Ok so the concept of a “guild” is foreign even to me as far as it’s historical/real life applications. But I play World of Warcraft so I can definitely see it in terms of an MMO world.
I’ve always been a bit of a homebody and a geek. As a young adult, I was never into the social life of night clubs and bars (Reason #1, I was saved and happily married by the age of 19. Reason #2, I’m an introvert). Paul was at first military, then FAA, then worked for UPS before he went into the medical field. Odd hours and three young kids back to back, there wasn’t any real opportunity to go on dates. But we could play video games together at 2am while the babies slept and have a fun time.
Now I’m in my 30s and I still find it more fun to be in comfy leggings playing WoW with my husband and son than “going out”. Because WoW is purposefully designed to be played in community, unlike other games. As in, you CANNOT experience the fullness of all the game developers have created as a lone player.
Well you CANNOT experience the fullness of all God our Creator has developed for us as a lone Christian, either.
World of Warcraft Classic has brought about a sense of community out of nostalgia. It’s a re-release of the original game most of us in our 30s played when the game first came out about 15-20 years ago. This game is a planet unto itself much like the fictional world of Narnia, and you (+ other players) try to be the hero with every quest. But in the modern expansions, you have things like “Dungeon Finders” or “Raid Finders” where game system automatically places you in groups and in places to accomplish objectives. In Classic, there are no such favors. Need to know where how to get to that one cave? You better ask the other players. Can’t kill a bad guy by yourself? Find some other people to join you.
People run around in different races and classes meeting their objectives, but find no problem helping the people they run by. Paladins (holy warriors, my husband’s favorite) run by placing “blessings” on random players because it costs nothing and helps raise stats. Often I’ll run by and see a single player taking on a mob – and I’ll help. It doesn’t give me any XP or loot, but it doesn’t make sense to just let the player struggle alone. Often you find yourself in an area and you can tell there’s four other players with the same objective – so you “party up” (formally create a group in-game that shares objectives, loot, and experience) because everyone turns in faster.
A lot of people feel that the world would be a better place if the community felt more like what it does in these MMOs… but I digress.
Blizzard in all it’s wisdom even designed the group efforts to require people of different skills in order to succeed. When you are going into a “Dungeon” (the enemy’s camp), you’ll set up a group of 5 people (no more, no less) where each person has a specific job based on the skill set of their character. A “tank” (the person that holds the attention of the enemy), a few “d-p-s-ers” (damage per second, the people that take down the enemy quickly), and a “healer” (the person who keeps primarily the tank alive, and then everyone else, so that the mission is victorious).
Did you know that in order for a church to be effective and growing in it’s community, it needs to employ a five-fold ministry?
1 Corinthians 12:27-30 NIV
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
Many denominations differ on the definition of these things and I’m simply going to refer you to your Pastor if you have questions. But I can tell you from observation that a church that is only employing the Pastors to do ministry, or that are only relying on teaching, aren’t growing. Any physical body cannot grow or multiply if only one component is active and the rest of it is dormant. #truth
So to help find other people to level up in World of Warcraft with, many people start or join “guilds”. It’s basically a club, a group of players whose chat is in neon green font (to make it easier to catch while you are playing) and who agree to help each other out. Higher level players will help lower level players get through dungeons and objectives that are wiping them out. People will pass on resources to other guildies that they picked up but can’t use on the particular character they play with. You chat, you play through the game together, and you build friendships with people as you tackle more and more difficult/exciting/rewarding activities.
If a video game, which has no eternal benefit and no real life benefit, can take BIBLICAL wisdom of COMMUNITY and apply it to their entirely secular concepts so that they GROW WILDLY SUCCESSFUL – 3.4 million people world wide kind of successful – how much MORE should the Church be growing and thriving! Bringing people into our church is not that much more harder than recruiting players into a guild – go out there, do “life” with people and as you get along or you help someone out, invite them! It’s literally how the Church STARTED and it’s still how the body of Christ grows today – it’s not rocket science… nor does it require a degree in Theology.
