The Road We Travel – Part II “In the Eye of the Beholder”

in the eye of the beholderFor ladies young and old our appearance plays a huge part of who we are.  In a world so caught up in how the physical body looks the road to feeling comfortable in your skin is difficult.  Every form of media tells us we have to look like a A&F models.  In fact some of you may not know but when A&F launched one of their first catalogs the young men were shirtless.  Their catalog looked more like a glamour magazine than advertising clothing.  In their stores they put large screen TVs with videos running of young people scantily clad with clothing that looked two sizes to small.  This has been going on for decades.  During my time braless halter tops and mid-drift blouses with one inch zippers on jeans were the rage.  Bathing suits had less fabric than underwear.  Today, plastic surgery to increase or decease your body is common.  Products that will help you lose weight, grow your eye lashes, hide wrinkles are billon dollar industries.  Satan wins this battle everyday.  All of this creates insecurity, low self-image and unworthiness.  To further complicate things the devil has us believing we need to look like a princess to catch and keep the prince.  Unfortunately, how we look often determines whether doors will open or close in life as well.  So in all of this how do we as Christian Women find our truth, our identity and value.  How do we balance obsession with a healthy view of self?  

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NASB

First, I want to address your appearance.  I believe it is important to take care of yourself.  Eat healthy, moderate exercise and take care of your physical body.  I truly believe everyone has an optimum weight that is not so much a number or size but how we feel and how our body functions.  We need to find a balance, a comfortable place one that can be maintained without obsessing.  I guarantee this will be a life long challenge, maybe as a woman your greatest…to keep how you see yourself from becoming an obsession.  I can prove this with one example.  Have you ever been shopping for clothing and nothing you try on looks good or fits? Be honest for me that’s most of the time! If you are young finding your unique comfort zone now will help you as your life unfolds.  Learning how to love and feel good about yourself is not the true solution to overcoming how you see yourself. Your identity MUST be found in Jesus Christ, only when you find it in Him will you be able to discern and fight the devils traps.  It is vital for you to understand how precious you are in God’s sight…so valuable. Loved and valued so much that Jesus went to the cross for you.  You also should value your life because you were made in His image; you are His most precious creation. His love for us is truly unmeasurable. And as a Christian woman, you are the daughter of the King; redeemed and made into royalty through the work of the Cross. But when you make “feeling good about yourself” a focal point, you quickly take your eyes off Christ and become wrapped up in self. Unhealthy behavior will feed a continuing cycle of obsession and balance.  Sometimes in an effort to find yourself the devil will speak lies to you causing destructive behavior.  Getting help is essential, please don’t let Satan use self-inflicted physical abuse to destroy you. 

Scripture tells us that you are not to have confidence in yourself but in Christ only.  It’s important for you to focus on how our Lord sees you, how what’s in your heart is the measure of who you are in Jesus. Your confidence and strength must come from the heavenly Father.  Any other source is fueled in pride.  You will walk a fine line in this as well.  You need to continually be asking Jesus to refine away your prideful thoughts and realize that you are who you are inside and out because of who created you.  You must believe that God created you in love and that He loved you first. 

 “For we [who are born-again have been reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, set apart for His purpose and] are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory and take pride and exult in Christ Jesus and place no confidence [in what we have or who we are] in the flesh.”  Philippians 3:3 AMP

Paul tells us that he counts all his personal accomplishments “as rubbish” compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.  This must be your priority as well. When you understand that it’s not about you but about how you can serve a God who loves you.  When you make your life pursuit in knowing God and loving Him as He loves you freedom is found. 

“But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ.”  Philippians 3:8 AMP

Jesus could not be more clear when He says, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” 

 And Jesus was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].”  Luke 9:23 AMP

It may seem hard to believe that self-denial, rather than self-esteem, could actually be the solution to female insecurity. But when you let self fade into the background and become consumed with Jesus Christ, your personal insecurities will melt away. You no longer look to yourself…your talent, beauty, or uniqueness to find confidence. You must not depend on others for accolades because gratification through objects and people don’t last but are just a momentarily.  Instead, you learn to find your confidence in who He is, rather than in who the world says you are.

Charles Spurgeon said, “If a soul has any beauty, it is because Christ has endowed that soul with His own, for in ourselves we are deformed and defiled! There is no beauty in any of us but what our Lord has worked in us.”

The world would lead you to believe that you have “beauty within you” and that if you could only learn to love yourself “just the way you are” you would be confident and happy. The TRUTH, as Spurgeon so plainly put it, “We do not actually possess any beauty or goodness of our own accord.” 

“Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.”  Psalms 53:3 NASB

The only beauty, confidence or worth you can ever have is in Jesus Christ. And His loveliness will only come shining through in your life when self has gotten out of the way. 

As John the Baptist declared, “I must decrease, but He must increase.”  John 3:30 NASB

Rather than trying to build up your self-esteem and “feel good about yourself” (which doesn’t produce lasting confidence anyway) you are to let thoughts of self fade completely into the background. Remember that to “deny yourself” according to the Bible literally means to lose sight of yourself and your own interests. You will only gain lasting security when you look away from yourself and toward Jesus Christ. 

God’s Word is full of information about your identity and position as a believer in Jesus Christ. Let the wonder of God’s perspective on you soak in. Do you fully realize what it means to be:

The question “who am I?” is not nearly as important as the question, “who is He?”  Learning to see yourself through God’s eyes is key for He is the Beholder.

