rituals and follow these formulas trying to get to me, you put me on a pedestal of your own making that makes me seem unobtainable. I tore the veil for you so that you could always come into my presence, so why do you keep trying to gather up the pieces?

I know that you’re tired. Stop trying so hard and rest in me. I see the way you’re pushing yourself. I see the way you’re exhausting yourself every day, but I can’t give you rest when you refuse to trust me with your burdens. You trust that I am with you in the light, but you won’t make room for me in the dark. You trust that you are saved by grace, but not that it is sufficient enough to cover your weaknesses. You trust that I sent my Son to the cross for you, yet you don’t trust that I will help you carry yours.

Where am I? I am where I’ve always been. Pursuing your heart. Waiting on you to trust me, to invite me in. You want to see my presence in your life, but you no longer seek me. Have I not said seek me first, before the works of my hands?

Seek me, and you will find me. I am here.

I am not fighting against you, and I am not fighting with you.

I am fighting for you.

A Hardened Heart

A Hardened Heart

In scripture, I always wondered why God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Exodus 4:21 says, “The LORD said to Moses, When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.” Throughout Exodus, it is repeatedly pointed out that Pharaoh hardened his heart, or that God hardened his heart. I read through the verses several times, because I couldn’t understand why God would actively keep someone from believing in Him. I assumed that to have a hardened heart was to rebel against God, and that hardened hearts belonged to unbelievers. Until God showed me my own.

I was in the middle of an argument with my husband, and I was trying to see things from his side. I understood that my words had hurt him, but then I immediately remembered that he had hurt me first. I deserve to be angry about this. As soon as I thought the words, I felt a gentle nudging in my spirit. My own thoughts were replaced. “Do not harden your heart against him.”

I was shocked – was I hardening my heart or just being emotional? I looked up several definitions of the word harden: cold, unfeeling, unyielding. Over the following weeks, I became very aware of my heart. In conversations at home, at work, at church… there were times that someone would say something that made my defenses go up. Each time, that same gentle nudge would remind me that the answer was not to turn off my emotions or put up a wall.

Finally, while reading in Mark, I was able to discern what God was trying to show me. In Mark 6, right after Jesus fed the five thousand, we see where Jesus walks on the water. He climbed into the boat with the disciples, and scripture says, “They were amazed beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.”

I easily recognized that my belief that hardened hearts belonged only to unbelievers was flawed, because clearly the disciples believed in and followed Jesus. I looked up other scriptures about hardened hearts, and found the disciples listed yet again in Mark 8:17. When they begin discussing the fact that they forgot to bring bread, Jesus says to them “Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?” Jesus had already fed the five thousand and the four thousand, and yet the disciples were worried about not having bread. In response, Jesus asks them, “Are your hearts hardened?”

I realized that having a hardened heart doesn’t mean that you are opposed to God, but that your thoughts are opposed to His. We see the miracles, but we don’t trust Him to continue to take care of us. We are amazed by the miracles, which means that we don’t believe God is who He says He is.

Mark 6:52 says the disciples “considered not the miracle of the loaves”.  So in the midst of the storm, rather than reminding themselves of what Jesus had already shown them, they focused on their current situation. In the midst of our storms, our hearts become softened toward what we focus on, and hardened to everything else. In an argument with my husband, if I focus on my own emotions and feelings, I become hardened against him.

Going back to Pharaoh, God hardening His heart meant that, though he saw the miracles with his own eyes, he couldn’t understand or perceive what they meant. He was unaffected by the miracles happening around him. His focus stayed on himself, and his own pride, which kept a veil up between Him and God.

“They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” – Ephesians 4:18

To harden your heart against God is to turn away from the life God wants for you. To choose the natural over the supernatural, or to choose your view over God’s view. To remain ignorant and unyielding. To let pride interfere with your relationships. To be unaffected by His words or His work.

When I view my husband as “worthy of my anger”, I am choosing to be unaffected by Christ’s work on the cross. I am choosing my own view over God’s view, and I am hardening my heart. Instead, in the middle of the storm, I have to consider Jesus. I have to remind myself of what has already been finished.

