Not Unredeemed

… living the beautiful tension between what is, and what will be …


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From Victory For Victory {Part 2}

From Victory For Victory  – Read Part One Here.

We will only win the war against sin when we understand who we are and what sin means to us now that we are His.

“We did not believe that [the sin] this man had done was evidence of his true identity. Paul said we once were darkness, and we now are light. Just because you have darkness in you doesn’t change your true identity.” (Danny Silk – Culture of Honor)

You see, sin is a bit like a nail.

“…as we were walking, I stepped on a board and a nail went through my foot. I lifted my foot and saw that there was a board attached to the bottom of my shoe. I could clearly see that a nail had entered my foot. But never once did I think. “I’m a nail!”  I was however very interested in getting the nail out of my foot. And when a child of the light discovers darkness in him or her, it does force the issue: What are you going to do?” (Danny Silk – Culture of Honor) <— Tweet this.

Our fight against sin comes down to our identity in Christ. Knowing and understanding who we are in Christ determines what battle position we start in. Do you start thinking “I’m a nail!” or do you start thinking, “I’m a child of God and He has the power to change me.”?

In our battle against sin these are the mindsets of the different positions:

Fighting for victory thinksFrom Victory For Victory

  • I’m a sinner
  • I’m not worth it
  • I’m broken
  • I’m getting /doing better!
  • I can do this!
  • I’m not good enough
  • I must…

Fighting from victory thinks:

  • I’m a saint
  • He died so I can change
  • I’m whole
  • He is changing me!
  • God save me!
  • He redeemed me
  • He did…

When we start fighting from victory, for more victory, we start by abiding in Christ and what He has done for us. Ecc 3:14-15 says:

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.

Think about these verses in the context of victory–they depict a beautiful picture displaying part of God’s character. The victory that the Lord has endures forever – it’s complete! We can’t add anything to it or take anything away from it. <— Tweet this.

God bought the victory so we would fear Him and understand that He is God and we are not.

If we could bring about the change we wouldn’t need Him. Striving for victory on our own is trying to be God. It’s pride, and God resists the proud! No wonder we can’t change on our own no matter how hard we try. We will fail because the Lord is resisting us! (James 4). He, however, gives grace (the ability to change) to the humble. The ones who says, “God I can’t do this – I need you!”

A humble person is one who sees themselves as God sees them – both as weak and yet strong. In weakness we see His strength. The victory (our position in Christ) already is, has been, and will continue to be. And when sin drives the victory away – God seeks it for us. He renews us! The victory remains, when we walk out of it and drive it away, it still remains. He died to bring it back to us and now reminds us that the victory is already ours!

From Victory, For Victory concludes  with part 3 – read it here

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From Victory For Victory {Part 1}

Life is a battle, whether we realize it or not and we are only given two choices for the battle:

(1) Whose side we are on.

(2) What position we fight from.

The letters of 1, 2 and 3 John draw very clear battle lines – either you are for Him (the Lord Jesus) or you are against Him and with the Devil. There is no in-between in this life. In 1 Timothy (1:18) Paul encourages him to “fight the battle well” and Ephesians 6 calls us to “put on the armor of God.”

All throughout Scripture, life is defined as a battle. for or from

As a Christian and follower of Jesus Christ, there are only two positions we fight from. We either:

(1) Fight from victory.

(2) Fight for victory.

The choice is ours. Christ chose the victory for us – and now invites us to walk in it. He invites us to fight from a place of victory, rather then always fighting for victory.

While the Lord asks us to fight new areas of sin in our lives, what we most often forget is He already won the battle against that sin. His love is stronger then death (Song of Solomon 8), it broke the curse of sin that brought death. He died to FREE us so we could walk in victory.

We must fight with the knowledge that only the Lord changes us and the victory is already ours, or we will lose the battle.

When we fight against sin from a position of victory we have all the power in the world on our side. When we are simply fighting for victory, we have only the power of our own determination. For a time, our determination may be able to change our behavior; but it does not change our hearts or our emotions (the way we see and feel about things).

Only Christ can change those things.

In Psalm 51 when David prays “create in me a clean heart Oh God” the Hebrew word for create here is “bara”. It means to create without a physical starting point, with only God as the subject. Essentially what it means is we cannot, in and of ourselves, create a clean heart. When God comes in and creates a clean heart in us, He doesn’t use any of us in the creation of our heart – He uses only Himself. He gives us Himself.

That is why we can fight from victory – because He does the work. Our behavior will always follow our hearts. We must fight for victory in our lives, but in order to do that in Christ’s strength and not our own, we have to start fighting from victory – which is what Christ has done for us.

Too often, as Christians, we know the Lord wants us to change and to fight against sin, so we immediately jump to position 2 – fighting for victory. We don’t realize that by missing step 1 – fighting from victory, we are now fighting sin in our own strength – missing the point of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

We are told to fight against sin – I’m not saying that fighting from victory means that we don’t fight sin anymore – we dobut how we fight changes. In Hebrews 12:4 we are told to fight even to the point of bloodshed against sin. But we can’t effectively fight against sin for victory, until we fight from victory. Fighting from victory means we start fighting from our position in Christ – as sons and daughters of God (John 1:12)- which gives us the position and the power to fight for more victory.

