Pushing Me Further…

Today in my quiet time, I found myself angry. I wasn’t angry about outside circumstances but angry at the attempts the enemy has recently made to derail me, my family, our dreams, etc. The more I read and the more God spoke to my heart, the more angry I became. I lifted my laptop screen and began typing. Below is what came out:

Why do you torment? Why do you feed those weak parts within me? You target the issues that I’ve battled to overcome and I try, yet sometimes you win. I know your pressure points and I try to expect but oftentimes you seem to outsmart me. You make me feel weak and insecure. You make me feel as though God has forgotten me. You relish in the fact that I withdraw. When my thoughts are scattered, you are there to add to my struggle. I’m confused about who I am and I waver. I try too hard and fail too much. Your schemes to derail me are working…or though it seems. Your plans to take me out may delay me but your plans only push me further… further into a deeper understanding of who God is, how big He is, how hard I must fight and how much I need Him.

Friend, today if you’re struggling…if the enemy is relentlessly attacking you, know this…God is above it. He is fighting on your behalf and working to reveal the solution to you. God sees you and He is moving heaven and earth to position you where you need to be. The enemy has no authority over you and you can walk confidently knowing that the Lord is faithful and He will bring you through it!

Don’t give in, don’t give up, fix your eyes on Jesus and move forward in faith. He will carry you when you’re too weak to walk. He will defend you when you don’t have the energy or words to speak on your own behalf. He will give wisdom and clarity in situations that seem crazy and chaotic. He is good and what He allows is for our good. He uses it all and doesn’t waste a thing. Rest in Him!

Isaiah 40:31 “….but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Be blessed today! XOXO

 

 

In Hot Pursuit…

The word pursue, according to google :),  means to follow or seek, attain or accomplish a goal, especially over a long period of time. Lately, I feel like God keeps asking and reminding me of two things, 1) what are you pursuing and 2) fear is not from the Lord and is paralyzing. I haven’t really been able to connect the two in my current season but could see one or the other at various times. But today, during my reading it connected.

Without even realizing it, sometimes I find myself pursuing the wrong things. I catch myself and am like, “What am I doing? Why did that comment sting? Why is this bothering me? Why am I defensive? Why am I now in a bad mood?” Most times, the answer is easy, I was pursuing something from those around me, even unknowingly, and it was out of place. Maybe it was approval or acceptance or security. Whatever in that moment it was, I quickly realized that pursuing these things from others isn’t good. While we all want to be accepted, approved of and secure, we have all those things IN Christ. Putting those expectations on others is out of place.

Then the fear aspect comes into play….how does pursuing the wrong things connect to fear? Because, if I’m unable to get my perspective realigned then I begin to shrink back in fear and insecurities begin to rule. Well, if I’m not accepted I can’t speak up. If I’m not approved of I can’t ever make progress. If I’m insecure, I won’t be able to walk in the fullness of what God has for me. Bottom line…I’ll blame others for my lack of pursuing God’s divine plan for my life. Essentially…Enemy = 1, Erin = 0! This is how the enemy works! He distorts our thinking of ourselves, of others and ultimately of Christ’s ability to work in and through us.

As I read on this morning the two became undoubtedly clear on their connection. The things I pursue either push me forward or draw me back in fear. Vulnerable moment…I have allowed fear to so feed my insecurities that I physically could not breathe. I was viewing myself as timid and withdrawn, convincing myself I was just being super humble. No, I was riddled with fear that was fattening my insecurities which was halting any forward progress. NOT good! While having an overly inflated view of yourself is equally damaging, allowing insecurities to push you backwards is the enemy’s fuel.

There is balance in life…knowing who you are IN Christ is the first step. Deciding that your future and destiny is in God’s hands alone, is revelation. We will all experience great highs and lows in life and if we choose to blame others for them, we’ll spend way too much time, that you never get back, trying to justify why we are where we are or why we feel the way we do. Rather, we should accept and walk in the strength that God is above all things, He allows what He chooses and does so to form us into who He needs us to be to do what He has prepared for us to do. Without the preparation that comes from trials, victories and losses, we aren’t equipped to handle what the next season will bring.

Realizing what I am pursing and from whom is my meditation this week. What am I expecting from others, myself and the Lord? Do I have these confused? Am I expecting from others what only Christ can deliver? Hmmm…gotta get it straight and keep it that way in order to have a healthy perspective and heart. God decides and my pursuit of Him is the priority. In that, there is no room for fear and advancement is inevitable.