Empty Faith

Empty Faith

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

When we think of empty faith, we typically think of this verse in James. Faith without works is dead, but faith that is misplaced is also dead. If we put our faith in our works, instead of our Christ, we can’t become who He made us to be. A picture of this is when Christians stay in their comfort zone, not believing that He can do greater things.

We can be great singers or great musicians or great speakers, but without Christ, we are impressive, but not powerful. We can’t be powerful, or see the fruit of our faith, until we understand that Jesus alone has justified us and given us right-standing. None of our works make us more or less righteous. When we spend our time trying to earn something we have already been given, all of our works are self-serving. We shouldn’t work for our righteousness, we should work from it.

Jesus told us in the New Testament, “whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these”. How can we do “even greater works” than Jesus if we don’t see ourselves as clean, redeemed, and worthy? We have to have the faith to believe that we are who Jesus says we are first. Only then can we do what Jesus called us to do.

We can’t pick and choose. We can’t say I believe you died for my sins, but I’m also still guilty. We can’t say I believe you took my punishment, but I think I still deserve it. We can’t say I believe you are who you say you are, but I’m not sure I am who you say I am.

Jesus says we have His righteousness and His right standing. To believe you have or deserve anything less than that is to have empty faith.

I Am Not His First Love

I Am Not His First Love

When I was younger, I wanted a love like the movies. I wanted someone to tell me they loved me more than anything. I wanted to be the thing they loved the most. After being in relationships where that was the case, it terrified me to look for a husband who loved Jesus more. What if that didn’t leave enough love for me?

I even had my Christian loophole ready: If marriage represents Christ’s love for the Church, what could He have loved more than the Church?

Christ’s love for the church was the most selfless love imaginable; whereas, my desire to be loved “the most” was a selfish need for security. You have jealousy, not love, if your need to be loved interferes with your spouse’s love for God, rather than enhancing it.

My husband loves me, but he loves Jesus more. And there is so much more security in that. People fall in and out of love with each other all of the time, because we are always changing. If my husband listed out the reasons he fell in love with me, I could probably pick out several things that aren’t true anymore. If you ask people why they get divorced, most of them will tell you, “We just weren’t in love anymore.”

My husband and I don’t stay in marriage because we love each other—even though we do—but because we both love Jesus. Jesus is the rock of our marriage, and He doesn’t change. My security in my marriage doesn’t come from my husband loving me the most, but from my husband loving Jesus the most, because Jesus will never let him down. Our love may change, but His never does.

When we focus on how much Jesus loves us, rather than how much our spouse loves us, it equips us to love better. My love for my husband isn’t based on his behavior, or his abilities, or his looks—it comes from an overflow of the love that covers me daily. And even more importantly, my expectations of being loved don’t fall on him, either. I’m loved more than anything by my Savior. He knows all of my flaws, all of my deepest, darkest thoughts, and He still loves me more than my husband could even begin to.

Marriage is a covenant that reflects the one God made with His church. Your marriage should reflect God’s love, not replace it. So if you are feeling unloved or unloving, try taking a step back and re-focusing your attention on Jesus. Don’t look for a love like the movies; look for a love like the cross.

When the Enemy Attacks

When the Enemy Attacks

As Christians, we know the war has been won, but there are still battles to fight. We can be victims or victors in these battles, depending on our knowledge and understanding of what we are fighting. God knows the strategies the enemy uses, and He shows them to us in His Word, so that “we are not ignorant of his devices, lest satan should get an advantage” (2 Corinthians 2:11). In this passage, Paul says to forgive those who have grieved us, and comfort them, so that they won’t be swallowed up by sorrow. This implies that the enemy attacks us by reminding us of our sin and our unworthiness. If he has a strategy against us, we need a strategy against him. So what do we do when we are attacked?

STEP 1: Recognize him
The devil doesn’t know new tricks. His attacks are always the same. If you can begin to recognize them, you can stop them before they hit you. A favorite attack of his is to accuse us. Revelation 12:10 calls satan “the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them day and night before our God”. His tool is deception. In the Old Testament, he accused Job of not loving God, and only loving what had been provided for him. He came before God’s throne and said, “He doesn’t really love you.

But he can no longer come before God and accuse you. If you continue reading Revelation 12:10, it says that he was hurled down when Christ’s mission was accomplished. Luke 10 says, “I saw satan fall like lightning from heaven.”  He no longer has access to the throne.

