Satan knows my weaknesses. This week rejection struck again. God was faithful and used the revealing of my past rejection to help me identify this rejection. In my small group I’ve struggle for awhile. I’ve been wanting to be open and wanting to know everyone, but for some reason i’m stopped each week. This week we were asked “Why do we not always make the right choice? Why do we choose desire over reason?” As I began searching my heart with the Holy Spirit’s help, Luke 9:23 popped into my head.
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
The Spirit revealed to me that I the reason why I sometimes choose desire over reason is because choosing the reason is hard. Making the wise decision can be hard. Not hard in the sense that it is hard to think of, but it is hard to do what is wise. To go after Jesus is a wise thing, but it is a hard thing. We are called to deny ourselves and to be living sacrifices. We are called to take up our crosses daily so we can follow him. Following him isn’t an easy thing—it’s very hard. Though, it is hard work that will be rewarded to the fullest. To choose Jesus in the moment that temptation is knocking at the door is a hard thing. My flesh and my soul that is a new creation are at war when I am faced with temptation. War isn’t easy—war is gruesome and, well, hard. This week as Jesus revealed to me my struggle against shame and rejection He has made it known to me that he is holding my hand as we face my sin and heart issues—he is not standing across from me with arms crossed watching for me to fail so he can shake his head in disappointment. Jesus is holding my hand with a gentle and strong grasp as he looks down at me and tells me truth.
I decided to share all that the Spirit had revealed in my heart. Thus, I shared nearly all that I mentioned above. I opened my heart. I made myself vulnerable.
My dear friend Ellen began to share how it is also a battle for her. She understood my heart and where I was coming from. My heart was comforted that I was not alone.
My leader then responded. My heart was hoping to stay safe—but it was not safe. She said I used Luke 9:23 out of context—that it was for the Pharisees and the people; not for the disciples. My heart closed shut in confusion—I know that verse; I’ve memorized that verse; I’ve studied that verse; I know Jesus was talking to ALL, and that included the disciples. She then started saying that she was worried—she began saying that Jesus is our friend and she didn’t feel like any of us knew that. I’m not sure if she intended for it to come across this way, but she made it seem like choosing the wise decision isn’t supposed to be a war between flesh and soul. My lips were pursed just as tight as my heart. Why has my openness been rejected? My heart was sure, and still is sure, that following Jesus isn’t easy and that there will always be a war between flesh and soul. Jesus is my friend. Did she not hear? Did she not believe me? Jesus is holding my hand and he is not letting go. In that moment I didn’t know how to respond. I literally closed my hand tight. Jesus was holding my hand even in that moment of rejection. I asked Jesus in my heart how to respond and why that happened. Jesus didn’t respond except by reminding me that he is holding my hand.
Rejection. I’ll always have moments where I am rejected by sinful human beings. Jesus will never reject me. Jesus is with me always to the very end of the age. When my heart is accepted by other souls, Jesus is holding my hand. When my heart is torn to pieces, Jesus is holding my hand. When my flesh and soul are at war, Jesus is holding my hand. When I’ve fallen into sin and see my failure, Jesus is still holding my hand with a gentle and strong grasp. When I’ve said no to temptation, my hand is still in His. I may never understand why I was rejected this week (or this whole semester for that matter), but I do understand that Jesus is always holding my hand.
His blue eyes look at me.
He doesn’t know he is looking right into my soul.
He looks at me with those puppy dog eyes and with that goofy smile and it pierces my soul with the strangest of butterflies.
I tell him to stop with one of those sassy voices all women have.
I really don’t want him to stop, but I just don’t know if my soul has more room for more of those strange, yet lovely butterflies.
You cannot equate theological knowledge with spiritual maturity.
