A Crack in Armor

The three-year-old giggled as she descended the stairs and twirled before her Daddy. From a young age, it was in her heart to find her own knight-in-shining-armor.

David was such a man.

He was chosen. He walked with the Lord. He waited on the Lord. He would be recorded as a man after God’s own heart.

He made lots of rights choices. He made many, many decisions which pleased the Lord.

Until one day, he began a journey down a road making not-so-good choices.

When kings went off to war, he sent his troops without him.

He saw a woman and upon learning she was married, disrespected her in the worst way.

He then tried to conceal his wrongs by finagling and manipulation.

When his plot failed, he then tried to cover his mistakes by sending her husband to certain death.

David, our white knight, had a crack in his armor.

What had happened to this man of God?

Had David let his reputation go to his head?

Had he tired and disengaged from God?

How can people of faith fall so fast?

They are not where they should be.

David should have been out fighting with his troops, instead, he stayed behind.

They are not doing what they are called to do.  Obedience is key to a close relationship with God. (David as king had a task to lead these men – instead he shirked his responsibilities.)

When faced with temptation, he lingered. (David allowed his gaze and thoughts to stay on Bathsheba. He did not leave the scene and even authored his own interaction with her.)

When he realized his mistake, he did not own up to it. In fact, he desperately tried to conceal it. God wants us to obey Him. When we make a mistake, He wants us to have our hearts break with what breaks the heart of God. He wants us to openly repent and mend our relationship with Him.

He relied on himself, not God. He determined to dig himself out and not turn back to God, at least in the beginning.

David did eventually repent and would come close to God once more.

But sometimes that crack in armor is not so easily mended by the choices we make.

What if we never return to God? How different might our legacy be? How different might our children’s and grandchildren’s lives be because we never owned up to our mistakes?

We must not allow a crack in armor to become an infectious rust, tarnishing everything in our lives.

David, in his wisdom, after his moment of weakness, did return to God.

God responded to David with consequences for his actions and with love and forgiveness.

Just as He will with us as we sincerely repent before Him.

For the full story, read 2 Samuel 11-13.

 

 

 

 

CPR for the Soul

As she steered into the street, her thoughts got away from her.

It was a mess.

A royal mess.

She never intended for the white lie to grow as it had.

Now what? she asked herself as she drove to the next errand.

She sighed.

She knew the answer.

But knowing didn’t make it any easier.

No wonder God felt so far away. All sin matters to Him.

He must be up in heaven, so disappointed, she thought as she pulled into the parking lot, wallowing in her sorrow.

I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15b.

He’s not just sitting up in heaven judging me. He is here with me trying to revive my heart for Him.

She had done something to halt that heart. Her choice of sin had built a barrier between her and God. But God knew she was sorry and she knew she was sorry.

Leaning over the steering wheel she verbalized her apology to her Heavenly Father who was waiting with open arms.

As she lifted her head and focused out the windshield, her heart and soul felt lighter. Her heart and soul were revived.

Jesus had jump started her heart.

Her soul soared as it no longer searched for a far-away Savior.

He was here, with her, the whole time.

She had just needed a little spiritual CPR to align her hear with His.

 

He Never Forgets…

She stared down into her steaming mug, the implications of her revelation hitting her dead on.

I got out of the habit. I was consumed by other things. Important things.

But still, how had she abandoned the habit of praying for her girl?

Her mind rewound the years.

She prayed for her baby girl as she rocked her to sleep, staring down into those trusting, innocent eyes, “Lord, may she always love You and serve You all the days of her life.”

As her little girl gathered her lunchbox and left for school, that mom prayed every day, “Lord, please protect her and thank You for going with her. May she always love You and serve You all the days of her life.”

As the thirteen-year-old young lady boarded a bus for a teen youth conference, her heart heavy with the burden of navigating friendships and learning who she was, her mom prayed. “God, please protect her always in all ways. You love her more than I. May she always love you and serve you in all her days.”

As her newly licensed driver took her first solo drive down the street, that mom prayed. “Lord please protect her, bring her home safely. May she always love you and serve you each and every day.”

Then life came down hard on that mom. That season she forgot to pray for her girl. That mom was talking to God about many, many other things. Her girl was grown and doing great things to make any mom proud. Months went by and that mom shockingly discovered her misdeed: she had prayed plenty but not so much for her girl.

Then, she looked around at her girl’s life: her daughter was a lovely lady of faith and loved and served the Lord with her life.

That’s when the words of Lamentations 3:22-23 hit her. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness!”

While her prayers remained consistent for many, many years and had lost regularity only recently; God had honored her prayers, her heart, and had faithfully protected her girl.

The realization left her speechless with tears rolling down her cheeks.

He is so faithful; even when I’m not.

He has great compassion.

His mercy never, ever fails…

 

 

“Where Are You?”

Frustrated, the realization set in. She had lost a bag. Not just any bag. It was her Sunday bag. The bag she carried to church. The bag which held her worn, pages-falling-out and cover-fading Bible.

