Brokenness to Beauty

Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life


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Goliaths and Greater Things

In my last post I pointed out that David was faithful in his everyday, ordinary life as a shepherd, guiding and guarding the sheep, and sometimes fighting lions and bears at great personal risk. It was there, in his everyday life, that he grew strong wielding the weapons of his trade—the staff and sling and stones—and he grew strong in faith in God. He knew God and could confidently say, “the LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear …”

We too live ordinary, everyday lives. We too face our lions and bears, those trials and difficulties that come into our lives, perhaps threatening our livelihood, our health, our families or even our very lives. These are the enemies that come to defeat us, enemies that threaten to destroy us.

Prayer

Are we being faithful to fight them with the weapons given us—prayer and praise and the Word of God? Are we becoming adept in their use and growing in strength, growing in our trust in God? Can we say as David did, “the LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear …”?

 

Praise

It is only in our ordinary, everyday lives, faithfully facing the enemies that would destroy us—our lions and bears—that we learn to fight, becoming skilled and strong to defeat the enemy.

Word of God

Ordinary life is where we learn to know and trust the LORD, bringing him glory as we fight our personal enemies.

This, too, is where we learn to recognize another kind of enemy: Goliath.

Goliath wasn’t David’s personal enemy and he isn’t ours, though most of us have heard the story in those terms.

Considering the biblical text (I Samuel 17), Goliath is a different sort of enemy. Goliath comes against and defies the armies of the living God; he defies the LORD of Hosts, the Lord Almighty.

Goliath is anything that is contrary to the person and purposes of God and he must be fought with weapons, not of this world, but weapons that have “divine power to demolish strongholds … and everything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God …” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). What are these weapons?

Prayer and praise and the Word of God. The same weapons we use in our everyday lives. Powerful weapons that we only become skilled at using by fighting our lions and bears, the trials that come to us in our ordinary, everyday lives.

The power of these weapons is spiritual, not of our flesh or the world, not originating with us but with God’s Spirit who lives in us.

Unlike David, who refused to wear the armor given him by King Saul because it didn’t fit and David hadn’t tried it to become skilled in its use, we do have full armor given us by God. It fits us; it is powerful and effective when we become used to using it in our everyday lives. Paul outlined this armor in Ephesians 6:10-18 (TLB):

10 “Last of all I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan. 12 For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.

13 So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing up.

14 But to do this, you will need the strong belt of truth and the breastplate of God’s approval15 Wear shoes that are able to speed you on as you preach the Good News of peace with God. 16 In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. 17 And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God.

18 Pray all the time. Ask God for anything in line with the Holy Spirit’s wishes. Plead with him, reminding him of your needs, and keep praying earnestly for all Christians everywhere.” (Emphases added.)

When Jesus was on earth he fought many Goliaths. When he was about to leave earth and return to his Father in heaven he said to his disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. … And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. … For he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:12-17, emphasis added).

Jesus obviously expected that we too would fight, not only lions and bears, but Goliaths. All over the world. Else what did he mean by saying, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8)? (Notice the triple “and.” We as God’s people are to be witnesses  in Jerusalem, and …, and …, and ….)

Or this, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20)?

The Spirit was given for specific purposes. He gives us strength to combat our bears and lions in our ordinary lives. And he empowers us to bear witness to who Jesus is, what he has done, and teach others what he taught. Fighting Goliaths. The Spirit fighting for us for God’s glory.

The questions we must ask ourselves are:

  1. Do I recognize Goliath when I see him? He defies the armies of the living God. He mocks God to his face.
  2. When I do see him, do I have the spirit of David that says, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
  3. And do I have the chuztpah to reply to the naysayers as David did, drawing on his experience of trusting God and finding him faithful to deliver, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine (1 Samuel 17:34-37, emphasis added).”
  4. Do I have the jealousy for God’s Name that makes me willing to put “skin” in the game, my skin, for his Name and glory?

The greater works we are to do, that Jesus expects us to do, are waiting to be done. They are there waiting for us to step forward, as David did, in the Name of the Lord Almighty, that the Father may be glorified in the Son—through us.