Rejection. I’m realizing now that as I child I felt rejected. I felt as though I would only be loved by my parents if I were a Christian, thus I was rejected for being simply who I was. I knew the fix to feeling rejected wasn’t to become a Christian, because then I would be loved only because I was a Christian. Because of this rejection as a Child, I’m always striving to be what people want me to be and I allow others to say who I am; rather than Christ saying who I am. It has been hard being confident in who I am because of the rejection. I have a tendency to say sorry… a lot. I believe this is because I feel ashamed that I am who I am because I have been rejected for being me. The rejection form my parents was not purposeful on their part, it was simply how I received their words and attention—the devil manipulated their words and attention. I am now realizing that at times I thought my grades and performance in school could win their love. I still to this day struggle not to put my worth into my school work and my grades. It has only been since the beginning of this week that I’ve realized the effect of the rejection, so i’m still sorting through the impact of it and my sins related to it. I do forgive my parents; they loved me even though I thought they didn’t. My parents are awesome and I love them deeply.
I used to go to a church called the Austin Stone in addition to my church. I’m realizing that my motives were both pure an impure—I just didn’t realize they were impure. They were “pure” in the sense that I wanted to hear from God and I wanted to experience God in worship. They were “impure” because I was assuming I couldn’t hear from God at my home church and that worship at my home church was not good enough. The Father convicted me of that this past summer.
1) He reminded me that worship is not to be based on a place, but on how and whom (Spirit and Truth). By choosing not to pour my heart out in worship before the king at my home church because I didn’t like the songs as much as compared to the music at the Austin Stone was a prideful response. Worship is not to be limited to songs.
2) He revealed to me that I was idolizing the Austin Stone. I was idolizing the music and the feeling I got when I was singing in worship. When i went to hear from God at the Stone I was putting God into a box and changing who he is in my mind to where I would only “hear from him” at the Stone—thus I was not worshiping the true God. God is not limited to the where.
(God did teach me many things through the stone, despite the motives that I didn’t realize were not God honoring. God was and still is bigger than impure motives—he works everything for His glory.)
My heart is hurting, badly. Several of my dear friends are in the place that I was in. I see the idolization of the music and the place and the feeling. I see it, but they don’t hear me trying to reach out to them.
The last thing I want to happen when people think of my relationship with Jonathan is that it is easy or perfect. The difficult thing about Social Media is that it is easy to post pictures and such that portray things as “perfect”, but it is hard to show reality. Why is that?
Jonathan and I get along like two peas in a pod. I doubt we’ll ever fight—disagree, yes, fight, no. The struggle from our relationship doesn’t come from within the relationship. In these past 5, almost 6 months, I’ve experience more spiritual warfare than I ever have before. I cannot speak for Jonathan, but from our conversations, he would say something very similar to that. The interesting thing about the demons that are at my heels is that they are hard to notice unless I am looking for them. Let me give further explanation on my side of things.
The demons haven’t really used my own insecurities and tendencies to put twisted thoughts and lies in my head. Nay, they have consistently used the words of others. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood. I know that 90% of the people that have said things that the demons have used against me have said what they have with a pure heart. I’m not at war against these people or souls, I am at war with these demons and my flesh.
So few people have told me that they support Me and Jonathan’s relationship. People have been direct and passive about disapproving our relationship. That has been something I have been wrestling with the most. Why are so many looking down on our relationship? My heart has been confused, to be honest. My best friend Gabby has done nothing but encourage our relationship—and the same for Jonathan’s best friend, Dylan. It has been hard to hear God’s shepherding voice through everyone else’s opinions—but it has been my prayer that if God no longer desired Jonathan and I to pursue a relationship that he would use Gabby and Dylan to reveal that to us. Even with that prayer, it has been so hard—so hard. I’ve felt like I have a wood plank instead of a sharp, metal sword to fight through this.
