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For the broken

I believe that sin is real and rampant. I believe there is an enemy of God and His people. One that prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Pet 5:8). A trickster, who disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14), but who is truly a murderer and a liar (John 8:44). I believe that his temptations can and do overcome even the most faithful servants of God, even beloved King David.

BUT!
I worship a God that rebuilds ruined places and plants that which is desolate (Ez 36:36), whose strength is made perfect when we are weak (2 Cor 12:9), who can restore His people and make them strong, firm and steadfast following suffering (1 Peter 5:10). I worship a God that can restore what the locusts have eaten (Joel 2).

“The thief comes only to seek and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Jesus, John 10:10

If you are devastated or hurting this morning, please be encouraged that the Lord is there with you. Let me remind you of a few of His wonderful names:

El Roi (The God that Sees)
Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
El Olam (The Everlasting God)

When you are hurting, He is with you. He sees. He cares. He has peace and healing for you. You cannot do it on your own, but He can.  But maybe that isn’t quite enough to comfort you, maybe it makes you feel vulnerable and helpless because it’s out of your control. Here is what you can do: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rom 12:12). “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you” (Ps 55:22). Know that “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30:5).

 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Isaiah 57:15

 

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Battling the binge (Guest post)

In my teens and early twenties I fought bulimia and binge eating, it was confusing for me. I had a sporadic history of both problems instead of a continuous long-running battle. I could be fine for a year and a half and then be crippled for eight months wherever food was concerned. Eventually I came to realize that my eating disorder was really just a symptom. There was a deeper, underlying cause….

I’m honored to have the opportunity to share my story on the One Degree Ministries’ blog today. I haven’t written publicly about this struggle yet, I’m excited to see what the Lord will do with my story and experiences in this regard.

As with every victory over struggle, once I’ve moved past the struggle and have become stronger I marvel at the Lord’s grace and favor. That He would care enough to bless me in this area, that He even cares about the food I put in my mouth and the issues of my heart, humbles me and I know that it is only by His strength that I stand on the other side of this struggle.

You can read the rest of my story on the One Degree Ministries’ blog. If you have questions or comments that you don’t wish to post in the comments publicly, I welcome your private messages via email to nicole@shatterproofministries.com

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Can we be real?

I’ve just got to share something with you today… My friend Lee wrote a great post on being a ‘real’ Christian woman and I think it’ll really hit many of us in a tender spot… But first some back story:

In preparation for an upcoming message, speaker Lynn Bell gathered statements from some of her friends in response to this statement:  “I would have more close relationships with the women at my church if only…”

Lynn and I were in the same speaker peer evaluation group at this year’s She Speaks training conference. I had the pleasure of hearing Lynn speak twice for peer evaluation. I was impressed by her gentle delivery as a speaker, and I was not now surprised that Lynn was putting such thoughtful preparation into her upcoming message.

Lynn’s question resounded strongly in my heart, and my fingers typed and sent a message in reply to her inquiry almost before I could process my thoughts. “If only we could be real with each other, instead of being a ‘Sunday best’ version of ourselves”, I added to the exchange. And as I sat there processing my own words, and the flood of similar responses from other women across the country, I became very sad.

I’m sad that we do this, and that it makes other women feel alienated and never quite good enough. I’m sad that we feel a burden to display a facade of perfection. I wasn’t the only one feeling this way about women in the church. Our friend Lee Merrill (another She Speaks alum) felt the same grief. She posted her transparent thoughts about it on her Prayer Gifts blog and I as I read it I was  moved by her words.

“Help me to believe I can be a godly woman and flawed at the same time…
I must be real because hidden wounds miss the hands of the Healer.”

Here’s a link to Lee’s post, a great read for women in the church today. I’m grateful she shared her heart with us. And if you’d like to get to know Lynn Bell better, she’s over at The Gentle Savior.

If this strikes a chord with you as well, feel free to add to this discussion in the comments.

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I Trust You… I Trust You Not…

I lay in bed trying to close my eyes and give over to sleep. But every time I close my eyes, the fears come back and my eyes pop back open. I blink nervously for a while. My mind races with numerous scenarios of what things could go wrong when my eyes are shut. When my eyes are open again I can remind myself of all God has accomplished already, and the promises in His word that He will remain faithful. I feel soothed again, and let my heavy eyelids droop once more… Then a minute later–pop! I’m awake again, back in paranoia.