Be blessed today! XOXO – Erin

 

Easy Isn’t Usually Fruitful…

Yesterday, my thoughts were consumed with the idea of choosing what is easy over what is needed. I couldn’t shake this thought of sometimes giving in to what is easy rather than what I know God is stretching me to do. I was talking with someone at church about my recent trip to Africa and what I felt God had shown me and was maybe asking me to do and while it was all good, none of it was easy.

God oftentimes stretches us to do things He knows we need but aren’t necessarily attractive at first sight. He calls us to be a part of a church, but it’s easy to watch online and catch a few extra zzz’s. He calls us to community but it’s easy to withdraw and justify not needing relationships. He calls us to press into Him when it’s easier to complain that He isn’t moving. He calls us to submit to authority when it’s easy to complain about how we think things should be done. He calls us to forgive when it’s easy to give way to our anger and emotions. He calls us to discipline when it’s easy to spend a little extra, eat a little extra or gossip a little extra. Rarely, are the things that are easy ever fruitful.

As I mulled this thought over, I thought of the prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel…their call was a great one but they were not easy. In the first couple chapters of Ezekiel, God warns him that he would be ministering to a rebellious people and he shouldn’t fear. He further told Ezekiel that he should do what is asked of him rather the people listened or not. Whaaatt?? That sounds terrible. You have a vision from the Lord, He is going to use you but He lays out exactly how it’s going to look and it isn’t going to be easy or pretty. But nonetheless, Ezekiel obeyed.

I wondered, would I have pressed on to obedience or would I have been like, “Ummm, no thanks God. That doesn’t sound like it’s within my gift mix to do that. That sounds like I may have to deal with persecution, rejection and difficulties so I’m not really up for that…I’ll pass.” So many times I’ve prayed for God to use me yet found myself complaining in the middle of my challenge because He was in fact using me but it was hard, painful or didn’t look like what I thought it should. See, all God needs is a willing heart but one that is fully surrendered to Him and His plans. He doesn’t need one that is only willing if the benefits are to our standards.

God’s rewards for us are different and He decides how He will use each one of us for the betterment of our growth to become more like Him. Again, it’s easy to opt out of this process because then we can blame and complain because our dreams aren’t being reached and our potential isn’t being recognized. But what if, our unwillingness to be vulnerable, or to be stretched or humbled is the enemy’s way of derailing God’s growth track for us? What if we made a commitment to do the difficult, to live outside of our comfort zone and truly allow God to write our story? What if we laid our expectations of this life aside and intentionally decided to not do what is easy and live a life set apart? What if we followed God’s voice and not that of those around us?

Today, I encourage you…before you give way to your feelings and do what is easy, think a minute to see if this is an opportunity for God to stretch and grow you. If so, take a chance…commit to the process and take the road less traveled. You never know where you might end up 🙂

Have a great day!

 

A Gorgeous View…

I’m writing this from Swaziland, Africa! Our team has been on the ground for a week now. We’ve seen and done A LOT…God has moved in so many ways and the experiences here will carry us a lifetime. A few days ago, a group of us decided to hike up a mountain to watch the sun rise. I reluctantly agreed to be a part of this group, not being an avid hiker…or a hiker at all really 🙂 But, I didn’t want to miss a single experience.

It was cold and dark when we set out and began the climb to the top. It was incline after decline (but mostly incline). I pushed on winded and wondering along the way...”Am I going to make it? Am I going to die on this mountain? Why am I doing this – there is no foreseeable reward, a trophy of sorts?” But with each steep incline there came relief of level ground to catch your breath, much like life. We fight battles of all sorts, feeling like we are pushing uphill and just when we feel like we can’t take another step…God provides a break through or relief.

As we climbed, it got more and more intense. The small pebbles moved under our feet and we stumbled but we would use the large stationery rocks to steady ourselves. (There is a sermon in there about on holding onto the rock, right KB?) 🙂 And then, we made our final push to the top of the mountain. It was breathtaking! The view was spectacular and we all took time to sit and soak in God’s beautiful creation, worshipping and praying. It was a moment I will not soon forget. The sun began to peak over the mountains and again, the creativity of our God was displayed magnificently on a mountaintop in Swaziland and it was beyond words.

