Taking control of the wrong thing

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is filled.”  2 Cor. 10:3-6

My tattoo caught my attention the other morning and got me thinking about the reason why I got it.  I recalled coming to the place where I had decided that I had no control over anything in my life and so, I resolved to take control of something…enter the tattoo.

Whether you’re for or against tattoos, I can tell you that, at this point, I’m generally pretty indifferent towards mine.   But today it’s going to teach us all a lesson.

I’ve written before about when I got sick in 2012.  I never had a moments doubt that the Lord would heal me.  I remember reading my Bible in the hospital, completely trusting the promises within.

As the inconclusive medical tests continued to come in, and my pain persisted, I began to grow a bit weary.  At a church service a few months later, I heard a lesson about prayer lives that I didn’t like, and it hurt my feelings.  It made me feel inferior and inadequate.  I thought about it over and over.  I talked to myself about it.  I fumed over it.  I resented it.

Looking back, I know that when Satan realized that the physical issues weren’t going to cause me to turn against God, he knew would need a new tactic.  I gave him exactly what he needed.  He whispered, taunted, and argued against my knowledge of God with that comment I heard at church.  I could have just brushed it off and moved on with my life, but I allowed him to get in that crack.  I didn’t take control of my thoughts.  I didn’t take them captive.  I allowed him to control my thoughts for me.

As the months went by I let it impair my prayer life a little at a time.  Anger set itself deeper and deeper within my soul.  And then, someone I trusted even more spoke about the same thing, and I remember that being the day I just quit.  I remember thinking, “I’m done.”

What happened?  Satan won.  And I ended up with a tattoo.  I fought in the flesh instead of using the mighty weapons I have in God.  I became weaker because I took ‘control’ with my weakest weapon…my flesh.

Instead of taking my thoughts captive and reminding myself of the faithfulness of God, I listened to the twisted “truths” of the enemy.  Instead of ‘taking control’ by getting a tattoo, I should have taken control of my thoughts, reading the Word for myself and asking the Holy Spirit to teach me and bring to my remembrance all the Lord has said to me.

Let my tattoo be a permanent reminder for us all…take control of your thoughts!  Take control of the “truths” you are listening to.  Stay in God’s word and let the Holy Spirit minister to and teach you.  Fight in the Spirit and not in the flesh!  God is on your side and He is fighting for you.

Marked,

jamie

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Traditional prayer journal

I gave you the why’s for praying journaling in my last blog Prayer Journaling 101.  Now, let’s get to the how.

Let’s start with what I think of as the “traditional” prayer journal.  I put it in quotes because there is no formula that must be followed for this, but in this type of journal, you just write your prayers. 

Although I pray all throughout the day, I find that it also helps me to set aside some time for focused prayer.  That’s where my prayer journal comes in handy.  I find that my written prayers tend to feel more sincere and focused, because my attention does not become as easily distracted.

I also like the language I use when I write a little more than the informal language I use when I speak, so when I really want to give God my personal best, I write.

This type of journal is also where you might want to write how you are feeling and then pray about it.  Perhaps you are feeling joyful and full of praise.  Write out your praises and leave that proof of His faithfulness for the next time you need to be reminded that He still answers prayers.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, He already knows it.  Talk to Him about it.  When He created Adam and Eve, He came down in the cool of the day to talk with them.  He wants fellowship with us.  He has also invited us to come boldly to His throne of grace in our time of need.  It’s ok to tell Him things.  Write it out in your prayer journal and watch Him come to your rescue!  He will.

Sometimes, even as I’m writing, I can feel God’s Holy Spirit…the Comforter…come upon me, bringing me peace, and speaking comfort to me.  If you have your prayer journal, you can write down the things you feel God speak to your heart as He speaks them.  What beautiful records to have for later reference, as well.  🙂

To the left, is a record of a night when I was feeling down, but had gone to the altar at church and the Lord spoke to me through a Pastor and lifted me up.  I remember that service and I’m so glad I have it recorded as a reminder that my God is faithful!  I wrote it down and praised the Lord through prayer in my journal.  He deserved honor for what He had done for me.  I wanted it to be known!  When my kids read through that one day, they will see His faithfulness at work and know that I was grateful!