If we fight for victory without fighting from victory, we won’t win the battle. It’s only from within our position in Christ that the battle against sin can be won. <—- Tweet this.

Read part 2 here.

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“My Kids” – 31 Days of Truth {Day 30}

Anyone that knows me well, knows that there is a whole group of teenagers and young adults that I affectionately call “My Kids”. The funny part is most of them are only 3-7 years younger than I! Growing up in a large family of 12 children, I’m 20 years older than my youngest sibling, and at some point in my teens I began calling the younger half of the family “the kids”. I was definitely the “second mom/sister” to them and a good part of the time I felt like they could be my own children. When I started in youth ministry the name transferred over to any teen or young adult I felt close too, lead a small group they were in – basically anyone I invested in.
“My kids” now consist of a group of young adults that the Lord has given me the honor to be apart of their lives for however long that season will last. To some I’m simply a sister, others a mentor, and all a friend. Nothing brings me more joy then to have one of them walk into my office for a chat or come and find a note from them. They bring me the most amount of joy in my life; and yet I never blog about them, probably because they are too close to my heart. A writer’s group I’m apart of had a get together this spring, and several of the ladies encouraged me to start blogging about the discipleship that I do.

It’s strange concept for me because the Lord is currently redefining for me what discipleship looks like. It used to just mean meeting one-on-one with “my girls” and digging into scripture, but it’s turning more into a lifestyle. It’s leaving my door and my heart open. It’s asking them the tough questions and holding them accountable, it’s listening to them with one ear and the Spirit with the other. And as they grow older a lot of relationship counseling.

Today one of “my girls” sat across from me and told me the Lord was calling her to be more intentional in her church about discipleship, to use the things the Lord was teaching her and more. It means we will no longer have the time for weekly meetings. We will still be in touch and I’ll keep checking in with her but tears filled my eyes as I blessed her one last time. My job here was finished, my mission complete: That He is the One I

 “proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Col 1:28-29

I watched her walk out of the room more mature in Christ, with a new calling and a mission of her own. But oh how I’m going to miss her. How can I be so proud of her and so sad for me? Parents tell me all the time this is how they feel. Maybe that is why I call these friends, these fellow labors of Christ “My kids”?

The thing is, I think “my kids” teach me way more than I ever teach them. They are the joy of my life. I cry as they grow and move on and take a piece of my heart with them, but it is aways worth the pain. And somehow the Lord never leaves my heart empty – He always has someone else for me to love waiting in the wings.

 
Several of “my kids” all started dating each other this fall (spring love came early this year!) and I burst with pride every time I see them making godly decisions and putting the Lord and then the other person above themselves. There is hope for this world! I echo John

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4

And that is my Tidbit of Truth for Today: I truly have no greater joy then to see “my kids” walking in the truth. 

The longer I walk with them, the more my heart opens to them: “my kids” become “my friends”. And for that I am incredibly grateful. I used to worry about the lines blurring between youth leader and teen, mentor and student, but in discipleship, the field levels a lot more. We are all heirs together pursing growth in Christ. They teach me and by His grace I can humbly show them my weaknesses and we learn together. Lifestyle discipleship is less about a role we fill, and more about a life we live. Discipleship is living everyday to the glory of God in front of other people and inviting them to join you on the journey.

 Discipleship is so much more than teaching, it’s living and doing life together in His name. 


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Used – 31 Days of Truth {Day 14}

Hmmph! Used. I’m so sick of feeling used. Used and abused. Are there no grateful people left? When someone invests in you, you should at least have the decency to show some gratitude.

Swirling and bubbling through my mind these thoughts chased themselves in  a cadence  to the frustrated scrubbing of my dishpan.

Splash. 

Hmmph.

Scrub.

I know loving people is worth it, but why when they are better and are going on their merry ways do they never look back? I spent hours investing in these relationships, counseling, tears, prayers and faithfulness as much like my Fathers as I could give them. I didn’t just share the Gospel with them, but my life as well. That is why it must hurt this much!  I gave them me. As soon as there was no need for me, they were gone. Better, whole. But gone.

I argued with myself as I wore a hole by scrubbing through my favorite cooking pot.

But Jesus loved this way right? Did He ever feel used? He must have! I will keep pressing on. No one else might care, but it’s the right thing to do. Jesus did it. So I’ll keep srubbing – er plugging away!

Self-righteous pride began to creep in slowly turning the dishwater a murky grey.

Have you ever done this to Jesus?

Huh!

Scrub, splash, ignore.

Hasn’t the Lord bandaged and healed you? Shared with you the gospel AND Himself? How many times have you grown and then ran on your merry way onto the next thing?

Ouch. The dishwater slowly begins to drain out of the sink.

We are to be like Jesus in how we give to and love people. Even if that means feeling “used”, but we are to be righteous over being right. The bubbles of my frustration, pride and justification of my hurt, and self-righteousness popped in the cleansing stream of the Holy Spirit’s voice.

Pop

The sink drained and cleaned as the fresh running water swept my frustration and anger down the drain.

