The everlasting God will crown me with everlasting joy

I have trouble believing in myself. My abilities, however developed or natural, do not speak to my brain and convince me that I can accomplish much. It’s ridiculous to feel such self-pity and depression when I have so much to be thankful for, but the day can be wasted fighting for the slightest sliver of joy. It impacts my life, my husband’s life, and the lives of my littles.

I’m praying for that to change, and I think it begins with one word.

In searching for today’s confession, it seemed that one word jumped out at me over and over.

Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6).

Everlasting life (Galatians 6:8).

Everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

Everlasting kingdom (Psalm 145:13), peace (Psalm 22:26), and joy (Isaiah 35:10).

According to the news reports, three people won the largest lottery in history this weekend. Over $200 million goes to each winner, and so much money must be hard to spend, right? But it’s not everlasting. It will come to an end.

Besides my own pity party, I look at the world around me, at the lives of people I love, and see heart-wrenching pain. Brokenness, confusion, isolation, and destruction seem to have no end. But they do end. They are not everlasting.

It gives me comfort and hope that something worthy in this life is everlasting. (The keyword there is worthy, by the way.) And two pieces of Scripture give me a window into a world that far exceeds this one.

Isaiah 40:28 Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

Isaiah 51:11 Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

The everlasting God will crown me with everlasting joy.

That’s a powerful confession to me because I find joy hard to come by. When I feel defeated or hopeless, I’ll proclaim this truth. The everlasting God will crown me with everlasting joy, and I will move in the power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t have to believe in myself as long as I believe in Him.

Do you struggle to find joy in your life?

A different kind of confession

Happy Friday, Confess-ers. Today I’m doing something different. Instead of posting a ‘Fraidy Cat Confession, I’m attaching the blog of another writer below. This is Bryan Daniels, and his blog is Chief of the Least. He makes very good arguments about watering down the potency of the Word of God. As I read it, I can’t help but wonder if I’m guilty of this when I write a confession. I apply God’s word to my situation and my life and it gives me strength, but am I diluting the milk of the bride?

Read on:

Sometimes our eagerness for practical bible application becomes woefully misguided. When we hastily push a text into our own respective situation we may blunt its force. This is a sad exercise, because the word is a sword that slices our soul, not a butter knife that scrapes our skin. Take Jesus’ words:

Whoever wants to be my disciple must take up his cross daily and follow me Luke 9:23

It’s not a terribly bad interpretation to say this verse applies to harvesting an habitual practice of self-sacrifice and self-denial. But when we accept such vague terms before long such “sacrifice” begins to look like fasting for a day or being nice to mean people. Pretty soon we’ve decided we are almost martyrs for enduring such “crosses” as headaches and past due mortgage notes.

At times we can be so ego-centric in our eisegesis we begin to sound like the deacon who said to his counseling pastor, “Pastor, I guess my anger is just the cross I’ll have to bear the rest of my life.” The pastor replied, “No, your anger is the cross your wife will have to bear the rest of your life.”

Application of a text means nothing if the meaning of a text is not unearthed first. Diluted milk is bad for the body, especially the bride’s.

The shocking force of the words would not be lost on Jesus’ first century audience. What they heard was, “Follow me, and you will be signing your own death sentence in your own blood.” Or in more contemporary speech, “Follow me and you will be tying the hangman’s noose around your own neck everyday of your life.”

This heavy rhetoric is no way to grow a religion or church. I’m sure our modern church growth experts could school the Son of God in “proper contextualization.”

In the Roman Empire, the cross was the beam condemned criminals carried to their place of execution. These words had haunting applications for a first century audience that we miss in our daily grind of skinny lattes, gas prices, and Facebook drama. Jesus was not metaphorically calling his disciples to daily tidy acts of servanthood and patience, though we should do those.

The proper response to Jesus’s strict call would sound a lot like Paul when he says “I count my life as nothing….”(Acts 20:24)

Everything in my old nature rails against the clear penetrating words of Jesus. That’s why God gives us the grace to present ourselves again and again as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:2)

Jesus was enlisting men and women in an impossible undertaking that would defy all odds and likely leave them dead by way of excruciating means. This could happen any moment. Under Roman and Jewish persecution it was a given to the early Christians that they would have to prepare literally “daily” for their own trial and funeral arrangements. To follow in Christ’s footsteps means to set one’s face like flint to Jerusalem, and to count it as an honor to die outside the gates like a street dog. He is our reward, and as long as we are with Him it is more than worth it.

I love the words of GK Chesterton: “Jesus promised the disciples three things-that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.”

Completely fearless because Christ was with them. Absurdly happy because Christ loved them. In constant trouble because Christ called them to fight for a different Kingdom.

Bryan Daniels

***

Sound off, Confess-ers. This is a shameless plug for reassurance and a chance for you to tell me what you think. Am I diluting the meaning of the Word in these confessions? Would something else speak to you and spur you to confess your power in Christ more?

Check out more of Bryan’s blog, and tell him I sent you!

My purpose is to please God, not people

Early confession here, peeps: today’s blog is slightly difficult to write because I’ve been watching Pride and Prejudice like a crazy woman and I want to slip into English prose. In my defense, I’m doing character research and I learn something new each time I watch the movie or read the book. (Yeah! That’s it! Character research sounds plausible.) I so love Darcy’s line in the 1995 version: “She smiles too much.” I have to use that somewhere.

Okay, enough P&P. For now.

Today’s real confession is also difficult because I’ve always been a fearful person. Ironically, I’m more fearful of people than of God. After all, God is kind and forgiving. I’ve hesitated to do things (approach book editors and agents, self-publish, audition for voice over roles, etc.) because people scare me. What will they think? What will they say? Worse, will they be kind to my face and snicker behind my back? Will I fail?