Prayer journals are also an excellent place to record prayer requests.  How many people have you told that you will be praying for them?  Have you been?  You can write their names down and come back to them daily or weekly and pray for them.  You can also leave a record and remind others as you watch God answer those prayers.

I hope that you are feeling encouraged to begin a prayer journal.  They aren’t anything fancy.  Just a way to keep our ever-distracted minds focused as we pray, and a beautiful record of God’s faithfulness, love, and provision.

Next time, I will share a few of my less traditional journal pages.  They’re different, but have been helpful during different seasons of my soul.

Grab your journal and pen.  It’s time to start writing!

jamie

Next blog:  Scripture/Prayer Journal and Art Prayer Journals

Prayer journaling 101

I had someone ask me about prayer journals a while back and thought I would write about how they can be effective.  I am also going to be sharing some of my own personal styles and pages with you along the way.

Why do it?

Have you ever wondered if God hears your prayers?  Look up the scriptures that tell you that God hears your prayers.  Write them in your prayer journal and then write down your praise to Him for the fact that He hears you.

Have you ever thought God doesn’t answer any of your prayers?  When you write down a prayer, you can go back later and record when that prayer was answered.  A lot of times, when we speak our prayers, we forget what we have even prayed, and can’t see all the wonderful things God has done in our lives.  We fail to give Him praise for things He has done!  Writing down our prayers gives us something to go back to so we can see the things that can be crossed off the list.  God is working in our lives every day.  He is faithful.

Do you get distracted when you pray or study?  Writing out your prayers can keep your mind focused on what you are saying.  You can add the scriptures that have spoken to you, as well.  (I will share more about this in a coming blog)

Do you want to leave footprints so you can look back and see how far God has brought you?  When times get hard, you will be able to look back at God’s love and faithfulness.  You will see what He has done in your life and know that if He’s done it before, He can do it again.  These footprints can also be left there for your family to see, as well.  What a testimony to leave!

Are you seeking more from your relationship with God?  Writing out your prayers, and spending uninterrupted, undistracted, intimate time with God is a great place to start.  You may find yourself saying things you wouldn’t normally say.  Personally, I’m much more eloquent with writing than speaking.  I don’t even enunciate words properly when I speak.  (ha!)  You might find yourself writing Him a psalm, before you know it, or an intimate letter where the only appropriate closing is, “I love you.”

Bottom line:  a prayer journal may be just what you’re needing.  I will share some personal examples in my next blog to help get you started.  In the meantime, just know that the material you use isn’t important.  It can be a beautiful journal, a $.25 spiral notebook, an art canvas, or even a blog.  Over the years, I have used many different things.

Get your journal ready,

jamie

Next blogs:  Traditional Prayer Journal, Scripture/Prayer Journal, Art Prayer Journals

A completion

“And in this I give advice:  It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have.”  2 Cor. 8:10-11

In this verse, Paul was speaking to the church in Macedonia about generosity, but it got me wondering what I was desiring to begin a year ago.  Interestingly (and conveniently) enough, a year ago is when the Lord encouraged me to blog a Month of Prayer, so I was able to go back and read through my blogs from last year.  What exactly was I desiring?  Had I not recorded those prayers, I can honestly say I wouldn’t remember my desires from a year ago.

The Lord has been faithful this past year.  He has not only been answering prayer, but stretching and growing my family and me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.  Most of the prayers were things I will need over a lifetime:  to increase in prudence, depart from evil, know Him more, honor Him with my possessions, etc.

I also asked that contentions, gossip, and greed be kept far from me, and that I would be slow to anger.  Truly, the Lord has been faithful in those things; although, like everyone else, I am always a work in progress.  I prayed about my children’s desire to serve Him.  There is an excitement inside them when it comes to serving that warms my heart.  Now, to see them seek after Him as they would seek after treasure.  (that’s coming…)

The desires I had a year ago and things the Lord began when I prayed are not to be forgotten.  This verse in 2 Cor. reminds me that there is not just to be a beginning, but a time of completion.  It is good to take time to revisit and re-evaluate those old desires and monitor our own progress on the journey, as well.  Am I still seeking after the wisdom that I desired last year?  Am I still doing all I can to leave a legacy of integrity and godliness for my children and grandchildren?  Have I been teaching my children how to give when it’s in their power to do so, like I prayed I would?  Have I been trusting in God’s provision?

