Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
There’s certainly a lot of courageous people in the Bible. After Moses’ death, God commands Joshua to take the Israelites into the promised land – not knowing what to expect. God reminds Joshua that with every step, He will be just ahead of Joshua paving the way.
The dictionary definition of courage is: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. But that doesn’t really do “courage” justice. There’s plenty of people who build up their courage to do really stupid things. And without consulting God on our next steps how can someone really “withstand” fear and difficulty?
Courage is one of those mysterious uniquely human gifts. A gift that is frequently used wrongly when the Holy Spirit isn’t involved. I find when I’m telling myself to be brave it’s a signal that I need to start praying.
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24
Awhile back I challenged a group of friends and acquaintances to embark on what I called The Boldness Challenge. I asked each of them to make a list of five things they’d like to accomplish. And then, they were to start working on each of them, reporting in occasionally. For some it was digging deeper into their faith. For another it was completing the John Muir Trail. From starting a business to learning to fly, the lists were incredibly diverse! One list included forgiving certain people in their lives. Each person had been putting off tackling a dream or a goal. All of them would need God’s courage to move forward.
I’m so thankful that when I know I’m going to encounter a difficult situation or embark on a new and scary adventure I can count on God for the mysterious courage. The Holy Spirit wells up inside me and gives me the strength to take that step forward.
My friend Betsy is incredible. I first met her when I started working out at the gym where my daughter was a physical therapist. I instantly was drawn to her positivity and strength. On her 70th birthday, Betsy and another friend did 70 burpees without stopping, If you have ever done a burpee you are probably saying, “wow!!” She can hand-over-hand climb a rope to the top of the building. She pushes herself with heavier weights, all the while encouraging others much younger.
One day I was challenged by another friend to start a Bible Study. I had overheard Betsy mention her faith a few times. I stepped out of my comfort zone and asked her and another gym buddy to join my study. She instantly said, “yes!” When my Boldness Challenge commenced her list was impressive. At the top was her desire to walk a portion of the famed Pacific Crest Trail in California – alone. Now mind you, Betsy has been hiking her whole life. And, she has scaled Mt. Whitney multiple times (her husband, Jack, will hit his 200th Whitney climb this summer). I trust her judgement when it comes to being out in the wilderness. But she wanted to trust God, not herself. So, she prayed and asked for prayers from our Bold Warrior group. She felt God’s answer – “go.” She planned her trip between two others. Another Whitney climb and the trip she had planned with two other friends –the long-term dream of hiking the John Muir Trail. As I write this, she is on her way up to the Sierras for her three-week hike on the JMT. Did I mention Betsy has had two knee replacements? I call her my Bionic friend.
Boldness Trip Report July 22-24, 2020
I have been wanting to do this hike for around five years now. First because it is the “official” start of the Sierras, which is my first love when it comes to mountain ranges. And secondly, because this trail is part of the Pacific Crest Trail, which I have dreamed about hiking for several decades. I grew up hiking in the Sierras every summer. My father brought my siblings and I there for backpacking trips. So being in these mountains is revisiting favorite childhood memories. But Kennedy Meadows is the southern end of the Sierras and lower in elevation, which makes this area hotter and drier. This is why I have not tackled this hike before now! According to the PCT Half Mile App, it is actually a 40-mile trip, with fewer sources of water than I am used to and these water sources dry out as the summer heats up.
My husband drove me to the trail head on July 22 and I started hiking at 5:50 a.m. to get miles covered before the sun heated up the trail. I was carrying 5 liters of water and planned to camp 12 miles up the trail at the south fork of the Kern River. I sang hymns and talked with God as I walked down the trail. I looked for flowers along the way and marveled at the beauty all around me. Because the elevation is lower here, there were many flowers that I do not normally see. My father taught us to try to identify flowers on the trail. I consider this one of the gifts I received from him! This helps pass the time and I was happy as I walked.
Having studied the trail descriptions, I noticed the changing scenery which marked my progress up the trail. And the sun stayed behind a ridge to the east for a very long time, so the hike was not as hot as I expected. From time to time there was a cool breeze, to which I said, “Thank you Jesus!” I passed a woman at the 5-mile point. She had come from Kennedy Meadows the day before for a one-night trip and was headed back to her car. She confirmed for me a water source 2 miles up the trail. I could hear a small musical creek when I got there. I stopped and filled up my water bottles. About a mile later, I topped out of the small canyon. There was a gentle descent through pine trees and when the trees ended the vista opened onto a gorgeous miles long meadow. It was stunning! The trail followed the edge of the meadow and it was a joy to walk along it! This is cow country, and I could hear the cows in the meadows mooing.
