When I Feel Desperate Without Vision…You Wrap Around Me Like A Winter Coat

From a non-Christian’s perspective:

+ I have a diabolical plan to convert as many people to “my religion” as possible, so I can move up in the pyramid scheme of Christianity.
+ I’m manipulative and sneaky, and everyone around me is being slowly brainwashed as I subject them to my “religious drivel”. 
+ I’m a tryant-in-training, with a long-term goal of taking away everyone’s freedom and forcing them to obey rigid rules and regulations.
What’s really happening:
+ I believe Hell is real and I cry sometimes, thinking about the reality that not all of my friends and loved ones will be in Heaven with me. I can’t even walk into a Starbucks without being aware of the fact that every single one of those people will end up in Heaven or Hell. Everyone has an eternal destination.
+ I’m terrified of pushing someone even further from the life-saving truth, so I post Bible verses and inspirational quotes in the hopes that the Holy Spirit will move on their behalf and help them to see the reality of a Creator who loves us.
+ I’m learning to be like Jesus, with a long-term goal of freeing people from Satan’s deception so they can experience the joy that comes from “reading the manual” of life, as God wrote it. And I screw up royally sometimes.
I’m realizing that I’m a closet-evangelist. I don’t like Bible-thumpers and I don’t want to be a Bible-thumper, but in recent days, it’s becoming clear to me that no matter how honest, sincere, and loving I am in the sharing of my beliefs, 
+ there will be people who perceive me as a Bible-thumper, even a hateful, racist, bigoted one
+ there will be people who disagree with me
+ there will be people who (thankfully) love me in spite of disagreeing with me
+ there will be people who suddenly decide to hate me
+ there will be people who twist what I say to make it sound as hateful as possible
+ there will be people who try to use scripture against me, but use it incorrectly and then refuse to be enlightened on its contextual meaning. 
Jesus said the world will hate His followers, because the world hates HIM. And that helps. It prepares me for the sting of harsh words, for the sucker-punch of lies being told about me, for the pain of losing friends. 
But nothing soothes more than this: every hateful word, every rebuttal, every attack is a radar reading — it says I’m being heard. It means that someone else out there is quietly taking it all in and God is working in that person. And ultimately, all the hate that people think I’m spewing, that usually gets turned back on me? It gets turned into love: one more person who discovers the love that God has had for them all along. It turns into joy: angels rejoice every time someone decides to trust Jesus. It turns into freedom: one less person that Satan gets to destroy. 
I will not give up in sharing my faith, because in due time, I will reap a harvest. People will know the truth and the truth will set them free. The numbers I reach will be a pittance compared to people like Paul and Mother Theresa, but it will be more than none and that is enough to keep me going. Because Hell is real and I don’t want anyone I love to go there. I don’t even want my enemies to go there. ♥
What can I do with my obsession?
With the things I cannot see
Is there madness in my being?
Is it wind that blows the trees?
Sometimes You’re further than the moon
Sometimes You’re closer than my skin
And You surround me like a winter fog
You’ve come and burned me with a kiss
And my heart burns for You
And my heart burns
And I’m so filthy with my sin
I carry pride like a disease
You know I’m stubborn God and I’m longing
to be close
You burn me deeper than I know
I feel lonely without hope
I feel desperate without vision
You wrap around me like a winter coat
You come and free me like a bird
And my heart burns for You
And my heart burns for You

How The Hunger Games Cause Starvation

Shannon says it way better than I ever could—and believe me, I’ve been trying to put words together about this for weeks. It seems apparent to me now, that God wants me to deliver Shannon’s message rather than my own. :) Please read her thoughts. I can promise they are encouraging, not condemning. They are thought-provoking, not judgmental. And she actually read/saw The Hunger Games, so she is far more equipped to speak rationally and knowledgeably on the subject than I am. So, without further ado—A Christian Mom’s Thoughts On The Hunger Games.

A Letter To My Daughter

Thanks to Penzu‘s “looking glass” feature, I found this letter in my inbox this morning—it’s one of a few that I’ve written in an online journal that I hope to print out and gift to my daughter someday. This letter was written exactly a year ago and, ironically, it was just the encouragment I needed this morning…

april 3, 2011

dear sweet daughter,

by satan’s existence, everything is ruined. by Jesus’ life, everything is redeemed. by God’s power, everything has purpose – even the ruining itself.

“God has to take care of us so we don’t get pukes!” oh, my heart… you said those words to me, darling girl, after the seemingly-hundredth time you puked. it was a nasty bug, a violent one. my answer to you was this: “God never allows something bad to happen to you if it cannot later be turned into good.” and in my head, i thought, ‘that is the hardest truth to swallow. but swallow it good and whole because it will be your anchor in life.’

sometimes — perhaps even often — God allows terrible things to happen. if you have heard of God’s goodness, you will wonder why He allows them. but if you are familiar with His goodness — intimately, personally — you will also trust and hope, in spite of the stack of evidence that the devil brings to the table. our stack of evidence — of God’s goodness and love and purpose — often seems smaller compared to the devil’s. but it’s important to know that the devil’s evidence is made up of half-truths and lies (primarily lies). our evidence is 100% truth, solid and gold. if you could pick up your stack in one hand and the devil’s in the other, you would fall over from the weight of yours and the devil’s would flutter away in the wind.

