Archives for May 2012

A Sacrifice That Costs

David said to Araunah, “Give me the site of the threshing floor so I can build an altar toGod. Charge me the market price; we’re going to put an end to this disaster.”

  “O Master, my king,” said Araunah, “just take it; do whatever you want with it! Look, here’s an ox for the burnt offering and threshing paddles for the fuel and wheat for the meal offering—it’s all yours!”

  David replied to Araunah, “No. I’m buying it from you, and at the full market price. I’m not going to offer God sacrifices that are no sacrifice.” So David bought the place from Araunah for six hundred shekels of gold. He built an altar to God there and sacrificed Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Peace-Offerings. He called out to God and God answered by striking the altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering with lightning. Then God told the angel to put his sword back into its scabbard.

  And that’s the story of what happened when David saw that God answered him on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite at the time he offered the sacrifice.

-1 Chronicles 21:22-28, The Message

In today’s tip we talk through the crazy story of David’s sacrifice in 1 Chronicles 21. Check out the video below.

“Have you been holding back from a risky, costly course to which you know in your heart God has called you? Hold back no longer. Your God is faithful to you, and adequate for you. You will never need more than He can supply, and what He supplies, both materially and spiritually, will always be enough for the present.” -James I (J. I.) Packer

Amen.

Following,
Ginger

Does good = easy?

Don’t you sometimes wish Romans 8:28 read this way, “And we know that in all things God works for the ease of those who love him”?

98% of the time I desire comfort, safety, and ease more than anything else… at times even more than God. Comfort (and not just the kind that involves good food and a soft bed) can quickly become my idol. I like feeling safe, cared for, and worry free. I want everyone I love to make the best choices that lead to the greatest level of peace and harmony. Let’s shut down conflict, stay in the air conditioning, volunteer when it’s convenient, give when asked, sleep when we’re tired, purchase when and what we want to, and above all else: let’s take it easy.

None of those items are bad or wrong in and of themselves… but anything that takes the place of the Lord is a big-bold-red-flag-neon warning sign. The end goal was never ease or even heaven. The goal has always been more of Him.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:28-29, NIV

I don’t know about you, but I know that my greatest spiritual growth has occurred during some of the hardest times in my life. Seasons full of transitions, loneliness, conflict, and especially sacrifice have led me to drink deeply from the Living Water of God- His presence and His Word. During those times He caused His good to come out of seemingly bad situations. He walked with me through pain to make me more like His Son.

I know that God honors obedience and dependence upon Him. My read through the Old Testament this year finally brought me to Hosea, Joel, and Amos this past week. All three are short books that pack a powerful punch. God is faithful to use His Word to remind me of the abundance and blessing that have filled my life with joy and ease for almost two years. He has been so good to me. But rather than using this time to serve and sacrifice, I have grown inward, convincing myself that what I needed was to fill up my schedule with personal items and receive little to no input from the Lord.

“But I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.” Hosea 13:4-6

This verse in Hosea convicted me to my core. While the passage speaks of the history of the Israelites, I could sense the Spirit telling me that I was behaving just like God’s people!

The summer and fall of 2009 found me in an emotional desert- discouraged, opportunities removed, and with loneliness entering the picture in a very real and palpable way. I turned my hands out to the Lord and asked like the Israelites, “Have you brought us to the desert to die?” And yet, when I turned out my hands to the Lord He fed me, and I was satisfied. He led me gently and lovingly into a time of contentment.

But I let that contentment and ease become my idol. I confess it freely and openly. I’m selfish.

But I want to be like David when he cried out…
“I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” (1 Chronicles 21:24, NIV)

Sacrifice

1. A surrender of something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable

More on the story of David and his sacrifice tomorrow…

Following,
Ginger

Sacrifice

“I was in San Francisco recently staying at this bed and breakfast place for people who are in the city to do ministry.  It was a small house, but there were probably fifteen people living there at the time.  The guy who ran the place, Bill, was always making meals or cleaning up after us, and I took note of his incredible patience and kindness.  I noticed that not all of us did our dishes after a meal, and very few people thanked him for cooking.  One morning, before anybody woke up, Bill and I were drinking coffee at the dining room table.  I told him I lived with five guys and that it was very difficult for me because I liked my space and needed my privacy.  I asked him how he kept such a good attitude all of the time with so many people abusing his kindness.  Bill set down his coffee and looked me in the eye.  “Don,” he said.  “If we are not willing to wake up in the morning and die to ourselves, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether or not we are really following Jesus.” Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
-Matthew 16:24-25, NIV

I think I have a lot to learn about following.