Time passed quickly and by 1:00 p.m. I was at the south fork of the Kern River and my camping spot for the night. I filtered water into all my bottles. I set up camp. I explored the trial on the other side of the river where I was to hike come morning. All chores were done by 4:00, and this is when I started to struggle mentally. I had 4 hours to go before sunset. I really missed my husband! I am used to having him as my exploring companion. Because I was carrying all that water, I did not bring anything to read or any other forms of distraction. I had to rely on a favorite mantra: “Rejoice always! Pray without ceasing! Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you!” One of my weaknesses is being still and listening for God. I am not particularly good at being quiet and listening for his words. So, I sat down on a nice rock and asked God to help me listen. My bible ladies will tell you that for months now, when asked what God is calling me to do, I have been unsure of the answer. I felt I was being led to call on shut-ins but was not sure I was hearing correctly. As I sat on that rock, names were coming to me of people to visit and as the list grew, I felt certain this is what God is asking me to do! It was wonderful to feel his direction! This day was also the one-year anniversary of my mother’s passing. So, I had a conversation with her, and I sang the hymns that she had picked to have at her funeral. It was a holy time. I was in my tent and dozing at 8:15 p.m. when I heard a voice saying “Hello.” It was a man and two women who had come from Kennedy Meadows. They had started hiking at 7:00 a.m. and were just now getting to camp. When I left camp the following morning, one of the women was just getting up. We waved as I headed out across the bridge over the river. I saw no one else for the rest of the hike.
The trail on the far side of the river was a little confusing. There were intersecting trails, poorly marked and an old jeep road that was mentioned in the guidebook. As I approached the river the day before I could see a portion of a trail going up the hillside, heading north and slightly east. And as I was almost to camp, I saw a person rounding a corner and heading in the direction of that trail. The trail description talked about being on the old jeep road for a short time before you were back on old trail. My sense was to follow where I had seen the other hiker. My back up plan was to turn on my phone and check the PCT Half Mile App that was on my phone. So, I turned right at the intersection, following the old jeep road and turned on my phone. But to my dismay, it immediately said, low battery, closing and it promptly shut down. My reaction, after the shock, was to say, “Okay God! It’s just you and me!” I continued down the old jeep road and about 30 seconds later out of my mouth came “Why aren’t there any footprints here?” But did I listen? No! I just kept walking around the corner where I had seen the other hiker, for about 10 minutes where the trail/old jeep road became a mass of cow hoof prints. I stopped and pulled out my portable phone charger, hooking it up to my phone. I reread the trail description, knowing I was not where I should be. I went back to the trail intersection and saw immediately which path I should have followed. The one that went north and slightly west. It made me stop and think about what other times in my life when I have had a preconceived idea about what I was supposed to be doing and was so focused on that idea that I totally missed God telling me that I was going in the wrong direction!! By now my phone was powered up enough to confirm I was on the PCT.
The rest of the morning passed as the steps became miles and the trail landmarks followed in sequence the trail descriptions in the guidebook. Beauty was everywhere! I stopped and sat on a fallen tree amidst many wildflowers to eat my breakfast — gorgeous!! I was filled with peace. The trail continued to climb and eventually rounded a corner to a hillside meadow. I have never been to Switzerland, but I believe it would look like this meadow. I could hear a trickle of water, so I dropped my pack and wandered until I found a place where I could collect enough water to pump into my many water bottles. I could have stayed there for hours! But old lady muscles get stiff when I sit too long, so back to the trail I went.
More climbing and the sun was heating up. Some portions of the trail became sandy. It was time to focus on other things, so I started at the top of my prayer list, being very intentional and specific with the requests for each person on my list. Next thing I knew, it was an hour later, and I was two miles up the trail, having not thought once about tired muscles, or sandy trails, or when was I going to stop and sit down! My last prayer for the last person on my prayer list was said just as I topped out over the ridgeline. It was utterly amazing! The body is an incredible machine. If you have done your prep work, as in going to exercise class regularly, working out and stretching, then all you have to do is get your head out of the mix and let the body take over. Your mind can defeat you every time if you let it. “This is like walking on the beach!” “That sun is making me hot!” “More uphill! Really?” “Shouldn’t I take a break now?” I will say it again, your mind can defeat your heart and your spirit if you let it. So, do not let it! Rejoice always! Pray without ceasing! Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:16-18. This is one of my favorites. It snaps me out of the negative every time!