So instead, he comes to us. He speaks to our conscience and makes us believe that our sin has separated us from God – “He doesn’t really love you.” It’s the same trick, but to a different audience.  He tells you that God is against you, angry with you, or punishing you. He picks at your old scabs. He tells you that nobody could love you, much less a perfect God. When you begin to believe that God is against you, recognize that as an attack.

STEP 2: Resist him
James says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). How do we resist him? Again, God provides the answer for us. In the wilderness, Jesus resisted him by using scripture. Jesus responded to temptation with the words, “It is written.” God’s word is our sword, which cuts through the doubts and deceit from the enemy. Ephesians 6 tells us to “Stand firm, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” We resist the enemy by keeping our eyes on Jesus. By reminding ourselves of the truth—that we are righteous through Christ. By believing He is who He says He is, and we are who He says we are. Revelation 12:11 says, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb.” What power can his accusations have when the Lamb of God has taken away our sin? (John 1:29).

STEP 3: Remind him
Remind him that the grave is empty. Remind him that he already lost. Remind him that Christ has justified you, and His blood has given you perfect standing. When the enemy comes against you, remind him that Jesus’ blood has paid those accusations! Remind him that Jesus himself defends and represents you, as your advocate in Heaven. Remind him that you are healed, whole, and perfected through the blood of the Lamb. Say it out loud – there is power in the words you give voice to. Rebuke him in the name of Jesus and, as you remind him of these things, let it also remind you of the depth of God’s love for you.

When he tries to come through your front door, stand in his way. Recognize him by his lies, resist him with God’s truth, and remind him that he has no place in your life.

Running the Race

Running the Race

This past weekend, I ran my first 5K. I had been doing high intensity workouts for several months, but running was a whole new ballgame. The first time I ran, I felt like I had been going forever and looked down to see that I had gone 0.2 miles. All I could think was You’ve got to be kidding me.

For a month straight, I ran every afternoon that I could. I was awkward. I was slow. I was gasping for every breath. The first time I ran a mile straight, I had to jump and down internally, because my legs could barely hold me up. There were a few days that I walked outside ready to run, but most days I walked outside thinking What am I doing? I’m not a runner. The only thing that kept me going every day was focusing on my goal: to run the whole 5K without stopping. Hebrews 12 calls us to run with perseverance the race marked out for us. I made this my theme verse, repeating it in my head every day as I stretched before my runs.

I took a break from blogging while I was training for the 5K, but I always jotted down the things God was teaching me during and after those difficult, humbling afternoons. Here are my 4 biggest takeaways:

What you put in is what you put out.

This one is fairly self-evident. What you put in is what you are going to put out, whether that’s the food you’re putting into your body or the thoughts in your mind. There were days that I ate a healthy lunch before running, and there were days that I ate fast food for lunch. I bet you can guess which days I had a better run.

How often do we pacify our spiritual hunger with the world’s junk food? We convince ourselves we are craving TV shows, or food, or alcohol, when what we really are craving is Jesus. When we take the time to breathe in God’s grace, we are going to breathe out His grace as well.

It’s not only about what we are putting in our mouths, but also into our minds and hearts. Our thoughts can wreak havoc on our performance. When I constantly tell myself I’m not a runner, of course I’m not going to get better. We have to capture our thoughts and speak truth – not our own truth, but God’s truth.

Focus on the finish line.

When you take your eyes off of the finish line, you start looking at yourself. You start to hear how hard you’re breathing and how much you’re struggling. When I first started running, I was always thinking about what I needed to give up, or deprive myself of. I started to question if it was something I could do. I forgot what I was running for.

That’s exactly what happens when we take our eyes off Jesus. Our focus should be on Him, not on what we can’t have or can’t do. Going back to Hebrews 12, look at the rest of the verse:

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

It’s so easy to grow weary. It’s so easy to lose heart. Only by fixing our eyes on Jesus, and remembering His sacrifice, can we find our endurance.

Toward the end of my second mile the morning of the 5K, I got a cramp in my side and started to realize how hard my feet were hitting the ground with each stride. I forced myself to repeat the same mantra: Run with endurance; not in my strength, but in His. That last mile was my fastest one! Not only was it the fastest mile in my race; it was the fastest mile I had ever run.