The Fellowship of the Believers – Acts 2:42-47 NIV
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The absolute kicker is, we have the power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit. Simply put, it’s fail-proof. Be encouraged!
I’m familiar with people who are not comfortable with going to church but feel community in their online guilds. Praise the Lord, my “guild” is my church! My introverted, geeky self has a group of people flesh and blood to do spiritual warfare with. The Kingdom of God is far deeper and wider than we can truly wrap our minds around, and the enemy spawning here on earth are far more threatening to our families and our cities today. And I am a part of it. I would love for you to be a part of it too.
I don’t think this blog post will have any context without knowing all that we’ve been through since I started this blog. So for a point of reference, I’ll summarize and link to previous blog posts before I start.
I married my husband “For Richer or For Poor“. And we’ve had our fair share of “poor”. As I mentioned before, “… we’ve been homeless more than once, tried to make ends meet in Oklahoma, Florida, and now Alaska. We’ve changed careers and jobs at least four times; from military, to Subway (making sandwiches), to the FAA, to selling cell phones, to now working in the medical field where he’s finally growing and doing great.” But I would not trade any of it for all the money in the world, because our marriage has been reinforced like gold by a blacksmith.
There was a whole year where we were technically “homeless”, living with our friends (9 people in a three bedroom condo) while we did some major credit repair (no thanks to a military leak) and tried to buy a home. It was a trying time that would have been disastrous for our friendship had God not intervened. But, as I shared in “Unanswered Prayers“, He didn’t answer by getting us into a new home. He answered by saying a hard NO and we moved into a small rental to nurse our wounds like dogs in a corner. My heart and my faith had nearly been destroyed through these “Hard Times” and it took some isolation to heal. Really heal. But as we healed, our friendships and our church relationships were like… lavender essential oil to a burn wound. Or an IV to a dehydrated patient. It brought our family back to life.
Through this experience over the span of 18 months I learned to dance with God in this “Cha-cha of Life“, and I saw God work in miraculous provision, and miraculous healing. Not because we got the house but because of everything He did after the “no”. I saw my mom beat breast cancer, and a lawsuit dropped. I saw the will of a church family in an envelope with $5,000 cash to go take care of my mom and reunite with my family.
And then the dust settled. And we all sang joyfully, “It is well with my soul.” And we took on new adventures, more manageable ones. We paid off our vehicle AND flew to Hawaii. We were making it work.
So this is where I give the glory to God and to God only: We have been pre-approved for a home loan and are in negotiations for our dream house. To be even at this step makes me terrified to share for fear that something goes wrong! But I can’t say it was our great budgeting skills (because mistakes were made) or our amazing credit score (which actually went down after paying off debt) or a real impressive mortgage application. It was God and He alone. It was a night where I was praying instead of sleeping and I asked God, “What am I supposed to teach my children from that rejection? God I want them to have faith in You. I want them to build their lives on prayer and yet we prayed really hard and our prayers were not answered. How do I make sense of that for the sake of THEIR faith?” And then meeting a new friend at a wedding who became our realtor… and who had a good friend at a mortgage company who took all of our stuff… and here we are. Hoping to buy a house.
We are a family of 5 in a 1,000 sq ft, 2 bedroom apartment and a beautiful, blue, sun lit open door has been placed in our path and all I can think is “Thank God for His mercy and grace” because I don’t know how we got here, I’m just thankful we are here now.
Even if this home doesn’t work out, our hope has been revived. And there’s no price I can put on that. Hope that God has always heard and kept in mind every tear we shed. Hope that His “no” at that time wasn’t because of His inability or our unworthiness. Hope because we don’t know and may never know why He said “no” then and seems to be saying “yes” now. But I worship a God who is so far greater than my understanding, I can’t calculate and manipulate His responses or bribe Him to give me my way.
It’s hard for me to believe I haven’t blogged in so long.
But sometimes you don’t have anything to say. I had a lot of incoming information and things I was quietly observing and praying about. And just waiting for things to change and shift according to God’s will.
My health took a turn of events that had me resting A LOT. So much so I had a lot of time to think, and journal, and sleeeeeeeep. Delicious sleep.
