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So You Want to Run but Don’t Know How

I don’t run.

 

Except to coffee shops.

 

And anyone who has dark chocolate.

 

But running clothes are cute. So then, maybe, I should run. Just so I can look cute.

 

Nah.

 

But I do run towards Christ because I’m on a pilgrimage.

 

It’s a journey we walk, run and battle our way through. We set our hearts. We fix our eyes. And we move our feet.

 

“I will run in the way of your commandments for you set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

 

I don’t know about you, but this whole life thing can trip me up, trap me fast, and triple my heartache. My heart sometimes doesn’t feel free.

 

It gets caught up in performance or perfection. My heart trades worldly wisdom for godly wisdom. It mistakes man’s words for God’s word. Lies snare. Idols form. And soon I’ve traded the glory of God for a false light. Then I no longer run, but stub my toe on a rock, trip over a boulder, and tumble down the cliff.

 

I sit stunned and wonder how I got here. You too? Do you feel like you stumble more than you run? Do you want to know how to run? I do, too.

 

Reveal Your Heart

Ask God to show you your heart. It’s okay if you cringe, I know I do. But this is the deal. We can forget, for a while, the contents of our hearts and fool ourselves into thinking that nasty little section that gossips or harbors bitterness isn’t really there, but God sees all. Only instead of following our example by condemning us, he lovingly convicts. Because how can we run free if our hearts are bound to sin?

 

How can we run free when we are bound to performance or perfection?  How can we be free if we are more worried about what other’s think of us instead of doing what’s right in God’s eyes? When fear rules our lives, we cannot be free.

 

So. Freedom to run. Not away, but towards God. It comes when our hearts are set free of any sin that stops forward momentum. Freedom comes when we know who we are in Christ and when we surrender all to him.

 

I know that my ability to run lies in how open I make my heart to God. Will I let him have unfettered access? Will I risk trusting him with the most intimate details of my life?

 

Take the Risk

It’s risky. This journey we’re on. But one unequivocally worth it. So, how do we run? We fix our eyes on Jesus. We give the Holy Spirit full access to our heart. And we trust God for strength and endurance.

 

We can do it. I know it looks hard, but running well is a benefit of freedom. Step into the freedom and run. He has set your heart free.

 

 

 

The Secret to Rest and Hiding in Him

hiding place

“You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble, you surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7

 

My everyday life is not calm, quiet, or still. It’s messy and noisy and involves many people. In my everyday life I’m a tired worn out mess. In my everyday life I end up on auto pilot and struggle to remember what I did the day before yesterday and even sometimes two hours ago.

 

I love the picture this verse paints—a hiding place, hidden from my troubles and surrounded by songs. Maybe it looks something like a water front cabin tucked into the woods of the northwest. Or maybe it’s a private island with white sand as far as the eye can see. Or maybe it’s a hidden nook in a secret garden with the scent of flowers wafting around.

 

How in the world do I tuck myself into Jesus while at the same time reaching out and ministering to my family, my church, and my community? Practically speaking, literally hiding is out of the question as is a weekend of solitude in my fantasy cabin. There are too many things that require my attention and time. So how does this verse apply to our lives?

 

He is my hiding place.

 

We live on two planes: spirit and physical. The soul—our mind, will, and emotions— is the tie between our spirit and our physical selves. What are my thoughts? What choices am I making? How am I feeling? These components need to be brought into obedience to Christ. We must live aware of our thoughts and how our thoughts lead to actions.

 

He protects me from trouble.

 

The fight between lies and truth take place in the battlefield of my mind and the renegade thoughts disrupt the peace of God in my heart. I bring trouble on myself through my choices and thoughts. So I tell myself: Think about Christ. Think about his love and promises. Practice living peace, joy, love, patience, goodness, self-control, kindness. Live aware.

 

He surrounds me with songs of deliverance.

 

Ah such hope! He is my hiding place, my protector and songs of deliverance soothe my anxious heart. Do you need deliverance from anxiety? Does fear overtake you? Do you question the sovereignty of God? God—our great creator who holds everything—including you and me in his hands, sings songs over us.