Name your rocks.

Results motivate us and build our faith. In Joshua, rocks are used as a reminder to the Lord’s people that He is faithful.

“These rocks will be a sign for you. In the future, your children will ask you, ‘What do these rocks mean?’ You will tell them that the Lord stopped the water from flowing in the Jordan River… These rocks will help the Israelites remember this forever.”

Don’t ever forget to name your rocks. The first time you run a mile. The first time you beat your previous record. The first time you think you can’t possibly take another step, but then you do. Let those moments encourage you and push you to go faster, or longer.

The same is true in our spiritual race. Remember what God has done for you. Claim those rocks, reflect on them, and allow them to build your faith. Sometimes the rocks are stepping stones that are leading you to a pivotal moment in your life, where you really have to choose whether or not you believe God is who He says He is.

It’s okay to walk.

My goal for the actual race was to run without stopping, but during the training it was just about going the distance. Several people advised me to focus on doing the full distance each time to build endurance, without worrying about my speed. Run when I could; walk when I had to – but just keep moving forward. Most times I was able to do that. Run a mile, walk two miles. Run two miles, walk one mile. But there were also times that I had to take a break. And the beauty of it is that when I picked back up, I didn’t have to start back at zero. If I left off at 1.5 miles, I started back at 1.5 miles. I think sometimes we view sin as something that sends us back to the starting point. If I had to start back at the beginning every time I took a break in running, I would be too exhausted to ever finish my race. We don’t have to start over when we sin; we just have to turn around and start running again.

 

When You Doubt Your Salvation

When You Doubt Your Salvation

“I believe in God, and I asked Jesus into my life – but how do I know if it worked? How do I know for sure that I am saved?”

In the past several weeks, I’ve had three different people ask me this. And each time, it’s like having a conversation with myself five years ago. Why do we not talk about this more? I think this is one of the enemy’s favorite places to attack believers, especially new believers. The faith is new and fresh, and if he can get even a kernel of doubt in our hearts, we will never be able to live the life God wants for us. If we are not equipped with a way to fight this, we can spend years – or decades – living a life of uncertainty.

In terms of crippling our faith, this is the perfect place for the enemy to attack us, because it hinders our relationship with God. Imagine that you owe someone money, but you don’t have anything to pay them with. When you see them out in public, are you going to go out of your way to talk to them? Are you going to seek them out, knowing that you owe a debt you can’t pay? If we aren’t sure that Jesus paid our debt and that we have right-standing with God, we will avoid seeking Him out. We will cover that relationship in guilt, and then we will drown in it.

I was baptized and gave my life to Christ and then spent years wondering if it was enough, or if it had worked. I remember crying one night, telling my dad I was worried that he and my mom would go to Heaven, but I wouldn’t, and then they would forget me. As I got older, the fears and doubts stayed, but it felt like it was too late to say, “Hey, I’m not sure that this actually worked for me.”

Any time I messed up, I felt like I had to start all over again. I repeated the sinner’s prayer every single time I heard it, because I wasn’t sure if it stuck the last time. But I always repeated it internally and silently, because I didn’t want anyone around me to know that I might not be saved. In church, or in ministry, it doesn’t always feel safe to admit those doubts. You fear judgement, you fear condemnation, or you might even fear losing your job.

My life was changed when someone finally told me, “Wake up every morning and say out loud that you are the righteousness of Christ.” For the next two weeks, I woke up and said that every single morning, regardless of whether or not it felt true. It was during that time, I really began to seek out God, and to ask Him questions, believing that Jesus was advocating for me (1 John 2:1). My faith grew as our relationship grew—as God spoke to me and revealed things to me, giving me the assurance I had been needing.

Now, five years later, I am finally realizing how many people in my life went through (or are going through) the exact same fears and doubts. There might be people in your own life who need to be equipped with weapons to fight against these questions.

In scripture, God spoke to Abram in Genesis 15:7-8 and Abram responds to God’s promise by asking, “But how will I know?” God promised us that if we declare with our mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved. (Romans 10:9). How many times have we responded, “But how will I know?”