Lord, forgive me for my ungratefulness for all you have done for me. For the ways you have loved me when I wasn’t grateful, for when you came after me when I refused to come to you. For your faithfulness of always being there for me when I need you even if I haven’t come to you for you are….

Tidbit of Truth for Today: The antidote of gratitude will wash the frustration away.


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If We Heard Wrong – What Then?

Q.Katie, your words “prayer is the safest thing you can do with your emotions” leapt out at me. What if intimate prayer, seeking & hearing from God led to the most painful experience in your life because you misheard? How do you regain intimacy with Him when that intimacy almost cost your faith?” –T

A. T, Thank you for voicing a question many of us won’t even let ourselves think. And you aren’t just thinking it – you are living and facing it. I commend you for your courage.

You see, this question hits close to home for me. The Lord recently asked me to face my biggest fear – what if I’d heard Him wrong? I didn’t think I could go on – the thought of everything I put my trust in being wrong would completely destroy me. The thought alone would crush me – leaving me gasping. Then the fear became a very real reality I had to face.

So T, I’m not at all sure I have the answers for you, because I’m here too. But as a sister in Christ I can share with you part of my wrestling’s and journey towards peace.

It’s not wasted. One of the biggest lies Satan can speak to us through this is that all of our effort, our trust, our choices, everything we’ve built on and hoped for is wasted. But it’s not! Listen to what Paul says:

 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (Phil 3:12-16)

When I read this passage two things struck me. 1). That God is faithful to make it clear to us when we are wrong. This doesn’t sound like a blessing at first – but it is a comfort that He loves us enough to make it clear when we are wrong. And He doesn’t let us remain in our mistakes. 2). Immediately following the promise that the Lord will not leave us when we make a mistake – is that we are commanded to live up to what we have attained (meaning – to gain). The things we learned along the journey are not mistakes even if the perceived destination is. What are the concepts – the truth we can glean from the journey? They are not wasted! Dear sister, do not loose the things you attained – but live up to them as you press forward towards the goal of Jesus Christ.

Promise or Promiser? What is our goal? According to this passage our ‘goal’ is Jesus Christ. SO much deeper than the promise is the Promiser.  In our pursuit, what we hear often takes the place and the focus of the one who speaks. When we don’t know what we’ve heard, go back to what we know – the things in His very character that aside from a lie from the devil we cannot misinterpret – His Faithfulness, and His love towards us. When we are at the place of knowing nothing – go back to the basics sureing up our foundation.

Time heals and reveals the purposes of God. I think our biggest mistake isn’t hearing the Lord wrong, but misinterpreting the purpose of what we’ve heard. <— Tweet this! (At least in my experience!) Even when we’ve heard right and others free will and sin (or our own!) gets in the way – the purposes of God still remain. Psalm 33:11 says “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Ask the Lord to reveal the purpose of it all to you.

Only time will reveal what was from the Lord and what was our mistake (or not). Several years ago I thought I followed the Lord’s leading into a relationship that caused me so much pain. My interpretation of it was marriage. God was after my heart (read more here ) and the birth of a ministry.

God will show us His heart and purposes. Don’t under estimate the Holy Spirit and a humble heart.

When our intimacy is lost with the Lord – remember it is two sided. Intimacy  (in –to-me-see) takes two people, and even when we are wrong the Lord is working on His side of it. He sees into our hearts and invites us to see back into His – to gaze on the Love that won’t let us go.

Just last week it hit me that “faith” is a gift of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:9). I can’t have faith on my own – but He can restore, redeem, build and strengthen my faith because He gives it to me (and you!).

So dear sister – don’t trust yourself or your emotions – but entrust them to Him. Even when the mistakes are on our end (He never makes mistakes – how comforting and how annoying!), it can still feel like in a way that the Lord wounded us.  Tozer says “ I highly doubt the Lord can use anyone He does not wound”. He is going to use this not only in your life, but in the life of others! Keep on keeping on!

Rebuild your relationship with the Lord like you would with anyone else – start with honesty. Share with Him the fear, the anger, the pain. (Journaling helps me a lot!) Look at David – the Psalms are filled with David pouring his grief out before the Lord. But the Lord never left David in that spot of despair and broken honesty – He won’t leave you there either! He is the same yesterday today and forever – He’ll do it for you too!


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A Prayer to {Dare}

Up until last week if you had asked me what the purpose of prayer was, I would have enthusiastically told you that it was to cultivate and build our relationship with the Lord. Prayer is communication, fellowship and intimacy with the Lord  = relationship. While I still think relationship is a key element, the Lord is opening my eyes to a new understanding and dimension of the purpose of prayer.

 A dear friend and I were digging into first John this week and we came across a verse that challenged both of us.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15

BAMM. A simple little verse, but with profound implications. God hears us, and acts on it when it is in His will to do what we are praying for. I’ve thought about praying ‘in the will’ of God before. Praying scriptures over situations – things that I know are God’s will. But I RARELY approach prayer with confidence and especially not praying in a way that I know what God’s will is. Doubts flood my mind “who am I to know what God’s will is?” – Then why would God tell us to pray in His will if we were not supposed to know what His will is?  Continue reading