Nothing happens for our harm though. I’ve learned that full well. In all the events and trials we have been through, it has all worked out to do good in us. The issue is that our definition of “good” is probably not God’s.
We think “good” is comfortable, pleasant, or nice. God says “good” is having strong moral fiber, being like Jesus; forgiving when it hurts, turning the other cheek… Persevering in the face of persecution. Having endurance in the faith while being tried and tested.
It goes without saying that to have good results by God’s standards you will have to be moved from the comfortable and pleasant. You can’t stay safe and happy and develop a Christ-like character, which is the ultimate definition of “good”.
Yes, everything has worked out for my good. I’ll share in subsequent blogs some specifics, but I can see God’s signature in my life and my faith is growing.
It is said that kids learn best if they are learning from rest. But I have come to learn that LIFE is done best if we approach it from a position of rest.
I think it’s the world’s way to be always busy, always stressed, running from one thing to another. Lysa TerKeurst says it well in her book, “The Best Yes”: An overwhelmed schedule is an indicator of an underwhelmed soul.
Disclosure: I do not receive compensation from the entities that I link to. I have not received anything from Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries in exchange for my recommendation. This blog is independently owned and the opinions expressed here are my own.
What does it mean to be underwhelmed? It means to lose the WOW factor of God in your life. To be mundane and mechanical about your existence. To feel purposeless or ineffective. To have an “absent father” relationship with God.
Mind you I came from Florida to help with Hurricane Relief, attend court hearings, catch up on doctor’s visits and then move. Even now I’m having to generate income to meet our new set of expenses. God definitely provides, but I’m in no way feeling like I’m on “vacation”.
However I learned to live from a position of a rested soul.
5Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. 6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalms 62:5-6 NIV
A rested soul doesn’t panic. Doesn’t worry. A rested soul won’t anxiously berate their family members because they are not meeting expectations. A rested soul finds joy even in difficult times.
It means I don’t have to nag my pre-teen into reading his Bible or attending church because I know that his soul belongs to God first. I can take my concerns about his spiritual upbringing to my prayer closet and leave it there. And I smile as I type this now because we’ve had some very spiritual conversations and his faith is growing.
I’m free from judgment and condemnation. All I’m worth is held by God’s scales, not mine! So my less-than-clean house or my less-than-perfect kids aren’t a source of friction for me. I am His, and He is mine. We can work on the rest together and little by little.
There’s no rush to keep up with appearances. I don’t ever worry, “What will our Pastor think?” I figure if he’s ever truly concerned he’ll call us. Transparency is a beautiful thing.
Our prayer closet is the greatest rejuvinating source for us – more than a nap or a spa day. It gives us the strength and the peace that supernaturally helps us overcome each situation we face. Prayer helps us approach battles from a position of rest. The Bible gives us the wisdom to not put ourselves in battles we weren’t meant to fight in the first place. A solid, gospel preaching church gives a spiritual refreshing in a corporate setting. A small group or bible study setting helps us bear each other’s burdens so we don’t feel overwhelmed and alone.
And actually resting as God has commanded us releases the tension in our bodies, clears the brain fog, slows down the adrenaline, and keeps our emotions balanced! I don’t know why Christians feel like they are always to be “doing” something for the Lord – maybe it’s that one proverb about the ants – but we can sure be a whole truck full of Martha’s in what is supposed to be a Mary walk.
The difficulty lies in that you can’t achieve rest without boundaries. You have to set boundaries for your energy so you don’t spend yourself in meaningless pursuits. You have to set boundaries from your children so you can have your prayer closet time. You have to set boundaries from friends and family when you can’t keep up with all the activities that month. The Bible says that boundary lines fall for us in pleasant places; they are designed to be our comfort, not our restraint.
I wish I knew all this before I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Now my body is a barometer of activity and like a vehicle with a busted fuel tank, I hit my limit more often than others. I pray these words encourage you to find your rest in Him. Together we can tackle this life with the optimism of a three year old who had a wonderful nap! Let us not miss out on the blessing of living with our souls rested.