Over the ridge and down we go, into a forest of pines. Beautiful! Heading for the next night’s water source and campsite. That was to be twelve miles from the Kern River. The guidebook said, “Reliable, year-round, spring fed creek.” Except it was a mud hole!! My first thought was “Betsy, you are toast!” But a little voice in my head said, “Betsy, just keep walking.” So, walk I did, past the mud hole, and past Gomez Meadow, where I thought I was spending the night. Three miles up the trail was a “step across creek.” That voice was saying every mile I do today is one less mile for tomorrow. I was mentally reviewing the water I had left. Three- and one-half liters. But tomorrow was to be a fifteen-mile day and I did not like that ratio. I knew I was well hydrated based on how frequently I was having to stop to pee. And I knew it was better to keep going while I was hydrated. Fortunately, there was water to “step across” when I came to creek! I filled my bottles then reviewed the map and the trail description. The next section covered 26 switchbacks over 4 miles. I decided to listen to that voice that was still telling me to just keep walking. I knew this was a climb, but I could see from the map that there would be places flat enough to camp along the way if I became too tired to do all 26. I was still feeling strong, so, walk I did. I ended up doing 18 miles that day which just left 10 miles to Mulkey Pass, my end point for the trail, plus one-mile cross country to Horseshoe Meadow to get to the car. I camped at the top of the 26 switchbacks and had a lovely view!
I was on the trail early the next morning. With eight miles left to hike, I decided to give myself a treat. I pulled out my I-pod and turned on a Lauren Daigle CD. I was sitting on a fallen tree eating a snack when Love Like This came on. I am very familiar with this CD and love her music. But on this day, the words spoke to me in a very personal way. “What have I done to deserve love like this?” The tears started running down my face. And when her powerful voice sang out the Hallelujahs, I could almost feel the notes and words reverberating off the surrounding mountain spires! It was definitely a God moment!
Back on the trail, and a few songs later, her song, Remember, spoke to me as well. I have always known that God is with me wherever I am. And he is how I survived that hardest moments of my life. But on this day, these words and her voice had me sobbing as I went down the trail. “I remember, I remember. You have always been faithful to me.’ “You were there, always there, with me.” Is there any gift that can be greater than that?! Not for me.
The last thing I want to say is regarding fear. I put off doing this hike for 5 years out of fear of the unknown. Where is the water? What will the trail be like? Where will I camp? How long will it take me? Will it be too hot? Will I get dehydrated? Will I be afraid out there by myself? The answers are simple. This is an incredibly beautiful section of the Sierras and I loved hiking through it! I was never afraid, even when my reliable water was not so reliable! I have learned this lesson before and will probably have to learn it again in the future. What we imagine is often much worse than real life! We have nothing to fear but fear itself! God was with me and I was blessed!
In the darkest hour, when I cannot breathe Fear is on my chest, the weight of the world on me Everything is crashing down, everything I had known When I wonder if I’m all alone
I remember, I remember You have always been faithful to me I remember, I remember Even when my own eyes could not see You were there, always there
I will lift my eyes even in the pain Above all the lies, I know You can make a way I have seen giants fall, I have seen mountains move I have seen waters part because of You
I remember (I remember) I remember (I remember) You have always been faithful to me I remember (I remember) I remember (I remember) Even when my own eyes could not see You were there, always there
I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about Your goodness, goodness I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about Your goodness, goodness I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about Your goodness, goodness I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about Your goodness, goodness
I remember, I remember You have always been faithful to me I remember (I remember) I remember (I remember) Even when my own eyes could not see You were there, always there, with me
What battles are you facing right now? For me it’s my fears about the direction the country is going. I am a patriot through and through. I’m not a fan of people who twist history to meet their needs for victimization. That may not sit well with people but I will not judge others for living imperfect lives while I, myself, live imperfectly every single day. That being said I can only live in God’s Truth which is the fact that the only battle I have some control over is the one that tries to pull me away from God. . When I don’t first get on my knees and pray; when I don’t continually look to the Lord for guidance; when I don’t trust that God is the ultimate warrior in the battles for Truth and Justice — this is when I need to remind myself to tighten my own warrior belt and take up my shield. . Our real battles are being fought in realms unseen. Our job is to surrender to the knowledge that God will fight for us when we ask. He will beat back the armies that wish to destroy us. And as King Jehoshaphat commanded the people of Judah to act before battle, we need to give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever!” . It’s time to completely turn your battles over to God. Let’s face it, you haven’t had too many victories without Him. Wave your white flag. Get on your knees and pray. . Join me starting July 27 as I begin 30 Days of Praise for all the great things God has done. Follow me to enjoy this journey! http://www.emboldened.net. .