“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, … and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands’”(1 Samuel 17:45-47 NIV, emphasis added).

Let us get stronger every day wielding the weapons of our warfare—prayer and praise and the Word of God—fighting our everyday lions and bears so that we may be strong in the Spirit and fit to recognize and fight Goliath—doing those greater things—for the sake of his Name, for the glory of the Father.

Let us fear God more than men.

How have you fared with your lions and bears? Are you growing stronger and more confident in the Lord through your trials? Have you discerned the Goliath, who defies the living God, that you should be challenging him for the sake of God’s Name? How is it going?

Send me your questions and comments about this post. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Scriptures from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Living Bible (TLB) The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scriptures copied from https://www.biblegateway.com

Photo credits:

Photo of woman praying at a conference, Centerpoint Church, 2017

Photo of man (Praise) by Oleander IMG_5787

Photo of Bible by pt1wzi-by-jclk8888-img_7190_p.jpg

Adapted and reposted from original blog post of November 3, 2015.

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Fighting Everyday Lions and Bears

Fighting lions and bears. That’s what David said.

“When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth.” He went on to declare, “When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.”[1]

Now, I’ve seen a bear close up. Sure, it was at night and all I could see was a big round, furry looking thing lumbering swiftly away from me, but I knew it was a bear. We saw its tracks in the snowy yard the next morning and followed the trail of garbage up the hill into our neighbor’s yard. No sheep, just garbage. Hungry bears apparently are not fussy about their meals. From the size of that behind and the paw tracks it left, I’m glad it wasn’t running toward me!

Bear! by sgarton

A lion and a bear. Running after it. Grabbing the sheep from its jaws and then grabbing the beast by the hair and killing it. That is an amazing feat. Done not once but twice. All in the line of duty. Just part of the ordinary life of a shepherd.

David was responsible and dependable. He could be trusted to take care of business, in this case, sheep keeping: guarding and guiding.

David was faithful to guide and guard and fight, doing what he had to do; he did the right thing, even at great risk to himself. He may have had the scars to prove it. He used the weapons of his profession—the sling and stones and staff—becoming adept in their use. In the process of fighting the lion and bear he grew skilled and strong.

His faith in God grew as well, for David knew he didn’t do his fighting alone. “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear ….”

David was faithful in his everyday, ordinary life. He trusted in God.

We all live ordinary lives. We all face our lions and bears, those trials and difficulties that come into our everyday, ordinary lives, perhaps threatening our livelihood or even our life. These are the enemies that come to snatch away our lives, enemies that threaten to destroy us. Are we being faithful to fight them with the weapons given us—prayer and praise and the Word of God? Are we becoming adept in their use and growing in strength, growing in our trust in God? Can we say as David did, “the LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear …”

It is only in our ordinary, everyday lives, faithfully facing the enemies that would destroy us—our lions and bears—that we learn to fight, becoming skilled and strong in spirit.

Ordinary life is where we learn to trust the LORD and become adept at wielding the weapons he has given us—prayer, praise and the Word of God.

What bears or lions are you facing today? Health issues, fearful job or financial challenges, death or disease of a loved one, divorce, addiction? So many beasts that would tear us apart and destroy us. Only by wielding the weapons of prayer, praise (yes, praise) and the Word of God, in the power of God’s Spirit, can we successfully defeat such enemies.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. (Hebrews 13:15)

But that’s not the end of the story. Fighting lions and bears has another vastly important function in our everyday, ordinary lives. For only as we learn to rely on God and fight those enemies successfully will we, like David, recognize and be fit to face the giant, Goliath, who defies the armies of the Living God.

More on that in my next blog post.

 

[1] 1 Samuel 17:34-37

 

Adapted from original blog post of October 27, 2015

 


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Surprise!

God is always surprising me.

When I was asked a few weeks ago to present a workshop on prayer at a women’s retreat, I silently gulped and said, “Yes, Lord.” Then I responded (audibly) in the affirmative to the lady asking me if I would do the workshop.

It is humbling to have someone ask me if I’d do a presentation on the subject of prayer. I’m still a learner in that field. I always will be, of course. And to consider speaking publicly, well, that is nothing short of miraculous.