God is amazing! I don’t know that I have enough time to write all the ways He has been faithful to my family since my last blog post. I’m settled in Alaska, having flown to Florida and then to West Virginia before heading back; the provision of God to be able to see both my parents on the same trip is still beyond me. I was also able to see all my in-laws and have my husband join us for two weeks. I could not have asked for more, but He provided.
I would not have made it to Florida on my own at all. We were scraping money for tickets and I just felt like we would never get there on time! Until members of my church stepped up to help. One, an extraordinary man and veteran, helped me with a very generous check to get the tickets we needed to Florida. Then I was handed an anonymous donation with the cash to purchase the tickets BACK to Alaska before I had even left. I can’t even thank anyone other than God – who must’ve known I had to go.
When I arrived in Florida my mom was very, VERY sick. She has such an aggressive form of cancer that she opted to do 6 rounds of two different chemo medications + antibodies + steroids before surgery and radiation. She spends all day in the hospital getting these medications via a port she had installed in her chest.
She had just completed her first round of chemo. Aside from the expected side effects, she had an allergic reaction that had some extreme symptoms; inflammation in her bone marrow, nose bleeds that lasted for 20 minutes, and ridiculously low blood pressure.
She did not feel well enough to stand, let alone go back to work. But the situation was dire; my mom pays all the bills. She had treatment and MRIs delayed because she couldn’t afford them out of pocket and rent was due in two weeks! Well if the chemo didn’t kill her, the financial stress alone would finish her off.
All of July I was cleaning and cooking. Any out of pocket cash I spent this whole trip was in over the counter medicine, groceries and gas. Keeping my kids from getting sick so my mom wouldn’t get sicker. My sister was able to pick up enough part time shifts to earn a full time paycheck. By God’s provision rent was paid August 1st.
It wasn’t until the weekend before round 2 that my mom was eating and “alive” by any counts. Around that time she had already lost all her hair, and my husband joined me.
This round of chemo went smoother considering she took antihistamines before treatment and we got her pretty hydrated. She had 5 really sick days but only vomited once! (This is a miracle!!). After these five days Mom was completely fine without any side effects. Paul and I really enjoyed spending time with her those two weeks, it was such a blessing.
I feel like an infomercial for Jesus is coming along: BUT WAIT! There’s more!
In between all this, my husband and I were gifted with professional salsa dance classes, 10 free tickets to the FROST museum (best in Miami), 3 tickets to Universal Studios Orlando, a Mission’s trip for my oldest kid, beaches, pools, church and good food. And my mom’s health was good enough for us to enjoy these things as we could!
When she wasn’t feeling good, we had friends come over and keep my sister and me company with card games or dominos for long nights.
God also provided tremendously for my mom. Because her cancer has not spread anywhere else, it was downgraded from the original diagnosis of 4C to a 3B! She had a secondary insurance company send her a check for every hospital day and every day at home, plus some of her co-pays. That check equaled what she currently owed in medical bills and then some. And she was able to work full time for about a week just before we left to the Virginias to do a little American History touring and spend some time with my Dad.
As I write this blog update, my mom and family in Miami have no power or cell service. They were hit with some serious winds and flooding with Hurricane Irma, and I could not get a hold of them for 48 hours straight! My mom had a rougher time recovering from round 3 of chemo and had been hospitalized just the week before. But praise be to God, they are alive and well! Not only them, but all my in-laws and friends in Florida. And what I learned from all this is what my kids and I have been reading about during our Bible Time in Matthew 14:22-33:
The power of Jesus is not evident in the absence of storms, but in such a fierce love that He would walk on water and meet us in the midst of it to calm our fears.
Confession: My husband and I are fighting a battle against the Credit Bureu over our score and our history. It has been a loooooong battle against years of unemployment/underemployment and identity theft. And it feels uphill and unfair.
And by looong it means we have been living with our friends since last July, a family of five with a family of four in a three bedroom condo with three dogs and a bunny. We have been paying a credit repair company AND a credit report monitoring company to help us fight this battle.