Following,
Ginger

Memorial Day

With thanks and remembrance for our many freedoms.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free... Galatians 5:1, NIV

Friday Finds: Starred

I’m going through the starred items in my google reader and sharing my favorite blog posts from the past few weeks. When I star something in my reader it’s like hanging a picture on my wall – total framer. If you haven’t read them yet, may I strongly recommend that you check each one of them out!

Happy reading and Happy Friday!

-Joy’s post at Love And Respect NowLessons from John Maxwell & a Four-Year-Old – that title alone should capture your attention! Great reminder about being intentional in our questions and conversations.

-From the intentional and challenging writers over at Fast. Pray.The Marriage Calculator – This post packs a powerful punch.”In terms of singleness, it often takes the form of a giant mental calculator where marriage is the end goal and various life choices have point values.  And somehow, when you get over a certain number of points – voila! – spouse!”  Follow the link and keep reading!

-Jordy once again hits me where it hurts – my selfish pride. Jordy Liz Blogs: Selfish Expectations Will I ever learn to check unrealistic expectations at the door when it comes to relationships?

Jeff Goins post at Michal Hyatt’s blog: How to live your dream when you’re scared to death“Remember: Until you start living it, you’re only dreaming.” Once again I’m reminded to choose passion and obedience over fear.

Care to share what you’ve been starring and saving up this month?

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Combat Lies

 

Every word you give me is a miracle word
how could I help but obey?
Break open your words, let the light shine out,
let ordinary people see the meaning.
Mouth open and panting,
I wanted your commands more than anything.
Turn my way, look kindly on me,
as you always do to those who personally love you.
Steady my steps with your Word of promise 
      so nothing malign gets the better of me. 
Rescue me from the grip of bad men and women
so I can live life your way.
Smile on me, your servant;
teach me the right way to live.

 Psalm 119:129-135, The Message
This week we’ve been addressing temptation, struggles, and strongholds. Each of those areas begin from small lies that become big issues in our lives. We begin to defeat those very lies when we replace that thought space with God’s truth.
Jennifer Rothschild in her book, “Me, Myself, & Lies” puts it plainly when she says, “To accept lies is to reject truth.”  I know from experience that approaching lies casually won’t lead to victory.  Surrender to God, accountability with His people, and devotion to His Word brought me through some of the darkest days of my own struggle. The victory over lies belongs to the Lord.
Today’s Thursday Tip is an exercise from “Head to Foot” by Annie Downs that encourages us all to combat lies with God’s Truth! Check out the Retro Video post and then be sure to leave your own battle tips in the comment section. (P.S. Please forgive the goofiness at the beginning of the video.)

Following,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: How do I fight temptation?

Dear Ginger,
A lot of stuff has been happening in my life… I’ve done and had the temptation to do certain things. Can you help? – C

Dear C,
Although I don’t know the details of your situation, I do know what it’s like to feel tempted and trapped by something. Yesterday I talked about my own struggle with body image and even an eating disorder. It’s definitely not something that I’m proud of, but I share it in order to point victory back to God. I feel like every time I speak and share my story people ask how I was able to stop something that was such a big temptation for me. Let’s be honest, I enjoyed being tempted by food. I despised being tempted to make myself sick. But both areas of temptation led me to sin, and led me to feel trapped by that sin. I felt like a hamster on one of those wheels. I kept running and running, but I wasn’t getting anywhere.

Until one day I realized that my sin was stealing life from me. I’ve always wanted to live a good story and do something meaningful and exciting with my time on this earth. I also want to honor God with my life. By giving into my area of weakness (food AND a desire to look a certain way) I let sin and it’s consequences write my story. Rather than honoring God, I was dishonoring Him by hurting the body He had “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139)

The second half of John 10:10 gets quoted by many people… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” I love that verse. I love the reminder that Jesus not only brings life to my body- but He also brings me a real, meaningful, and passionate life-story here and in the future that’s to come. Love that.

But check out all of John 10:10… “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I believe that the Devil is real, not some made up monster from myth and legend. And I also believe that God’s Word is 100% true. So John 10:10 tells me that we have an enemy that wants to steal the very life that Jesus came to bring us. Since he cannot separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39), he will use ANYTHING to keep us from building and growing a relationship with our Heavenly Father: busyness, anger, addiction, temptation, sin, pride, shame… you name it. He has an arsenal of ways to tempt us and he fights dirty and personally.

But before we get depressed, let’s remember that Jesus was also tempted. He spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying only to have the Devil show up when he would have been physically at His weakest. But Jesus didn’t give into the temptation. Three times He fights back with the same weapon: The Word of God. I’m serious! Jesus quotes the Bible like He’s using a sword to block of an offensive attack.

