Apr 17, 2015

Oops, I did it again....

Oops. I did it again.

Pride.

I let it win. Again.

A few weeks ago, I allowed pride to get in the way of a relationship. I knew pride was coming. I could see it a mile and half away. However, I didn't care. I was willing to have one second of a "good" feeling with pride, instead of having to lower myself in humility.  
 
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Pride never works in our favor. It beckons to protect us, to justify us, and to soothe our hurt feelings.

Oh, isn't that just like the enemy to tell us lies to lead us into sinful behavior? He makes it seem "reasonable". He makes it seem "right". He makes it seem like he has our best interest at heart.

Liar.

Satan did the same thing to Jesus. He tempted him in the desert. He waited for Jesus to be weak, hungry, and thirsty. Then, he pounced on Jesus.

Jesus didn't budge though. He stood strong and replaced Satan's temptations with Truth.

The enemy entices us with pride when we are weak as well. When we have been overlooked, hurt, forgotten, rejected, or taken advantage of.

Pride speaks to our deepest desires. To be known. To be noticed. To be right. To be worthy. To be admired.

Which is exactly why it is at the root of almost every bad decision we make.

If you are breathing, you have had a struggle with pride.

Pride isn't always what you think though....

Pride disguises itself in insecurity. I used to say, "there is NO way I could struggle with pride, I am way too insecure".

Wrong.

Insecurity is looking "inside" for our security. Insecurity is self-focused and self-aware to a fault.

We also mistake self-deprecation for humility. Another lie.

Self-deprecation is a focus on self. Self is the opposite of humility.

When we self-deprecate, we are begging for people to tell us otherwise.

The more others reassure us, the more reassurance we crave. Y'all know this is true!

We become needy for approval. So, we take on an "I am not worthy" approach, and we get the attention we are craving.

Humility is the opposite of self.

Our culture has a humility drought. It's a rare treasure in this world we live in.

Humility doesn't self-promote. Humility doesn't self-protect. Humility doesn't hide in insecurity.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

Remember the story of King Saul? He had a pride problem. It became his ultimate downfall. He could not stand the fact that David was so loved and adored. It literally drove him to his death.

He was blinded by jealousy. Which, at the root of it, was his pride.

King Saul started off with God's favor. He eventually lost it due to his pride.

Why is it that we can see pride a MILE away in others, but we are the last to see it in ourselves?

As women, we can feel it swell up inside of us. When we are not included in an activity with our friends. When someone is chosen over us for a job or position. When our children make us look like HORRIBLE parents in a restaurant or grocery store. When our husband's don't notice our adorable outfit or that the floors are so clean you could eat off of them. When someone pulls out in front of us, or gets called to an "open lane" in the grocery store when you have been standing there for 20 minutes! How dare they!!

Pride swells up. We react. By anger, sadness, jealousy, bitterness, pulling away....

We think those things will soothe our hurt. IT DOESN"T.

God hates pride. Because it damages us. It takes us down roads that God did not plan for us to go down.

Your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 8:14

What would happen if we could stop pride as soon as we feel it welling up inside of us?

What if we stop and say, "No way! Pride, you will not win! I will not let you take over this time. I will choose to be humble. To turn the other cheek. To show grace. To show love. To give the benefit of the doubt until I draw my last breath."

Y'all, we have to daily, yes daily, ask God to show us any areas of pride in our lives. Pride likes to hide in dark places of our heart. Ask God to call it out into the light! Get that junk out of there!

"Lord, remove any and all pride from my life." Let this be the first prayer that leaves our lips each day.

I think about Jesus every time I think about humility. I see His face. He was the Son of God, and there was not an ounce of pride in Him. He washed feet. He served others. He took time for others. He prayed for others. Even in His death, He prayed that God would forgive them for what they were doing to Him.

The Lord has shown me four things to do when I feel pride coming.

  • Repent immediately.
  • Serve someone immediately.
  • Sing another's praises immediately.
  • Pray God's goodness and blessings over someone else [especially the one who has hurt me]immediately.

Y'all, if we want to be lifted up, we must get down low. Really low.

Pride is our enemy.

Humility is our best friend.


cleaning out pride,


jill


Apr 14, 2015

Fearless....

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I hate fear. It has been the enemy in my life for a very long time.

However, there are a few things I have learned about fear. I want to share with you because I know I am not the only one who has struggled with this enemy.

