Thursday Tips: Ammo

I was recently asked by a friend for some of my go-to verses when it comes to trusting truth rather than our ever-changing feelings. It’s a question I’m asked often so I determined to write a post on the very topic.

This Thursday, my prayer is that you will develop your own list of well-known verses for the road ahead. But for now, I present to you my own list of ammunition for taking thoughts captive and staying my mind on what I know to be true

verses

(*NIV 1984 version unless otherwise notated.)

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2nd Corinthians 10:4-5

“But you O LORD are a shield around me. You are my glory, the one who holds my head high.” Psalm 3:3

“He rescued me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 22:20

“But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:18-22

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your love, O LORD, supported me.” Psalm 94:18

“Then they cried to the LORD in their touble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.” Psalm 197:13-16

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go.” Psalm 143:8

“Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.” Isaiah 14:24

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:3-4

“I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” Isaiah 46:4, NLT

“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24

“You came near when I called and said, ‘Do not fear.'” Lamentations 3:57

“It does not depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy…” Romans 9:16

“He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

“…Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

“I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 1 Timothy 1:12

This is just a start, but I hope you will add your own favorites in the comment section.

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Soul Searching

Photo1hope

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you…” Psalm 42:5-6, NIV

When the Psalmist wrote this, he was doing some genuine soul searching. I’ve been there. I have every reason to live with joy and hope and yet at times I feel the weight of worry or fear pulling down my thoughts. Dark and difficult emotions seem to take over without warning. Perhaps my soul could stand a good questioning.

Why are you still harboring anger?

Why is your fear based on numbers?

Why does failure leave you anxious?

“When you are confronted with a circumstance that challenges you, you have two choices. You can say to your soul, ‘Get depressed.’ Or you can say to your soul, ‘Hope in God.’ Place your expectation in the goodness of God. That’s what the psalmist did. He attached his hope in God to a promise from God.” – Jennifer Rothschild, Me, Myself, and Lies

That’s the idea behind today’s Thursday Tip. When we feel weighted by an untruth we attach our hope in God to a promise from God. Watch this retro video clip and I will catch you when it’s done.

Truth vs. Lies from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

As I said, I highly recommend “From Head to Foot” by Annie F. Downs, but you should know that since the creation of that video she’s come out with a NEW version of the book entitled “Perfectly Unique: Praising God from Head to Foot.” I highly encourage you to check it out if you are a tween or teen gal. But more than anything, I encourage us all to continue to exchange those beat up playlists for a different tune.

Following,
Ginger

El Roi

There are many characters in the Bible with whom I can identify.

Moses doubted his call.
Jonah did not think life was fair.
Sarah tried to fix things on her own.
Abraham lied.
Gideon hid.

… we could do this all day.

I have a soft place in my heart for a woman in the book of Genesis who isn’t exactly heroine material. Hagar, the Egyptian handmaiden to Sarah. She’s a blip on the screen of the pages of time, and yet… in Hagar’s story we find a God who draws near to each of His children.

In Genesis 12 God promises Abraham that He will make him a great nation. One minor problem. Abraham (Abram) and his wife Sarah (Sarai) are well into their retirement and without a single child to call their own. But God not only makes a promise with Abraham, he makes a covenant. Time passes and Abraham and Sarah begin to wonder if maybe God needs a little bit of help. Read what happens:

Sarai, Abram’s wife, hadn’t yet produced a child.

She had an Egyptian maid named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “God has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her.” Abram agreed to do what Sarai said.

So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took her Egyptian maid Hagar and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. Abram had been living ten years in Canaan when this took place. He slept with Hagar and she got pregnant. When Hagar learned she was pregnant, she looked down on her mistress.

Sarai told Abram, “It’s all your fault that I’m suffering this abuse. I put my maid in bed with you and the minute she knows she’s pregnant, she treats me like I’m nothing. May God decide which of us is right.”

“You decide,” said Abram. “Your maid is your business.”

