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How to Wield Power

For He is the living God and He endures forever; His kingdom will not be destroyed, His dominion will never end. He rescues and He saves; He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth.” Daniel 6:26-27 NIV

God is the ultimate power, and yet He choses not to dominate, micromanage, nor enslave. Instead He rescues, sets people free, and partners with us. His Son left paradise to give life, to serve, and to love. That is leadership and how power should be weilded.

Point to ponder while you wander…Are you a leader? Do you want to be one?

Grow people. Entrust people. Serve people. Because leadership is not about you, it’s about the people you lead.

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Mulling vs Resisting

I was reading Matthew this week and God showed me a few things about temptation I never noticed before.

Here’s the text I was reading…

“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Matthew 4:2-3 NIV

What happens when you’re tired or hungry? Isn’t that when we’re tempted to be rash? Tempted to eat things we shouldn’t? Say things we shouldn’t? Give in?

Now imagine 40 days and nights only drinking water. Zero food.

And the tempter comes and says…”We both know who you really are. We both know you have Holy Spirit’s enabling power. You can turn those rocks into fresh baked bread just by speaking to them. Hot bread with some yummy melted butter.”

Would you take a minute to consider it? Would you picture fresh bread? Melty butter? Mmm.

If you just pictured this bread or took a minute to consider the option, you just missed your way out (I Corinthians 10:13) and your opportunity to resist (James 4:7).

Jesus didn’t even hesitate. He didn’t ponder. He didn’t give a millimeter to the enemy, let alone a whole inch.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4

Right after, Jesus resists by speaking the word, the tempter comes right back.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'” Matthew 4:5-6 NIV

Again Jesus doesn’t even mull it over or debate the accuracy of the statement the devil made. He doesn’t puff up His chest, and try to prove who He is. He calls out the twisting of the scripture just by speaking the truth of the word.

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Matthew 4:7 NIV

A 3rd time the tempter comes back at Jesus-

Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”” Matthew 4:8-9 NIV

Technically Satan had authority over all the kingdoms of the world at that time. It was his to give, because Adam and Eve abdicated their authority, handing it over to Satan.

Now don’t forget…Jesus is tired. He has not eaten in over a month. Not even kale or cauliflower rice. Nada. Nothing. Zip.

Jesus knows that He’s here to get back the authority the previous Adam gave up. He knows He’s here to sacrifice Himself for us. He was being offered the authority He came to reclaim (what He came here for) all He had to do was bow His knee.

I shudder to think what would have happened if Jesus would have mulled that over…or worse caved and bowed His knee. 😲 But He didn’t.

Jesus did not even entertain the thought for a second…

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” Then the devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him.” Matthew 4:10-11 NIV

How many times do we find ourselves mulling over the temptation? Allowing ourselves to be swayed.

Remember Jesus was fully man on earth who was empowered by Holy Spirit, the same as us. If He can resist temptation, so can we. If we follow His lead.

1. Don’t mull it over or consider the temptation. Resist the temptation immediately. Walk away.

2. Speak the Word. Don’t allow the enemy twist scripture, and use it against you. Call out the lie and speak the truth from the word.

3. Yes, you can resist!

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 NIV

Encouragement to ponder while you wander….

1. Jesus understands. He isn’t judging you…He wants to help you resist!For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

2. Remember you’re not the only one and you’re not alone. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:11-13 NIV

3. You can overcome! You are loved!No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39 NIV

Hey Judas! You need a Heart Check.

Elijah’s List posted this recently.

WOW! Heart check!!!

Seriously though, take a minute and ponder that.

I’ll wait….

When I pondered…I thought of the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. When Screwtape tells Wormwood to focus the patient’s attention on petty things while he was at church. So the patient wouldn’t focus on the Word and how it applies to himself.

Judas did focus on the petty. The negative. And he remained a sceptic despite seeing miracles right before his eyes. He didn’t read about the miracle of the fish and bread feeding 5,000. He actually ate the bread and fish! He didn’t read about blind eyes being opened, he watched it happen.

Truthfully I feel bad for Judas. He didn’t enjoy His life. He clearly didn’t like himself. Seriously. Judas was with Jesus Himself for 3 years, and never actually absorbed anything about who Jesus was. Jesus was, is, and will always be love personified.

Who spends 3 solid years with Jesus, and comes out worse than where he started?

Truthfully…a lot of people.

What? Why? Who? Sacrilege!!

I know. Because I was one.

I confessed Jesus as my Savior at 16. And promptly tried to be perfect (as in without flaw) and do all the right things. I focused on behavior and looking the part.

Nothing reached my heart.