Where do you place the idea of “persistence” in your life? In God’s realm it is one of the most highly touted human characteristics. . Persistence gets us to grab hold of the life God wants for us. It molds us into better people. Persistence takes us over the finish line when we continually pray in worship, thanksgiving and petition. . Persistence is not about never changing course. It’s about never taking your eyes off the ultimate goal — even if that means our course zig zags a bit. When I was learning to sail the first thing we needed to understand was reading the wind. Sensing it’s direction and using it for the most power and energy. Frequently that meant having to “tack” or sail in a zig zag. As a sailor you need to be fully in tune with the unseen in order to persist toward that spot on the horizon you’ve picked out as your ultimate goal. . I have pleasing God as my ultimate goal. And through prayer, meditation, worship, and paying close attention to His unseen and seen ways I set my sail toward Him. It may mean I zig zag my way but through persistence I know I will reach my goal. . Please join me in this adventure as I begin 30 Days of Praise starting July 27. Go to my blog (link in bio) and follow me to receive a daily praise and to add your own daily praise ❤️. . I look forward to setting sail with you! .
What’s your reaction when encountering people who doubt — doubt your understanding of facts, science, faith, morals, values? . We’ve become this society where what we know to be true and good and right is what everyone else MUST agree with. At a time when you’d think we’d grown to be more interested in varied ideas it’s seems our desires to expand our minds and sphere of real friends keeps shrinking. An “echo chamber” is one in which we can only hear our voice. And unless we are God, our voice can frequently be wrong. . As a Christian, I see other Christians falling into a sea of doubt about the lessons and way of life we are called to. We don’t want to be the lone voice outside society’s echo chamber. On the flip side we are called to be our Christian brothers’ keepers — being merciful to followers who struggle against societal lies and snatching each other out of the fires. And even more merciful to non-followers who have yet to accept the Truth of God. . A Christian’s “doubt” should only lie in the struggle with God’s Word as lived out in the world— not the Truth of God’s Word. When we see our Christian loved ones sinking further into that struggle with the world is when we need to act with God’s authority and be His lifeline. . When you doubt the right way to live out your life what action do you hope those around you take? Mercy or with condemnation?
As I’ve gotten older my allergies have gotten worse. I’ve had sinus surgery and I’m currently going through the allergy shot regimen. And yet I still need to take allergy pills both in the morning and at night. In the early years of this battle I experimented with different allergy medications. Some made me incredibly sleepy and foggy. I saw a commercial for the brand Claritin. What caught my attention was the line “Claritin Clear.” The commercial shows a foggy view of the world. And after taking their product that foggy film is stripped away. That’s what I needed. What I didn’t realize at the time was not only were my allergies making my view of the world foggy but so was my lack of trust in God.
My friend and I were out for a walk and I was struck with the fact that she has taken God’s allergy medication. For one, three different devotionals she read that day pleaded the same action: Trust in the Lord with all you heart and all your mind and all your soul and lean not on your own understanding (Prov 3:5). I told her sometimes God whispers and sometimes He shouts and shakes us! Both are to get us to open our eyes and ears to the truth of our lives — to be God Clear. For another, she’s leaning into God’s grace of that medicine and surrendering.
But the work is not done. In fact the clearing of our eyes can be painful. Just like my twice weekly allergy shots (I hate shots), growth often starts with pain. If we stop because of the pain we can never fully achieve our greatest gifts from God. He wants so much for us — a life free of self doubt, self loathing, and turmoil. But we must first peel away the lies that Satan so readily whispers to us.
