Posted in Devotion

The White Witch

“You have a traitor there, Aslan,” said the witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund. But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he’d been through and after the talk he’d had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn’t seem to matter what the witch said.”

In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund leaves his brothers and sisters to chase after the White Witch because what she offers to him seems more enticing. He soon learns that everything she told him was lies, and he is treated very poorly in her presence. After being rescued by Aslan’s army and talked to by Aslan, he seems completely changed. This quote describing the White Witch’s accusations against Edmund and his reaction remind me perfectly of Satan’s accusations against us.

Jesus has made me completely clean in God’s eyes and rescued me from my own White Witch, Satan. Even still Satan tries to come back and tell me that I’m a traitor and that I don’t deserve to be part of God’s family. He does this by attacking my service to God, convincing me that I’m not doing enough or that my heart is impure. My reaction sometimes is to give in to the lies and try to work harder when in reality God loves me no matter what I do. When accused by the White Witch Edmund looked at Aslan. Even when Satan tries to accuse me, I can simply look at Jesus and know that nothing Satan says matters.

Posted in Devotion

Weak

A few days ago I was helping move a staff member into her house. There was quite a bit of heavy furniture. While we had several adult and teenage males to help, I wanted to pull my weight because I hate feeling weak. Pride began to swell as I watched them carry the heavy stuff, and I was told I couldn’t carry that. I’d just get started carrying something when one of the boys would say, “Ms. Hughes let me get that.” At one point, I and one of the dorm boys were carrying the headboard. It wasn’t so much heavy as it was top-heavy. I knew a co-worker was right behind me, but by-golly I was going to carry this one thing all the way into the house. I was struggling with the height and weight combined, and eventually I had to admit I couldn’t carry it and hand it over to him. I had to admit I was weak.

Similarly, I often try to be strong with emotional and spiritual matters. Pride kicks in and I don’t want to let others see me cry or struggle. Sometimes I forget to even let God know I’m struggling. I put on my smile and persevere. It’ll go away eventually right?

If there’s one thing that stresses me out and makes me feel weak more than anything else, it’s car troubles. This is a problem that I can’t just smile through because it will only exacerbate if I don’t address the issue. For example, I came out one Sunday to an almost flat tire. Tears flowed, and the stress hit immediately because I live a mile from the maintenance building on campus and it was Sunday when no one would just be down there to help air my tire. Plus, I knew that there was probably something more wrong because tires shouldn’t just go flat. I felt weak. Thankfully I was thinking about God that morning, and he reminded me that I had a bike pump. It gave me quite a workout, and it caused me to be late for church, but I got it pumped up to a decent level and made it to church before the sermon. God provided because I didn’t pretend I was stronger than I was. (No worries, I got it plugged at the auto shop in town.)

The day after the moving incident, the song leader in chapel decided to read verses about love in between singing Jesus Loves Me. He was focused on the love of God, but my heart panged at the phrase, “when I am weak, you are strong”. How true is that? God is strong for me when I feel the most weak. Whether it’s physical weakness, emotional weakness, knowledge or situational weakness, or spiritual weakness, God is there to prop me up. He’s there to be strong for me.

 

Posted in Devotion

Falling In Love Part Two

It is so easy for me to spend time with my boyfriend and look forward to that time. I want to talk with him each day. Sometimes life is busy and our conversations are limited to text messages, but that’s not enough. I desire that focused conversation time whether in-person or over the phone. I want our friends and family to know us and to like us together, so we’ve spent time hanging out with other people. We do fun things like play games, mini-golf, or shoot pool, but I also relish the time we get to talk and do nothing else. Just like I started discussing in a previous post, our relationships with humans should reflect our relationship with God.

A married woman in my Bible study group compared her relationship with her husband to how she should treat her time with God. She talked about how sometimes her husband wants to be lovey-dovey, but she just wants to watch the TV show or do the dishes. She spoke of how sometimes it’s okay to talk with him while doing other things, but she recognizes that they need time in their marriage where it’s just the two of them being together. Likewise, it’s so easy to multitask while we pray and claim we are “praying without ceasing”. That’s fine, and God wants that constant communication, but He also wants the intentional time as well. Just as a spouse, or boyfriend in my case, wants and needs the focused alone time, God wants us to set aside everything and spend time with him.

These thoughts leave me with a few reflection questions for myself that maybe we should all be asking. Do I crave the time with God like I desire the time with my boyfriend? Do I long for opportunities to introduce God to my loved ones? Can I just sit and talk with God for hours? Do I set aside everything to have that daily time with God?