I couldn’t be perfect. And it frustrated me. My life didn’t change. No miracles happened in my life. And I was disappointed.

I ended up flipping around and going absolutely in the opposite direction. I became more critical. More judgmental. I loved less.

And it took a good 7 years before I gave it another shot. At 16, I shoved the Word at people…but at 25 I started applying the Word inward. I began to deal with my heart issues. My broken places began to heal. It was a process that still continues. It’s a day to day walk.

I can tell you that it’s much easier to point fingers and throw rules at people than it is to love them. It’s easier to criticize, scoff & judge.

But…if you take that pointing the finger and judging everyone path. You won’t heal. You won’t grow.

I think that’s what happened to Judas. I think he allowed his natural skeptic to dismiss miracles. He chose not to receive the love and teaching from Jesus. He chose not to heal and grow.

We have a choice too. Perspective and attitude are everything. Being open isn’t alway easy. Neither is change. Not for me. Not for you. Not for the disciples either.

Let’s be real…the 12 disciples are like us. They screwed up. They didn’t always understand. They acted without thinking. They lost their tempers.

But the difference between Judas and the other 11 is that the 11 grew and changed. They applied what Jesus taught them and walked it out.

Were the perfect? Um…definitely not. And neither are we. Neither are your leaders. We are all human. Doing our best. We are all given a choice.

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT

Judas got to choose too. Unfortunately we all know how that worked out. (Spoiler alert…it can’t get much uglier).

Judas was bitter. I don’t want to be bitter, but some days I see myself heading in that direction.

Judas was a cynic. I don’t want to be an eye rolling cynic, but sometimes I am.

Judus had a greedy, selfish & negative outlook. Sometimes I do too.

I don’t want to be a complainer or a gossiper either. But some days I am.

So this is a heart check for me. To go back to Jesus on the rough days. The days I’m more Judas-like than Jesus-like and ask Him to show me what is going on in my heart and head so I can deal with the root of it and have a better attitude and perspective.

Especially with all the chaos in my life right now…I need more Jesus time. More worship. More Word. And less judgmental attitude. Less pessimism.

Point to ponder while you wander…..

Sinking into a Garment?

Heyo. It’s Monday night and I’ve started a new study on Ephesians 6:10-18 on the whole armor of God. I’ve been feeling like I needed a study every single word kind of study. Then I watched an encouraging video that said something about the armor of God…and Voila! I was inspired to study said passage.

On my first read through of this section of Ephesians “put on the full armor” jumped out at me.

I instantly thought of Colossians 3:14.

So I looked it up.

Turns out the Greek work enduo is the same word in both verses.

Enduo: (en-doo’-o) Verb. G1746 in the Strong’s. It comes from “en” and “duno” (1416) to sink into a garment. To invest with clothing. To array. To clothe (with). To put on.

Thought 1. Sinking into a garment sounds like putting on something soft & luxurious. Something that fits well and allows you to move easily. Like when I come home and put on leggings and a t-shirt to go for a walk, clean, or even to relax and study the Word after work.

This is the exact opposite of I Samuel 17:38-39 when David tries to wear Saul’s armor and he cannot function in it.

Thought 2. Enduo is a verb. Enduo requires action on our part. To put one leg in and then the other and then pull it up. Not hard or complicated but effort required nonetheless.

Thought 3. Other uses of this word are related to choosing to put on Christ, and not to be concerned with what you will clothe your actual body in. Interesting. Ponder that for a moment.

Thought 4. There are some automatic things that happen when you declare Jesus Lord of your life, like… Forgiveness. Holy Spirit. Access to God through Jesus. And so many wonderful things under grace.

BUT there are other things you have to walk out and actually put effort into as we mature in Christ. Things we grow into. Like choosing to put on Christ. Choosing to put on love. Choosing to put on the full armor of God.

Point to ponder while you wander…I felt like I needed to put the verses here that relate to my thoughts today. Read through them. Ponder them.

Then….I encourage you to read the context of the verse that registers with you the strongest and ask God to reveal something new to you about the passage.

I’ll be praying for a new revelation for you. One that encourages you. One that inspires you to grow in faith.

If you do, and want to share, please comment below or shoot me a private message if you’d rather. 😀

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14 NLT

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Galatians 3:26-27 NIV

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11 NLT

Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again.” 1 Samuel 17:38-39 NLT

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.” Luke 12:22-23 NKJV

Finger Pointing Is Useless

For better or worse, a child has the childhood they have as a result of their parents choices. Period. I did. You did. Your kids do.

If the child’s parents break the law, it hurts their kids more than anyone else. Trust me, I’ve seen it first hand. It’s heartbreaking. No one wants to see a child be hurt or suffer. No one.