What if I succeed? GASP. There’s such pressure when you’ve succeeded. What are people saying? One time wonder? Accidental hit? She’ll never do it again?

Sigh.

Today’s confession is important for every area of our lives, not just professionally. To write this on our hearts can change the way we speak, the way we form relationships, the way we treat strangers. Indeed, the way we THINK is transformed as we live out this confession. Close your eyes and say it out loud with me:

My purpose is to please God, not people.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 says we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. So no matter what we’re doing or saying or thinking, we should do it with the Good News and God’s pleasure as our goal. That changes everything. I don’t have to live up to someone else’s expectations. I don’t have to live under the burden of anticipating what they want. The Bible tells me what God wants from me, so I’m free from the intimidation of others’ thoughts.

As I go about doing impossible and frightening things today, I’m going to repeat this confession. Who knows what I can accomplish when I forget my fear? Say it with me again: My purpose is to please God, not people.

Are you easily intimidated? What will you do in light of today’s confession?

Christ’s love controls me

I choke and my fingers stumble a bit as I type that heading. Christ’s love controls me. It’s a convicting confession.

The truth is that I don’t always act as though the love of Jesus Christ controls me. I have a slightly sarcastic streak – something the apostle Paul and I might share. After all, he did apologize to the Corinthian church for not costing them financially (2 Corinthians 12:13). I’ve been known to spout off to certain internet providers for their unnaturally slow connection, lack of customer service, and outrageously high prices. Oh, that I had the power to completely overhaul huge corporations with a single snap of my fingers!

Er… Sorry. Got off track there.

Have you ever said something that made you cringe to remember it? I have. It shames me to admit that those things are often said to my family. We do hurt the ones we love. Thank Jesus for His and their forgiving natures.

Today, instead of getting angry and emotionally wrought over my littlest little’s ear-piercing screams or my biggest little’s selective hearing loss, I will remember that Christ’s love controls me, as 2 Corinthians 5:14 says. Instead of threatening to bury an entire technology department in poison pen letters, I will remember that Jesus Christ lives in me and His love controls me. Instead of considering insulting (albeit clever and humorous) comments to hurl at someone, I will remember…

Christ’s love controls me.

Say it with me. Even in the heat of the moment, those words have a way of defusing the situation. The best part is that as you act on this confession, others will notice it. They’ll wonder what’s gotten into you. And you’ll have the perfect opportunity to tell them.

How does Christ’s love change you? I really want to know!

The Spirit of power

Several weeks ago, the message at church included an illustration of getting bumped while holding a cup of coffee or tea or some other beverage in your hand. You get bumped, your hand jerks, and the liquid spills out. You get wet, and possibly the person who bumped you – or even an innocent passerby – gets a dousing, too.

What’s the point? The pastor said our spirits are like that liquid. When we get bumped, what spills out of the cup? Is it anger, bitterness, resentment? Or is it love, mercy, and kindness?

We live in a difficult world. The temptation to worry is everywhere. Take it from a worrier and a ‘fraidy cat herself, it’s sometimes easier to worry than to approach life with faith and trust. Or it’s easier to resent the things that have happened to us. A loss of job, a job we hate that doesn’t use our skills, low income, broken down cars or houses or children. Or worse, the loss of a life dear to you. For me, it’s been easier in the past to accept my circumstances and complain about them. But there’s good news, and it’s today’s affirmation.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

We are not victims. We are not bound by the circumstances of the world around us. We are not slaves to anger, resentment, bitterness, or deceit. We have been given power from the ultimate source, power that overcomes everything in our lives. Declare the truth, people! Say it out loud, and say it often.

“I have been given a spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Let it resonate in your mind. Let each word nestle in and make a home in your mind. Let it change the way you view people and the world around you.

How will the Spirit change your life today?

A single affirmation can change your life

Fraidy Cat Confessions. I’ve confessed often how I’m afraid of everything, including my own shadow some days. You know what’s happened in just a few posts? I’ve become more afraid. I’ve let fear rule my mind and my spirit. There is power in our words. Never underestimate that.

This blog isn’t about being afraid of everything. It’s about changing fear into faith, and experiencing the power and love of the Almighty God as we do so. I’m tired of being afraid. Tired of letting it control what I think, what I do. I want better for my life and I want to show my kids that there is a better way for them. In short, I want to change my life. Want to join me and change yours too?

To do that, I’ve recently begun looking into affirmations. What they are, how they work, why they’re important. I don’t have much in the way of concrete research, but I do have the basics, and I have personal experience. Nothing better than personal experience, is there?

If you’re not familiar with affirmations, they’re very simple and, done consistently, life-changing.

As the word indicates, an affirmation is a positive statement. It can be long or short, but it should be something that you can remember and recall as necessary. Something to focus your mind and your thoughts on each day. I recently read that it takes no less than 30 days of repeating an affirmation to make it stick. To change the way you think. To change the way you react to life and whatever it throws your way. You should recite your affirmation several times in the morning and several times in the evening, and again anytime life challenges it. I’ll give an example below.

Where do you find affirmations? Lots of places, including books, mp3s, music, and some internet sites. Be careful where you look! You don’t want an affirmation that simply reinforces your poor life choices or your feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, or victimization. They might make you feel better temporarily, but they are not be true affirmations.

I choose to find my affirmations in – no surprise to you, I’ll bet – the Bible.

So, I will still be confessing the Truth in this blog, but it will take a slightly different form. Several times a week, I will post an affirmation as my confession. If you want to use this affirmation, please do! If you want to find a different one, please do!

Here’s my affirmation/confession:

Confession: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

I will confess this truth/recite this affirmation several times a day for the next 30 days. When fear or doubt threatens, I will remind myself that I CAN do ALL things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.

What is your affirmative statement? Post a comment and let me know how you expect it to change your life!