 

Hiding places make me think of quiet, dark, isolated places, but this verse reveals something different. I’m not alone in this hiding place. And it’s not dark. God is light and in him there is no darkness. Imagine his hiding place filled with the most wonderful and warm light and songs fill the air around you.

 

When you enter into his hiding place you leave the dark world that threatens your peace and experience the light of his presence. And His hiding place is spacious, light-filled rest. You might be facing a challenging job or boss. Maybe your children are driving you to distraction. You might be staring down a health crisis.

 

The hiding place is not there so you can hide from life—but so that you can find a way through life. Click To Tweet

 

The hiding place is not there so you can hide from life—but so that you can find a way through life. It’s when we hide ourselves in Christ that we are strengthened because he takes our weakness and turns it into strength. Troubles threaten our comfort level, but when we find ourselves tucked into the light of God then our heart is kept safe. And it’s in the hiding place that God reveals his deliverance. He will reveal a way through.

 

God loves you. He cares for you. He provides safety and peace while you live the journey he’s set before you.

 

Will you step into the spacious, light-filled rest of Jesus? Will you quiet your soul so you can hear the songs of deliverance?

 

Here are a few quick ideas to help you hide in the Light:
  1. Spend time in Psalms: some of my favorites are Psalm 84, 103, or 144
  2. Play your favorite worship song and sit quietly before the Lord.
  3. Linger over a sunrise or sunset.
  4. Take a walk and marvel at God’s creation.

 

Let me know how it goes?

Why you don’t need to be afraid anymore…

the-sky-is-not-falling

Every year, I avoided a certain appointment. I wanted to know about it, but I didn’t want to be there for it.  I panicked and my heart did funny things.

My heart raced and I couldn’t sleep for weeks leading up to the appointment. It consumed my waking thoughts and disturbed my sleep. I couldn’t seem to accomplish anything except worry.

Psalm 112:7 snapped me out of my funk: “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” I feared bad news. My heart wanted to be steadfast and it wanted to trust, but it struggled.

I’ve been exploring the concept of security in Christ and Psalm 112:7 could fit in with the next three verses used to assure us of security in an insecure world.

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his sear of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 1 Corinthians 1:21-22 NIV

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21 NIV

Psalm 112:7, along with these three verses, may have penetrated the hard shell of fear around my heart, but I still struggled with the cycle of worry and lack of sleep.

I laid wide awake, listening to the creaky bones of an old farmhouse. The furnace cycled on and then off trying heat the drafty rooms. The water softener’s recycle echoed through the register vents. I listened to the coyote’s song and watched the red numbers on the digital clock creep their way to morning night after night.

I treated this event with the same intensity as Chicken Little in the children’s story who decided the sky must be falling when a single acorn hit him on the head. I laughed at the foolishness of Chicken Little, but when I became Chicken Little, I didn’t laugh.  This appointment was an acorn, not the sky, but I treated it as though the sky was falling. It was completely and utterly ridiculous and I knew it.

I knew my angst over this situation and I knew the word of God, but the battle within my heart raged and rarely did the word of God win. I said I trusted God, but my actions and my words did not jive.

I felt the truth God’s word strike me in such a way that my ‘sky is falling’ perspective fell from the sky and lay shattered at my feet.

My security is not found in the outcome of appointments, good health, or financial freedom. It’s found in my one true King. Your security is found there as well. He is trustworthy. He is secure.

When he is our rock, we can trust that he is working things out. He views a much larger picture, and we don’t need to see the entire picture in order to trust him. He is our security.

My circumstances do not establish me. God establishes me. He takes this wretched fear-filled heart and fills me with anointing. He anoints you as well. He calls you beloved and he lays before you the task to trust him.  We need his anointing to do this well. It’s impossible to trust well without his love coursing over and through us. If I don’t have his anointing, then my fear, anxiety and worry overtakes the goodness he longs to do in me and through me.

Our failures do not adversely affect our security because I know that God will complete the good work he began. He is the one who saves. He is the one who sets our feet on the solid rock. He is the one who rescues, redeems and gives a purpose for this life. And if he is the one who does the beginning, then he will do the middle, and he will do the completing.

We need only to submit, surrender, and obey.  He is our everything. He is love. He is the beginning, the middle, and the end. This gives us the security we need to face those hard days when we are not trusting him well.  It’s the security we need when we’re overtaken by angst on the parts of our story yet to be.