That I can say “yes” to speaking in front of people, and on the subject of prayer, is a wonder to me on two fronts:

1) I can physically do it and

2) I have material already compiled from which to draw to put together such a presentation.

A few years ago I never could have agreed to talk in front of people for an hour. I have MG (myasthenia gravis, a severe muscle weakness) and have been extremely weak for most of my life. The miracle is that I have been stronger for the past eight-plus years than I have been since I was thirteen years old, and I now can do public speaking!

Even though I planned this workshop to be an interactive Bible study time, not an hour-long lecture, I still had to do a lot of talking. My ability to speak this much is the gracious and miraculous work of God. It is the answer to many prayers prayed over the span of more than forty years.

I also had what I needed to present in the prayer workshop. A few years ago I had finally said “yes” to God about writing the book Brokenness to Beauty (and I’m now writing the Bible study guide to go with it; a work in progress), and I had already thought through and written much of the material I used for this workshop on prayer.

Though I wasn’t at a loss for what to say, I did earnestly pray for direction from the Lord to narrow it down. Volumes could be said about prayer (and volumes have been written on prayer), but it certainly wouldn’t fit within that one hour time frame. I needed to speak to what these ladies needed to hear. Only God has that information. He again answered prayer.

Most important to me when I speak or teach is to direct women into the Word of God. If they forget what I say but hear what God says in his Word, I will have been successful.

I initially thought I was going to the women’s retreat (hosted by our former church) in order to take it all in for myself, enjoy the beautiful mountains around the retreat center, and especially to see many dear friends I hadn’t seen since moving from Bakersfield to Colton last fall.

As it turned out, not only did I get to do those things, I ended up with the privilege of serving God by serving the women who came to the prayer workshop. What a great weekend we had!

 

Did I mention God is always surprising me?

I was mighty tired after driving the three hours it took to get to the retreat center, the busy weekend and the three hour drive home, but I give thanks to our great God for giving me the strength to do it. He truly “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV).

Photos of women’s retreat by Alayna Condon and Lindsay Long.

Scripture taken from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. https://www.biblegateway.com.

 


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How many ways to show love for our city? Let me recount some.

This past Saturday over 100 women from The Bridge Bible Church here in Bakersfield gathered and then scattered over the city in small teams to carry out the theme of our event, “Love Where You Are.” It was an outreach to downtown Bakersfield to show God’s love to the people of our city by doing good to and for the people of Bakersfield.

As we went, we looked for ways God was already at work in our city and asked ourselves how we could be a part of it. We saw God at work, heard stories of God at work in individuals’ lives, and did small acts of love to become part of what God is doing in our city.

One team of women went to the rescue mission (yes, God was already at work there) and cleaned up a patio and did crafts with the women residents. One of my friends on that team, Eurcell, literally gave the shirt off her back to a resident.

The lady working with her pulling weeds and sprucing up the patio, kept admiring Eurcell’s bright pink T-shirt with the scrolly artwork. Finally Eurcell asked her if she’d like to have the shirt, she did and they traded T-shirts! Eurcell’s generosity produced a gift of love to that woman living at the rescue mission.

Another team went to the city bus station, talked with folks, handed out coffee, snacks and free bus passes. Some of them even rode the bus and talked with passengers, prayed with some and listened to their stories. Many expressed gratitude for the kindnesses shown them.

One team of ladies washed windows and cleaned the bathrooms of local downtown businesses, pushing their cleaning cart from store to store. Then they handed out flowers to passers-by, surprising them and bringing smiles to their faces.

One of the larger teams went to the Teen Challenge womens’ residence, joined their worship time, had lunch with them and gave them all a new set of bed sheets. They spent time listening to and talking with the women in the Teen Challenge program, women ranging from teens to middle age, all passionate about living new lives free of drugs and alcohol. And all because God was already at work through the people of Teen Challenge.

Other teams of women went to the Pregnancy Center, Ronald McDonald House, delivered lunch to the local police and fire stations, and one team held a cookout and worship song-fest for the residents of a low-income apartment building downtown.

So many different ways to serve the people of our town, and by so doing say, “We love you, because God loves you.”