While I’m extremely thankful for our friends’ hospitality, it’s not something I want to abuse of. It’s also not comfortable. I’ve been ready to move out since October 2016. But our credit scores were still pretty bad and not climbing as fast as we hoped.
Then last month we were finally only 15 points away from the magic number! We were so optimistic. Things were just bound to turn a corner soon, right?
For reasons I still don’t understand as I’m writing this we lost 46 points. It felt like a punch to the stomach while the referee called a time-out. It’s like doing the cha-cha with someone who is actively trying to step on your already sore toes.
If I’m completely honest, at some point I was in the shower, asking God, “What kind of animal sacrifice do I need to offer You for me to get a little bit of favor?! What more do You want from me?!?” And these are common reactions to unanswered prayers… Why? When?? How??? With a dash of bargaining and trying to bribe Him.
But then I chose to anchor myself on truths against a bombardment of lies from the enemy in response to these questions. I said these truths to myself like a creed, over and over until my heart caught up to my brain:
God has surrounded me in a team of prayer warriors that are supporting me. The friends that opened their home for us did so because they believed in the work that God will do in our families when we are able to stop renting and can afford a stable home. For the same reason, they have asked us to stay: because they want to see the Lord bring this to completion as much as we do. Our realtors are covering us in prayer. Our church is covering us in prayer. I am not alone.
God is FOR me. I can look up and expect His help! He doesn’t just mildly like me, and He’s not indifferent to these trials. Just because He hasn’t released it to me in my timing, does not mean that His answer is “No.” His heart is generous towards me and is more than able to provide! So for all this time that He has not said “Yes”, I have to believe it’s because what He has in mind is better than what I am seeing right now. I will continue to look up and expect His help.
God is accomplishing something good in my heart through this trial. It’s not a trial that will result in bitterness, or wedge distance between God and me. This is a trial that has me fall onto the Rock of ages – and I will remember these times with fondness! I will recall how God held us, and sustained us, and did wonderful things in our family and all around us. This may be a painful part of His plan, but it is still with the purpose of causing good in me and around me. So I will worship Him.
This faith-based perspective is by all means it’s not of this world. It’s definitely not in my nature. It is His Spirit working in me, comforting me, and giving me a hope I could not manufacture on my own through ‘positive thinking’. So if you are going through a trial, the best I can encourage you to do is to dig deep into God’s Word and prayer. He can lift your countenance better than any motivational phrase can! If He has this strength available for me, He can do this in you too!
If you like the Bible verse images, go ahead and save them! They make great smart phone wallpapers, and I own the rights to the photos. 🙂
What is God revealing to you about your season of trials? How can I align myself with God’s will for you in prayer? Share below.
There’s been a deep need in my heart to reach out and say some very important things. And I believe that what God stirred in my heart with the last book and with this one are related. So even though I was supposed to be done with Move Toward The Mess by mid-January, I think God’s timing was perfect. It let me soak this book in a little bit deeper.
My last book review talked about the importance of the church addressing modesty, purity, and sexuality – since they did such a poor job with me! I was already not a virgin when I got saved. I was “too messy” for that church. But we’re never going to get a grip on this much needed conversation if we’re afraid to get messy.
People will come into our churches just like I did – with soiled hands and a filthy dress – and we have the responsibility to embrace them into our Kingdom family. We need to be the ones to affirm them in Christ, remind them of their God-given value, and remind them of their purpose. This is not something we can do from a distance. We have to get our hands dirty! That’s not to say that “sinful people” contaminate us. But we desperately need to learn to be comfortable with hugging, talking to, and spending time with people who are not washed in the blood… Because how else would they get to that point? What else would attract them to God’s love if it isn’t demonstrated in our very own hands and feet?
So without stealing the previous book’s thunder, I would say “Move Towards The Mess” by John Hambrick came at just the right time. Because this book contains chapter after chapter showing us how God shows up in the lives of those who run towards the mess instead of away from it!