Where are you at in this process? Have you tried trusting God but it seems too scary, too painful? My friend a glorious, clear life awaits you. Trust in God’s holy medicine to bring you through the pain.
What blessing are you hoping and waiting for today? It’s time to get serious about the strength of your faith and our willingness to make a full confession of our transgressions. . In a recent Bible study I was asked: “What are you trying to hide from God?” Well, we all chuckled because of course you can’t hide anything from God. But do we truly believe that? Is that how we live out our daily lives? Charles Spurgeon says, “Do not play with sin. Do not confess it as though it were some venial fault that would not have been noticed unless God had been too severe.” . As the apostle Paul says, God cannot be mocked. The Almighty knows our tepid faith. He knows our bold faith. He hears when we rush through a prayer and he hears when we grasp Him tightly and plead honestly with Him. We don’t reward or accept in our own children or friends a tepid or insincere apology so why should God when what we ask of Him is ten-fold? . When we plead to God we lay bare our innermost sins and cleanse them. I like the analogy of a wrestler stripping down to the bare minimum before entering the playing arena. Because when we show we have nothing left to give up, nothing left to weigh us down, that is when God performs His greatest work in us. . So grasp His hand tightly today. Lay out your sins. And plead for His love to envelop you. .
How did I know asking God to help me forgive my sister in law would lead to a deeply spiritual experience? I didn’t of course.
It all started a few weeks ago when my dear friend Kris invited me to be a part of her boldness challenge group. She instructed us to write down 3-5 bold actions you have always wanted to do. After praying I created this list:
Play classical piano again.
Become more than a surface level Christian.
Break free from the need to control everything so that I can cope with my anxiety: therefore being filled with life again
Finally deal with my unforgiveness toward my sister-in-law and my step daughter
As I read other boldness challenger lists I thought to myself that my list seemed very unimpressive. But I moved forward with my list. I had no idea how to completely forgive my sister-in-law and step daughter as their past hurt had happened many years ago. So again, I reached out for God’s hand.
During this same time, my husband and I were in discussion about our annual Mammoth five-day tent camping trip with my husband’s side of the family. This was not the year to go! Not with Covid19. I did everything in my power to make this trip not happen. Covid19 was my main excuse. After all, we would have to share the public bathrooms and showers with everyone at the camp site. Who wants to do that these days? But my real reason was spending all this time with my husband’s sister. Four years ago, she was very frustrated with her brother, my husband, and she said some very hurtful things. Things that I’ve held onto. I felt I had a right to after all, she was out of line and never should have said the things she said. Now you must know that she did apologize to me three years ago with an excuse that I deemed lame and so I didn’t accept her apology or forgive her. I didn’t know how to get beyond myself and my inability to forgive so I gave it to God as we headed to Mammoth last week.
There is a back story here that I didn’t plan for: healing from my anxiety and a need to control everything. It has been pretty crippling. My husband created a “man cave” and he chose pictures to hang on the wall from our first trip to Mammoth trip 10 years ago. As I looked at those pictures I remember how deeply moved I was to experience the beauty of the mountains and streams around the Mammoth area. I wanted to be that woman again — one who feels and sees and experiences the beauty of God’s creation. I didn’t want to be defined by my anxiety anymore. Again, how do I get over this anxiety that rose out of nowhere following my mother’s unexpected death two years ago? One week after that, my husband had brain surgery to completely rebuild his middle cerebral artery that had an aneurism which left him greatly compromised. His hospital stay was eight days instead of three. His doctor wanted to send him to a rehabilitation facility but I said I would care for him — 24 hours a day for months. I was terrified and grief stricken from my mother’s death but my focus was to help him get back on his feet. He returned to work March of that year but I was shocked to realize how much recovery was still needed. I cared for him as he slowly returned to normal…a new normal. Then August of that year, my oldest sister died. That all being said I’m dealing with a form of PTSD according to my doctor.
The day before we left for Mammoth I watched the news. It was all about the spike in numbers of virus cases. I texted my friend that I was struggling with giving this camp trip to God when it seemed so risky. As she has always done, she challenged me that I once again was making an excuse to not be with my sister-in-law for five days. She said, “This may sound morbid but you could die tomorrow in a car accident on the way there. Do you want to stand in front of God and say proudly, ‘I trusted you fully!’?”. Thanking her once again for being so honest I told her I had been looking at the pictures my husband put on the wall in his man cave. I want to be that woman again. I want to live free from fears. I want to see the beauty that surrounds me. I want to feel God’s glory in His creation. My friend said I should change all the “wants” to “will” and read this out loud in front of the mirror. And then tighten my belt of truth and sharpen my sword. The battle was on!