Fear grows each time we pour water on in. What does pouring water on it mean? It means when we continually think about the certain fear over and over. And even worse, when we keep talking about it to others over and over.

So, the more we water fear, the more it grows.

Instead of watering fear, we must starve fear to death. We must stop talking about it. We must take those fearful thoughts and uproot them.

How do we uproot fear? With Truth.

God's Word brings Truth.

Whatever your fear, find a verse in God's Word that obliterates it with Truth.

For example:

Fear: I am scared.

Truth: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Fear: I am confused and lack peace.  I don't know how things will turn out.

Truth: I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

Fear: I am afraid of what others will say if I speak up or step out.

Truth: "But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid..." 1 Peter 3:14

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety. Proverbs 29:25

Fear: I am scared of something bad happening to me or someone I love.

Truth: They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. Psalm 112:7

Fear: I am worried that my past mistakes will haunt me forever.

Truth: Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth" Isaiah 54:4

For every fear, there is an equal and opposite truth.

This is why we must go to His Word.

We cannot defeat fear without Him. Fear will overtake us and leave us in chains if we choose to sit and just wish it away. It will not go away without God's Power.

We can pray until we are blue in the face. Praying is wonderful. However, we must combine our prayers with the Truth of His Word. That's where the rubber meets the road. Prayer is the gun, His Word is the bullet. You need both of them to kill the enemy.

If you struggle with fear, of any kind, there is healing. And peace. And freedom.

Take God at His Word.

Fear will strangle the life out of you. Trust me, I know. I have been there.

I thank God for the freedom He offers us. We just have to open our bibles to receive it.




loading my gun,



jill




Apr 10, 2015

When words just aren't enough...

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Often, I ask the Lord to speak to me as I sleep. "Whisper to me things You want me to know, Lord. Remind me of the things You have taught me."

Several night ago, I fell asleep with these very words on my lips.

The next morning when I awoke, I heard the scripture over and over in my heart, "Walk by faith, not by sight, Jill."

Little did I know how I would cling to these words in the days to come.

Sight tells me that things change.
Sight tells me that no matter how hard I want to hang on to something, time eventually takes it away. Sight tells me that heartbreak is real. And painful.


Faith tells me it will be okay.
Faith tells me that Joy is coming.
Faith tells me that His Ways are higher than my ways.
Faith tells me that He goes before me and behind me.
Faith tells me that He will never ever leave me or forsake me.
Faith tells me that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

As I was praying to the Lord yesterday, I prayed for the fruits of the spirit to clothe me. I need the fruits, Lord. I need them now. Wash me in the fruits of Your Spirit.

I repeated them to the Lord, "clothe me with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control."

As soon as the words spilled out of my mouth, I fell back on the word "faithfulness".

Give me faithfulness in abundance, Lord. Yes. That's what I need the most. Flood me with faithfulness.

Sometimes the valleys we walk through are so personal and intimate that only the Lord gets it. Only our Father in Heaven understands the depths of the pain. Words cannot convey properly the ache of our spirits. The groans of a heart in desperate need of faith.

So, we go to the One Who knows. The One who understands. The One who gets it.

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words Romans 8:26

Really, I don't know how to end this post.

So, I will just let God's Word end it for me...

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18

"God is watching over His Word to perform it." Jeremiah 1:12

"He will perfect that which concerns you" Psalm 138:8

Apr 3, 2015

Nailin' it....

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When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.  And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” Matthew 26:20-21

Yesterday, as I read about Jesus' Last Supper with His disciples, I found myself in awe. Once again.

Jesus knew He was about to suffer. A painful death.

He also knew that His friend Judas would betray Him into the hands of the enemy.

Yet, Jesus served him. He washed the feet of his friends. Yes, their feet! He made sure they knew that discipleship meant nothing without love and serving one another.

Jesus also knew that Peter, one of His closest friends, would deny Him three times the next day. THREE times, y'all!

How could Jesus serve, love, and minister to these friends that would eventually turn their back on Him when Jesus needed them most?

That's the part that baffles me. My flesh doesn't understand how He could love and humble Himself to that extent knowing what was to come.

I desperately want to love like Jesus. Yet, my flesh fails me many days. My pride wells up and I feel that familiar wall forming when I have been hurt by someone's words or actions. The last thing I want to do is go and minister to them. And to even imagine washing their feet---are kidding me??

But, Jesus is our example, friends.