The sky is not falling. I can never recover those sleepless nights because the worry didn’t change the outcome. The fear of what might be was greater than reality, but I couldn’t see it at the time. Irrational fear overtook me in the face of our annual tax appointment.  Yes, my friends, it was a measly tax appointment that was the acorn in my Chicken Little Story.

In my mind, this acorn held my hopes for security, but that’s not an acorn’s job. An acorn’s job is to grow a tree and God used this ‘acorn’ to grow faith in my heart as I transferred my security from a circumstance to him.

What is the acorn that has fallen that makes you cry out, ‘The sky is falling!’ Will you let God show you where your security lies and how he can turn your acorn into faith that your security is in him?

 

how to trade your insecurity for lasting security

security-1

Who am I? Who are you? The easy answer can be found on the ID we each carry around in our wallets, but the deeper answer is more difficult to flesh out. I know at my core I struggle with my identity. I look at myself in the mirror and see a woman staring back at me, but what I see are the hurts and beliefs that I wrestle everyday with because my life–this life–is about God and how he wants me to live not about the effects of my youth that created this uneasy sense of wondering ‘who am I?’

For the last few weeks I’ve challenged my own self-perceptions, sense of belonging and confidence within the context of God’s word and I hope you’ve been challenged as well. Today begins a tackling of another subject–one I’d rather avoid if I’m being completely honest, but needing to address: Security.

My security is not found in my ability to perform because I’ve learned that performance and abilities can fail.  My security is not in my reputation even though my reputation is important.  My security is not in the type of family I come from, my heritage, or my pocketbook, which is a relief because I’m a melting pot of nationalities and my pocket book is usually empty.

The temptation to place my security in temporal things is strong because these are things I can see and gauge and prove to myself that I’m worth something. It’s the compare and contrast thing we do with each other: ‘How am I better than so and so and how am I worse than so and so?’ and so my security rises and lowers based on where the comparison needle lands.

But it’s exhausting, you know? When my security is placed in my own ability or in someone else’s ability, I weave and bob on a floating log in an uncertain river. I go under gasping for breath and come up soaked and shivering, but still clinging to the things that I think will provide my security: performance, people, and pocket money.

I’m learning through mistakes and moments of humility that security has nothing to do with me or with you, but God himself.

What he says about me is more important than how I feel about myself. He says that in Christ, I am chosen, adopted, rescued, complete, and given access to him. This doesn’t change based on the day when I have it all together and I’m rocking the day or the day when I have one giant fail after another.

He says I’m secure in him and this doesn’t change if I have a poor performance, disappoint people, or lost my pocket money. He is the ultimate in security. But how do we begin transferring our misplacement of security in ourselves, and other people to the King of kings and Lord of lords?

It’s allowing three key truths to take root in our heart and allowed to grow.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

Satan loves nothing more than to throw my sin in my face and remind me of the shame of it. God says that since I am in Christ Jesus then I’m set free from my sin and I am free to live by him and for him. My security is in knowing that I’m free from the law of sin and death and set free in the law of the Spirit of life.

Life is hard. It just is. There’s pain, cancer, miscarriages, stillborns, death of a loved one, divorce, abuse, or addictions. And sometimes the hard is something we have to face every day and sometimes it’s a memory that lives as though it is our present. Somedays it’s hard to look past our pain to see the possibilities of what is.

And what is is this: you love God, respond to his call and he works things together for good. This concept only works when we frame it with our love and response to what God is wanting to do with our junk. My security lies in trusting God that he will turn my pain into beauty.  I have to look at pain or fear or whatever in the eye and trust God with it and as he works in my heart, my insecurity is traded for security.

To understand the depth of God’s love for us can be one of the greatest obstacles to our security in Christ. Our hearts are prone to cynicism. Our minds towards doubt. We want proof and too often life proves that love is expendable. So to wrap our minds around the concept that nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus can feel impossible.

 But what if we tried? What if you and I declared that no matter what happens tomorrow at that doctor’s appointment that we will still believe God loves us? What if you and I declared that no matter who wins the presidential election that we will not be separated from the love of God? What if you and I declared that no matter how much pain we are currently experiencing in our private lives that God’s love is still deep and wide?