Be Blessed,  Laurie

I AM DEVOTIONAL – Part 3 Our Enemies Along Our Christian Journey

The third enemy that we will face immediately is the lust of the flesh…

The flesh is without a doubt the toughest enemy, it’s that evil tendency of our inward self. Accepting Christ as our Savior and surrendering our all to Him does not ensure that sometimes our old, sinful cravings will not return. The Bible teaches that the old nature, with all its corruption, is still there and that these evil temptations come from nowhere else. In other words, we are our own worst enemy. War has been declared!

“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want”
Galations 5:13

It is the battle of the self-life and the Christ-life. This old nature cannot please God. It cannot be converted, or even patched up. Thank God, when Jesus died He took us with Him, and the old nature can be made inoperative and we can …“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11. This is done by faith.

This is a life long process, because all sin begins as a thought in our mind! We cannot fight the inward self without “knowing the Word” I’m not talking about memorizing scripture…I’m talking about hearing God speak to us through His Word! Pressing into Jesus will bring freedom, the Holy Spirit will bring the power to destroy that “old nature”. Paul warns us…“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Romans 13:14

Now the Bible says in Matthew 10 “we have been given the authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness”! So with that authority we can speak to our flesh and tell it “no more”. With that authority we can destroy anything that will prevent us from completing the work set before us by Jesus Christ therefore the devil, the world nor our own sinful nature can separate us from our Lord when we confess to Him and seek His forgiveness and love!

Be Blessed, Laurie

The Crying Corner

When does sadness, loneliness, stress, and for some anxiety step over the line and become depression?  I have suffered with varying degrees of depression for most of my life and have dealt with it in many different  ways from doctor prescribed medication, counseling, suicidal thoughts, self-help book reading, excessive drinking, shopping, sleeping, and binge eating.  None of the before mentioned methods had lasting results let alone were they healthy.  I’m excited to share what I’ve learn and how my life has changed.

I know and believe with all my heart that Satan is at the core of depression.  Satan has the ability to twist true feelings and situations into dark places.  I’m no stranger to abuse, loss, physical illness and financial worry.  Satan’s twist makes you feel failure, guilt, anger, worthless and hopeless…your feelings out of control cause you to begin spiraling down.

If you believe in God and with that I mean Jesus Christ our Savior who has given us His Word “The Bible” you must also believe in Satan.  Understanding and believing this TRUTH is key in fighting depression.  If your reading this post and do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior I strongly suggest you seek out the truth found in Christ and make a commitment to Him.  You can find answers and help at a local church.  A small aside…make sure the church you chose teaches from the Bible in its whole and believes in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately, some churches have fallen away from these core beliefs and have become lost serving man instead of Jesus Christ.

For more than 40 years I struggled with depression without lasting help.  Only through my personal relationship with Jesus is Satan losing the battle of holding me in darkness.  So what happened simply put I started turning every thought I had over to Jesus and measuring those thoughts by His Word to determine whether  they are true.  Though scripture I’m able to look at my feelings, thoughts and circumstances.  Jesus helps me find truth and I’m able to separate the lies Satan would have me believe about myself and any circumstance.  I wish I could tell you this is an easy process but your past has a toll on your beliefs.  Destructive past experiences and possibly your life at this moment can contribute to holding you in darkness and giving Satan the fuel to keep you depressed.  Jesus gives strength, clarity and most importantly freedom from Satan’s grip.

The best way for me to explain what I mean is by example.   During those long years of fighting depression without Jesus I have found myself in what I call “THE CRYING CORNER”.  This feeling is crippling, I found myself very emotional many times in my bedroom down in the corner weeping uncontrollably.  Most of the time it was life circumstances that brought me there.  In my mind NO WAY OUT was  consuming me.  Trapped in a marriage with a man who mentally and physically was abusing my sons and me.  My self-esteemed destroyed by Satan though this man and my childhood.  I thought I deserved where I was in the “crying corner”.

Day to day life became a struggle.  I performed my duties as a mother and wife with a deep depression just below the surface.  I missed many opportunities for joy and I let those I cared about down.   One such day I had been asked by a dear friend I had know for years to be maid of honor in her wedding I was so lost the day of her wedding I just didn’t show up.  She never spoke to me again.  How could I have done that?  My life on that day and the days leading up to it were dark.  I was being manipulated by Satan through my husband which made me unable to leave my home.  Days like this were common.

Then I was introduced to Jesus and His Word in a new way.  You see the Bible is not an historical account of God’s people nor is it bedtime stories.  Every Word is for you today and everyday.  Salvation is not just for “getting into heaven”.  Salvation by definition is “Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil.”  What Jesus did for me by dying on the cross was deliverance.  

The Bible became my go to place in battling Satan and depression.  Through scripture, prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit my life began to change.  I got involved at my church and began praying for the Lord to show me what changes I needed to make, those changes began with surrendering my life to Christ.

I began with these scriptures:

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12 NIV

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8 NIV

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Jesus wants to set you free.  He died for you so that you would no longer be trapped by the world but would have the power through him to set yourself apart from Satan’s destructive ways.

My prayers are for you!  Discover your own scriptures, build a army of God’s Word to fight against evil.

Laurie