When our flesh wants to take over, we must walk by the Spirit. We must remember Jesus and how He loved, served, and forgave. Jesus forgave without any reason to forgive. He didn't wait for people to apologize, He forgave immediately. Without hesitation.

Yes, it is radical. Yes, it is not of this world.

Which is exactly why we must follow His example.

We are supposed to stand out and go against the grain of the world.

This kind of love is foreign to the world. They see it as weakness.

Oh, quite the contrary.

It takes the utmost strength and Power of God to walk in love, forgiveness and servanthood. Our flesh is not capable, but by the power of The Holy Spirit we are.

Paul tells us in Galatians, "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."

My need to forgive someone is what eventually drew me to God's Word. I was stuck in unforgiveness. I was angry and bitter towards this person. My faith was stagnant because of my flesh and my stubborn pride.

When the Lord opened my eyes to the woeful condition of my heart, I was broken with sadness. Yet, He did not just want me to forgive this person. He wanted me to show them love as well. Yep, He sure did.

It took every bit of my dependence on Him for me to do this. And I mean EVERY bit. My flesh screamed in agony the whole time.

Oh, but the blessings that flowed after I [finally!] walked in forgiveness.

Now, if I even suspect a hint of yuck going on in my heart, I immediately take it to the Lord. I never want to go back to that dark place of unforgiveness. It's not good for me or anyone else.

Back to Jesus.

As He hung on the cross, with people spewing insults all over Him, He whispers to His Father,  "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:24

What if we prayed the same prayer to our Father in Heaven today. What if we asked Him to forgive those that have hurt us, used us, broken our hearts, broken our trust....

Let's nail that junk to the Cross today. Let it go. Let it die.

Now, watch Jesus restore your heart like never before.

Be amazed at what He will do when you decide to let it go.

And, don't be surprised if He asks you to show some love to them. He may or may not ask you to reach out. Just be listening for His direction.

I'm praying for you. I'm praying for me. I'm praying for all of us. What a day to do this--Good Friday.


nailing it to the Cross,


jill





Apr 1, 2015

Push through....

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There are some days that are just indescribable. A longing for something else. A soul craving.

Many times I have told the Lord, "I just don't belong here. My soul craves for Home."

Y'all know what I mean?

I was having one of those days recently. I even texted my people and [hesitantly] asked them for prayer. Not even sure of what I was asking them to pray about, I just told them to just please pray for me.

That same afternoon, I turned on the radio in my car. This song by Laura Story was playing:

I've been living like an orphan
Trying to belong here
But it's just not my home
I've been holding on so tightly
To all the things that I think
That satisfy my soul
But I'm letting go

So be my Father, my mighty Warrior
Be my King
‘Cause I can be scattered, frail and shattered
Lord, I need You now to be
Be my God so I can just be me


Can you relate?

Have you ever felt different? Or that you didn't belong?

I think that's the point.

"You do not belong to this world" John 15:18

Our souls were made for Heaven, and our flesh remains here on Earth until that sweet day.

As I think about Jesus this week, the week before His death and resurrection, I know He must have had similar feelings.

In  His anguish He prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Luke 22:42

He knew what was ahead. He knew the good that was coming. Yet, He had to endure the pain here on Earth until it came. He knew every detail of his crucifixion that was coming. Can you even imagine?

We are spared that kind of knowing. We don't have the kind of insight Jesus had. Thank goodness.

However, we do have the same Hope that He had. Yes, we do have Hope.

Hope pushes us through those days when we feel like we don't belong. Or that we just cannot see or feel the good.

Jesus pushed through the week before His death. He pushed through the pain, the hurt, the grief, the suffering.

His Hope carried Him to the cross. His Hope carried him as He was crucified.

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:34

Hope arose from the dead three days later.

Hope was fulfilled.

We have this Hope. Every single day of our lives.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

When you find yourself lacking hope, push through. Push through some more. Hope is always there to carry you through.

Everything will be well in the end.

He promises us this.


pushing through,


jill



Mar 31, 2015

Go Low....

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When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

As we observe Holy Week, the week before Easter, I am always exceptionally emotional. More so than usual if you can believe that.

This year, the thing glaring at me when I study the life of Jesus, is His humility.

Humility.

We don't  really like this word, do we?

It makes us cringe sometimes.

Every decision I make, I have to remember to ask God to filter out any and all pride related to the decision.  If I see an ounce of pride, I have to re-think the decision. Pride is not our friend and never will be.

Pride is the exact opposite of humility. Pride haunts and hovers over everything we do if we are not careful. It's the poison that can become our downfall.