We live in a broken world. Drive two miles away from your church and you’ll see the spiritual and moral chaos that is in every city; the poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, and prostitution. And if the neighborhood is still nice, just keep watching; they may not be poor financially, but they’re poor in spirit. Those kids may have a house to sleep in, but be so disconnected from their family it’s not quite a home either. There’s still addiction to fight. There’s still young girls using their bodies as currency to meet their needs.
So I hate to be the one to break it to you, but if your Christian walk is rather uneventful or you find your church life quite boring, it’s probably because you’re in a “country club for saints” instead of a “hospital for sinners”. That’s not to say you need to change churches. What you really need is a new perspective.
One analogy that Hambrick used which stuck with me so well is that church is really the locker room pre-game ralley with the coach. The hype of being in that locker room is the precedence of going out into the field and playing the game – going out into the world, “moving towards the mess”, getting our hands dirty carrying out the plays our coach has planned. Without hitting the field, using our grit, and finding our mettle these “locker room ralleys” are useless. We waste time going to church if it doesn’t radically affect what we do outside in the world.
His antidote to this attitude really boils down to knowing that we are sinners saved by grace. When we realize just how much God has forgiven in us, we stop waiting until we get our lives together, or until we get the right “title”, or waiting for the broken to come to us. Our own need for grace becomes fuel to love others and want to bring salvation to them.
Not many churches will experience the randomness of a girl like me walking through their doors one Sunday in February and getting saved. I was the exception, not the rule! Most people live on the fringes of the church property and won’t step inside because they feel filthy. Well, my friends, let’s bring church to them. Let’s move toward the mess.
What mess do you feel God calling you towards? Where does your heart ache the most towards others?
Disclaimer: I received two copies of “Move Towards The Mess” by the Blythe Daniel Agency in exchange for my honest review. I was not paid to give a good review, nor will I receive any monetary compensation from your purchase.
Everyone loves parades! My daughter was in the Fur Rondy parade here in Anchorage last weekend. She marched for American Heritage Girls. My boys had a blast cheering their sister on and then getting candy and goodies from everyone else that passed by.
We all want to walk through life feeling like we’re a part of the parade. We want people to cheer us on! To clap as we go by! We want to feel victorious as we move forward…
… It doesn’t always feel that way, right?
If I’m honest, I’d say that lately it feels more like I’m walking the Green Mile. Sometimes we’re in icky situations, surrounded by an icky crowd…
… Sometimes we’re sure that they are not cheering for us, they’re laughing at us as we walk by. They are rejoicing in our misery. We’re out to be spectacles, put on display for all our failures and short comings.
It’s times like this we just want to retreat. Let’s just go home… we shouldn’t have left our beds.
The Apostle Paul can relate, he wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:9: “For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings.”
Oh I can relate to that. We have been technically homeless since last July; having moved in to our friend’s spare bedroom until the doors we are praying for get opened. Every time someone asks, “Have you guys bought a house yet?” “How long can you stand to live with your friends?” it stings like an insult.
I’m pretty sure there are wives who wince the same way when they get asked, “When are you guys finally going to have a baby?” without knowing that they have tried… oh how hard they’ve tried! Or the husband who hears the wife’s friend say, “How long has he been working for that company? And no promotion yet?”
First, you and me have to realize that these are innocent, well-intended questions. Our friends aren’t trying to embarrass us, they’re concerned about us. Even though their questions don’t seem very graceful, we can extend grace to them and forgive how they’ve stepped on our toes.
But more importantly…
We can turn the corner that Paul turned, when he realized that he wasn’t just placed at the end of a victory parade, as the prisoner of war to be laughed at.
Could it be that you and I are being paraded in our weakness, and in our frailty, because God wants to show us off to the world? That maybe it’s right here, in this suffering, God is showing us to the world to say, “See my servant? See her struggle? Just you wait! I’m going to do something in her life that you wouldn’t believe unless you’d seen it with your own eyes! The victory that’s coming for her is so great, you’ll want to see this now so you can see the revelation of what’s to come – and rejoice with her!”
2 Corinthians 2:14-15 New International Version (NIV)
14 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” – Paul the Apostle
My friends, I can truly see that the suffering of this present time cannot be compared to the glory that is coming.