a fanciful metaphor, perhaps, but i daresay an accurate one.

i hope and pray — i beg God — to allow that i leave a legacy of CONFIDENCE, TRUST, and JOY for you and your brother. my whole life (up to age 30 anyway) has been wrought with fear, doubt, and depression. i took a stand against the devil several weeks ago and said NO MORE, I MEAN IT!!! and mean it, i have; mean it, i will. we are children of the King and we have authority over the devil and rights to the power of God. joy is our inheritance and the devil is a cunning thief. if you are not experiencing joy in this moment, the devil has just robbed you.

be vigilant! never blame God for the devil’s work. when God allows the devil TO work, it is because He will triumph yet again over him by turning it to good. and we haven’t even seen the half of it. no ma’am. just you wait. one day…

until then, work to desire God. He is everything for us, and don’t let “reason” convince you otherwise. He is strength, He is comfort, He is joy, He is sustenance, He is refreshing, He is beautiful, He is satisfying, He is a friend of the best kind, He is our Creator.

i love you, darling precious little girl. may God instill in your heart from THE MOMENT I WRITE THIS that He is GOOD, TRUSTWORTHY, and everything else that i am only scratching the surface of at age 30. ♥

God Wastes Nothing (Conclusion)

Well, I wasn’t expecting to have the conclusion to yesterday’s post so quickly — nor was I expecting it to be so…anti-climactic. But God really does work in mysterious ways. :D

Shortly after I wrote yesterday’s post, I sat down with my Bible; it opened right up to Isaiah 40, so I started reading.

“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God.
“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.”

I was stunned. Could it really be that simple? It was over? I found it difficult to believe there wasn’t some revelation or flash of profound insight to accompany the last few days of spiritual warfare. And I do have a tendency to “read into things” a little too much, sometimes. So I wrote about it in my private diary, commenting (to myself) that at least I would know as soon as the next morning.

Sure enough, I woke up this morning having had no nightmares; my head has actually been quiet since reading that scripture yesterday.

So here’s what I’ve learned:
1) God always has a purpose and the trial ends when His purposes have been accomplished.
2) He doesn’t always let us in on what His purpose was. :)

Today, the falling snow reflects exactly how I feel on the inside: peaceful, quiet and serene. ❈

God Wastes Nothing

I recently finished a book that thoroughly changed my life. In the interest of being concise, but at the risk of sounding trite, it freed me from the crippling fear and anxiety I’ve been dealing with for most of my adult life. This is profound, and you know what I mean if you know anything about my struggle; if you don’t know the specifics, please trust that my newfound freedom really IS profound (and certainly don’t hesitate to ask me about it).

The book is Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization and Deliverance by Karl Payne. It is not a magic book that will fix all of your problems. But in the lives of most Christians, it is bound to fix some problems and to put one on the path toward fixing even more. It is a book that equips and empowers with biblical truth.

Since reading the book, I have personally been better equipped and empowered to wage war against the three things that comprise spiritual warfare: the world, the flesh and demonic influences—that is, when I recognize them. Karl spends a lot of time on each facet, breaking down what it is, how it can manifest and how it is to be fought against; nevertheless, it’s a discerning skill that I am still lacking in.

The last few days have been fraught with warfare. Racing thoughts that point out all of my failures and inabilities, nightmares, an overwhelming sense of inadequacy and insecurity, and restlessness. How do I know it’s warfare? Because it is (so far) keeping my focus off of God and painfully on myself. The enemy’s first priority is to destroy us and his best strategy is luring us away from the only One Who can protect us. Distraction is one of his more effective ways of positioning us for the deathblow.

So I know it’s warfare; now I fight, right? Right. But here’s the problem: I’ve done all the things the Bible teaches us to do to fight spiritual warfare (asking God to reveal any unconfessed sin that may be giving the enemy ground in my life, asking God in Jesus’ Name to remove the oppression, confessing sin and re-surrendering the areas in question to God, etc)—and it’s not working.

This morning, I woke up from yet another series of nightmares, on the verge of panic. ‘What am I doing wrong, God? What am I supposed to do next? Why isn’t the warfare stopping? How do I know if it’s because of sin in my life or if it’s just a random attack? How do I make it stop? I’m so…tired…’ He must have been waiting for my panicked tirade to quiet down because as soon as it did, He brought to mind Paul’s struggle with ‘the thorn in his flesh’. (II Corinthians 12:7-10) Paul tells us that, in order to keep him from getting prideful, God allowed a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan, to harass him. He asked God three times to remove the thorn, but God’s only response was, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

So now here I am: harassed, and still without answers. But there’s one thing I’ve learned in recent years; nothing is allowed to happen in the life of a believer without God’s permission and God wastes nothing. I don’t need to understand what is happening to me right this moment to know that God has a purpose that will eventually be revealed.

And while I hate the idea that there’s something I don’t know, possibly something I’m even doing wrong, or worse—something I’m doing wrong and should have known better, His grace is sufficient for me. His unmerited favor is enough. I can rest in the fact that He loves me anyway, His purposes in my life will not be thwarted, and He is fully Sovereign and in control.

Yes, even being harassed, I can rest. Isn’t that stunning??

God wastes absolutely not a thing that happens to me AND I have unmerited favor with Him.

Everything’s gonna be all right. ♥ (to be continued…)