Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I recently read an author who shared something like this:  Some of my most significant times of spiritual attack have come after periods of great accomplishments with the Lord. How I wish I’d have listened, really listened to that statement, and done a better job of preparing for battle. 
My book is published and marketing is going well, praise the Lord!  Stepping out in obedience to the Lord has brought great joy, but instead of resting on a mountaintop, in the last 4 weeks the enemy has come with considerable attacks.  It has been tough to stand firm in the Lord.  I believe this is among the most difficult periods in my spiritual journey thus far, and the battles some of the most significant I have faced, yet HE continues to prove Himself faithful. 

We are all soldiers in the Lord’s army where battles rage continuously. Until we become warriors, until we face off with our enemy, until we find ourselves trembling with our heads ducked for cover behind our shields of faith, we – especially we women – may think that spiritual warfare is meant only for others.  Perhaps we believed that God uses only the strong and mighty as warriors, but in reality we, too, stand on the battle lines.  Our role as soldiers becomes evident when particular trials get personal, when resisting the enemy is crucial to survival, and when we can do nothing else but stand firm in our faith.

Paul teaches that our weapons are not of the flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).   This is a spiritual battle to fight with spiritual weapons.  He instructs us to stand firm, and when he teaches about each aspect of the full armor of God, (Ephesians 6:10-20) we see that the complete armor leaves our backs unprotected.  We make ourselves very vulnerable if we turn and run, so we must stand and face our foe.  Peter tells us to resist the enemy, staying firm in our faith.  He then gives us the encouraging reminder that the Lord will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us.  (1 Peter 5:8-9).    

As you begin to see yourself as a warrior, perhaps for the first time, let the truth sink in.  Our orders are simple:  stand firm, resist the enemy and stay firm in our faith.  This is the good fight.  Our only offensive weapons (prayer and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God) are divinely powerful.  Our armaments may seem meager if we judge them by what we can see, but we are in the Lord’s army, after all.  Do you believe He would send His soldiers into battle with anything less than what is needed for ultimate victory?  We are more thoroughly equipped than any army and we know that victory is ours.  Satan is vanquished and Jesus is King.  Stand firm, then, and praise His holy name!

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”
Ephesians 6:10  (NASB)

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Dreamer

I tend to dream big… too big, sometimes, with tons of details and specifics.  I’m not talking about what happens when I sleep, but the sort of dream where I imagine my future.  Sometimes I dream so vividly that I can feel what it’s like 100 steps down the path.  I can taste what I believe God has for my future the moment He gives me the first glimmer of an idea.  Some people say I’m a visionary.   That might seem complimentary, but the truth is, I become so focused on my vision, I risk stepping off of the path that God has for my life. 

Dreaming is a good thing.  I believe that God often places dreams and ambitions in our heart.   The danger comes when an intense focus on goals blinds us to curves that God places in our path.  In our minds, the course is firmly set and when the Lord asks us to move in a different direction, we’re no longer following His map, but the course we’ve plotted for ourselves.

I’ll give you an example.  Many years ago, I accepted a position with a company that offered tremendous opportunity for success and advancement.  Even while in the entry level position, I could see myself at the top.  I knew this was the path that God set for me and believed that he wanted me to flourish in this new role.  I loved the position and I worked extremely hard, but became frustrated when it seemed that I could move only a few steps up the proverbial ladder, rather than climbing all the way to the top as I had imagined. 

Finally, it occurred to me that God was calling me in a different direction.  Originally accepting the position was the right decision.  God used it to teach me many things that I needed for the journey.  The path was His, but the dream was mine.  He never intended for me to become wildly successful in that role, but used my time there to prepare me for serving Him in other ways.      

I’ve had to do some refocusing of late.  It has required some re-surrendering to Him and His plans rather than allowing myself to get caught up in my own ideas and agenda.   I’ve asked for His wisdom and discernment on which dreams are my own and which of them He has planted in my heart.  Truly, those are the only ones that matter.

I once heard a teaching that God wants to stretch us, but He does not desire to frustrate us.  Any time that we feel frustrated, it is likely that we are acting too much in our own strength and not relying on His power working through us. My husband who is in law enforcement likes to say, “That’s what we call a clue.”  I am learning to recognize that when I feel as if I am beating my head against the wall, perhaps I am doing something that the Lord never intended for me to do.  When I feel frustrated I’m learning to bathe the matter in prayer, to step back and re-focus on the calling He has confirmed for me.   

When I walk in His path and obey what He has instructed, sometimes I can only see my next step.  My visionary nature can imagine the final outcome, but I’m learning to relax knowing that He is responsible for the results.   If I think back, I almost never achieve a dream exactly as I’ve envisioned, but without exception, His end results taste even sweeter than anything I’ve imagined.

The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 NASB

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Joy for the Journey

From before creation, God desired that His children not only possess great joy, but also experience it, and ensured that we would carry it with us always.  He made joy a characteristic of the fruit of the Holy Spirit so that, with Him, it would reside within us and remain protected from the schemes of the devil who desires to kill, steal, and destroy.  The enemy desires to displace our joy by shifting our focus from the sovereignty and love of God to our own distresses and uncomfortable situations.  However, the delight of joy goes beyond our circumstances.   The key to living it out is keeping our hearts and minds fixed on Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  The sovereignty and perfection of God fuels our joy and provides a Savior to invite our fellowship with Him for all eternity.

The presence of God produces true joy, regardless of our circumstances.  Paul, as an example, had joy in prison, while awaiting news of execution.  The Spirit dwells in all who have accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, yet many believers do not allow His manifestation in their lives. They continue to push away the still small voice of the Spirit and neglect to allow His work to become evident.

With a willingness to live for Christ, we learn to not only accept but also embrace the good... and the trials that He allows.  The Spirit helps us in our knowledge that each trial moves us toward completion so that we will not lack any good thing that He desires for us (James 1:2-4).  Then, we have reached a monumental goal.  It is here that we can experience deep, abiding joy.

From Finding Joy in the Journey: Savoring the Fruit of the Spirit on sale now at www.strengthenedbytheword.com