God revealed two things to me as I read over this verse in Genesis:

  • Abram wasn’t just rhetorically asking, “How will I know?” He was asking God directly. If we are struggling with any doubts over our salvation, we can simply ask God. Pray for Him to help give you guidance and affirmation. Ask Him to give you peace.
  • When you ask God a question directly, expect an answer. Come with an expectant heart, ready to receive what you are asking for. Abram expected an answer from God, and how did God respond? Scripture says that God – the creator of our universe – responded by meeting Abram at his faith level and making a covenant, an unbreakable promise, for Abram’s sake.

God doesn’t change. The same God who met Abram as his faith level is the God we know today. If you have doubts about your salvation, take them to God. Let Him be the one to whisper assurances to your heart.

In Exodus, God told the people to smear the blood of a lamb over the entrances to their homes, so that the angel of death would pass by. I imagine that after smearing the blood over their door, several people stayed up all night in anxiety and fear, waiting to make sure that the blood worked, while others slept soundly after applying the blood.

But the blood covered them either way.

Even if we spend our lives in uncertainty, the blood of the lamb will still protect us and atone for us against God’s death penalty. But how much deeper our relationship with God will be when we believe we have right-standing with Him through Jesus.

Bitter Roots

Bitter Roots

The first step in defeating our enemies is recognizing them. Scripture tells us that God told Jesus He would “make His enemies a footstool for His feet” (Luke 20:43). I’ve often heard that verse quoted as a way for Christians to say, “Let God fight your battles”. But in this scripture, who is the enemy? If you read Ephesians 6, it says, “For we war not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Christ’s enemies were satan and any spirit contrary to his.

When we talk about God fighting our battles, who are our enemies? So often, we attach the word “enemy” to a person who has hurt us, rather than attaching it to the sin and the spirit of a broken world. Our enemy is not our brothers and sisters in Christ, or even unbelievers. Our enemy is the same one Jesus faced and defeated.

When we are hurt by a fellow Christian, those scars sometimes affect us the most, because of the vulnerability in those relationships. But that doesn’t make them your enemy.

Here are three signs that we might be focusing on the wrong enemy:

We think their sin is worse than ours, and we can’t let it go.

Judas may have betrayed Jesus, but he’s not the only reason Jesus hung on the cross. We are.  It was our sins that kept him there. As Christians, we often talk about how He has forgiven our sins, but He also forgave us for putting Him on the cross in the first place. When we are unable to let go of something someone else did to us, we are essentially saying, “Their sin against me is worse than my sin against Jesus.”

What you can do: Remember what you were saved from. When we focus our minds on what Jesus did for us, instead of what someone else did to us, we are much more likely to be able to live in grace.

We pray against them or pray negative things over them.

Even when we don’t know we are doing it, we might be praying things as simple as, “Help them see where they have wronged me.” Praying condemnation or guilt over someone else is going completely against the very foundation of grace and doing the devil’s work for him. Karma is not what Jesus preached. You can pray for truth to come to light, but be prepared for that light to shine in your own dark places.

What you can do: Remember who you were saved by. Keep your focus on Jesus and think of how he prayed for those who hurt him. Even knowing that we would be the reason for his pain, Jesus prayed for us, the believers: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

We take joy in their failure or cripple their ministry.

After someone has hurt you, it’s so easy to find pleasure in their failures. If you’ve ever been fired from a job, you’ve probably also daydreamed about the whole place collapsing without you. In ministry, when someone has cut you deeply, it can be hard to still wish them success. You might actively attack them, or you might just find yourself telling others about the situation so that you can receive their comfort. When we portray other believers in a negative light, though, we hurt their ministry and we put ourselves in a place of opposition against God’s work. When any ministry crumbles, someone might not get to know Jesus.

What you can do: Remember what you were saved for. As Christians, we are meant to spread the Gospel. As His beloved children, our purpose is simply to give God glory. We need to edify and encourage each other, doing everything we can to show God’s love, both to unbelievers and to each other.

What it comes down to is this: If we believe our sins were covered on the cross, then we have to believe theirs were, too. Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Bitterness is not only self-destructive; it also affects those around us. Rather than carrying around a spirit of offense or bitterness, we have to take our pain to the cross and leave it there.

hum·ble·brag

hum·ble·brag

A humble brag is a “self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud”. We have all likely been on both the giving and receiving end of a humble brag. Here are a few examples:

  • I have no makeup on, my hair’s a mess, and I’m trying to figure out why guys are still hitting on me. Seriously? I look awful.
  • Still not sure how it’s possible I got accepted to Yale! I demand answers.
  • Watching myself on TV and cringing. Is that really what my voice sounds like?