"Pride goes before destruction. A haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:8

Whew, that verse will keep things in check, won't it?

We think a lot of ourselves. Too much actually. And we tend to think the world revolves us at times. What a dizzying concoction of misery--this thing called pride. It will never be good for us. So, why do we keep falling in it and all over it?

Pride ruins and destroys relationships. Pride keeps us from forgiveness. Pride keeps us from true fellowship with others. Pride keeps us from fulfilling our God-given purpose if we are not careful.

Humility creates fellowship. Humility attracts others to us. Humility is forgiving. Humility is not self-seeking. Humility shows grace where no grace can seem to be mustered up. Humility brings life where pride has brought death. Humility brings us to our knees in thankfulness.

Humility is hard to understand. It goes against our human nature. We want to be noticed. We want to be acknowledged. We want to be known. We like that pat on the back when we have done something well. We like to be seen with the "right" people. It makes us look good to others.

Jesus wanted none of these things. He hung out with all the "wrong" people. The people that were unnoticed. Not popular and certainly not sought after.

My ten year old daughter struggles with the this very thing at times.  Just the other night, with tears in her blue eyes, she asked me to pray that she "would not care what others thought of her." My insides flipped a little. Boy, oh boy. I needed to pray that same prayer for myself.

I told her we were going to pray for humble hearts--for both of us. Instead of caring what others think of us, caring more about others.

As I study the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, just days before his death,  we see humility played out in his life. Once again.

He chose to ride a small horse, a colt, into town.

Why not a full-grown white or black horse? Why not a huge parade with chariots?

That wasn't His way.

He was not doing this for a show. He was doing this out of love. His love for us.

He wept for this town. He wept for us.

Jesus knew what was coming, yet He didn't scream from the rooftops how wrong the people were. How they would be sorry for their lack of belief.

Instead, He wept for them.

Humility.

Do we love people enough to weep for them? Or are we to too loudly judging and condemning them for their behavior. Or just plain choose to ignore them because they are not worth our breath or our presence.

It's a strange thing, humility.

In order to truly be humble, we must think of others instead of ourselves. We must put their needs before ours. We must want more for them than we want for ourselves.

How is this possible?

By the Holy Spirit acting within us. This is the only way.

Humility any other way is not authentic.

It's a risky prayer, isn't it? To pray for humility?

Oh, but it's what we need.

Desperately.

Jesus is our example.

Let's follow His way, shall we?

going low,


jill

Mar 25, 2015

Have Mercy....

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 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36

Oh boy, oh boy. When God gets a hold of your heart, He means it.

He has been showing me scripture after scripture, story after story on His Mercy.

Sometimes it is hard to wrap our human minds around. Humans seek justice. We can be very black and white.

God seeks justice. In His own perfect way. He says this in Isaiah 55:9, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

His justice comes wrapped up in a soft down blanket of Mercy. Every single time

We love this blanket of Mercy when we are the one's receiving it. However, often we struggle when we see mercy given to someone who does not seem to deserve it. Know what I mean?

My marriage is so important to me. I think it is the number one thing I pray for each day. Of course, prayers for my children are right on up there neck and neck.

However, when my marriage is out of whack, it affects the whole family unit. The imbalance slides right on down to my kids. Shoot.

The thing about marriage is that it requires a LOT of mercy. I mean a LOT.

It's easy to show mercy to our children. They share our genes. They are a part of us. Even if adopted, they are OURS. Forever.

We don't see our husbands the same way, do we?

We seek justice in our marriage. An eye for an eye kind of thing.

If I have heard it once, I have heard it a million times..."marriage is 50/50"

Says who?

God says in Mark 10:8, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh.

That looks like a whole to me. 100%. Not split down the middle.

Why is mercy so hard in our marriages?

I think it's because we are law craving, justice seeking people.

Not that this is a bad thing, but Jesus came to mess with all that law stuff. The same law that we are reading about in the book of Numbers. The rules, regulations, ordinances. All of the things that help us feel "fair", and "safe".  Jesus ripped apart all of this law by His death on the Cross.

When Jesus showed us His Mercy for us by dying for us, our relationship status changed with God. We were suddenly covered in an ocean of Mercy. Completely undeserving. That's Mercy for you, my friends.

So, back to marriage.

Sometimes we forget that me must also show mercy to others. Even and especially our husbands. We get all black and white and justice seeking, and forget that we are alive because of God's Mercy.