Sarai was abusive to Hagar and Hagar ran away. (Genesis 16:1-6, MSG)

There are so many issues in those first six verses. Rather than trusting God in His timing, A & S move forward and make their own way. Hagar becomes pregnant, which is exactly what Sarah had wanted. So WHY is Sarah being abusive to Hagar? Perhaps jealousy, perhaps shame. I don’t know, but I do know what it feels like to be wrongly accused. Hagar was OBEYING her masters, and yet she is punished for that very obedience. Can you imagine how alone she must have felt? She was living in tents, caravanning with a family, so very far from her own people. I would have been devastated. Out of hurt Hagar fled to the desert. But notice that she did not journey alone.

An angel of God found her beside a spring in the desert; it was the spring on the road to Shur. He said, “Hagar, maid of Sarai, what are you doing here?”

She said, “I’m running away from Sarai my mistress.”

The angel of God said, “Go back to your mistress. Put up with her abuse.” He continued, “I’m going to give you a big family, children past counting.

From this pregnancy, you’ll get a son: Name him Ishmael;
for God heard you, God answered you.
He’ll be a bucking bronco of a man,
a real fighter, fighting and being fought,
Always stirring up trouble,
always at odds with his family.”

She answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her, “You’re the God who sees me!

“Yes! He saw me; and then I saw him!”

That’s how that desert spring got named “God-Alive-Sees-Me Spring.” That spring is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.

Hagar gave Abram a son. Abram named him Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar gave him his son, Ishmael. (Genesis 16:7-16, MSG)

The details of this story don’t indicate that Hagar lived a life where all of her dreams came true. In fact, after Sarah and Abraham finally had a son, Hagar was forced to flee to the desert. And once again, she doesn’t go alone.

One day Sarah saw the son that Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham, poking fun at her son Isaac. She told Abraham, “Get rid of this slave woman and her son. No child of this slave is going to share inheritance with my son Isaac!”

The matter gave great pain to Abraham—after all, Ishmael was his son. But God spoke to Abraham, “Don’t feel badly about the boy and your maid. Do whatever Sarah tells you. Your descendants will come through Isaac. Regarding your maid’s son, be assured that I’ll also develop a great nation from him—he’s your son, too.”

Abraham got up early the next morning, got some food together and a canteen of water for Hagar, put them on her back and sent her away with the child. She wandered off into the desert of Beersheba. When the water was gone, she left the child under a shrub and went off, fifty yards or so. She said, “I can’t watch my son die.” As she sat, she broke into sobs.

Meanwhile, God heard the boy crying. The angel of God called from Heaven to Hagar, “What’s wrong, Hagar? Don’t be afraid. God has heard the boy and knows the fix he’s in. Up now; go get the boy. Hold him tight. I’m going to make of him a great nation.”

Just then God opened her eyes. She looked. She saw a well of water. She went to it and filled her canteen and gave the boy a long, cool drink.

God was on the boy’s side as he grew up. He lived out in the desert and became a skilled archer. He lived in the Paran wilderness. And his mother got him a wife from Egypt. (Genesis 21:9-21)

In Hagar I learn of the God who sees me: El Roi. Look at the verbs hi-lighted above. The God who sees, hears, and answers Hagar is the same God who sees, hears, and answers each and every one of us. I don’t know if you are in a desert of hurt this week but I do know this, El Roi is with you every step of the journey. He has not forgotten you. He is on your side.

The Lord looks down from heaven
    and sees the whole human race.
From his throne he observes
    all who live on the earth.
He made their hearts,
    so he understands everything they do. (Psalm 33:13-15, MSG)

Question: How often do I live/fear/pray as though God doesn’t see or hear me? 

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Action Verbs

Just a few from the Old Testament:

THE GOD WHO…

HEARS Hagar – Genesis 16:11
SEES Hagar – Genesis 16:13
HEARS Ishmael – Genesis 21:17
OPENS the eyes of Hagar – Genesis 21:19
SEES Leah – Genesis 29:31
HEARS Leah – Genesis 29:33
LISTENS to Leah – Genesis 30:17
REMEMBERS Rachel – Genesis 30:22
WAS WITH Joseph – Genesis 39:2
SENDS Joseph – Genesis 45:5
INTENDED GOOD – Genesis 50:20
WAS KIND – Exodus 1:20
HEARD & REMEMBERED, LOOKED & WAS CONCERNED – Exodus 2:24-25
HEARD & REMEMBERED -Exodus 6:6
DID what Moses asked – Exodus 8:13
BROUGHT – Exodus 12:51
WILL FIGHT for you -Exodus 13:14
SAVED Israel – Exodus 14:30
HEALS you – Exodus 15:26
GIVES – Exodus 16:8
HEARD – Exodus 16:9
COMMANDED – Exodus 17:1
CARRIED you – Exodus 19:4
BROUGHT them out – Exodus 20:2
BLESSED the Sabbath day – Exodus 20:11
WILL GIVE you – Exodus 25:21
WILL MEET with you – Exodus 25:21
WILL DWELL among you – Exodus 29:45
HAS GIVEN skill – Exodus 31:6
CAME DOWN – Exodus 34:5
CHOSE – Exodus 35:30
GAVE ability – Exodus 36:2
COMMANDED – Exodus 39:21
CALLED Moses – Leviticus 1:1
GAVE – Leviticus 7:38
SPOKE to Moses – Leviticus 16:1
GIVES the Land – Leviticus 20:24
MAKES us holy – Leviticus 22:32

and on and on…

He’s moving even when you feel stagnant.
He’s listening even when you’ve run out of things to say.

I’m resting today in the fact that He sees me and the mountain that’s before me… and that His promise is to journey with me all the way.

Happy Friday,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Be Still

Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10, NASB

“Let go of your concerns!
   Then you will know that I am God.
      I rule the nations.
      I rule the earth.” Psalm 46:10, GWT

Our God says, “Calm down,
    and learn that I am God!
    All nations on earth
    will honor me.” Psalm 46:10, CEV

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10, NIV

 Be. Still.


Be Still – The Fray

Following,
Ginger

Steep

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with gettingso you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”  Matthew 6:30-34, The Message

"Steep your life in God..."

STEEP: (verb)

Soak (food or tea) in water or other liquid so as to extract its flavor or to soften it: “the chilies are steeped in olive oil.”

May we be steeped in His presence!

Following and listening,
Ginger

Chapter 1

If you and  I want to make history this year by the way that we live and the choices that we make, I believe that we need to start at the source of living.  God has some pretty amazing things to say about the role you and I have to play in His Kingdom.

The truth is that you and I have forgotten, in a sense, who we really are.  We’ve become caught up in worries and fears and lists to the point that we’ve lost our identity and our purpose.

I hope to use the Tuesdays of 2012 to remind us all of WHOSE we are and WHOM we were created to be.  You are loved more than you could imagine and created for more than you could possibly dream.

Remember that you are more than the horrible mistakes that you made last year.

Remember that you were designed for far more than celebrity gossip and the latest fads.

Remember that you were created by the ultimate Creator.

Remember that your Father says…

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; 
   I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. 
 I will build you up again, 
   and you… will be rebuilt.”  Jeremiah 31:3-4, NIV

Spend time today acknowledging the fears, worries, and sin that held you captive in the past year.  Recite Jeremiah 31:3-4 out loud.  The spoken word (especially God’s Word) is powerful!  Remind yourself that living out an amazing story is possible because of the love and sacrifice of Jesus.  Speak out your desire for God to rebuild you once again.

Listening and following,
Ginger

Love REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-6]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Love.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
   because the LORD has anointed me
   to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
   to proclaim freedom for the captives
   and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
   and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
   instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
   instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
   instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
   a planting of the LORD
   for the display of his splendor.”  Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV

We discover today that not only should we not delight in the downfall of our enemies, but it is made clear that we should rejoice when that person now walks in love.

It’s tempting to harbor anger, to desire justice… but Paul challenges the Corinthians to congratulate others for the evidence of success in their lives.  We should rejoice when the truth is made known.  We are to seek the best for our neighbor, even if we find them lacking.

“Love is never glad to hear bad news about another person. Love never says, ‘Well, they finally got what they deserved.’  Love is never happy to hear that a brother or sister fell into sin.  Love does not enjoy passing along bad news. This certainly goes against the grain of modern life. We all know that “Bad news sells” and that good news goes on page 75. That’s why they put those supermarket tabloids right by the checkout counter. We all want to hear the latest juicy gossip about our favorite celebrities. 