What would our acceptance of God’s love look like if we separated our circumstances from God’s love for us? It would look a lot like security.

confidence or confident?

identity-acceptence-confidence

Acceptance.

It’s what I long for, and it’s what you long for. I also withhold it from others and myself and so do you.

I’ve been wrestling with my acceptance in Christ because there’s a part I play in it as well: I have to accept what God says.

I can read his truth and his words, but if I don’t believe them, I’m still lost. There’s a difference between knowing truth and believing truth and it’s hard to believe the truth about acceptance.

When I refuse to accept the truth that God says I am set free from darkness, I stumble and fall even though light is nearby. When I refuse to accept redemption, I abdicate my inheritance of forgiveness. When I refuse to accept completeness in Christ, I give up confidence.

I once confessed my insecurity to a close friend and she sat open-mouthed and dared me to deny my statement. I couldn’t and she couldn’t believe it.

I’m good at playing the confident woman, but I shake in my boots and hide behind a smile and a sparkle. I don’t see what my friend sees. I see a messy-haired, scared little girl hoping to be accepted, but believing she won’t be and so I pretend. I pretend I’m full of confidence.  I pretend I know what I’m doing. But inside? On the inside I’m afraid you will find out the truth and reject me.

God gives me opportunity after opportunity to strip my confident façade away and fully embrace his acceptance of me because it is only when I rest in his acceptance of me that I am truly confident.

Confident that I’ve been rescued, redeemed, chosen, and given access to the throne room of God. Confidence based in my own ability is shaky and will crumble. It has crumbled. Each time I’m publicly humbled–whether it’s through an editing mistake in a published piece, or my vocals cracking as I lead worship, or singing the wrong lyric at the wrong time–I’m given the opportunity to understand what it’s like to be confident in him.

This past Sunday, as I led worship, I cued the band and the tech team to section three of our opening song. They did their part, but I didn’t. I sang something entirely different. The smiles and laughter in the tech team cued me of my screw up. While the band played their way through my fumbling, I smiled my way through, course corrected, and kept the focus on God.

A few years ago, I would have spent the afternoon berating myself over my ineptness-turning the focus on myself-rather than rejoicing in the ability to learn a lesson in humility and glory.

God doesn’t want to embarrass me, but if I’m prideful in an area, I will be humbled. My confidence should never be placed in my abilities because my abilities are not because of me, but in spite of me. My abilities are gifts from God to be used for him for his people. They have nothing to do with me. They are for his glory.

My confidence is directly related to how well I accept that God accepts me. When I don’t feel accepted, when I feel I’ve disappointed God, either over something little or that thing, like perfect, that keeps cropping up in my life, I reject myself, assuming that God rejects me as well.

I couldn’t be more wrong. He doesn’t reject. He accepts.

Our confidence for living this God-life is directly related to our embracing God’s acceptance of us.

If we embraced this truth, we would confidently leave our old lives behind and embrace the new. We would truly understand amazing grace that’s set our hearts free. We would love without strings. We would confidently walk in the forgiveness God offers rather than in the condemnation we offer ourselves.

Could you imagine the effect you would have in your life if you walked confidently into every situation confident not in your ability to perform, but confident that no matter what others think of you or what you think of yourself that God calls you accepted?

There just might be a revolution.

There would be a revolution in our churches because it wouldn’t be about us, but it would be about following the Holy Spirit wherever he leads.

Our homes and society would revolutionize themselves because our love for each other would flow from the belief that we’re accepted fully and completely by God. We would give our best knowing that God is pleased when we accept and love each other.

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14 ESV

“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” Colossians 2:9-10 ESV

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

Confidence is directly related to our belief in God’s acceptance of us. We might struggle with accepting ourselves with all our flaws and mistakes, but God doesn’t. He offers us rescue, redemption, forgiveness, completeness, and access to the throne of God because he accepts us. This is who you are in Christ: accepted beloved one.

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I write to encourage you that you can experience a vibrant, transformative relationship with God even if your past or your shame tells you otherwise. God invites you upward and onward, will you join him? You'll receive weekly devotionals straight to your inbox. 

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