I have to admit, I was a little shocked I had made it…I have never really hiked before, not like this, and I was quite proud of what I had accomplished. Then we began our descent, which was at times more challenging than the climb. I thought as is with life…coming off the highs or victories in life are sometimes as challenging as the work it takes to get to the high spots. We can often get stuck in the “highs” of life and reliving our “glory days” not living expectantly of the new things that God wants to teach us as we begin our descent, or resettling.

Being so proud of making it to the top, I began the descent with confidence, maybe a little too much, because I hit a steep slick grassy spot and down on my backside I went…hard. I immediately thought, once again, this is just like the life we live. If we aren’t careful, we can let our accomplishments feed our pride in such a way that we lose sight of where the source of strength and accomplishments come from and find ourselves tripping over the very thing we thought we had conquered. With a battered backside, I arose and continued on my way, at a much safer pace I might add, to reach our original starting point.

As we neared the end, I couldn’t help but think about God’s goodness, grace and mercy. So today, go climb your mountains and enjoy the view from the top, but never lose sight of the God that strengthened you for the climb because He will also steady you in the descent!

Have a great day!! XOXO

Renewed Hope…

Today, I leave for Africa! This will be my first trip back to Africa in five years!!! I’m excited to go back yet it’s always hard to leave my family and friends…I want to pack them all up and take them with me 🙂 I can’t help but remember the person I was five years ago and all that God did in me on that trip. I remember God shifting something in my spirit that hasn’t been the same since. I remember Him widening my view of this world and His reach to touch every single part of it. I remember faces so vividly that I can tear up thinking about them…their stories, their struggles and their joy.

I remember leaving that trip with a renewed hope that while we can’t do everything, we can do something. I remember thinking, I must do something…no matter where I’m at on this earth, I can do something! After that trip, I served better, loved better and lived better. It changed me. I could sense my call to ministry being solidified on that trip and the entire way home, I knew I would serve God and others the rest of my days.

Then, back at home…life continues and a few short years later,  I felt clearly God impressing upon my heart that a change was coming. I had been on staff at my church for nearly 8 years and God was saying it was time for me to go. What?? That can’t be…I don’t have another plan…I’m called to ministry…I love this place and these people. God, you must be wrong…but sadly, I knew in the very deepest parts of my heart it was the Lord’s leading. I resisted for a bit but ultimately gave in…scared, disappointed, sad and confused I walked away and the enemy went to work. “That was it, that was your shot in ministry and you blew it.” “You didn’t really think God would let you continue in ministry did you?” So many lies the enemy threw at me…so many thoughts to overcome.

For nearly six months I sat….still. I felt as though God had forgotten about me, the dreams in my heart and the call I felt to ministry. As my heart softened and I began to squash the enemy’s voice in my head, the Lord began to quietly whisper to my heart of the things I would do and how I would return to ministry. I couldn’t make sense of it or see how it could be. I doubted, I wavered, I wept and I prayed. But God, in his faithfulness, allowed an opportunity. He made a way when I didn’t see one and he is continuing to unfold the many things He whispered to my heart during that time.

My trip to Africa, well it’s just a reminder that God WILL do what He says and what He plants in your heart, will come forth in His time. Today, I’ll travel back to Africa for new experiences, new stories and new opportunities for growth. I’m expectant and leaning in to what He wants to do.

Where ever you find yourselves, rather it’s exactly where you thought you’d be or in a completely different season than you ever expected. Embrace where you are…God is just preparing you for where he is taking you. Trust Him, lean in and enjoy the journey!

XOXO

Not I, But Christ in Me…Well Maybe I…

I was visiting with a friend recently and we were chatting about life in general and things coming up for each of us, you know just normal chit chat. We began talking through our different seasons of where we were in life and dreaming of future things we’d love to do when she made a statement regarding something she had noticed in herself. She said she had times where she was prideful about a given situation. She’s a great friend and an amazing follower of Christ and she just said openly that she oftentimes struggles with pride. It stunned me, only because just in days prior, I felt very convicted about feeling the EXACT same way!

I hated seeing it in myself and was grossly disappointed that I had allowed myself to think in that way. I’m a follower of Christ, a lover of Jesus and desire with everything in me to be more like Him. But, I was in fact being prideful…which had led to me having a critical spirit, even about myself. I was so burdened by it but as soon as she said those words….I exclaimed, “Oh my goodness….ME TOO!” We both laughed and shared our stories and on the drive home I was reminded of the humility of Christ in every aspect of his character. I was convicted and I repented.

