Stay in your lane, Soldier! My husband loves to playfully say this to me when I shout it at other drivers who are drifting into my lane. We’ve always loved puns.
What about you? Hopefully you stay in your lane while you are driving, but do you “worry about others more than you worry about yourself?”
We have such an attentive father in the Lord. He is close, He is personal, and He has something individual for each and every one of His children. His calling for you is unique and His words for you are for YOU! I love it when I hear a testimony of what the Lord is doing in the lives of my brothers and sisters all over the world. What grieves me though, is when I see someone putting their specific word from God on others.
Please hear me on this, I am not saying is we shouldn’t hold each other accountable to God and His holy standards. We definitely should. Please, if you see me struggling, hold me accountable! Speak truth into my life-the Bible commands believers to do this to each other. Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
I’m also not talking about prophetic words from the Lord meant to edify, teach, or warn the church. “On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.”
~ 1 Corinthians 14:3
Don’t be distracted by others and stay in your lane. @HMSFoster2
— Faith and Victory (@FVChurchAuburn) February 25, 2017
I’m talking about a self-righteous trap that can ensnare a believer. When we willfully choose to take our eyes off Jesus and focus on what other people are doing, we begin to compare, we judge, and we foster feelings of insecurity and self-righteousness. We compare our callings to others. We compare our talents, gifts, and even our service to others. Pretty soon, our eyes are off Jesus and we fall short. This is a game you can’t win.
If you’re called to be at church every single time the doors are open because the Lord told you to, then do it! Don’t worry about who is not there. Pray for them and reach out to them, but keep your eyes focused on the Lord. You don’t know what He’s doing behind the scenes.
Do you have musical talent? I don’t! I wish I did, but my husband does. I love how he doesn’t put his calling on me-that would be weird. Nobody wants me to take his spot playing guitar at church. That’s his calling, not mine.
If you’ve been convicted about something make sure you are being genuine in your encouraging of others when you confront them. Godly confrontation can mend hearts. Make sure you are speaking out of a heart of love, not self-righteousness. As an immature Christian, there were times I couldn’t wait to point out other people’s faults thinking I was doing them a favor. Obviously these conversations were not well received. People can see through your motives. Pray about your timing, pray about your words. A word given in the wrong time and without the discernment of the Lord can do a lot more damage than it can good.
Above all, remember we are seeking an intimate relationship with the Lord. This is between you and Him. There’s no one else in that relationship.
Imagine if, instead of sitting at the feet of Jesus, Mary had the urge to, but she was worried what Martha would think? What if her through process was, “Martha probably wants me to help her. If I don’t she’ll get mad at me.” And then she acted on those feelings of guilt? It wouldn’t be the same story of a woman completely fixated on Jesus so much so that she didn’t care who got mad at her!
Don’t be distracted by others and stay in your lane.
Be so focused on Jesus and on what He wants to do in your life that you literally do not have the time to play the comparison game. God has something new for you every single day!
“Let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because you defend them; Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.”
I had a stuck mindset for years. It stole my joy and kept me in a place of worry and doubt. It was a false view of God and a fear of disappointment. Instead of praising God for every good thing I was blessed with, I would wonder when He was going to take it all away. For this reason, I refused to get attached to the blessing. I refused to revel in the joy of it.
My grandmother played a big part in raising me. To her, disappointment was the big enemy. Whenever I would come to her with a big idea (usually a missions trip or something involving needing funds) she would frown and say “I don’t want you to get disappointed if you don’t get the money to go.” Her heart only wanted to love and protect me, but I began to fear what she feared. Thankfully God still blessed with my small measure of faith. When I had a stirring in my soul to “Go” He sent me. The money came in and the path was made for me.
Still, I continued on with my heavy baggage of doubting God wasn’t going to take back what He had given to me. When all the money came in for me to go on a mission’s trip, I wouldn’t allow myself to fully believe I was going until we boarded the plane! Years later, with each baby I took at least 5 pregnancy tests to confirm and even then I didn’t fully believe until I was at the doctor’s office. Maybe you laugh and think, “I had to take that many tests too with my kids” but I know, (for me) it was a symptom of my fear of disappointment and my doubt in a loving God.