May I just say that God hears us and is faithful. This past Saturday my parents and I went over to Jonathan’s house for dinner. Our parents met for the first time. Going into that evening I did not even have a thought about how God might use it. To sum up the evening, Jonathan and I said about 10 words collectively and our parents are basically best friends now. Just as my parents and I were about to leave, both of our parents started complimenting us on our courtship. Jonathan and I both sat there with bright red faces. When I got home and had some Jesus time, he opened my eyes. God was affirming me and Jonathan’s relationship. The bible says to obey our parents—our parents aren’t telling us to end our relationship, but they are encouraging it and are the most excited of all the people who have been watching our relationship. In that moment, in Jesus’ arms, the lies and the doubts and the demons were slashed with the biggest sword ever. Sunday was the freest day I’ve had in many months—no demons had room to sneak in any lies or doubts about our relationship or about God. God is glorious.
I’ll be honest, with our parents looking at us and smiling at our relationship I can’t help but like Jonathan even more and get even more excited about the adventure to come. I’m ready to follow you on this adventure, Jonathan ( jppainter ), if you’re ready to seek God’s glory alongside me :)
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Ever since I began to have the sweets for Jonathan—which includes before our courtship began—I tried to guard my heart. I constantly felt like I was failing and I have even thought that up to this point I wasn’t doing a good job at guarding my heart—despite God still being my Hope and Satisfier. The interesting thing is that I have never been told how to specifically “guard my heart"— it has always been vague and confusing. With the countless christian relationship books I have read and the advice I’ve always been given the meaning of guarding your heart has always meant, to me, guard your emotions (implying that emotions are not a good thing) and don’t be vulnerable with a guy until you’re engaged or even married. Additionally, it has been implied that when you guard your heart you will be protected from heartbreak.
Last night, as I prayed the Spirit reminded me that God is not a God of confusion—as Paul obediently wrote in 1 Corinthians 14. God is not a God of confusion; this stuck with me last night. Why was my spirit dwelling on the fact that God is not a God of confusion? I figured that sincee it was not a question that I could answer by my own understanding I needed to ask God about it. Thus, I asked our ever attentive Daddy. My impatient human nature assumed that no immediate clarity or answer meant that I wasn’t going to receive an answer. Silly flesh for thinking such a thing. As I laid awake in my bed at 1:30 a.m., 3 hours after asking (which is not long at all), the Spirit provoked me to study the actual meaning of Proverbs 4:23. Proverbs 4:23 seemed to be quite random. With sleep not in sight I began the search for the true meaning.
To my surprise all of my detective work revealed that the meaning of “guard your heart” is far different from the meaning that I had been told for so long. Sadly, Proverbs 4:23 is taken greatly out of context. In the passage the verse is found Solomon is giving his son advice pertaining to wisdom and protecting himself from evil. My mind began to question how guarding your heart form liking someone, sharing secrets, and being emotional pertained to wisdom. The Spirit so graciously revealed a sort of answer to this (SEE! He is not a God of confusion). The Hebrew meaning of the word heart in this verse means one’s orientation, the direction of our interest or attitude, towards God in relation to thinking, feeling, and choosing. How on earth did anyone ever simmer down the meaning of this to be simply romantic emotions if it means so much more??
We could read Proverbs 4:23 as: Guard your orientation to God, for it influences your thoughts, words, and choices.
No where in this, nor in the passage it is found in, do I see that guarding your heart ensures that you will not be hurt nor heartbroken. We are told that the wicked die and are entangled in the cords of sin. So we must Guard ourselves from wickedness and sin and evil? Yes.
This Lewis quote came to mind as I realized that safety from hurt is not present in this passage:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
With the proper meaning of Proverbs 4:23 in mind, God has indeed shown us, through His word, how to guard our hearts (our orientation to God in relation to our thinking, feeling, and choosing).