She searched inside her home. No bag.

She searched inside her car. No bag.

She even returned to search inside her church. No bag.

“It will turn up,” she told herself, “I have my Bible app on my phone until it does.”

Only, somehow, without her beloved Bible with its highlighted verses and word-filled margins, she lost her routine.

Before she knew it, a week went by and she hadn’t spent time with her Savior.

She found cracks in her character she hadn’t seen before. She felt her temper rise faster and her heart despair farther.

“God what is wrong with me?” she cried out.

The words from Genesis 3:9 filled her mind, “Where are you?”

A simple question.

A valid question.

A question she did not want to answer because she quickly recognized the truth: it was she who was missing, not Him.

She had allowed losing time with Scripture to translate into lost conversation with God and then to grow in a girl living for herself.

She reflected on His question, “Where am I?”

Unlike His intent, her heart felt condemnation. She realized it was she who was not spending time with Him, not He who was abandoning her.

She vowed to change, right then and there. She prayed, read Scripture on her phone and learned the lesson well.

Amazingly she found her Bible in the trunk of her car the next day…

 

Stop The Burn

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” With maturity comes the revelation that familiar childhood chant just isn’t true. The sting of negative, hurtful words can scar a person and burn low self-esteem, negativity and despair into the very soul.

When learning standard first aid protocol for physical burns, the first rule is: stop the burn.

If your arm were burned by steam as you reached over top a pot of boiling water, you first need to stop the burn. Immediately remove your arm from the source of heat.

This stops any more heat from further burning the skin. But did you know your skin will continue burning from the heat already on the skin?

To completely stop the burn, you need to run your arm under cool water to reduce the skin temperature. The burn you have already sustained keeps hurting and damaging until it’s been cooled.

You must stop the burn.

What about spiritual burns?

When someone has hurt us, and although maybe we’ve distanced ourselves from the initial burn, the memory of what was said or done continues to burn in the mind.

We need to cool off and forgive.

That’s hard.

Sometimes, really hard.

Sometimes, seemingly impossible.

Yet, if we want to preserve ourselves, we must not allow the memory of the pain to burn anger into our very souls.

How can we reduce that white-hot temper?

  1. We distance ourselves from the source, at least temporarily.
  2. We care for the wound by speaking truth to ourselves by reading God’s word.
  3. We seek to cool the burning wound by forgiving the offense.

Sometimes that process takes more time than we think it ought. But while we are slowly progressing through the steps, we are healing.

And, just as the skin eventually heals, we know God can heal our hearts and help us to forgive so we may stop the burn.

“Do not le the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26b- 27 (NIV)

Tend Your Flocks

Do you have a specific calling on your life? Are you stuck in a place that your can’t imagine how or when the fulfillment of that calling could possibly transpire?

David, a simple shepherd boy, youngest son of a humble herdsman, received a colossal calling. God’s servant, Samuel, anointed young David as God’s chosen for King.

King!

A simple shepherd boy?

After the anointing, you may expect a festive fanfare, a sensational celebration, and rampant rejoicing!

What did David do after his anointing?

He returned to his flock.

After Samuel’s proclamation David returned to his task at hand: tending his flock.

He didn’t waste time wondering the exact how or when of God’s timing. He trusted God to fulfill His promise in His good timing, although it didn’t appear to be anytime soon.

Sometimes, we have a deep desire to do something which God has laid on our hearts. Sometimes, we may wonder, “Did I misunderstand? Did God really call me to this?”, or “Is this really ever going to happen?”

And, what should I do in the meantime?

David was anointed as King. His ruling did not begin that day. Instead, he returned to tend his flock. Protect, feed, and shelter those sheep in his care.

All the while knowing, someday God would place him in a different role.

While he was waiting, David utilized that time to draw close to the Lord. “From that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David” (I Samuel 16:13 NIV)

He continued on with his tasks at hand while growing in faith – all for preparation to fulfill his calling.

Maybe you believe you have a calling on your life. Maybe you can’t imagine being any further from it today. Maybe you are even feeding doubts and despair. Don’t!

God does not forget His children! We need to simple do what He’s assigned us today. He knows our future assignments. He knows how today’s tasks prepare us for tomorrow’s to-do lists.

He also wants us to learn in the wait. Learn to trust Him, even if it doesn’t make sense to us.

Learn to act in obedience, even if it’s to do tasks we might not choose.

Learn to love God more each day. Allow and encourage our faith to grow so we are as prepared as possible for every assigned calling each and every day!

Author note: A special thank you to author Kira of @GodGirlGram on Instagram. We had a special conversation this past week which inspired this message. Thank you Kira, you have wisdom beyond your years!

 

 

Unusual

Amy sighed as she slammed her locker shut. It was finally the end of the day. The day that seemed to last forever. She recalled the sting from the conversation, the laughter and teasing that had followed.

Why is it so hard to be a Christian,” she thought, “everyone is so tolerant of every idea except the concept of absolute truth.”