Years later a few major life events happened that forced this mindset to come to the surface. The first was the purchase of our first home. I look back now and it is abundantly obvious God paved the way. Apart from our extreme pickiness (and the usual holdups with buying a home, we didn’t run into anything major. The house was (and still is) perfect, the location is perfect, the yard size-perfect, and the school district-exactly what we wanted. However, shortly after we moved in, our basement flooded. The house flippers finished the basement and neglected to put in a sump pump. Being the new homebuyers we were-we had no idea this was a necessity. Apparently the previous owners left the basement unfinished and put up with the water. I took this as confirmation that I wasn’t worthy and God was going to take the blessing of owning a home away from me. Quite a leap in thought process, isn’t it? But I had been living as a not-so-loved daughter of the King for so long, it was easy to interpret this inconvenience in a false way. Naturally we were able to fix our basement problem, we still own our home, but I looked at God like an abused kid tossed from family to family. I eyed Him suspiciously and looked longingly at my sisters in Christ who seemed to be favored daughters of the King.
Shortly after this, I did what I thought was impossible. I finally obtained my Bachelor’s Degree and before I had my teaching license in my hands, I got a job. I toured the school the day before Christmas break began. The halls were filled with kids singing as everyone was gathered in the gym for the holiday sing along. I had a stirring of excitement within me, but I pushed it down. I still didn’t have my teaching license and there ended up being a hold up. It was due to several factors, but that Christmas, I was filled with dread. I couldn’t enjoy the blessing of a new job. I assumed it would be taken from me. The holdup ended up being (yet again) a blessing. My husband developed “trigger finger” in both hands and needed surgery. Afterwards, he needed help with the most basic of tasks. A hold up in paperwork meant not only did I have a job, but I was able to take care of my family when my husband wasn’t able to.
Yesterday, I sent my class out on Christmas break, following a sing along in the gym, one year later. Isn’t God good all the time? Even when something doesn’t work out in our favor? I’m tired of seeing myself as unworthy of God’s love and blessings. There’s no joy there. I’m tired of letting the fear of disappointment keep me from enjoying what God has for me. God is tired of it too! How many times does He need to tell me (and you) “I have adopted you! You are mine!” Today you are His-tomorrow you will be too. Stop going around the mountain in a false mindset that keeps you from having joy and experiencing the joy of the Lord. You have been adopted!
The Enemy Who Creeps In
“Just put it down!” I felt the words escaping from my mouth and the damage was instantly done. My husband’s face fell and the room went quiet. In my anxiety in thinking my son was hurt and too much was going on in the busy room, my husband wanted my attention and I snapped at him. But more than that, I embarrassed him in front of all of our friends. I couldn’t make it better either. I walked away and began trying to rationalize my behavior. “What’s wrong with me? We never speak to each other like that, “ I thought. The truth was, we had begun speaking to each other like that. I had begun speaking to him like that. In the privacy of our home, I had begun to disrespect my husband. And the worst part-I justified my actions because he had hurt me. He didn’t even mean to hurt me, but I felt entitled to some kind of revenge. I allowed a debt system to creep into my marriage and the result was awful. But the enemy didn’t just creep in, I had welcomed him in and it took awhile for me to realize it before some damage was done. I was keeping a record of wrongs.
My husband had messed up. We were in a busy season of life and we were trudging through. I wanted love and attention and I felt entitled to these things. When I didn’t get them, I withheld my love for him and I also withheld respect. I told my husband how I felt and he apologized-sincerely apologized. I had said the words, “It’s ok” and “I forgive you, “ but I held onto the debt he owed me and I held onto the hurt it caused too. I communicated this to him in little ways. None of it was a conscious decision, but he knew. I brought up the mistakes often and had an “I’m going to go do whatever I want because he owes me” attitude.