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
"And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil." Ephesians 6:11
Here are only three distinct ways (with so many more to be found in the living word) that we can guard our orientation to God or our relationship to God:
-thinking about that which is described in Philippians 4:8
-love the Lord with your entire heart, soul, and mind
-put on the armor of GOD
Thus, we can say that when God is not first in our life, then we are not guarding our hearts. God should not have any rivals in our hearts if we love HIM with our entire being. We must guard our thoughts against Satan’s lies and the evil in the world—so we put on the armor. We must guard our feelings from infatuation (I give this example because of guarding your heart in a relationship)—we must also guard our feelings from blinding us from the truth. We must guard our heart from impurity. We guard our hearts by meditating on God’s word and wisdom; we must not let anything remove God’s word from the place of feeding and guiding the soul.
The burden of guarding your heart, in the out of context sense, suffocates your heart and prevents deep relationship and trust. Personally, the improper meaning has prevented me from being myself at all times. Jesus said his burden is light—the out of context sense of guarding your heart is not a light burden. I would honestly say that the improper meaning of Proverbs 4:23 has become like a burden that the Pharisees put on the people (see Mt. 23:4). If the purpose of my life is to glorify God then having God as the only “thing” enthroned in my heart will influence my thoughts, words, and choices, thus glorifying Him. Legalism has never enabled me to glorifying God. If anything, it has prevented me for rules were enthroned in my heart, not God. (See what the bible says about legalism: Colossians 2:20-23.)
Proverbs 4:23 applies to relationships—but it applies to your entire life, in every situation and every relationship. Guarding our hearts from a person of the opposite sex becoming an idol is vital. This verse has so much meaning. I cannot tell you how relieving it was last night to literally feel this weight that I’ve had on my shoulders for over eleven months consistently just fall off, like when Christian’s burden in Pilgrim’s Progress just fell off his back.
I’ll be honest, I am a scatterbrained writer, so forgive me for any incomplete thoughts or confusing sentences. I do ask that you would not take to heart anything I have said without testing it, for we are told in 1 Thessalonians 4 to test everything. Additionally, I am no trained theologian, so explaining such things is not my forte. May God be glorified in each of y’all’s hearts.
-Peace, Love, and Blessings
Glory to thee my God this night. #Jesusislovely (at In the Father’s arms.)
To say that I had an amazing birthday would be an understatement. My dear friends through me a fabulous surprise party on Friday night. It was awesome. My Dad also took me to tea at my favorite tea shop and we shared a pot of tea and some scones. If I had pictures of either of those happens I would share them, but unfortunately I do not have any pictures.
To end the birthday shenanigans my dear Jonathan took me out on Saturday. I had no idea what were going to do other than dinner—and I didn’t even know where. Jonathan took me to my absolute favorite restaurant, called Jack Allen’s Kitchen.
We had to wait 20 minutes to get a table, so we had a wee bit of fun.
After dinner we went to have dessert. I had no idea where we were going, and Jonathan would not tell me.
We were at a stoplight, so I had to get a picture in.
When we got closer to our destination he asked me to close my eyes. I closed and covered my eyes and stuck my head in my lap—I knew I would be too tempted to peek! Once the car was in park Jonathan had me keep my eyes closed as he hopped out of the car to “get ready.” The next thing I knew he turns the car off, comes around to my door and taps on my window… I looked up and this is what I saw:
I could not stop smiling and giggling once I opened my eyes. My goodness, that young man knows how to pursue a girl.
I get out of the car and sit in tent. Jonathan ran back to the car to get a few things. As he appears in front of the opening I see him holding roses and some brownies. Oh my goodness, if I wasn’t smiling before, I was definitely smiling then.
I thanked him and giggled about the roses for about 5 minutes or so before we ate the brownies. As he opens the brownies he tells me HE made them! My goodness, he NEVER cooks, let alone bakes. But that young man baked a batch of dairy free brownies just for me! And, they were absolutely delicious. I think he should be a baker ;)
Once we filled up on the suberb brownies, Jonathan turned to me and said,”and we can’t forget about your present.” Oh my, there was more! For my present he is going to pay for dance lessons so we can learn a different kind of swing dancing called lindy-hop!! I’m beyond excited because I love swing and i’ve always wanted to learn how to lindy. anyways, it was a perfect evening and a perfect birthday. I really really really like my dear Jonathan.
