Tag Archives: Christian Walk

The Gloves Are Coming Off

The gloves are coming off . . . because it is spring here in Fargo!

I know it is springtime in Fargo when I can step out of my apartment with a light jacket, strappy high heels, and no mittens. You know it is springtime in North Dakota when I smile at the beaming sun, think about ditching my coat, and as I start up my jeep I smile at the temp and think “What a beautiful warm day!” Now if some of you checked your dashboard thermometer and saw 32 degrees you would be grumbling. But in Fargo with the sun shining and no wind there are bound to be people out in shorts today.

For the first time in, well who knows how long, Fargo found spring a week before the calendar told us too. March 20 tells us it is spring, but last week the high of 70 forecasts already told us it was coming. It was a weird winter. The schools never saw a snow day, some kids never took out their sleds, and only a few snowmen found their way into being. However, even though the snow was scarce the usual sub-zero temperatures were readily available.

Temperature is relative . . . well, relatively. It can be measured, but 32 degrees to a Minnesota born and now North Dakota resident is a spring day and to some of my southern squad mates it is a no good, terrible, horrible, very bad winter day. (Oh, and of course 32 degrees in March feels very different than 32 degrees in October! brrr)

The Bible takes a stance on our temperature rating. The following verse is one that I have grown to love, mostly because of the exegesis and the story behind it. I have heard many different interpretations of Revelation 3:14-22. There was one that I learned in college that stuck with me and I hope that James and I will carry its meaning with us as we go out on our mission trip to 11 different countries and unite them under one Kingdom.

“14 And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

I have been told, time and time again, that God would like us to be on fire for Him or be turned off from Him. I have heard it said that this verse tells us that God would rather have us not believe in Him than to be a wavering Christian who does nothing, knows nothing, and has no passion for their faith. However, in college I learned a deeper meaning that has stuck with me.

There is wisdom in the saying “Learn from your mistakes”. But I love the saying, “Learn from the mistakes . . . preferably someone else’s!” This verse in Revelation shows us one of the Laodiceans mistakes, and I am trying to learn from it.

Laodicea was a wealthy trade town. The people there had every luxury they could dream of. Well, almost. When Laodicea looked to their left they saw a neighboring city that had natural hot springs. People would visit there to find healing and relaxation. “Can I get HOT-TUB!” Thought the Laodiceans (reference to “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” commercial . . . anyone, anyone? I crack myself up).

When they looked to their right they saw a neighboring city that had naturally cool, refreshing water. People would visit there to be refreshed and rejuvenated in the fresh to freezing waters. And like a few of our Youth Group kids eager for the winter retreat the Laodiceans wanted to enjoy a Polar Plunge. They wanted that cold water as well.

My hubby’s ancestors must have lived in Laodicea (except this one was willing to work with plumbing, one of Jim-Dear’s least favorite jobs). They had their engineers and plumbers (not sure how they showed plumbers butt in their robes, but I’m sure they found a way) built a system of piping to bring the hot water and the cold water into their city so they could finally have it all.

However, hot water does not stay hot and cold water does not stay cold when it travels miles and miles. When these waters reached Laodicea they were stagnant, lukewarm, and good for nothing. No one even wanted to drink it. They would spit it out of their mouths.

“17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”

These words about hot, cold, and lukewarm were poignant to the Laodiceans and they made an impact on me. There are days were I look at my life and feel truly blessed. I feel rich beyond measure. It is amazing how God provides for us! I have a very wonderful and relaxing life.

Oh . . . hold that thought, a commercial! Wait, that thing is cool. I want that. I wonder if I could afford it. I need it! How long until my birthday. I’ll post a link to it on Facebook and tag James in it for a little hintidy-hint-hint. Oh . . . look all of my friends have been traveling! I want to go on a fun vacation. I wonder how much room I have on my credit card. I want to go someplace warm. I need to go on a vacation. Look how stressed I am!!

“18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. “

Gold and possessions will do nothing for me in the end. However if I am refined by the fire of God I will become more precious than gold. If I clothe myself in the spirit that God gives me my life will bring glory instead of shame. If I just let God heal my eyes I may finally be able to look at this world without envy, without want, without jealousy. The Laodiceans were blessed, yet they wanted more. I am blessed, very blessed, yet being content with what I have can be hard.

When we leave in September we will leave with light-weight Bibles packed in our bags. I hope we also leave with this verse, and many others, packed away in our hearts. We will learn firsthand how blessed we truly are and how many things we take for granted.

Not only will we learn this about our physical possessions, but we will also learn to be content with the talents and gifts that the Lord has given us. If I have a spiritual gift, I should not be jealous of one of my teammates’ spiritual gifts. I hope to encourage them in their gifts as I rejoice and grow in my own. As we get to know people around the world I pray that we can show them how God can bless them with gifts and riches that go beyond this life.