I was part of the Prayer Team. We made up “blessing bags” the night before in which were snacks, a Christian tract and a tiny Bible that was made up of one verse from every book of the Bible. A couple of the women on our team stayed back at our venue, dubbed “command central,” and prayed for all the teams who had gone out to serve.

The Prayer Walk Team!

The Prayer Walk Team!

Some of us prayer-walked the streets praying for our city businesses, government offices, downtown churches and their outreaches, and people we met on the sidewalks.

We approached people on the street, offering them a blessing bag and asked if we could pray for them. There were sad encounters, like the one with the young man sitting on a curb with a backpack. He had the look of someone who had been living on the street, an all too common sight here in Bakersfield.

He willingly took the blessing bag offered him by my friend, mumbling his thanks.  When asked if we could pray for him he muttered in the affirmative, nodding slightly.

My friend placed her hand on his shoulder and prayed for this young man,  asking for God’s healing of past hurts and spoke of the grace and love of God for him. He began to quietly weep, hiding his face with his hands and the blessing bag he was holding.

He told us his name is Tony[1]. We will keep on praying for Tony. God is at work here.

A block down from Tony we met Mary who was weaving a flower from a long, strappy palm frond. She showed us a finished flower, made by her ex, Tony. Yes, the same Tony sitting a block away.

Mary said she is tired of not being happy, of living on the street, of freezing at night under her blanket. She’s ready to move in a different direction to find happiness, although it was obvious she didn’t know which direction that might be.

My friend encouraged her to attend the church just around the corner. Mary looked skeptical, but we pray she will go. We know that is the right direction for her. They will receive her at that church. That’s why they are downtown, to seek out the lost and bring them to Jesus. God is at work downtown.

Our little prayer-walking team had a happy encounter too. More than one, in fact.

We gave a blessing bag to a man sitting outside a pizza place waiting for his order of pizzas for his son’s sports team. He thanked us for the bag of goodies and began to tell us how one of his sons, who had been attending a college up north, had been hit by a big F-150 pick-up truck and almost killed.

Miraculously God spared him, he recuperated, and finished his education. He later married and now has a new baby and has become ordained in the Christian ministry. His father, smiling widely, said he loves telling that story.

God was already at work in that family.

My favorite story came out of my friend’s boldness to go over to four skateboarding teenage boys. I do not easily initiate conversations with strangers so these street encounters are always a huge stretch for me. But I followed along as we walked to these boys.

The first young man, maybe fourteen years old, took the blessing bag my friend offered him, telling him “God bless you.” At those words his whole face lit up and he said emphatically “God bless you!” and gave her a big hug. Then he looked at me and repeated “God bless you!” and gave me a big hug!

He blessed each lady in our group and gave each a hug. The other boys, who were also given blessing bags and thanked the ladies, were not so outgoing and one bashfully said, “I don’t want to hug you ‘cause I’m all sweaty,” so those three boys gave us all handshakes and we all blessed one another in God’s name.

God was already at work in those boys’ lives. As we gave out blessings, we received blessings in return.

Later, when all the other work teams returned to our meeting venue we listened to some of their stories too, some happy, some sad. All these stories from these encounters are fuel for prayer, prayer for those who populate our city.

My prayer is that this day of showing love to our city will not end with the closing of our “Love Where You Are” event Saturday night, but rather will only be the beginning. A beginning of continuing–

“let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”[2]

We saw God at work in our city. We took opportunities to join him in what he is doing by small, daring acts of kindness and love. Now, as we continue to do good and pray for those we encountered, may we be reapers of the harvest. For there surely is a harvest.

Oh, and one of the stories from the team that handed out flowers is that the same skate-boarding boy who gave us all hugs, when given a flower by this team, asked if he could have some flowers, was given them, and proceeded to hand them out to passers-by on the street! Harvest begun.

[1] Names changed to protect privacy.

[2] Galatians 6:9,10, ESV. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. https://www.biblegateway.com


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A Marketing we will go

About three days ago, as I was reading in Isaiah, I came to this verse, “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us” (Isaiah 26:12, NIV).