That’s why my response to any question about temptation is going to rely heavily on the example of Jesus. In my own story of temptation I was only willing to admit I needed help after I was trapped. For so long I thought I could just wish all my problems away. I had to recognize that I wasn’t going to be able to break down the walls I had built on my own. I wanted to change for good and I knew that would require the grace and power of God alone. I finally called out to God and took hold of the weapons He has given all of us.

Here’s what I mean.

1. Use your weapons.
We fight with weapons that are different from those the world uses. Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy’s strong places. We destroy people’s arguments and every proud thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NCV)

My own efforts can’t take down a stronghold.  God is the one with the dynamite that you and I need.  Satan’s power comes in his ability to lie – take that away and he loses his power!  The more we know God’s word, the quicker we can recognize Satan’s lies!

Check out the last part of the verse: “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” That’s not a one time event. Notice that the verse says “every thought.” This isn’t going to be easy. Look this isn’t just about staying away from lies. This is all about relying on God to give us the strength and courage to walk through every moment of every day. We use the Word of God to arm ourselves for the journey ahead.

2. Prepare yourself.
Satan doesn’t waste arrows on where we are protected. If Satan knows that I’ve been claiming God’s promises about comparison or how He made me, He’s not going to waste his time there. That’s why it’s so important that I know God’s word like a great Samurai knows how to use his sword! You don’t learn how to fight in the middle of a battle. You prepare ahead of time.

3. Don’t go it alone. Telling friends, a youth worker, a counselor, a teacher, even a parent – is going to make all the difference. The Devil wants us to keep our struggles in the dark. The moment I finally shared about my stronghold with someone  was the start of my road to freedom. I had an accountability partner that walked through my recovery every step of the way. She prayed over me and handed me notecards with verses on them every time I saw her. She reminded me that I was not in the battle alone, but had another soldier on my side… as well as the God of the Universe fighting for me!

4. Fight like you mean it.
I don’t know if you’ve ever played basketball before, but one of the things coaches drill into your head is to get the rebound. You fight for that ball and don’t give up until it’s yours. God has already given us the ultimate victory through Jesus. So pray for Heavenly backup and do everything on your part to fight off temptation like the warrior you are.

Our center of gravity should be God’s Word!  My recommendation would be that you start filling up on GOOD stuff. Replace those feelings to “do those things” with truth from the Bible  It’s not going to be an instant fix.  You will still have days when you feel like the battle is too much for you – but remember the battle is not too much for the One who made you!

Freedom is a gift – it is for freedom that Christ has set us free! (Galatians 5:1)

Praying for your struggles and your journey, C.

Claiming Victory,
Ginger

Admitting Strongholds

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV

Journal Entry – 2005

SSHH.  Don’t tell.  You see, I’m a spiritual leader!  I’m a camp counselor, a bible study teacher, a Christian example, a champion for the cross.  I’m the strong older sister, the voice of reason, and the rule follower.  But I’m a prideful, arrogant, hypocritical mess; and that’s being generous.  I am a fake.  I was a fake.  I was a fraud.  I am slowly and surely becoming a truther. That’s not really a word.  Spell check has placed an angry red squiggly below it.  I’m your average, run of the mill, suburban-yuppie.  I drink skinny sugar free vanilla lattes at Starbucks as I ponder my life in my leather-bound journal.  Life is just easy enough to where I feel guilty saying anything’s hard; and yet, life’s hard enough that nothing seems easy to me.  By looking at me you would probably concede that I am self-confident and that I don’t really have low self-esteem… but somehow I can’t seem to like myself very much.  Maybe if someone in the male species gave me a 2nd glance it might be different, but they don’t… so it’s not.  Don’t think I’m sad; sometimes it’s fine…most of the time it’s not.  So one day, a long time ago I got it into my head that my lack of male companionship must derive from the 3 numbers on my scale.  Whoa.  1 hundred and…see…I can’t even tell you.  I knew something had to change.  

You see, I love food, and more than just, “YAY, Sonic.”  I love going out to eat. It’s like a mini vacation for me. The day I got my driver’s license I stopped at What-a-burger on the way home to get a large onion rings and a coke, just because I could.  Just like I would eat a whole bag of Doritos and not give it a second thought. Not that big of a deal right? We all “eat too much.”  Mine went beyond that.  I’ve learned that if we have it in my house, I will eat it. So this proceeded into college.  Me eating, and feeling worse and worse about how I looked, and more eating, and no dates, and my clothes not fitting, and more eating.  So throw in some guilt running and some pledges to ward off pasta and bread forever more.  You see, I am a one woman team bent on destruction.  Yet I am smart, intelligent, and independent.  But I am also my own self-destructor and my own worst enemy.  My weapons are not of the ordinary, but as I explained, cans of Pringles and all you can eat buffets.