True love isn’t like that. It turns away from cheap gossip and unsubstantiated rumors. And even when the rumor turns out to be true, love takes no pleasure in the misfortunes of others. Dr. Ray Pritchard

GULP.  Anyone else feel convicted?

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 3-4, NIV

We should never be joyful over someone’s sin. Instead we should rejoice when they walk in God’s ways.  If this feels anything but natural, you are not alone.  I’m challenged today to let my love be without hypocrisy.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9, NASB

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” Romans 12:14 NLT

Pray that your heart would soften to this challenge today.  Ask for an extra dose of compassion- that you would see even those who mistreat you as deserving of your love.  Pray that God would let the message of the Gospel wash over you all day long.  Let His Truth be the fuel for love.

Love rejoices with the truth.

Following,
Ginger

Manger

Advent Resource: God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  This book comes highly recommended by one of my nearest and dearest friends.  Becca’s desire to savor the mystery of the season causes me to want to pick up every book she reads… this one by Bonhoeffer especially!

Sticks that Stick

Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.

That’s a joke, right?

I can’t imagine that anyone has escaped from this life without at least once feeling as though they didn’t fit in for one reason or another. I was one of those kids who wanted to be noticed. I wanted to present my projects first, to volunteer to read aloud, or to audition for the solo or concert.

But I was also a child (and teen) who was very insecure about how I was perceived by others.  It doesn’t take much for your confidence to be stripped away, does it?  I can vividly recall the words of the unkind boy at my grandmother’s swim club and the girl I overheard in passing at camp.

I remember the start of 4th grade as if it were yesterday. Our classroom was oddly located overlooking the school gym, making concentration next to impossible if any other class happened to make their way to P.E. during a test. The carpet was peach and we had windows that also faced the back parking lot and soccer fields. The room was on the second floor and had a long closet where we could hang our backpacks and lunch boxes or travel down to the computer lab at the other end of the hall. I can’t recall what I wore on the first day of school, but I vividly remember the boy in my class who walked up to me quite candidly and stated that “My dad said you got fat this summer.”

Not, “How was your summer?” or “I wonder what 4th grade will be like?” or even “I don’t know if I like Mrs. So-and-So already.”   It took my breath away.  For years I let this moment dictate how I felt about the way that I look.  I let one off-handed remark rob me of my confidence.

Look, I have no doubt that you’ve also had negative words spoken towards you at some point in your life.  They sting.  They can scar.  There’s nothing pleasant about the experience.  But rather than just accept the negativity and hide those thoughts in the back of our minds, I want to encourage us all to do some summer cleaning.

Check out 2nd Corinthians 10:4-5:

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

You caught that, right?  “WE TAKE CAPTIVE EVERY THOUGHT TO MAKE IT OBEDIENT TO CHRIST.”

I thought so.

Yesterday I was fighting a mental battle.  I was at the gym (good) thinking totally negative thoughts directed towards myself (not good) while I was trying to work out.  This time the scarring words were coming from ME, not the boy in 4th grade.  Rather than pointing those lies out for what they were, I wallowed in them.  I marinated myself in them until all I could see was unlovely things in my body.  Instead of demolishing the lies with strong weapons (The Word of God!), I chose to let the words take me captive.

I know it’s tough.  Negative thoughts and words can be everywhere you turn.  Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can take you captive and destroy you.  Choose to be the victor today.

I’m starting over, this time making Psalm 139:14 my battle cry… “I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well.”

Following and still learning,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Truth vs. Lies

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NIV

So really, the Thursday tip comes from God… then down to Paul… then down to us.  But I discovered this specific activity only last week from one Annie Downs, author of “From Head to Foot.”  (Sound familiar?)  Check out the video and I’ll catch you after the jump…

Truth vs. Lies from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

1. If you don’t have the book, pick up a copy!

2. Take time this week to identify the lies you are prone to believe.  Write them down on a note card.

3. Flip those cards over and record a bit of TRUTH from God’s word.  Check the concordance in the back of your Bible if you need help!  If you still need help, leave a comment and someone will respond… hopefully lots of someones will respond.

4. Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.  (This one will be on repeat for always.)

Following,
Ginger