I had to stop and ponder it. In light of my current whirl of anxious thoughts and activity, I bowed my head and thanked God for what he has done in this one area of my life this past year: my book Brokenness to Beauty: Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life, was completed and edited; the cover designed; all reviewed for any errors and changes; and just before the end of 2015, sent off by the publisher to the printer! Brokenness to Beauty will be ready for purchase very soon!

Happy days, right? Well, yes and no.

How to market my book has consumed my thoughts and activities online for several weeks. Hand-wringing new territory. Again. Another whole field of endeavor to master! Will my learning curve never level off?

For weeks I’ve been reading theories about and strategies for how best to market a book, especially as a new, unknown author. Which way to turn? What advice to follow? How do I maximize my little budget?

All this time, lots of prayer to God for him to lead me. I don’t know the “how,” but he does.

The other day, after weeks of this, I realized I was withdrawing in my spirit, pulling back from the conflict in my soul. All the unknowns, the “which way to turn” as I view before me so many paths in my “yellow wood” of book marketing. Instead of joyful anticipation of the release of my book, Brokenness to Beauty, I wanted to run away from it!

So I took myself by the scruff of the neck, figuratively speaking, of course, and turning my head upward to my Father I said, “Lord, I don’t want to be this way, it is crazy after all you’ve done! I choose now to hitch up my britches and plow ahead into the fray, to take on a positive rather than fearful and negative attitude. I will move ahead.”

I know God led me to write Brokenness to Beauty; it wasn’t my idea. I believe he wants me to get this book out there because the message I have is for others, to strengthen them in their times of struggles and trials in life. So he is helping me market it, I just can’t see it yet.

I know God has been with me and taught me all along the way as I wrote this book, which was done over the course of several years. I’ve learned so much through this experience of writing a book!

And I know that what God starts, he finishes, as my good friend, Claudia Cooley (http://claudiacooley.com/), herself a published author, reminded me yesterday as we talked on the phone. She was there in the early days when I was only talking about writing this book!

And above all, I know God is with me in all these pursuits. He is going to answer my prayers. He is the one working within all my efforts to accomplish his work, as Isaiah said.

And he is the one who gives me peace in the midst of it all.

Photo by Maryhere from Morguefile

Photo by Maryhere from Morguefile

I am moving ahead!

If you’d like to be part of my marketing scheme for Brokenness to Beauty, if you have an idea of what you could do to promote Brokenness to Beauty among people you know, or if you have successfully marketed a book and so have experience you could share with me, leave me a comment and let’s talk!

It’s only January 3rd in this New Year of 2016, but I’m beginning to look forward to January 3, 2017, to look back over the year and say, “all that we have accomplished you, Oh God, have done for us”!

 

 

Yellow wood is a reference to Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.”

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. https://www.biblegateway.com/


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Are We There Yet? Almost!

How do you handle traumatic news? How do you move through each day when it feels like your old familiar world is crumbling around you? Is it possible, and if so how, to live joyfully and confidently while assailed by pain, fear, or devastating loss?

As I contemplated and prayed about what I would say in a book about going through suffering—and getting through it whole and better than when one started the journey—it became clear to me that several principles are of vital importance, both for those who are going through trials and for those who walk alongside them. These principles became the framework upon which I sculpted the body of this book.

So begins the Introduction to Brokenness to Beauty: Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life. The book that came out of the blog Jacque’s Journey (www.jacquesjourney.blogspot.com), is now only weeks away from going public. I feel I should type an exclamation mark behind that sentence!

Whereas, I once was beginning this journey of writing–

Photo by Sgarton

Photo by Sgarton

 

Now I am in the “Almost” there phase. I can see the Finish line–

Photo from SIS 5K run 2015

Photo from Bakersfield SIS Advocacy Group 5K Run 2015

My book going public: This is exciting and scary news all at the same time! For me anyway. Are you ready for this book? Am I ready for this book?

For years I heard and read comments from my blog readers that I needed to write a book, that I should tell my story. Maybe this is the book you expected, maybe not. But this is the book that grew out of writing it, praying as I wrote.