We cannot change a child’s parents or make their decisions for them. BUT…

What we can do about it is to be there for the kids around us. First and foremost, pray for them and their parents. Then invest in them, if you’re able. Encourage and support them. Hug them (when and if that is appropriate). Pay for them to go to a camp. Bring them with you to fun activity that you take your kids on. Tutor. Mentor. Foster. Adopt. Donate your time and/or money to organizations who help kids. Or if God’s put it on your heart, start an organization.

Ranting fixes nothing. Hating and finger pointing changes zip. This post and your post and all the other posts add up to zero.

Changing things and helping people will cost you something. Time. Money. Effort.

Are you willing to put your resources where your mouth is or are you just going to finger point and continue to rant?

My point in posting this is to say 2 things: 1. Kids need the village. Be the village. And 2. Stop blaming the government for everything. Step up and take some responsibility yourself. Some of you do…and I have mad respect for you and how you walk out your life. But I’ve seen some BS rants by people I know just like to complain. And I’m over it. That is the spirit behind this post.

Point to ponder while you wander…Love is a verb. You want to change the world? Then get off your phone. Get out of your chair. DO something. End of my rant.

Deep Thought Thursday…Dreaming Someone Else’s Dream

I remember my first introduction to Jane Austen. It was 1996. I was 21, and studying abroad in Derbyshire. The guy I was dating took me to see Emma. The Gweneth Paltrow/Jeremy Northam version, obviously. Jeremy Northam’s Mr. Knightly. Sigh. I loved him instantly. He was my favorite Austen man until I encountered Rupert Penry-Jones’s Captain Wentworth. But I digress….

That same semester my friends and I went to see Pride and Prejudice (in a play form). Who is this Jane Austen? I must check her out.

I remember hearing about Jane Austen’s life for the first time. Realizing she died young. No spouse. No kids. I thought to myself, how sad. This amazing woman left behind no descendants to carry on her legacy. To someone who is passionate about family tree research I was devastated on her behalf.

And honestly she lived the fate I feared.

I wanted to be an Austen heroine…like Anne Eliot who lands her soul mate Captain Wentworth. All the Austen heroines win the man of their particular dreams. The one that uniquely fits them.

With that perspective, I could never understand why Jane chose to be a spinster. To devote herself to writing and to being Cassandra’s (her sister) companion after her fiancée dies. She could have been married and still been a writer.

What I didn’t understand was that, she couldn’t have been the writer she became, had she chosen to keep her engagement. Not in the 1700’s.

When I read her books and watched the movies, I saw all the heroines finding the dream man, so they could get married and have children. How sad that she didn’t get that happily ever after she gave to her heroines. I know I’m repeating myself here, but I was really upset about it.

Growing up, all the women who influenced my life had between 2 and 12 children. My mom. My grandmothers. My aunts. Great aunts. Great Grandmothers. They were mothers first. Everything else in their lives came 2nd and beyond. So my dream as far back as I can remember was to be a wife & mother. I went to college planning on that life. I graduated from college planning that life. I waited for that life. For that dream to come true.

What I realized is that I wasn’t really upset about Jane’s life, she made her choices. What I was really afraid of was not having kids myself.

I turned 28. 32. 37. Then 42. At 42, the rubber hit the road, and I began to grieve. I began to grieve the death of the dream of having children. I grieved it like it truly died. I ugly cried. For months. I never told anyone or talked about it. But I felt it, I assure you. I battled the depression that accompanied this grief for months and months.

At this same time, God asked a friend of mine to pray for me. After a while, God invited her to approach me about it. She asked me how I was doing with the no kids thing. I sobbed again. She continued to pray. I am so grateful for my friends who cover me in prayer, they are gifts.

A few weeks before I turned 43, I had a stunning revelation…I never got what I didn’t want.

What?

The truth is that I wanted children because I was raised in an environment where kids are loved and valued. So I love and value the kids in my life. You only have to know me about 15 minutes before you start hearing about my favorite people in the world, my nieces, nephews, and lil cousins. They are my people.

But I never actually wanted to have kids. I was stunned. I just grieved a dream to the point of depression…for a dream that wasn’t even my own? Really?

How does that happen? How do we acquire dreams that are actually someone else’s? Or someone else’s dream for us?

It happens with kids and sports or ivy league schools, parents living vicariously through their kids. Thinking they’re giving their kids what they never had, but maybe not asking if this is what the kid wants.

No one pushed this dream on me. My mom’s always believed I could be or do anything I wanted. She’s never put her will on me. Not ever.

This was on me.