Humble brags usually serve as an attempt to hide the fact that someone is bragging. For the most part, they end up being more annoying than actual bragging. The question is, why do people feel the need to humble brag? Why are our Instagram and Facebook feeds so often filled with “I’ll probably delete this later because I look awful” photo captions?

Even the term “Humble Brag” implies that anything negative you say about yourself is “humble” while anything positive you say is “bragging”. When we want to say something positive about ourselves, we feel the need to add a disclaimer.

I think this belief, so ingrained in our culture, is why sometimes our immediate reaction to seeing God’s power at work is to deflect. My last post was on intercessory prayer and the importance of praying for others. If we pray for someone, and whatever we are praying for takes place, how often do we shrug if off or try to find a logical explanation instead of proclaiming the power of our prayers? I think sometimes we don’t want to “take credit” for a prayer because we mistakenly believe the power of prayer rests on us and we think that the humble thing to do is not draw attention to ourselves.

The very fact that Jesus calls himself humble goes against our definition of humility. Or, how about in Numbers, when Moses calls himself the most humble man on Earth? God says that when we are humble, we are free from pride or arrogance. That doesn’t mean that we think less of ourselves; it means we think more about Jesus. Humility is not about thinking less of yourself; it’s about literally becoming less of yourself and more of God. Biblical humility doesn’t deny that we can be used by God; rather it is a reminder that we have no power except through God.

It’s true that we aren’t supposed to claim the glory that belongs to God ourselves, but, in trying so hard to divert that attention, we are often denying God the credit as well. Don’t let your idea of humility deny Jesus His power. When something we are praying for happens, we should always point to the power of prayer. Prayer is not about the person praying; it’s about the One they are praying to.

Standing in the Gap

Standing in the Gap

Package Box

When is the last time you stood in the gap for someone you loved? Many of us do this daily, praying over our family members and our friends. We might miss a day here and there, or even a week when we are really busy, but we consistently remember to lift them up. Do we have the same faithfulness and persistence to lift up our fellow church members? Our leaders? Our communities? Cities? Nations?

Confession: Most days, if all of my prayers were answered, my daughter and husband would stay safe and my food would be blessed, but the world would remain unchanged.

The ministry of intercession, or “standing in the gap” is such an important one. In Exodus, scripture says that Moses’ intercession for the people of God caused the Lord to relent and “not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” In Acts, we saw that because of the church’s prayers, Peter’s chains fell from his hands and he was led out of prison by an angel of God. In John, Jesus took time to intercede for the church, something He continues to do today. This was Jesus’ prayer over us: “That they may be one even as you and I are one, Father just as you are in me and I am in You.”

His prayer was that we would be one: one body, of one Spirit, of one faith.

The act of praying for others helps us think beyond ourselves. Today, I encourage you to spend at least half an hour in faithful and fervent prayer. Rather than coming before God with an agenda, come before Him with an open heart and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your prayer time.

 

 

Chronic Worry

Chronic Worry

Advice we receive about worry can be confusing. I think most people, if asked about worry directly, would tell you not to worry too much and to enjoy the moments. But then we constantly see in the news and on social media those stories that want to raise awareness about <something> because <something awful> happened to them. Those stories absolutely break my heart, but they also cause me to fall into worry.

“Ten Signs of Depression You Might Not Recognize Until It’s Too Late”

“Dry Drowning: Know the Signs”

“Mom Warns Other Parents After 18-Day-Old Baby Girl Dies”

When I came home from the hospital with a tiny, defenseless baby in my arms, I was completely overwhelmed trying to remember all of the “need to know” tips, warnings, and advice. I was so worried and everything I was reading on the news was affirming that I should be worried because there were a million tiny things that could go wrong.

That burden was heavy. As someone who has always been a chronic worrier, that burden was crushing. Luckily, as believers, we have someone to transfer that burden to.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I didn’t sleep for weeks after my daughter was born. Every time my eyes would close, I would wonder if she was still breathing. It wasn’t until much later that I realized I had postpartum anxiety. The only thing that helped me finally start sleeping was to repeat Psalm 4:8 to myself every night, when I began to worry: “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.”