Isn’t he just so handsome and adorable!?
Today I begin my 19th revolution around the sun.
We had a flight this morning from L** C*** to K******. Right now I am in a hotel in K******. We just got back from a place called the Dragon’s Gate. It was beautiful. And I must say I am incredibly thankful for Gabby. She understands me so well. we had an awesome conversation in the bus. We somehow began talking about adoption. We then came to the conclusion that it would be awesome to adopt children from a country that isn’t open to Christians. That way, when your child is grown, he can go back, for he will have citizenship, and be a missionary. Honestly, I haven’t ever had a huge desire to adopt, but with a purpose such as that, I certainly want to adopt.
Gabby and I talked about how we both don’t feel different—changed. I know the Father revealed things to me and he taught me how to rely on him. But I don’t feel radically different—and I think that is exactly what I want. This trip was not for myself at all, so I should not have a “high.”
Thank you Abba for giving me insight and wisdom. Thank you for being faithful and for clarifying things. You are GOOD.
It is impossible that any ill should happen to the man who is beloved of the Lord; the most crushing calamities can only shorten his journey and hasten him to his reward. Ill to him is not ill, but only good in a mysterious form. Losses enrich him, sickness is his medicine, reproach is his honor, death is his gain. No evil in the strict sense of the word can happen to him, for everything is overruled for good. Happy is he who is in such a case. He is secure where others are in peril, he lives where others die. (The Treasury of David, Vol. 2, Part 2, 93)
"Christ…can truly say to every group of Christan friends ‘You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.’" #Lewis #TheFourLoves #Friendship
Satan is attacking me. He is trying to convince me that none of the girls love me and that I’ve failed this week.
Father protect me heart. I’ve done all this for you. Please remind me of your sovereignty. I love you. You are faithful, God, forever.
We went to lunch with our girls yesterday. It was… interesting, to say the least. I didn’t really like it. We then went shopping in the town. I had a sad conversation yesterday. Alicia and Gloria said they believe in God a little, but they don’t want to follow because they said their country believes they are free. It breaks my heart, but I am glad they have heard and I know God can still do more in their hearts. God does the growth.
When God says god, I will run.
It is not my job to be effective. It is merely my job to be obedient.
My impact may be unseen.
What I do along the way to my goal may be more important than achieving my final end goal.
It is never what I do, but what God does.
Missions is not about a location, but a lifestyle. Missions is a command for everyday—in Jerusalem, in Samaria, and in the ends of the Earth.
He is jealous for this country.
After the students left:
Today was the final day. It was bittersweet. I am ready to be back in the states to rest, but it was sad having my sweet girls leave. I love this culture. I love how group oriented they are. I love how they treat others. I love their dancing and music. It brings me joy some of the people groups in this country will now be represented on the day of Christ. I know I have done what he has called me to do, and I know I have more ahead of me. “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” John 17:4 I can say that verse about this week confidently. That is why I have a peace about going back to America, because God’s name has been glorified in my actions and words this week. I also have pace because of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:
"What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through who you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I plated, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth; so neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." 1 Corinthians 2:5-7
I am nothing, only an instrument. I do not give the growth. Since the Spirit helped me and everyone else to be obedient I believe God will use this week to give growth.
Gracious Father, I love you so very much. You are holy, I love you. In your son’s name I ask that you would give growth to Alicia, Gloria, Vivian, Lucy, Susan, and Nancy. I desire your name to be glorified in each of their lives and among their people groups. Oh how glorious you are and how deserving you are of all worship and honor. You are HOLY. You are WORTHY. I love you! Amen.
"I am the Lord,in it’s time I will hasten in." Isaiah 60:22
It is the Lord who hastens the Lord’s day. We can do nothing but obey! It is not in my hands—at all.
It is in the lovely, and I do mean lovely, state of Texas!