Why do I do this? Why do I think that somehow as long as I can be “on duty” in my life that my problems can be managed? I cannot keep my eyes open forever! Eventually I have a choice to make, do I trust that God will come through? Like, really trust it not just say it–there’s a big difference!

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand… For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’  Isaiah 41:10, 13

It’s natural to have an unsettled feeling after going through out of control life circumstances. After we’ve basked in the warmth of what the Lord has done in a situation we can sometimes slip back into a spirit of fear and worry that another crisis will soon arrive. And this is where our faith muscle is tested and trained; when we have to make the choice whether to trust God even though we have no certainty as to the future. But having walked with the Lord for any length of time we have experienced the loving protection of Our Father while we cowered in the dark and low places. Emerson Eggerichs has said, “Don’t doubt in the dark what God showed you in the light.”

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” Jesus, in John 14:1

My idea of how I want God to come through in a situation may be different than God’s plan for that situation. And that is scary… But it His plan is best. But in 1 Corinthians Paul refers to Isaiah 64 “As it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’”. I can’t even possibly conceive of God’s wonderful plan for my life and my problems. And the Lord has promised so much to me, and proven faithful every time I needed Him. I need only take a deep breath and relax, allowing myself to let go of what troubles me and let God handle those things.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:4

Originally published in the Fall 2012 Real Women Real Life
Oak Creek Assembly of God Women’s Ministry Newsletter
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Helping a Hurting Friend

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15
When your close friend or loved one is going through a difficult time in her life it can be difficult for you, too, as someone who loves her. Your heart breaks and you may question God about the whys and whens. You would bring the stars down from the sky if it would make her feel better, or even make her smile. But many times you can do nothing “productive” as your friend battles cancer, her marriage falls apart, she miscarries a pregnancy, or her spouse dies unexpectedly.You just feel…helpless.

I’d like to encourage you if you’re in that place right now. Your loved one is so lucky to have you in her life to care so much! There are things you can do to support her through her pain. If you find yourself thinking of her often, let her know that she’s been on your mind, in your heart and prayers. If you are reminded of a Bible verse that you think would uplift her, send it! Make her a nice card or if, like me, you are not crafty, email or text her a message of encouragement including the verse.

Fasting and prayer cannot be over suggested in times like these. If you feel led to fast and pray for her situation, tell her about it and she may decide to fast also. If you have any questions on approaching something like this, seek out a Pastor for guidance.

If you’re trying to spend time and be there for her in person, she may not be very responsive or may have difficulty seeing people. Don’t take this personally; just remind her that you are available if she ever needs you. And keep praying! She will feel those prayers and the love from you and from the Lord when she needs to.

I remember once I was in excruciating emotional pain. I didn’t want to see people, I had a hard time just doing day-to-day life. One day during that time I was contacted separately by numerous girlfriends, telling me how much they love me, how I had been on their mind that day and even though they didn’t know what was wrong, they were on their knees in prayer for me. That was an incredible day! The Lord used those beloved friends in my life and I knew was loved, strengthened and encouraged. My faith and resolve increased that day, thanks to God and to my friends that had faith for me when I was running low.

If she does want to talk things out with you, don’t be overwhelmed with the idea that you have to “fix” anything. If your removed perspective offers her insight, great—make suggestions to her carefully and lovingly.  Don’t feel like you have to save the day. Just listen and be supportive.

Also, she may want to spend time with you and not talk about her problems. Try to be useful. See if you can help her clean the house, babysit her kids while she takes some time to de-stress, make meals, do her grocery shopping—anything to ease her burdens. Her ability to focus on the little things in life can be decreased by the effort she’s putting into keeping it together, or surviving. She just may be worn out by pain. Refresh her spirit however the Lord leads you. You may be able to save her day just by doing her dishes or painting her nails!

Above all, remember that the Lord is good all the time. He blesses us even in our afflictions. He will take care of her when you cannot, and He is the only One that can bring healing. Remember, He loves her even more than you do.

Originally published in the Spring 2012 Real Women Real Life
Oak Creek Assembly of God Women’s Ministry Newsletter