Oh, how I truly hope that we can show many people the joy that awaits them in God’s embrace. It may not always be easy, as the next verses in Revelation tells us that discipline is a big part of this process. However, it ends with us being conquerors, sitting around a throne. What a glorious thought.

“19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Thank you to everyone who has supported us in some way. We have received items from our Amazon wish list, we have received your donations toward our $32,000 and some goal, and we have been feeling your prayers.

Please consider supporting this ministry as we go out and become better disciples. You can learn more at our World Race adventure here.

Free To Struggle

Christian do you struggle, on the battle ground, ‘gainst the powers of darkness closing in around? Christian rise, take armor, soldier of the cross; for the sake of Jesus count your gain but loss.

I struggle. I am sure that comes a shock to a lot of you. I know, I know, I come off pretty perfect but . . . oh who am I kidding, if you have read even one of my posts on this blog or my  Ripple In Culture blog you know I am a jumbled mess of chaos and crazy. It is the fact that other people struggle, especially those that have influence and seem to have an extra dash of spiritual, that has my mind in a tizzy.

From the pulpit of church I have heard them confess “I am not perfect.” From the stages of Sonshine and Lifelight I have heard them sing “I too am searching for the light in this darkness.” From the pages of their books my eyes have read their words “I am not always fully walking with God.” But I am not sure that I really grasped their meaning. I never truly believed them. The people that I see as super spiritual, they must have it all together. They have reached the place of walking hand in hand with God. They have reached the destination that is openly hearing God and following him all the time.

Nope. I think it finally hit home when I started to become close friends with people that I have dreamed my spiritual leaders. We have become close enough friends that I have started to feel towards them special feelings that we primarily reserve for our friends. That is right, disappointment. One day I was obviously hurting, but they did notice or reach out too me. One day a tricky situation presented itself and I did not think they handled it with the measure of grace I believed they were capable of. One day I heard them complain, I saw them be human, I watched them struggle.

My spiritual leaders are indeed struggling humans. They have been under a hard battle of spiritual warfare lately and it disappoints me. It disappoints me not in the way that makes me disappointed in them. I am not worried that they are weak or failing. In fact, just the opposite. Their strength is what is drawing these attacks. They must be walking close to God if Satan is trying to stall them and hurt them like this. I am disappointed, because if they are still being attacked by lies and past hurts, then there is very little hope for me to reach this perfection I figured most spiritual leaders possessed. I am disappointed that I had myself believing that one day I would wake up and I could just be happy. That I would somehow work myself to a place where I could hear God’s will perfectly and never stumble. That I could be perfect.

It is okay though. Oddly enough I am finding peace in this realization. There is no longer any pressure for me to reach a certain level of perfection. When I have a weak day, when I am feeling attacked, it is not because I am sinful and terrible, no. I am sinful of course, but sometimes being attacked means that you are on the right path and your personal demons are just trying to derail you.

Christian do you battle Satan’s power within, all his striving luring, tempting you to sin? Christian, do not tremble, do not be downcast; arm yourself for battle, watch and pray and fast.

Christian, do you wrestle those who taunt and claim, “Why keep fast and vigil? Prayer is said in vain!” Christian, answer boldly: “While I breathe I pray!” Peace shall follow battle, night shall end in day.

Peace shall follow battle. Night shall end in day.

I Would Like To Tell You A Story of God’s Victory. Part One.

Blooming Rose

Ask me again in twenty years, and I will probably tell this story differently. Ask me again in a week and I may have a different view. But ask me at any time what I did yesterday and I will tell you that I started to celebrate real freedom.

Yesterday was the 4th of July! A day for being patriotic by wearing American flag shorts. A day for being with family and blowing up a bunch of things together. A day to celebrate no work by boating, bbq’ing and guzzling beer. A day, where I did none of that. This fourth was not a typical one for me. I did not dress up or really spend much time outside. I neither watched or launched fireworks. I did have a few sips of a beer while playing Pinochle I guess.

What I did on the fourth of July was watch a terrible day unfold into a turning point. I started to experience freedom in a way that I had never had before.

Bright and early on the fourth my husband, James, and I woke up and dressed to run the 10k we had signed up for with some friends (if you want to read about it more in detail you can go to my other blog here). I fell apart during the second mile and the race was a crushing defeat to me mentally. We came home with me limping, as my right foot had opened up old blisters and formed some new ones during the race. We came home with my eyes filling with tears, even more tears than the ones shed when I had to stop and walk that morning. We came home to all of the brokenness I had been facing in the past weeks crashing down on me in the form of every single old lie that was whispered to me during the worst days of my depression.