So – my junior year of college comes and I am sick and tired of it.  Sick and tired of watching the scale get higher, and my clothes get tighter.  I was eating too much, so I started making myself throw up.  I don’t think it was the controlling initially, it was really that I had eaten so much that I made myself feel sick – like WAY over eating.  And once I spent 10 minutes in the bathroom I felt better.  At first it was occasional, and over the next year I became a pro.  I could do it anywhere and at anytime and nobody suspected.  And no – I didn’t like it, but soon I started seeing other results.  The thin me got a lot more compliments like, “You look great, like you are really taking care of yourself!”  HAH.  What a joke.  What a lie.  What a trap!!  But I’m not going to tell anyone, because I am a strong Christian woman.  Help me God.

Since this time the Lord has taught me a lot about his power in my weaknesses.  The journey toward healing began when realized that my “issue” was bigger than the strength that I posessed.  I purchased “Praying God’s Word” by Beth Moore and read the definition of a stronghold that we discussed yesterday. 

A stronghold is anything that exalts istelf in our minds, “pretending” to be bigger or more powerful than our God. It steals much of our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered. Whether the stronghold is an addiction, unforgiveness toward a person who has hurt us, or despair over a loss, it is something that consumes so much of our emotional and mental energy that abundant life is strangled- our callings remain largely unfulfilled and our believing lives are virtually ineffective.”

I was deeply challenged by that definition. I came to the conclusion that a stronghold was holding me captive.  The lie of sin had become my idol and my captor, and I was a willing prisoner. In the midst of my battle with an eating disorder I was chewing on some pretty big lies and keeping myself from experiencing the abundant life.  I convinced myself that I would feel sick if I didn’t empty the contents of my stomach.  I believed my friends, family, and co-workers would approve of me more if I lost the weight.  I maintained the fear that no one really wanted to see the real me.  I kept the excuses coming.

We can be really good at coming up with excuses for not surrendering our thoughts to God.  Satan can give rationalizations for ANYTHING.  Just like I can keep hitting the snooze button in the morning and convince myself that I don’t need a shower… or breakfast… or time in the Word… he can do the same with those sins we are hiding.  Cutting, alcohol and drug addiction, sex, eating disorders, depression, self-loathing, lying, cheating… he has a never-ending arsenal.

“Nothing that sin is giving or offering us is worth what sin is taking from us.” Beth Moore, Breaking Free

Amen. I know from personal experience. I bought into lies.  I believed that my identity comes from others.  What I really wanted was to feel loved, accepted, and desired by a guy.  What I forgot in the process is that I am completely loved, accepted, and desired by my Heavenly Father.

I began praying that God would help me change… not just for the moment, but for always.  It’s a daily decision to make good choices about food and exercise.  I have to remain in God’s Word, memorize verses, and stay accountable to other women.  But God is helping me through every step of the journey.

Are you letting lies steal the life God has for you? I believe that the first step of the healing process is admittance. Tell someone. Turn to the One who made you and let Him remind you how much He loves you.

Praying we might stand and fight together. More on this tomorrow…

Following,
Ginger

Fighting Strongholds

It’s going to be an intense week. The posts will be all about battling temptation, struggles, and strongholds. I receieved a challenging question from a reader that we’ll discuss on Wednesday, but first I just wanted to lay out a basic definition of strongholds from Beth Moore in her book Praying God’s Word.

A stronghold is anything that exalts istelf in our minds, “pretending” to be bigger or more powerful than our God. It steals much of our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered. Whether the stronghold is an addiction, unforgiveness toward a person who has hurt us, or despair over a loss, it is something that consumes so much of our emotional and mental energy that abundant life is strangled- our callings remain largely unfulfilled and our believing lives are virtually ineffective.

-Beth Moore, Praying God’s Word

Whether strongholds are part of your past or present, my prayer is that we can claim truth and fight lies so that these strongholds don’t control our future.

Fighting,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Loving this Video

You’ve seen this video, right?

I think it’s not only a beautiful picture of marriage, but it also demonstrates sacrificial love in a radically inspiring way.

This Friday let love move you to tears, and to doing…

My children, our love should not be only words or talk. Our love must be true love. And we should show that love by what we do. 1 John 3:18

Happy Weekend,
Ginger