Posts tagged ‘testing’

March 11, 2011

Stripped

God wants all of us. He wants us to come to him. Sometimes we are the ones that stand in our own way of a deep, authentic relationship with Him. But don’t worry, God can (and will) get our attention. He often does this by tearing down our walls. Removing (often quite painfully) idols in our lives or misperceptions of faith and who we think he is (or who we think we are). He does this for a reason.

Envision a brick wall destroyed. At first look, this might appear to be a tragedy but I assure you this is an opportunity. As you sit in the pile of bricks you have the opportunity to examine them before you put them back together. I’m not sure what your wall is all about but could it be about trust? Do you really trust Him or just kind of? What keeps you from trusting? Is it about faith? Do you believe God is good? Do you believe he has a plan?

Ask the questions you need to ask. God is big. He can take it. He knows already – you might as well tell him.

The Book of Hosea has been a great allegory for me in times of rebirth, rebuilding, and challenge in my own life. When God has torn my life to pieces, he has a purpose. He has my attention. He will heal me – but in a new way. He will heal me so that I might know him more fully and live abundantly because he has removed the rubble and built something even more beautiful. He will show each of us – as sure as the morning dawn.

Take heart when you find yourself stripped and laid bare before God. Cry out to him as he will heal you. He will heal in a beautiful new way if you let him.

Hosea 6:1-3 Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming rains in early spring.

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January 25, 2011

Sneak Attacks

2 Timothy 2:26 “and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

I warned you I’d update you on my Beth Moore study. Here it is, still week one of homework and I feel the attacks of Satan. Do you ever notice how it’s when you are making the most progress that you feel the most attacked?

Sometimes I almost welcome the attack. Because it means I’m dangerous. God has something good in store for me and Satan can’t stand it. I make three steps forward to only make two steps back. It’s frustrating – but that’s still one step ahead of where I was.

Progress my friends. Progress.

I don’t have all the answers and feel like this Bible study journey is going to be a tough one. (I need to guard myself against the enemy’s attacks). But I think it’s going to be worth it. I’m looking forward to breaking some strongholds but this will be a battle my friends.

Psalm 91:11-12 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

 

January 24, 2011

In the Secret, Quiet Places

By now, you know I’ve been re-reading Alicia Britt Chole’s Anonymous: Jesus’ Hidden Years And Yours. I highly recommend it. Chole’s writings were honest and encouraging to those who find themselves in life’s transitions, unexpected times when we’re called back into the shadows, or find ourselves fighting to emerge from the bench and set up to bat.

What I’ve come to realize is sometime it’s in the hidden, quiet years that we grow the most. Our character is refined in the quiet, anonymous places. It is in these times that we are shaped for the future. If we wait to embrace the life’s lessons in the public, applauded times we will miss all God has in store for us – and it is a beautiful, difficult journey – but worth it. If we don’t use these anonymous seasons to grow and be still in the presence of God, we are left unprepared for our time in the lime-light leaving us in the wake of destruction.

The following are a collection of quotes I gathered throughout Chole’s book. I hope you consider reading it. (Also, a disclaimer that I am not being compensated for this review.)

“From God’s perspective, anonymous seasons are sacred spaces. They are quite literally formative; to be rested in, not rushed through – and most definitely never to be regretted. Unapplauded, but not unproductive: hidden years are the surprising birthplace of true spiritual greatness.” P. 13

“In other words, trials tell us less about our future than they do about our past. Why? Because the decisions we make in difficult places today are greatly the product of decisions we made in the unseen places of our yesterdays.” P. 15

“Time is not really spent. Instead, it is invested in a future we cannot see.” P. 59

“By definition, hidden years are uncelebrated years. These are the seasons when we feel underestimated, unappreciated, or even invisible. In other words, no one is clapping. In that silence unsupported by rounds of applause, hidden years provide the opportunity for us to wrestle with what truly makes us significant. In the absence of others volunteering to explain why we are so valuable, we have to answer that question for ourselves. This quest can be especially difficult when it is not anticipated, when we have known applause and perhaps even authority and find ourselves hidden again. Rarely does hiddeness visit us only once in our lifetimes.” P. 114

Finally, I loved how Chloe took readers through key aspects of what we can glean from our hidden years. I know I’ve experienced many of these points in my own life and hope to grow in them even more as I use the time given to me today to invest in the future I cannot see.

What grows in anonymous seasons?

  • The anchor of God’s Word in our souls
  • Self control
  • An accurate portrait of God
  • An unshakable identity
  • Our trust in God’s timing
  • A disciplined imagination
  • An eternal perspective
  • Submission-based authority

How have you seen God work in anonymous seasons? Have you noticed a gentle change in your heart or character through the times when you felt like you were in the shadows?

 

December 27, 2010

From the Desert, With Love

Have you ever found yourself in a spiritual desert or in one of life’s many ruts wondering how you got there? Our “do-it-yourself” culture would tell you to get yourself out of the wilderness and do something new, find joy, and make yourself happy. But what happens when your attempts are thwarted? Could it be that there is a greater reason for your time in the wilderness?

Back in 2007, I stumbled upon Alicia Britt Chole’s book, Anonymous: Jesus’ Hidden Years and Yours, on a whim during a trip to a local bookstore. I treasured this book on my first read through. Jesus spent nearly 33 years in anonymity before his public ministry officially began. Yet, God the Father had a purpose for those years. I recently re-discovered this book on my bookshelf and decided to refresh my memory and maybe to try to make sense of my own time in the desert (surely there has to be purpose, right?).

Chole referenced Deuteronomy 8:2-5 which reads:

“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” Deuteronomy 8:2-5

“In the desert, the Israelites had to completely rely upon God to supply food day by day. Provision would literally fall from heaven, but God did not permit the people to produce food for themselves. They were entirely dependent on him, and that helplessness tested them. Being powerless revealed what was in their hearts: would they, or would they not, obey God? From Father God’s perspective, utter dependence, not self-reliance, is the true friend of our souls.” Anonymous: Jesus’ Hidden Years and Yours by Alicia Britt Chole p.71

After reading this, I am more convinced than ever that there is a purpose for those times in the desert. Thwarted attempts to get out of the desert only increase feelings of helplessness which also increases our dependence on God. The question then becomes – will you let him take your heart and refine it? Let Him show you what’s truly in your heart? It may not be pretty – I can almost guarantee you’ll see something you don’t want to, but what will you do with what you find? Will you obey Him even in the desert? Don’t fight Him there; lean into what He has for you. He will teach you, love you, and provide for you regardless of how long your time is there.

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