For anyone who struggles with constant worrying, I encourage you to write down Bible verses about worry on index cards and repeat them out loud every time you begin to feel that anxiety creep in.

I was recently shown an awesome example of why it helps to speak the verses out loud. Try counting to ten in your head and somewhere in the middle, say your name out loud. When you do, what happens? Your counting stops.

When you speak the Word of God out loud, your thoughts will literally stop in their tracks. Your mind will stop to hear what your soul has to say. To worry is to say that you have more faith in the enemy to harm you than you have faith in the Lord to protect you. If anxiety starts to attack you, speak out about where your faith lies.

Below are a few good verses to start with. Take these verses and make them personal. “Thank you, Lord, that you have given me your peace. I will cast my cares upon you and put my trust in you. I will not be anxious, but will trust that your peace will guard my mind and my heart.”

  • John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
  • Colossians 3:15 – Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
  • Psalm 55:22 – Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
  • Psalm 56:3 – When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
  • John 16:33 – I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
  • Romans 8:38-39 –  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

His Victory

His Victory

I was watching old home videos recently and came across one of my younger brother taking his first steps. In the video, I was about four years old. As soon as he took that first step, I yelled to my parents, “He’s doing it!” Then, as my parents began to praise him, I suddenly realized I was no longer the center of attention and proceeded to push my wobbling brother to the side so I could run across the room and do a cartwheel.

Watching that video is slightly mortifying, but I remember that feeling so well. I went from “Yay, my brother is walking!” to “Wait a minute… It’s not that big of a deal. I can do that, too, but nobody is praising me. In fact, I can do it even better. Where is my applause?”

We had a similar situation when my nephew was learning to ride his bike a few weeks ago. He tried several times, coming away with a few successes and a few scrapes. My niece wanted to try afterwards, and he handed over the bike with a few words of encouragement. Immediately, she took off, riding the bike perfectly. As their parents cheered, he went and sat on the ground with his head in his hands. “She did it! Wait… It’s not that big of a deal. I was on the bike first, but nobody is praising me. I was the first one to get on it. Where is my applause?”

How often do we do this as Christians? We are so excited when people first come to Christ. “My brother is home!” But what about when we become glory hogs? Have you ever listened to someone share their testimony and felt jealous or critical? “Wait… It’s not that big of a deal. I’ve been through a lot, too, but nobody is praising me. In fact, my testimony is even more powerful. I’ve been a Christian longer. Where is my applause?” I think the enemy loves to convince us that we are competing with each other. The truth is that we are getting credit for Christ’s glory. Jesus gave us His victory.

It reminds me of the older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In scripture, the younger brother takes his inheritance and leaves home only to squander everything and face famine. He returns home, with the intention to become a servant in his father’s home, but his father greets him with open arms and throws a celebration in his honor. His brother is angry when he comes home and refuses to participate. I can almost imagine the thoughts running through his head. “My brother is home! But wait…It’s not that big of a deal. I’ve been here all along, but nobody is praising me. In fact, I’ve been even better! I have faithfully served and obeyed my father. Where is my applause?”

In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father reminds the older son that they should celebrate the return of the younger son because he was lost and is now found. It was a victory for all of them. In the same way, my brother-in-law reminded my nephew that he gave his sister the courage to get on the bike. Her victory was his, too. I think that, especially as Christians, it’s important to remind ourselves of that. My brother’s victory is mine, too, because it brings glory to God.

The picture below was one I snapped of my nephew after he talked to his dad – cheering his sister on as she rode for her finish line.

FullSizeRender

Living a Healthy Life

Living a Healthy Life

I think sometimes we approach working out the same way we approach grace and Christianity. Too often, the main reason we reach out to God is because we think we messed up somehow. “Oh, I sinned again. I need to pray.”

It’s similar with working out – we do it because we want to fix something. “Oh, I messed up my diet again. I need to work out.”

Both of those things stem from guilt. But when you start seeking out God because you love Him and truly grasp how much He loves you, it removes that layer of guilt staining the relationship and you are able to just enjoy His presence. He loves us regardless of what we do right or wrong.