Do you know what you began or desired a year ago?  Is it time to complete it or to seek God’s guidance?  If the Lord has already completed something for you, or is in the process now, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!!  If you have forgotten what you desired, I pray His Holy Spirit will bring it back to your remembrance.  We don’t want to make hollow commitments to the Lord or His work.

When it comes to remembering the things we pray (what we ask for or say to God), a written record can be a very helpful thing.  I will be posting about prayer journaling next.  If you’ve never tried it, or want to try something new, I encourage you to check it out.

Complete it,

jamie

God is merciful

Yesterday I saw a rainbow.  I thought about God’s word saying it would be a reminder to Him to never flood the whole earth again.  He sees the rainbow and remembers His word. 🌈

It made me think about how merciful He is.  He was saddened, in the days of Noah, about how His people were choosing to live.  Outside of Noah’s family, not one person stopped choosing sin over God, even when Noah preached to them about it.

Surely He has been saddened more than once since then, and yet He still keeps His word.  He is merciful.  He still tarries with us.  He still sent His Son in our place.  He still desires us to be in relationship with Him.

The rainbow reminded me that God mercy is still alive and well.  He waits…for us all.

Thankful,

jamie

In God we trust?

Pr. 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding”

What I have found over the years is that obeying the Lord doesn’t always make logical sense.

One time the Lord told me to take a card and drop it off for a girl.  I got to the store to get the card, and the one He pointed out to me was very specific and personal.  I barely knew this girl, much less what was going on with her.  But I bought it anyway.

I obeyed, and it turned out that it was the Exact card she needed.  (She later told me)  I didn’t know her circumstances, but God did, and He was able to put a healing balm on her pain through my obedience.  It didn’t make 100% sense to me; in fact, I almost felt embarrassed, but I trusted God’s leading over my own understanding.

In my experience, when we trust God over our own understanding, He is able to do wonders in the lives of those around us.

Our own understanding is limited and ever-changing.  It’s easier for us to trust in what we can see or have experienced.  And just like we once believed in Santa Claus, but later changed our minds, what we understand isn’t static.

God, on the other hand, does not change.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He does not change.  We can trust in Him as much today as Abraham could trust him when God asked him to sacrifice his own son.

We don’t always understand His ways, but His was are perfect, His Word is flawless, and He shields all who take refuge in Him.  (Ps. 18:30)

Trusting in God will never be the wrong decision.

Go for it!

jamie

Uncovering the beauty

Pr. 21:9:  “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”  Pr. 21:19:  “Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”

The truth is that it’s better to dwell in those places than with anyone that’s angry and contentious (likely to cause an argument).  Relationships are hard enough without having someone always looking for a fight.

 

muddycoupleI was walking in the woods behind our house today and found this little figurine.  I couldn’t believe how applicable it was to real life.  Sometimes our relationships can resemble this…soiled, muddy, polluted, and defiled.  During those times, it can be hard to see through the muck to even imagine something that could possibly look better.

 

couplewipedoff

 

But I chose to wipe off the figurine, and do you see what I saw?  They were still holding hands.  With just a bit of effort, I was able to uncover the fact, that underneath it all, they were still connected.  Do you believe that’s true for our relationships?  I do.  Underneath all the mess, there are 2 people that were once connected, and with just a bit of effort, the fact that there is still a connection becomes visible.

 

 

allcleanedupInspired by what I saw, I took the figurine inside and cleansed it with some soap and water, and a bit of bleach.  The cleansing revealed a couple with a few scars, but look at their faces.  They look happy and content again…renewed and ready for a new life.

 

 

 

Sometimes, deciding to work diligently to wipe off all the offenses and grime to uncover a renewed relationship can be rough and it can definitely sting.  (Just as if being cleansed with bleach)  But it’s so worth it.  Those scars just make us stronger, and more able to testify to the Lord’s mercy and miracles.  Just like this figurine, there can be new life waiting underneath; we just have to be willing to uncover it.

I couldn’t tell you how long this figurine was buried in the mud.  It was pretty deep in there, and even under some other trash.  But that just proves that no matter how long our relationships have been in the mire, with just a bit of interest and care something beautiful can be revealed.

And the most beautiful part for us is that God is faithful to stand with us during the process.

Get out that scrub brush!

jamie