But sin never stays neatly in one area. I had begun to disrespect my husband in our home and eventually I did it in front of our friends. I felt terrible. The guilt and shame made me regret my words and behavior towards him immediately. I apologized and he forgave me, but the shame wouldn’t let up.
The next day I took it to work with me. I could not shake the awful feeling of what I had done. It seemed like I was literally carrying this burden around and no matter how many times I sought forgiveness, I wasn’t in the clear. My husband assured me over and over again that we were fine. That he honestly forgave me, but the heavy guilt would not stop bothering me.
Finally, I cried out to God in prayer. “Why do I feel this way?!” The answer came swiftly and shocked me. Tears welled up in my eyes as I heard the words, “I’m letting you feel this way because you need to know how you make your husband feel when you don’t truly forgive him. This is how he feels when you punish him over and over again for the same mistake.” I needed to feel what my husband was feeling in order to have a truly empathetic experience and to know that what I was doing was an abomination to God. I repented; I turned from the sin I had welcomed into my home and the heavy coat of shame was lifted off my shoulders. Then I made true restitution with my husband. I apologized for holding debts against him.Remember that when God forgives us, we are truly forgiven. Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…”
When we repent and turn to God, our sins are wiped out.
It is the accuser who reminds us of our shortcoming. It is the enemy who wants to lie to us and have us believe we are not in right standing with God. Isaiah 43: 25 states, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” He remembers our sin no more! It is our job as believers to become more Christ like in all of our actions. This is why when I was constantly reminding my husband of his sins, it was an abomination to the Lord.
Sin also never stays neatly in one area, rather it spreads like the poison it is into other areas. I’m thankful my sin was finally exposed to the light. It was awful that I embarrassed the man I love, but it was at that point I had to acknowledge the enemy I had allowed into my marriage and deal with it accordingly.
It’s so simple! Guard your marriage! Don’t allow a debt system to creep in. Don’t welcome it in because of some entitlement mindset. Your spouse doesn’t owe you anything. The world doesn’t owe you anything. Forgive as Christ has forgiven you and be made right with God. It is through our interactions with each other that the world will know and see God. 1 Corinthians 13:5 “[Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
I sat in my cap and gown amongst all the other graduates that morning. I didn’t think I’d being feeling emotional, but I was. I was overcome with gratefulness that I had made it this far. I was humbled. I didn’t start out my journey feeling that way, though.
I didn’t have anything “handed” to me and the burden to overcome labels placed on me when I was very young was heavy. “First generation college student” stuck in my mind. I was in uncharted territory and whenever I perceived someone in my way, I would get a smug (insecure), “I’ll show you” attitude. The voice of pride would pretend to be my ally and I’d hear it say, “You’ll do it without their help. You don’t need them; you don’t need anyone.”
The truth is, I didn’t get anywhere by myself. Everything I have and everything I have come through is because I have a great God who is on my side. I had gaping holes in my heart and a serious lack of a support system and He replaced it all with His loving mercy. I was surrounded by “replacements” that were better than the originals! A family, the support system I always longed for, had been holding me up. After all, God promises this, (He will be) “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…” (Psalm 68: 5-6.)
The enemy, (who always tests for weaknesses) would try (and still does) to place that victim title back on me, but God had already called me “Wanted.” I am wanted by Him, and so are you! You are not a mistake, YOU are wanted. Whatever your earthly title is, whatever challenge you are working to overcome, resist the temptation to entertain the voice of hurt pride that states, “ I’ll show them!” In the end, I didn’t show anyone. God showed me that He is God and He is so very good to me.
Most people didn’t have life “handed” to them. Who they credit for getting them where they are will tell you a lot about their heart condition. Were it not for God’s goodness, I would have failed. I love how God puts us in situations where He has to come through. Situations where we can have no doubt that He is God and He is at work in our lives.