Your workouts change, too, when you don’t do them to punish yourself because you think you need to lose weight or because you ate something that wasn’t on your diet, but because you love your body and you want to take care of it. There is a big difference between working out because you hate your body and working out because you love your body, and see it as a gift.

Scripture tells us that our bodies are temples (1 Corinthians 3:16). So instead of focusing on what we want to fix or change about our bodies, let’s focus on what they actually are – God’s dwelling place!

Living a healthy life is a spiritual pursuit.

Great Faith

Great Faith

A few months ago, God started speaking to me about great faith and where it comes from. The message I want to share focuses on three men in scripture: Abraham, Elijah and Thomas. My mother-in-law laughed at me when I said that I wanted to talk about Thomas as a man of great faith, but he’s in the lineup all the same.

First let’s look at Abraham, or Abram at the time. In Genesis 15:7, God essentially promises Abram land and Abram responds by asking, “But how will I know for sure?” We know that Abram was a man of faith. In the very verse before this one, God told Abram that he would have a son and Abram believed the Lord because of his great faith, and it was counted as righteousness.

Similarly, when we look at 1 Kings 19, we see Elijah running in fear and hiding in the wilderness. He left his servant behind and crawled into the desert, wanting to die. In verse 4, he calls out and says, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” He is consumed by fear, but we know that Elijah, too, was a man of faith because in the chapter before this He called down the fire of the Lord because of his great faith and defeated the Prophets of Baal.

And then there’s Thomas. I have a co-worker who recently said, “I’m pretty sure Thomas has the worst PR rep in all of the New Testament.” Thomas is remembered for John 20:25, where he speaks to the disciples when they tell him that Jesus had risen. He told them, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” I’ll admit that it probably wasn’t the best response he could have given, but what makes it so much different from the disbelief of Abram or the fear of Elijah? In fact, if you look back at John 11 when Jesus is going to see Lazarus in Judea, where the Jews were waiting to stone Him, Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” He was willing to die with Jesus because of his great faith. And even though we remember Thomas as “Doubting Thomas”, it’s important to realize that that’s not how God looks at him.

God is so faithful that He never lets our doubts in moments of fear define who we are to Him. I want to go back through these stories and really focus on how God responds to each of these men in their moments of doubt.

Let’s start in Genesis. God has just told Abram that he will possess the land and Abram asks Him, “But how can I be sure?” God responds by making a covenant with Abram – an unbreakable promise that requires nothing from Abram. Verse 18 says, “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your offspring I give this land’.” And what happens after that? Abraham becomes the father of all nations. Scripture says because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.

With Elijah, the Lord was patient with him in the desert, letting him rest and regain his strength. He had angels bring him food and then led him to Mount Horeb, where God appeared to Him and told him to anoint his successor. Again, what happened after that? Elijah went on to prophesy and grow his faith and he never had to face death. God sent chariots and horses of fire and took Elijah up to Heaven in a whirlwind.

And how did God respond to Thomas? Jesus came to him and said, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” He met him at his faith level and Thomas immediately confessed his faith, saying, “My Lord and my God”. He went on to travel and preach the Gospel, baptizing and bringing many to faith.

Be encouraged, seeing that not only does God meet you at your faith level – he also doesn’t leave you there.

So many times, when I’ve had a moment of doubt, my first instinct is to try to hide it from God or pretend it’s not there. But I truly believe we serve a God who loves to use those moments of doubt to grow our faith. He will always meet us exactly where we are, whether we are standing outside looking at the stars, hiding out in the wilderness, standing among friends, or sitting in a quiet room praying for a sign. All we have to do is call out to Him and He will meet us and bring us closer to Him.

There are two verses I want to leave you with. The first is for when you ask yourself, ‘What exactly is faith?’ Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” And the second is for when you ask yourself, ‘What can faith do?’ Matthew 17:20 says, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

The video below is one of the most powerful videos I’ve seen on doubt and the role it plays in the Christian walk.

“My child, when it seems like you have all the right questions, but never enough answers, and your faith is small enough to fit in the cracks of your palms, I told you: Faith the size of mustard seeds can rearrange whole landscapes. Before you doubt me, doubt your doubts. Doubt your doubts and you will see they are just as empty as the tomb that I walked from.”