I didn’t want to ask myself what I really wanted, because I was afraid. Afraid to know what the answer was…afraid to fail, afraid to succeed…because people would expect things of me. Afraid of leading, because what if no one followed.

So in truth, my not being married young, or having kiddos, was the protection of God. Because He knows me. Because He designed me.

Lord, you know everything there is to know about me. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind. You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins. You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me. This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible! Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.” Psalm 139:1-6 TPT

God knows me better than I know me. Never have I ever been so grateful for ths fact.

I am designed for partnership with Jesus. I am designed for a partnership with a spouse. I am not designed to be a mother in the traditional sense.

My jaw dropped at this revelation. I processed this revelation for weeks and weeks. How is it possible that I don’t want kids?

Who doesn’t want kids? Isn’t that selfish? Abnormal?

How does a person leave a legacy without having kids?

Who will remember me when I’m gone if my family tree ends with me?

Then God showed me something that left me speechless for quite some time…You’re not designed to be an Austen heroine, you’re designed to be a Jane Austen.

Wait, what?

No, I’m not declaring myself to be the new Jane Austen. I’m Jill not Jane.

But God used her life to show me there’s more than one way to have an impact on generations.

Jane was a brilliant author. She wrote stories that are still impacting generations. Maybe it was intentional on her part or maybe it is just how things worked out, but she stands forever as an example that being a wife and a mother is not the only way a woman can have purpose. In her time a woman had two options, marriage or poverty accompanied by shame. Women deserve the right to choose God’s best for them. She used her God given intelligence, wit, and humor to craft incredible stories. That was Jane’s purpose. It wasn’t motherhood.

Then it clicked! I finally got it.

A legacy of words…

That is my actual dream.

That is my actual heart.

That is the legacy I want!

I want to craft stories that people still want to read or watch in 200 years. I want to leave words that inspire. Words that give hope and encourage. Words that reveal the love of the Father, and the greatness of Jesus. Words that remind people that being human is the best there is in all of creation. We were created in God’s image! Nothing else in all of creation was given that honor. I could go on here, but that is not the point of today’s post.

The point is that like Jane, I am a story teller. I can’t help it. It is who I am. I am a scribe. A writer. A lover of words. My purpose is to create stories. I’m still trying to process all of this because I still am stunned by this revelation.

Stunned. But free. For the first time, really free.

I’m not quite sure what to do with all this as I’m still processing…but be assured that writing is my priority. My goal is to write something every day. Blog. Short story. Work on a chapter of one of my longer stories. Send encouraging texts.

We were all created with eternity in mind, and we all have a purpose. One isn’t better or worse. One isn’t greater or lesser. All the body of Christ is important and absolutely necessary. Embrace who God made you to be, and how you are wired. The world needs you to be your authentic self, not a copy of someone else.

I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of your imagination, flooding you with light, until you experience the full revelation of the hope of his calling —that is, the wealth of God’s glorious inheritances that he finds in us, his holy ones! – Ephesians 1:18 TPT

Point to ponder while you wander…

Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.” Ephesians 3:20 TPT

P.S. To all the parents out there…You have a tough job and I commend you for your consistency. I respect you for loving, disciplining, and raising those little humans day in and day out. It’s not easy. But they are worth it. You are a hero. Hang in there!!

Musical Monday: Get Off My Cloud

Today I’m sharing my fave Rolling Stones song… Get Off Of My Cloud

When I hear the chorus I envision myself as child laying in soft green grass in our yard watching the parade of clouds roll by. I’d call out the shapes…elephant, duck, tree, turtle, ship… or I’d imagine myself floating in the blue sky on my very own cloud. It was quiet & peaceful on my joyfilled cloud. Nothing bad happened there, nothing sad either.

It was dreamy…the thought of alone time. I now know it’s because I’m introverted and I need alone time to recharge. Actually the thought of my own cloud was perfection. Soft fluffy perfection on my cloud.

I didn’t want messy drama brought into my cloud. I didn’t want someone to “wreck” my day.

But the truth is that no one can wreck your day without you conceding the right to them. No one can “make” you angry. They may hurt you, frustrate you, scare you, but you choose how you react. Anger is a secondary emotion, it’s choice.

Only you can determine what your attitude and frame of mind will be. Only you can choose to maintain peace in a storm. Only you can decide to choose joy in the face of a day that is full of problems.

Peace and joy are choices you make every day. Strength comes from joy. Rest comes from peace.

Point to ponder while you wander…Many things will happen in your life that you have zero control over. That is just life. But you have control over how you choose to react. You determine your attitude.

PS Continuing with the theme….here’s Barbra singing Don’t Rain on My Parade in Funny Girl for your auditory and visual pleasure.