As I rushed down the hall eager to get to the rehearsal part of the ceremony, someone said gently, “Your cap is on backwards.” I turned red and thanked them for their help. To me it was a funny reminder that I had no idea what I was doing and I’m not in control of anything. I’m so thankful for this simple truth.
This may come as a shock to this entitlement minded generation, but it’s not actually about you. It never was. Despite your thirst for attention, your YouTube channel, and your participation trophy, the world owes you nothing. And no one owes you an apology. I’ve been in worship, focused on God, when a whisper will enter my head. It’s usually just a small memory, but not just any memory-it’s most often a painful one-a memory where I’ve been hurt. This is the enemy trying to sow a seed of unforgiveness. If left unchecked, it will grow into bitterness. Our world will affirm the unbiblical entitlement belief, but in Philippians 2:3, the Bible states to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…” This was written to believers who were encouraged to keep strife out of their lives and be an example to an unbelieving generation. The same encouragement is for us today.
We are quick to pick up an offense and we are quick to live in that offense too. It’s exhausting though. Remembering that you are offended is like making the conscious decision to lug around a heavy weight. It takes effort. “Oh wait, I’m mad at you-you wronged me. I almost forgot and smiled at you. Good thing I remembered!” You have no right to be offended. You don’t. You have every right to get over it. Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Is your hurt pride bigger than the saving grace of Jesus? Is your offense bigger than God? God can’t use you if you are full of pride.
It’s hard, but your right to an apology doesn’t trump what Jesus did. You have to make an active choice to forgive and move on. True forgiveness means releasing that person from a debt-just as you were released from your debt. To forgive means to say “You don’t owe me anything.” We need to be preaching God’s saving grace with our interactions with each other and our ability to extend the same forgiveness that has brought us into right standing with our Savior. I battle with this every day and I write from a place of intimate knowledge of hurt and abandonment. But when I walk in my hurts from my past, I am holding people in bondage to me. I am saying to God, “Thank you for forgiving me, but I can’t forgive this one person…”
This takes work, but it is not impossible. When the rebellious whisperer reminds me of something, I think about Philippians 4:8, “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.” If you are replaying an offense, or practicing how you will defend yourself in the future against your enemy, you are not “thinking about whatever is pure and lovely” you are plotting your revenge. You are letting the enemy gain ground in your life. The enemy destroys relationships through offense-don’t let him. Actively contend against him by remembering, “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
Let today be the day you shrug your shoulders at things that don’t really matter and you get over that offense, realizing it’s not bigger than the cross. You could never earn what God has given you so clothe yourself in humility and move on. Don’t water and nourish bitterness, weed it out because it has no place in your life.
Your calling is to live wholly and completely for God. That is your purpose. God will defend you, God will uphold you, “My defense is of God, who saves the upright in heart.” (Psalm 7:10).
I named my firstborn, Jonah. I confess, I loved the movie, Sleepless in Seattle at the time. The Jonah of the Bible is one of my favorite books and is incredibly relevant to our lives today. Maybe not in the “watch-out-there’s-a-whale-looking-to-swallow-you” kind of a way, but still…
Maybe you’ve never said this, but have you ever heard the phrase “Serves him/her right?” Or how about, “They got what they deserved!” Or (the most annoying) “That’s Karma!” It bothers me when I hear believers say these things. Jonah said them too. (Maybe not those exact words, but pretty similar.)
Jonah was comfortable. He served God, did what he was told and God blessed him for it. Everything was pretty awesome until God told Jonah to do something dangerous-something crazy, scary, and way outside his comfort zone. We all know what happened when Jonah ran away in fear. I like to focus on what happened when Jonah did obey. When Jonah spoke, the city of Nineveh repented-120,000 people! Here’s where the story gets very interesting to me: Jonah wasn’t happy. Jonah didn’t exclaim, “Praise God!” Jonah was ticked. After all he had been through and all the sinning those awful people of Nineveh had done, the slate was wiped clean for them. Jonah wanted God’s justice to be poured out, not God’s mercy.