What would happen in our marriages if we practiced mercy day in and day out?

When hour husbands are late coming home, without calling.

When our husbands spend too much money on that gun he has been eyeing.

When our husbands come home, plop down and turn on ESPN before even uttering a hello to us.

I am not saying our husbands always deserve our mercy, but we sure don't deserve God's mercy either.

This verse just rocks my world in the mercy department. Listen to this:

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:12-13

Mercy triumphs over judgement. Lets chew on that today.


drowning in His Mercy,


jill








Mar 24, 2015

Who the heck am I?

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I remember it so vividly. It was snowing outside, and we were all at home enjoying a fun snow day.

The day before, I had bought a bottle of  dark brown color for my hair. I was tired of being blonde. It felt boring. And old.

As the kids and Lem were outside playing, I snuck into the bathroom and painted that dark dye all over my blonde hair.

Immediately, my hair sucked the color right up. My hair must have been parched and thirsty because it was drinking up this brown gooey dye faster than I could slop it on!

My heart skipped a beat for a minute. What in the world was I doing??

Oh my. Too late now. I had to finish the process or I would look like a really weird skunk.

The color sat on my hair for about 20 minutes and I hopped in the shower to wash my hair.

My shower turned dark brown and stayed that way for days. And days. Maybe even a month. Oops.

When I got out of the shower I got a glimpse of a brunette in the mirror. I almost jumped out of my skin!

Oh! It's me! The brunette in the mirror.

I will spare you the rest of the details. The shocking looks on my kids and my husband's face are still hard to forget. I will just leave you with this thought....my 5 year old daughter cried her ever-lovin' eyes out. And they weren't tears of joy.

This is just one episode of Jill trying to be anyone but Jill.

Can you relate?

Have you ever thought that if only you could be different, you would be a better version of you?

Thankfully, the Word of God brings wisdom.

I laugh and shudder at the same time over the many times I tried to change who I was.

Really, I had no idea who I really was. Nor did I want to know.

Thankfully, I found my identity in Christ. OH, and what an identity it is!

He has shown me who I am countless times, and I still can hardly believe His love for me!

He tells me, "I am His treasured possession" in Deuteronomy 7:6.

He tells me, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made", in Psalm 139:14.

He tells me, "I am the apple of His eye", in Psalm 17:8.

Over and over again in His Word I am reminded of who I really am.

You see, who I thought I was, was a big fat lie. A lie brought on by a seething enemy who wants nothing more than for me to be anything than what I was created to be.

For so many years, I wanted to be different. I wanted to be wittier, funnier, cuter, smaller, smarter...

Just to name a few.

I remember standing in the mirror pressing my fingers in my cheeks so that I could have dimples like the popular girl down the street when I was in the fourth grade.

I remember in my early twenties deciding I wanted to have a more "hippy" and "natural look". I decided to go without makeup, less combed hair and a new pair of Birkenstocks to work that day. After about 100 times of being asked if I was "sick", I went home and decided that look didn't suit me after all.

Story after story I could tell you of the many times I tried to change my looks, my personality, my everything.

However, when I began to study and ready God's Word it changed my life. Forever.

Slowly, day by day, God and I peeled back the layers upon layers of insecurities, masks, ad lies that had been collected over the years.

Some days, I would have to repeat scriptures over and over in order to change my thought pattern. This is when I began to memorize scripture. I would keep scripture with me at all times--my pockets, my purse, my car...everywhere! This was before the bible app was created! :)

I literally had to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" as the Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5.

Soon after my thoughts were captured by His Word and Truth, my behavior started to catch on.

Where the mind goes the man [or woman] follows.

My mind had to be saturated with Truth before my insecure behavior could change.

Can I just tell you about the freedom that has come since surrendering all of this junk to Christ?

Joy replaced anxiety.

Confidence replaced insecurity.

Assurance replaced doubt.

Faith replaced fear.

Today, I want you to know this:

It is possible to love who God created you to be.

Everything is possible with God. Matthew 9:26

If you have convinced yourself that you are not special, loved, or desired just the way you are....

Please go to His Word.

Start with Psalm 139. Read the whole thing. Several times. Also, check out this post and be encouraged by His love for you.

You can ask my husband, my mom, my dad, my sister...those that know me the best. They will tell you. They have seen the proof of what God can do in the heart of a fearful insecure girl.

When I began to not just believe in God, but to believe God.....everything changed.


so long insecurity,


jill