The morning we left, my devotional was about forgiving 100%! Not 90% or even 99% but 100%. Unforgiveness doesn’t look good on Christians! Our first night at camp was disastrous as our air mattress kept leaking and three times that night we woke up to inflate the darn thing. As I lay awake most of the night, I kept surrendering everything to God. Asking Him to give me the energy to enjoy the next day even though I hadn’t slept. I was surprised when I was urged by the Holy Spirit to forgive my husband. Why? Because he has lingering memory issues from his brain surgery he forgets a lot of things. Like the fact that the air mattress had issues when he used it last time. He forgets a lot of things like people’s names. Small things really but this wasn’t the person I married. I was greatly annoyed. So now I’m being asked to forgive him because, ”he didn’t do this on purpose.” OK.
We started the next day focused on repairing the air mattress. Then off we went to kayak Twin Lakes. What a magnificent experience! The sky was so blue and the air so fresh. We paddled around and saw a beautiful waterfall. There were duck families on the water. I was up close and personal with God’s creation and I was brought to tears. Later the same day we did a short hike to McCloud Lake. I was the woman from 10 years ago! I was filled with awe and wonder.
We had many experiences that were wonderful and brought tears to my eyes as I experienced fully the glorious creation of God but sleep was not one of them. The second night, sleep was the same and as I surrendered everything to God, I was urged to forgive myself. What? I have been through a traumatic year and a half with everything that has occurred. So I need to forgive myself for not being the person I used to be — that person in those pictures my husband has on his man cave wall.
Each day we spent our evenings around the campfire and to my surprise one night my sister-in-law said to me, “I love you Andrea.” With tears in my eyes I said, “I love you too” and I meant it. Finally I had forgiven her after all those years. This is what God’s forgiveness looks like. Love! I realized that it is up to me to replace my bad memories of what was said to me years ago with the new memories I made this trip to Mammoth. I will play the new memories we made — memories of love and forgiveness not 90% or even 99% but 100%. Thank you, God, for using me in an amazing way and allowing me to be made new again.
Hank and Andrea enjoying the beauty of Mammoth Mountain California July 2020
What lies are you fighting right now? Bold faith, trust in God, and knowing His love for you are the weapons against satan’s ever present lies.
1. “The One born of God keeps me safe — the evil one cannot harm me” 1 John 5:18
You are a child of God. A raging battle is going on in the spiritual world for your soul. Knowing that your father is fighting for you and trusting that all things are done for your good gives us strength. Many Christians have issues with the idea of satan. But as I discussed with a fellow Christian, the Bible does not shy away from satan. Jesus had a number of conversations with him. If you are going to accept the blessings from God you need to accept that satan is at work trying to keep those blessings from you.
2. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jer 31:3
The only love that will never fade is the love God has for us. It never wavers, it never decreases. Even if your physical world is not filled with love, we can draw on God’s love to persevere. This is not an easy task. A mom in a struggling marriage, with children who always seem disappointed in her said, “I remember that God loves me but sometimes I just need someone to physically hold me.” Run to the arms of the father. Fully surrender that need to God. He will light the way.
3. “He has rescued me from the darkness and I have redemption and forgiveness of sins.” Col 1:13-14
When we accept Jesus as our savior we throw up the lifeline to rescue us. Notice the word is rescue. If someone doesn’t want to be rescued they can make sure they aren’t. Throw up your hand and grasp His. You will be pulled out of your darkness. I have a Christian friend who had been a drug addict and alcoholic for many years tell me she had a dream of being a fish and a hook dropped down from out of the blue. She bit at it and it hooked her mouth and yanked her out of the sea. The next day she knew she never wanted another drink again in her life. God speaks in so many ways to us, just reach out.