How about you? Do you ever cry out for God to punish people? People who have wronged you? People who have wronged the ones you love the most? Does God’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy apply to the worst of people? People who have broken your heart? Do they deserve God’s mercy as you do? A quick browse of any social media feed would suggest that even my brothers and sisters in Christ have adopted a “serves him right” attitude. If someone has offended us personally, we are quick to adopt a “Get ‘em, Lord!” attitude. Aren’t you thankful God didn’t “get” you? Aren’t you thankful you were showered with God’s mercy and not His wrath? I love how the book of Jonah ends. It just cuts off, leaving us wondering. Leaving us deep in thought. And, just like in the Veggie Tales movie, the point is not to ask what did Jonah learn, but to ask what did you learn through reading it?
Friends, don’t be the Jonah who sat and waited for God to burn a city. Be the Jonah who, when he spoke, an entire city turned to God. Be the true meaning of Jonah’s name-the Hebrew word for Dove, a symbol of peace. Cry out for God’s mercy for a hurting generation. Cry out for repentance. Cry out for restoration!
And to my own Jonah: my black and white, rule following son, God’s mercy triumphs over judgement each and every time. The slate was wiped clean for us and this should be our prayer for others.
I like things to stay the same. Change can be scary. Change implies taking a risk. But change can be amazing too. It can drive us from our comfort zones and grow us in ways we didn’t think were possible. Being open to change is laying everything on the altar and saying “All I have is yours, God. Even the things deep inside of me.”
It was over 10 years ago when I was on my first team missions trip. We were at the stage in our schooling where we were building team trust. For the most part, when we were out and about, (praying for people and serving in a local soup kitchen), we functioned as a team. Except for one person. This one individual would attach herself to one other person in our team and exclude everyone else. It was frustrating and felt like the rest of us were being rejected. Most of all, it felt like our attempts at being a team were being sabotaged. Eventually she would ruin her exclusive friendship and attach herself to another team member and start the cycle over. Whenever she was confronted, she would claim she was being attacked by Satan and refused to analyze her own behavior.
This is the Law of the Common Denominator. If you keep having the same fight with different people, it’s the not them, it’s you. You are the common denominator. Chances are Satan isn’t attacking you-God is bringing something to the surface that He wants to deal with. It hurts! It hurts to take a self-reflective look and ask God if there’s something in our nature that needs to change. There’s always something in our nature that needs to change! As we grow and understand the character and nature of God, we will see areas in ourselves that fall short. It is then our responsibility to humble ourselves and give those areas over to the Healer. People shouldn’t have to use your name as an excuse for your behavior. “Well, that’s just ________.” What does that even mean? If you have that name, you can treat people badly? “Well, that person has/had a hard life.” You and everyone else!
James 4:7 says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Submit it all. Submit your thoughts and resist the enemy that wants to make you keep walking around that mountain instead of over it and attaining victory in your life. Change is hard, but so is staying the same, right?
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~Romans 12:2
I have a love/hate relationship with my own story. I HAVE BAGGAGE! I’m sure I’m the only one, right?
I prayed a prayer offering my life to the Lord and asking forgiveness for my sins when I was very young. I then re-dedicated my life as a teenager after custody of me was switched from my mom to my dad. I was broken and I used my people pleasing nature to try and figure out who I was and if I was loved and accepted.
I found myself blurting out my baggage to whoever would listen. Not surprisingly, many people didn’t understand and they didn’t offer me the love and acceptance I so desperately longed for. I was in Christian circles with people from relatively good homes and my heart would break at their lack of understanding of where I had been. Maybe it was because those circles were filled with people who thought Christianity meant looking like you had it altogether. Or maybe (much more likely) I was sharing too much, too soon and without God’s wisdom. I didn’t realize I was trying to obtain a healing from others. I really needed God to heal me. I needed God to declare me righteous.