Joel 2:24-26 New International Version (NIV)
24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm[a]— my great army that I sent among you. 26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.
These are promises we can hold on to as we walk through what feels like parades of shame. We don’t have to walk in defeat, we can walk with joy and with our faces held high regardless of our circumstances! It’s God’s heart to lead us in triumphal procession, to spread the aroma of His salvation everywhere, so that the world knows it was God who has worked wonders for us.
Do you have an encouraging promise to hold on to? Or a prayer request to share? List them below!
Confession: My feelings on the subject have been unraveled after reading “Restoring The Lost Petal” by Danielle Tate. And although I have provided links so you can get a copy of the book for yourself, I was not paid to provide a good review and will not be compensated in any earthly way by your purchase of it.
I think it would be helpful to understand, first of all, that I was not raised a Christian. I got saved at 15. And I was already an angry, rebellious teenager trying to assert some level of independence from my mom by then. I had already made less-than-ideal choices, and because of my attitude I already had a reputation (although it was far worse than I actually deserved).
Interesting thing about how I rolled back then: If you accused me of being slutty and I didn’t really deserve it, then I would go out of my way to show you how slutty I really could be. I don’t know how this logically could’ve worked in my favor, but that was how I rebelled against EVERYONE – by one-upping whatever anyone said, being more than what I was accused of. More tough, more angry, more violent, more promiscuous, more cruel…
And yet, if I’m completely honest, these experiences didn’t hurt me as bad when they happened as they did AFTER I got saved and started going to church!
When Jesus showed up in my 15 year old self, I didn’t need to be told that my dating speed was inappropriate, or that self-harming was bad, or that I needed a whole new circle friends. The Holy Spirit did that well enough; I understood at the moment I gave my heart to Christ and asked Him to be Lord of my life that I couldn’t have Jesus and live like I’m going to hell on wheels.
No exaggeration: I gave my life to Christ one Sunday morning, and while I was praying the sinner’s prayer, I told God, “And Lord, you know that tonight these boys from my neighborhood are going to knock on my window and invite me to sneak out while my family is asleep. No sense lying to you about this. I’m not sure I’m strong enough to say that I’m not going to go. I need You to protect me from this.”
That night, I slept like a rock. Heard at school that the boys went as far as opening my window and shook me in my bed as quietly as they could and I would not budge, so they left me alone in my room. And they never came back. #truestory
Christ’s forgiveness was so real at that moment that I completely forgave myself – being as far removed from that girl as the east is from the west. The problem is, I went to church…
From then until I got married and got the heck out of dodge, it seemed that no one in my church believed I was changed – no matter all my efforts to prove it. If I participated in EVERYTHING – from Mission’s Trips, to Bible Quiz, it was to get into my then-friend-now-husband’s pants. Nothing I wore was modest enough. The highlight of learning about sex was “Don’t do it! Don’t touch! Don’t even kiss! Until you’re married!” And then when my husband and I decided to get married, the church refused to get involved under the auspice that we already had sex and our marital union would no longer be sanctified.
Sadly, this is a #truestory as well. Needless to say, this did little to build me up in modesty and purity, little to break spiritual bondage, and little to bring healing…
Fast forward to this year, now that I’m 31 and even further removed from that person, I received a copy of this book to review. Danielle and I are Facebook friends and we had engaged in blog-related activities and personal conversations over the years. I was so stoked that she wrote this book and excited to offer her my support.
I didn’t realize how much I needed to read her words. And that’s about as far as I’ll spoil it for you. Because even though I wasn’t living a promiscuous/adulterous life style, and I wasn’t recovering from a traumatic abusive experience, I had still in some ways lost some petals and just learned to live without…
I strongly recommend this book for any girl of any age – before any sexual experiences or after, before marriage or married more than once… We as Christians need to re-engage in these conversations about sex, dating, modesty, purity and we need to do it right! We need to know much more than “don’t!” but also “Why?” and “When?” and “How?” And we need to restore the petals in the flowers of our hearts and protect the flowers in the hearts of the younger girls coming up after us.