Our words have power. Proverbs 18:21 confirms this: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” And before we dive into taking thoughts captive and destroying strongholds, it’s important to acknowledge that Satan does not have the same power we do. His words don’t hold the same weight as ours, so he only gets power when we speak his words for him. He wants us to do his dirty work. So, he frequently attacks us through thoughts and thought patterns because it is human nature to believe and say whatever we think or feel, and we give power to whatever we speak.
Endurance – ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue.
In Hebrews 12, we are called to run with endurance the race that is set before us. So right now—in the middle of a worldwide crisis—what does it look like to endure? How do we become immune to trauma, or wounds, or fatigue?
I grew up believing a lot of things about God and about myself that weren’t true. I never felt like I had a good relationship with Him, but I wasn’t sure why. A few years ago, I decided to finally open up about these struggles to my husband. We had just taken on a mortgage, and here are the words he shared with me:
Imagine that you know the person who owns our mortgage. You owe a massive amount of debt to them, and you know you can’t make a payment this month. If you see that person at the grocery store, are you going to run up and talk to them, or are you going to sneak out and hope they don’t see you?
These words came at the perfect time because that’s exactly how I saw God—as someone to whom I owed a debt I couldn’t pay.
I had been basing my right-standing with Him on whether or not I’d made the payment that month. My confidence in His love for me was only as strong as my “bank account.” Going to church or memorizing scripture was like making a deposit and messing up or missing the mark was like making a withdrawal.
For years, I felt like my relationship with God was dependent on whether or not I had money in my account.
In John 19:30, after Jesus had been hanging on the cross for hours, He said, “It is finished.” In the original Greek, those three words are actually one word—tetelestai—which means paid in full. Once my heart accepted that Jesus paid my debt and that my salvation was based on His works instead of mine, I was finally able to grow in the genuine, intimate relationship with the Lord that I had been seeking.
I’m sure that for a lot of Christians this is common knowledge, but for me, it was a concept I just couldn’t grasp. I let guilt and self-doubt get in the way of truth and grace until my husband helped me break through those lies.
So just in case anyone needs this reminder today:
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
– Colossians 2:13-14
When I was in college, I helped chaperone a youth trip to a Christian conference.
During a night of worship, one of the girls on the trip burst into tears. I walked with her outside of the room so that we could talk and, as she began telling me some of the heavy things she was struggling with, I asked, “Lord, what do I say?”
I remember the response vividly.
In this day and time, we have control over so many aspects of our identity: we choose what status updates we want to make online, we select (and edit) the photos we want to share with the world, and we actively construct the persona we want to portray on our social media platforms. But we have to keep in mind that while we can create our own highlight reels, we don’t get to write our own obituaries. Ultimately, we can’t control the way other people remember us.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28
I have a tendency to look at verses like Romans 8:28 and see them as conditional: if I am called according to His purpose, then all things will work together for my good. My mind then immediately goes down the path of, “How do I know if I’m called? What if I’ve missed my calling and this verse no longer applies to me?”
Too often, our relationships sink under the weight of our expectations. We could spend hours talking about why this is the case, but there’s a simple explanation: There is only one who can love us the way we are created to be loved.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” – Jeremiah 31:3
No other love can reach the standard of God’s love. When we tie up our worth in the measure of anyone else’s love, we are selling ourselves short. Not only that, but we are putting a lot of pressure on someone who has no way of living up to who we need them to be.
All it takes is one glance at any of the news sites to know that our system doesn’t work and our policies need to change in regard to immigration.
My heart aches at the images of children being separated from their parents. I look at them and see my own little girl, who still clings to me when I drop her off at daycare. I can only imagine the fear and panic she would experience if she was forcibly taken away from us.
My heart breaks, but the rest of me is furious.
One of my favorite ways to make scripture come alive is to put myself in someone’s place so I can try to imagine what they were feeling and experiencing.
In Exodus 3, the Lord says He has seen the suffering of His people and that He is sending Moses to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. All that Moses say in return is, “Who am I that I should go?” followed by, “But what if they ask who sent me?”
And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?”
– Matthew 26:19-22
These verses record the conversation at the Last Supper. I’ve always found it interesting that when Jesus announces one of His disciples is going to betray Him, none of them deny the betrayal or try to protect Him from it. These men had been following Jesus for years at this point, and yet not one of them could confidently say, “I would never betray you!”
Instead, they all asked: “Is it me?”
The concept of “face to face” plays a large role in our culture’s definition of intimacy. Text messages or emails are great, but we still crave that personal interaction; we want to be able to discern the feelings revealed by the face. When we are face to face with someone, we can see love, tenderness, shame, or pain in their expressions—emotions that don’t always come through in other forms of communication.
So how can we have an intimate relationship with our Father when we can never see Him face to face?
“So what you’re saying is…”
Early in our marriage, this quickly became my husband’s least favorite phrase. In the middle of an argument, he would tell me that I was misunderstanding what he was trying to say and I would respond with, “So what you’re saying is I’m stupid?”
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.
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.
“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.
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?
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.
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.
I am so incredibly thankful—for my family, for my friends, for my job—but I am also hurting. In this season of grief, God put three things on my heart that I hope might be helpful to others who are also hurting
Two years ago, I was in a Bible study and we were reading in Genesis discussing when God spoke to Abram in Genesis 15:7-8. Abram responds to God’s promise by saying, “But how will I know?” Clearly Abram was a man of great faith; in the very verse before, it says Abram believed the Lord and He credited it to him as righteous and later in Hebrews, Abram makes the Bible’s Hall of Fame because of his great faith. Yet he asks the question, “But how will I know?”