The Lord is a gentleman. “Come away with me,” He would say, “Let me heal you.” After awhile I stopped blurting out my life story to people. I knew God was offering me the only love and acceptance I would ever need and so I started keeping my heart sacred for Him. A strange thing happened- people started assuming things. Assuming I had a perfect life, or a near perfect one anyway. I enjoyed my new (fake) story. It was one I had been jealous of in others.
I knew a young woman who was adopted by a loving Christian couple. She wore her own label. It read, “adopted” and her self-written subtitle was, “unwanted, unloved and rejected.” She actively rebelled against her parents. I didn’t understand her battle. (I have more grace now.) At the time I wanted to yell and say, “Are you kidding me? I wish I had been adopted! Look at your parents and how amazing they are! You want for nothing!” She was struggling with her identity and I was jealous of it. We were both broken in completely different ways.
I was operating under the misconception that my story was so bad, people couldn’t relate to me. It made me a “messed up” kind of a Christian. When I began to let the Lord heal me, I thought my new title: “Innocent Christian” was much better. But I wasn’t letting the Lord use me by pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I would interact with people who used their past as a crutch. I would hear them blame their circumstance on a variety of things from the way they were raised to a bad relationship where it was clearly all the other person’s fault. The door was now open for me to share my story with wisdom, discernment, and in a way that would bring God glory.
I knew God had done a great work in me when I was volunteering at a non-profit, drop in center. The director was preparing me and she said, “These kids don’t come from good homes like you and I do.” I smiled. It wasn’t the time to tell her the truth. My new title was, “Oh I have a past, but look what God has done (and look what He’s still doing).” Bring on those kiddos. The truth is, we all have a story. It’s not some weird competition. It doesn’t define who we are. I’m not a maltreated child who is now an adult. I am “Heather, daughter of The King.”
So what’s your story? Are there embarrassing, cringe-worthy items? You are far from being alone. Don’t hide them. Pretending those times didn’t exist creates self-righteousness which leads to arrogance. Proverbs 16:5 says, “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” You’re not in right standing with the Lord because you attend church, volunteer, or have a title. You are in right standing because of what Jesus did and nothing else. At the same time, you can’t put so much emphasis on the past that your sorted history defines who you are either.
God has done and is doing a great work in you. Ask the Lord for wisdom regarding what you should share and when. Let your story tell of God’s grace. Break the cycle of whatever is occurring in your family or your life. You are not a victim. Romans 8:37 says you are “MORE than a conqueror.”
My husband came home from church and handed me a Toblerone chocolate bar. “Someone bought this for you.”
I had stayed home with our slightly feverish kids that day and was suddenly filled with awe, confusion, and wonder all at once.
I was a missionary with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) for about 3 years. Two and a half of those were spent living in Australia and taking short-term trips to Southeast Asia. I loved it and (at the time) I had felt that would be my life forever. So, (back to the candy bar) it was a common treat I had often in Australia. But I hadn’t told my husband that. I don’t think I ever mentioned such a random thing to anyone.
Lately I had been thinking about my life as a missionary and how it compared to my life now. I am a wife, a mom. I’m finally finishing my Bachelor’s degree. Sometimes it doesn’t even feel like I was ever in Thailand, or any of the other countries God had opened the door to. Comparing my life then and now feels surreal. To me, it’s almost like it never happened. I hadn’t been questioning God. I had been (and still am) excited for the next stage in our lives as a little family. But when my husband handed me that chocolate bar, my wonder eventually subsided and I smiled. It seems bizarre, but it was as if God said, “I didn’t forget.” Does the God of the universe care about little things? You bet!
So often we can pray big prayers, “God use me!” we exclaim. Would you be obedient to God even if He told you to do something small? What if it was silly? What if it was buying a completely random chocolate bar or saying something to someone you don’t know/like/are offended with? What if your obedience in that small thing was just the window needed to open the door to God using you in a big way?
If you are fully surrendered to the Lord, you will obey even (and especially) with the small things.
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” 1 John 5:2
So while you’re waiting for that “big” answer, walk out your faith in the little things. See what a blessing you will be to others. See how God will be glorified through your small acts of obedience.