4. “We are God’s handiwork.” Eph 2:10
When women sit around talking you’ll frequently hear us complaining about one body part or another. “I’m too chubby.” “Ugh, my hair.” “I wish my lips were plumper.” But think about it — you are uniquely you. You were created out of tiny DNA pieces that became you! It pains me to see satan’s forces at work taking our little complaints and elevating them to destroying our self-esteem. And worse, convincing people they are a mistake and must chop off body parts or take dangerous drugs to limit natural growth. No matter your height, your hips, your lips, your tomboy nature, your kinky hair, you are you and you are God’s creation. We’d save a lot of money and angst if we accepted that every time we looked in the mirror.
5. “I call you friend.” John 15:15
Boy do I wish I had known this when I was younger. An intimate relationship with Jesus and the Father not only brings us so many blessings but brings joy to the Almighty. He longs for that friendship. He will never stab you in the back. He will never forsake you. He is with you at 7:00 a.m. when your feet hit the floor and at 2:00 p.m. when you find out you were laid off. He’s even with you at 3:00 a.m. when your bills are swirling in your head. Pick up your spiritual cell phone and give Him a call.
6. “And I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Rom 8:28
I once heard a funny twist on “why do bad things happen to good people?” Instead, how about “why do good things happen to us bad people?” When we say “bad people” I’d bet most people think, “well, it’s not like I’ve killed someone or stolen a million dollars.” But a pastor asked, “Have you stolen anything at all? Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? Have you not been able to forgive someone? Have you ever coveted something?” In fact, there’s only one truly good person that something bad happened to — Jesus. And Jesus suffered on the cross so that our sins are forgiven. So with that in mind we must be thankful for the good stuff God sends our way and trust that any bad that we encounter God is working out a blessing for us somehow, someway in the end.
7. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs.” Eph 4:29
Yes, yes, we know not to gossip and to be kind to others. But are you gossiping about yourself? Are you unkind to yourself? When we talk to our friends, family and strangers how much do we tear ourselves down with “I’m not good at xy or z.” Or again with the physical degradation of ourselves? That’s not to say we should be boasting. But remember, we ARE God’s creation. So speak in positives. Don’t give the devil a hand up on tearing yourself or other’s down.
8. “As God’s co-worker (fill in the blank).” 2Cor 6:1
We are in this together. The entire story of the planet is built on covenants WITH God. He could’ve just made the animals and plants and wiped his hands on his robes and said, “Looks pretty darn good. Time for a nap.” But no, He made us. He made everything else FOR us. So He expects us to work with Him to tend to the needs of this glorious place. That includes sharing with others His love for His creation.
9. “We have the mind of Christ.” 1Cor 2:16
How often have you finished a prayer with “In Jesus’ name, Amen”? Do you know what it means? It means that Jesus is standing beside you, writing shorthand as you pray. He then takes that prayer to the Father and speaks for you. But the responsibility of a mature Christian is to discern the mind of Christ while speaking that prayer. We know His values and have His desires for us in mind. When we have the mind of Christ we can pray boldly and act boldly because we know that we are aligned with the spirit of God.
10. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22
We can say we know God. We can know God loves us. We can see the blessings and be thankful. We can know the right things to do. But if we don’t go boldly and actually DO the Word of God can we really say we truly know God? We need to obey His Word and leave the consequences to Him. Surrender, trust and receive full blessings.
The backdrop of our lives these last few months has been Covid but our “regular” lives haven’t stopped completely. What other trials have you experienced this year? . On top of quarantine our family is facing cancer. My beloved mother in law has uterine cancer and has been receiving cancer treatments. Then after her 5th treatment she experienced another health emergency and was in the hospital for over a week. This incredibly vital, otherwise healthy, god-centered woman has really taken a hit. But her “down” days still are nothing of what I would expect of myself. She always has at least a glimmer of hope and trust. That’s why she is one of my touchstones. . In John 12:9-11 the Jews were showing up in droves to meet Jesus and the man he had brought back from the dead. Lazarus was a powerful witness to Jesus’ divine authority. But the priests were threatened by this authority and looked to put Lazarus to death — again. There’s so many lessons in this vignette but I was struck with wondering what Lazarus must’ve been thinking. Here he had suffered a horrible illness and died. Then he was raised from the dead and now people wanted to kill him again because he was with Jesus. When was he going to get a break? And yet he stayed confidently with Jesus. . When we are living witnesses of Jesus’ holy authority we are guaranteed to experience trials. When, in His name, we proclaim boldly what God wants for our lives we will be tested. But keeping Jesus firmly at our side will bring us through strengthened and loved. . What are you being tested at today? .