Brokenness to Beauty is a five Part, twenty-three chapter book designed with you in mind because, as the end of the Introduction states: Most of our days are filled with activities that pull us in many directions at once; therefore, this book is structured so that it may be read in short sections, easily adapted to a busy lifestyle. It is my hope that I have written these few chapters simply and clearly enough so that those who read it may, as with the vision given to Habakkuk, “read it fluently,” or with understanding, so that they may go on in their life journey stronger for it and in turn share it with others (Habakkuk 2:2). 

 

Photo by Gaborfromhungary

Photo by Gaborfromhungary

Are we there yet? Almost! Stay tuned—or keep following this blog—to be among the first to know when Brokenness to Beauty hits the stores!

(And yes, there will be an e-book version as well!)


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Goliaths and Greater Things

Picking up with the topic I started before my last post, Interlude of Fun in the Twilight Zone: David was faithful in his everyday, ordinary life as a shepherd, guiding and guarding the sheep, sometimes at great personal risk fighting lions and bears. It was there, in his everyday life that he grew strong wielding the weapons of his trade–the staff and sling and stones–and he grew strong in faith in God. He knew God and could confidently say, “the LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear …” (see I Samuel 17).

We too live ordinary, everyday lives. We too face our lions and bears, those trials and difficulties that come into our lives, perhaps threatening our livelihood, our families or even our very lives with health problems. These are the enemies that come to defeat us, enemies that threaten to destroy us.

Repent by jclk8888

Repent by jclk8888

Are we being faithful to fight them with the weapons given us—prayer and praise and the Word of God? Are we becoming adept in their use and growing in strength, growing in our trust in God? Can we say as David did, “the LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear …”

It is only in our ordinary, everyday lives faithfully facing the enemies that would destroy us—our lions and bears—that we learn to fight, becoming skilled and strong.

Ordinary life is where we learn to know and trust the LORD, bringing him glory as we fight our personal enemies. This, too, is where we learn to recognize another kind of enemy: Goliath.

Goliath wasn’t David’s personal enemy and he isn’t ours, though most of us have heard the story in those terms. Goliath is not our personal lion or bear. Oh no. He is a different enemy. Goliath, to be consistent with the text, in I Samuel 17, comes against and defies the armies of the living God; he defies the LORD of Hosts, the Lord Almighty.

Goliath is anything that is contrary to the person and purposes of God and he must be fought with weapons, not of this world, but weapons that have “divine power to demolish strongholds … and everything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God …” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Prayer and praise and the Word of God. These are the powerful weapons that we only become skilled at using in our ordinary, everyday lives fighting our lions and bears. The power of these weapons is spiritual, not of our flesh or the world, not originating with us but with God’s Spirit who lives in us.

When Jesus was on earth he fought many Goliaths. When he was about to leave and return to his Father in heaven he said to his disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. … And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. … for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:12-17, NIV, emphasis added).

Jesus obviously expected that we too would fight Goliaths, all over the world. Else what did he mean by saying, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV)? (Notice the triple “and,” not “or.”)

Or this, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV)?

The Spirit was given for specific purposes, as we read from the above verses.

The questions we must ask ourselves are:

  1. Do I recognize Goliath when I see him?
  2. When I do see him, do I have the spirit of David that says, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
  3. And do I have the chuztpah to reply to the naysayers as David did, drawing on his experience of trusting God and and finding him faithful to deliver, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine (1 Samuel 17:34-37, NIV, emphasis added).”
  4. Do I have the jealousy for God’s Name that makes me willing to put “skin” in the game, my skin, for his Name and glory?

The greater works we are to do, that Jesus expects us to do, are waiting to be done. They are there waiting for us to step forward, as David did, in the name of the Lord Almighty, that the Father may be glorified in the Son—through us.

“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, … and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands’”(1 Samuel 17:45-47).

Let us get stronger every day wielding the weapons of our warfare—prayer and praise and the Word of God—fighting our everyday lions and bears so that we may be strong in the Spirit and fit to recognize and fight Goliath–doing those greater things–for the sake of his Name, for the glory of the Father.

Let us fear God more than men.

How have you fared with your lions and bears? Have you discerned the Goliath that you should be challenging for his Name sake? How is it going? Send me your questions and comments about this post. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

New International Version (NIV)

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