See, no matter our age, our position or our level of influence, pride can sneak in and derail our thoughts, actions and even our destiny. Pride isolates us and pulls us away from the plans of the Lord. Pride is destructive, causing a critical spirit within us and oftentimes that spirit is projected to those around us. Pride is a false sense of security in our own ability and giftings. It seemingly elevates us in our own mind but only while pushing others down. Pride can stem from hurt or insecurities or lies that we have received as truth spit straight from the enemy to the deepest parts of our heart. Pride…we all struggle with some level of it, but when left unchecked and untreated, it destroys.

Seriously, minutes after my visit with my friend I opened my Bible to read and study and was reading in Jeremiah 49 about the destruction of Edom. In the commentary of my Life Application Study Bible were these words: “Edom was destroyed because of her pride. Pride destroys individuals as well as nations. It makes us think we can take care of ourselves without God’s help. Even serving God and others can lead us into pride. Take inventory of your life and service for God; ask God to point out and remove any pride you may be harboring.” Really?!?!? Whoever says they do not receive anything when they read the word of God, must not be reading the same Bible I am. I just confessed to a friend that I had these feelings and felt horrible for it, drive home repenting and read this! God is so gracious and I am thankful for his gentle way of convicting, disciplining and redirecting us through His word!

Friends, pride is paralyzing. It will drive us to a place of no return if we do not deal with it. We must be willing to humble ourselves in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in. Rather it’s dealing with difficult people, difficult situations or raging insecurities…we must be humble…not self-seeking and SERVE! It’s very hard to be prideful when we’re serving someone else 🙂 I am thankful for friends who aren’t afraid to be honest and vulnerable and who allow and encourage me to be the same. I am thankful for the forgiveness that God extends and the limitless amounts of grace He give us.

Lord, I pray for anyone reading this, who has had elevated thoughts of themselves at the expense of others or who has pride, in any form, tucked in their hearts. I pray that your Holy Spirit would pierce through the hardened walls of hearts to reveal your true purpose, their value and your destiny for them. Remind them that their destiny is not contingent on someone else’s success or failure and help us all to live in unity, as one body, encouraging and serving one another. Remove seeds of untruth from the enemy and replace it with the truth of your word. Destroy any remnant of pride in your people and allow humility to fill our hearts…in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Have a great week! XOXO

#Hiatus…

Recently I’ve been on a bit of a social media break, which I have to say has been refreshing. But can I tell you, I have felt out of the loop…people were talking about events like they were there and had experienced them, but no…it was just a simple post or picture from another that gave way to the open window into their world. I started to think how others would discuss my posts or pictures, as if they were beside me when I was experiencing what I was posting about. It was kinda freaky…and not to mention, unrealistic because I’m not very adventurous nor does my family post a lot of what happens in our world, we’re pretty boring :). But it was still something I pondered. My daughter knew the whereabouts of friends and friends of friends and what they had done, eaten or experienced in a day. While she probably couldn’t remember what she had for lunch just a few hours earlier…lol.

What in the world did we do before social media? We had conversations, we interacted with people to hear about their experiences from their own mouths and we viewed pictures they had developed of their family vacations. Now, we experience it right along with them…the good, the bad and oftentimes, the ugly. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy social media and think it definitely has its place in our ever changing society, but I have to admit…this break has made me very aware that I have succumbed to the convenience of checking social media to get updates on those I know and enjoy rather than picking up a phone to talk to them or arranging a visit to spend time with them. It made me sad to think I was living in an age where a comment on a post with a cute emoji or two is the extent of some relationships. Maybe I’m the only one who has gotten this terribly wrong, I hope that is the case, but going forward I want to go backwards just a bit. Back to face to face interaction, back to laughing together without the use of emoji’s and hashtags and back to actual conversations.

I already know some are reading this and shaking their heads that the world is too busy for this type of relationship building anymore. But I would argue that our world is desperate for it. We need each other to reignite a spirit of compassion, unity and empathy. Every post has a person and story behind it and people are our mission. I know our world is fast paced as are the people in it and social media definitely has its place but it should never replace real relationship and interaction with others.

Today, as you go about your day and check your social media, as God lays someone on your heart, maybe give them a call, write them a note and mail it or just pray for them. Let’s use our social media to build on our relationships not allow it to define them. Have an awesome day!!