She wanted to love like Jesus loved. She didn’t believe it was her place to preach, to accuse, or to write off people.

She believed it was her place to try to be Christ-like, like the name Christian meant. To love like He did. To be a friend to those who might not know Him. She wanted to help the heartbroken find hope, the lost find a reason to live and the world to find a love which would never pack up and abandon anyone.

She believed in God and His love.

She believed in absolute truth.

God’s truth.

And no one could convince her heart otherwise.

“Do not be conformed any longer to this world, but be transformed be the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 (NKJV) burned in her mind.

Contemplating that Scripture, she knew:

  1. She did not need to fit in with the world.
  2. By focusing on God’s promises in Scripture, she could transform her thinking and feeling from the hurt of exclusion to the healing of inclusion. She could exchange the pain from the world’s attitude toward her for the great love of God who would provide what she needed to persevere.
  3. By focusing on God, her attitude, her words, and her actions would reflect God, and reflect His truth.

When she broke Romans 12:2 down, she felt greatly encouraged. She chose to write that Scripture in a few key places where her weary eyes would find it when the world had dealt her it’s worst.

How about you? Do you ever tire of being different? Do you grow weary of the world challenging your faith, seemingly at every turn?

Here’s a song that just might encourage you by Francesca Battistelli:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96NQNa16wSE

 

Refuse to Converse

It was a simple question, or so she thought. He simply misunderstood. I can correct that, she patiently smiled, her heart warming to the idea of setting him straight.

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'”

Oh, no, she began to clarify.

Suddenly he was correcting her. And, his words were convincing.

They made sense, at least at the moment.

Just like that, she found herself trying something the day before she would not have dared.

While we might read the words prepared to author another outcome, can we really say we never fall for Satan’s schemes?

I truly wish I could. I wish what I am so convinced of today would always remain first and forefront in my heart.

I know engaging in small talk with the enemy of my soul is downright dangerous, but in those moments, I often fail to give it a second thought.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (ESV)

Through Christ.

Not through me.

Not my wisdom.

Not my perception.

Because I’m flawed far greater that my eyes can see.

But I can trust in Him to lead me and guide me. He will too, if I only ask. Then I must keep my eyes fixed on Him, and refuse to converse with a slippery, slithery serpent who is ready to steal my soul.

Which Wins: Fear or Faith?

“The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them slain over to Israel.'” Joshua 11:6a (NIV)

What he saw should have stopped his heart. His enemies united and charging toward him, with massive armies too numerous to count.

Surrounded as he glanced every direction, Joshua saw no  way out. Had Joshua been relying on only his eyes, he would have had great reason to fear. Death was surely coming – now!

But thankfully, he didn’t only have his eyes to assess the situation. He had a heart for God which enabled him to hear God’s prompting. “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand over all of them, slain over to Israel.'”

By tomorrow, your problems will go away, so don’t be afraid.

How easy was it for Joshua to believe that?

How about you?

When facing an insurmountable task: be it a life threatening diagnosis, financial ruin, or an a loss you can’t prevent; is it easy to let go of fear when fearful things have you surrounded?

I haven’t always handled fear well. But I have learned God keeps His promises. He wrote in Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them. He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Can I encourage you with my life experience? I have faced fear and uncertainty in many forms. God always came through. Not always with the miracle I would have authored. Not always with the timeline format with the promise it would be dealt with tomorrow. But, He was always in control, even when my human eyes couldn’t see it.

He has never let me down.

He has never left me on my own.

He has always been there, holding me and my loved ones in the palm of His hand.

It’s not easy to trust when we can’t see. But God is faithful. He will never leave us nor forsake us; we can trust in Him.

Lessons From David, Part II

Does your mind ever play tricks on you? When I’m concerned, or tired, or overwhelmed, especially when I’m lying in bed, my mind often begins to play tricks on me. It starts to play the “what if” game.

What if the treatments don’t work?

What if the economy goes south?

What if I can’t overcome this situation?

Maybe you too, know that game well. Maybe you too, struggle to win every time you play.

David had reason to know fear intimately. Oh, he had great successes – after all he was a king. He was also the one named ‘A man after God’s own heart.’

He also knew what it was like to run for years from the King of the land in hopes of preserving his own life.

And he knew the fear of running from God.

In Psalm 27:1, he writes, “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (NIV)

When our minds wander from God and begin playing that dangerous and deadly ‘what if’ game, this verse is the perfect psalm to silence Satan. It’s his voice whispering the words of the ‘what if’ game, the words that worry the soul.

As I’m lying in the dark, worrying instead of worshipping, worrying instead of resting, I need to recall who has already conquered the darkness – who is the light.

The Lord.

Who is in control here? Who authors the outcome?

Do I?

Thank goodness, NO!

It is the Lord.

Who has authority over me and all that transpires in my life?

The Lord.

If the Lord does all that: Conquered the literal and spiritual darkness, completely controls my circumstances, and holds me in the palm of His hand; who shall I fear?

Absolutely no one.