I wobbled toward my bed, my leg muscles beginning to stiffen from the run, and I crashed down into it. When my husband joined me I started sobbing, admitting defeat, and repeating all the lies that had been running through my head. I was done. I was not a runner and I should not be running races. I was passed by the old and the young, the fit and the unfit, we ended the race with only a few behind us. This was not meant for me. I am weak and pathetic. I will NOT run another race again.

Then the rest of it came pouring out as well.

You see, I had painted a target on my own back during the last couple of weeks, and the weekend before to be sure. I had issued a challenge to Satan during the last month of my life. My husband and I had started to take some big steps in our faith walk together. Our relationship with God was really blooming as we prayed more, read the Bible more, and talked more about our faith. We had found some wonderful spiritual mentors. We had made friends with a couple in their 30’s, who act like they are in their 20’s, and have created a family bond with them as we go over frequently to play games and to be mentored by them. They are blessed with many spiritual gifts. Him being the pastor of our church and her being his wife who is like me in so many ways it is scary! (But scary good!)

And last weekend was just adding the cherry on top of this Satan maddening sundae. Our church, both the traditional morning group and our international afternoon group, held a Prayer and Restoration conference. Our pastors wanted a time for us to step outside our normal church experiences and allow the Spirit to move and give us time to pray silently and come forward and have others lay hands on us and pray for us. We were thrilled to attend every service, one on Friday, two on Saturday, and two on Sunday, each of which lasting about 2 hours filled with listening to many people share their testimonies and singing praise to God. We also got an overload on doing what we love, singing and playing guitar for our praise team. That weekend was full of practicing as we had three services to sing for, each of which needing a half an hour of song.

Then, on Saturday, I stood before a mixture of our congregation and the international group and aided by an interpreter I shared my personal testimony. For the first time, I spoke out about my struggles with depression and cutting. I shared how God helped me learn to trust in him, to give my hurt to him, and to not struggle on my own. And I shared something I had only shared with six people before this. I shared the miracle that God gave to me.

I was warned by my mentors to prepare for what I had opened up. For what pleases the Lord angers the demons in our lives and the joy that I was riding on that weekend was probably going to be assaulted. So war struck up against me during my weakest moment, limping along on a 10k that I had been worrying about for weeks.

Along with the worries of my run I had been carrying a lot of weight concerning my future. I had recently left the comfy job at the bank to pursue my passions and to search for what God is calling me to do. So far, this has included putting in 10 hours a weak helping a Christian counseling center with marketing, social media, event planning and fundraising, putting my writing into practice with my blogs, and looking into a public speaking career. I had been searching for guidance, and hearing very little. This lack of guidance was more me putting most of my faith in myself and thinking of my gifts as my talents, not putting my faith in God and seeing my gifts as the blessings he has given me. It was not his silence, but my lack of listening.

After the sobs for the 10k started to cease and I had shared how worthless I had felt that morning, my husband could do nothing but hold me as a new onslaught began and through my fresh tears I vented all. That 10k had been symbolized my life as I ran it. I had started out with a promise, with a hope. I had showed that I had some talent previously and now I should be able to do better. I should be able to finish stronger. But instead I watched as others did better, were rewarded, and enjoyed their run. They did not deserve it. I deserved it. I was more athletic than them, I was prettier than them, I was more talented than them. . . . or was I? No, I am losing at this race, losing at this life, and being passed by others because I am worthless. I am a failure. I am ugly. I am nothing.

The thoughts of my depression in high school. The lies Satan has whispered to me more times than I could count transferred over into my new life. “You will not succeed at this new marketing job. Sure it is what you love and what you went to school for, but you lack the talent and lack the drive. So don’t try to hard, for if you try really hard and you fail it will hurt and everyone will be disappointed in you. Writing? Ha. You gave that up years ago. Sure your high school English teacher loved your words and encouraged your talent. But you learned the truth in college when others were better and your professor was shocked by your misuse of punctuation and sentence structure. A public speaking career?!?! Are you serious? You think your measly experience on the speech team will help you with that? What about that one year when the rest of your team made it to sectionals and you cried like a baby outside because your name did not appear on the list? You have no talent there. . .”

Whisper. Whisper. Whisper. “Give up. Survive like you did in high school. You are raw and you hurt from this past month of opening up and trying to grow. It is useless. You hurt. So scab up. Take the old shield of fake smiles, sarcasm, and social norms that you hid in during high school and live behind it again. It hurt less then. It disappointed less. If you do not try, you cannot fail. You hate being a failure right? So why set yourself up for it?” Whisper . . .

If you had clicked over and read my other story of this day, the one I had written after waking up from my nap that followed my run and my tears, you had seen that I had entitled it “I Would Like To Tell You A Story of My Victory” and I had ended it with “I would like to tell you a story of my victory. Unfortunately, that seems to be a story of another day.” Oh how wrong I was.