I’m thankful that God is loving and merciful because I can’t honestly answer yes to all of those questions every single day. I thank God for this metaphor, and pray that God would stir my passion for him every day. I pray that each of us would clear our minds and hearts for focused God time each day. I hope we all start falling in love with God just a little bit more.

Posted in Devotion

A Battle To Fight

On Sunday at church, my pastor made the statement that “when we worship God, we engage in warfare.”

Several times in the past month Ephesians 6 has come into my life: my daily devotional, a Wednesday night service at my boyfriend’s church, and the following Sunday at my church. If you’re not aware, Ephesians 6 cautions Christians to be ready for spiritual attack and gives practical advice about spiritual armor to don.

The Reality of Spiritual Warfare

Honestly, as many times as I’ve heard this passage or read it myself, I’ve never really thought about the battle going on spiritually. Yeah, I believed there was and I liked the metaphor of the armor, but I didn’t really take it seriously. Now, though, I realize it’s real. Not only is Satan, the world, and our flesh trying to keep people from knowing God at all, it’s also trying to keep us from following God’s will. Just based upon the negative thoughts in my head alone (see my previous post) I believe that spiritual warfare definitely exists. Satan and the world try to draw me away from God’s truths by convincing me that I am not enough in one aspect or another.

Another way we are attacked is through blinding to God’s work. Luke 24:32 says “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scripture?”.  How many times has God worked in my life or around me and I have been blinded? Maybe I attributed it to hard work or coincidence when really God was behind it. Maybe I was just so consumed by the work or negativity that I didn’t even notice the blessing.

We have be careful not to give Satan too much power though. Firstly, not all spiritual warfare comes from him; some of the attacks come from the world/society, and some of them come from our sinful fleshly nature created by the fall in the garden. Secondly, Satan is not equal with God. Satan was an angel who fell and was banished from God’s presence. That does not equal God. Satan really doesn’t have powers; he works mainly by manipulation and deceit. That’s why he’s called the “father of lies”. Ever read The Screwtape Letters? Notice that those demons can’t actually force anyone to do anything- they simply suggest to the humans that there is a different way than God’s way and make that darker way look more enticing.

The Effects of Spiritual Warfare

When there are spiritual battles taking place, no one is safe. My pastor gave a definition for war zone, “a combat area where the rights of neutrals are suspended”. This means that no one is safe during a battle. Think about an earthly war. In the war zone, innocent people get hurt or killed simply because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. I used to think that the spiritual warfare stuff was for more mature Christians, and I would just sit on the sidelines and pray for those fighting the battle. The truth is that we’re all in the battle, even those who don’t believe in God. That led to think about the question of why bad things happen to good people; the answer seems clear- there’s a war going on and innocent people get caught in the effects.

The Antidote to Spiritual Warfare

Both of the sermons I heard about this passage and topic, which were given at completely disconnected churches two hours away from one another, said the best way to fight against spiritual warfare is to love others. Sounds simple. Well try loving a teenager who consistently says no and is distracting the rest of the class from the lesson. That’s warfare, and in those moments I must figure out a way to still express love to that student.

Ultimately the antidote to the war is Jesus. We can’t fight without him, but the also the reality is that he has already won the war. Colossians 2:13 says that Jesus “disarmed principalities and powers”. In fact, Satan knows the war was won when Jesus died and rose again, but he runs around deceiving us that he still has a chance to succeed. He tries to distract us from praising, praying, and loving by causing bad things to happen.

Call to Action

It’s time we take off our blinders and stop succumbing to the distractions and noise. It’s time we look at God and realize the battle is already finished. It’s time we start praising God and telling Satan, the world, and our flesh who really is boss of this world. It’s time to kick some spiritual butt.

 

 

Posted in Devotion

Standing Firm

Maybe I’ve written this before, but I’m writing it again with new words as a reminder to myself and hopefully an encouragement to you.

Stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11b

How does Satan attack me? Through the little lies that enter my head. Just like Eve in the garden, he puts doubts about God’s character and God’s plan in my head. He makes me doubt what is good around me. I try to maintain a regular devotional and prayer time- he says, “did God ever say you have to read every day? You’re tired, so take a day off.” My boyfriend compliments me, and Satan shoots it down by pointing out all of my flaws. When I face something difficult, Satan convinces me that I have to do it all on my own without God or humans. I have an idea of something to write, and Satan whispers that someone has already written it better. The list goes on with the little lies that Satan puts in my mind.

Paul reminds me to stand firm. The only way to do that is to maintain a strong relationship with God. It means resisting the devil by opening my Bible even when I’m tired. It means catching myself in the mental comparison game and instead thanking God for the beauty and health he’s given me. It means accepting God’s strength and human help when tasks look daunting. It means sharing my thoughts even though they may not be unique.

Mostly standing firm means covering my life with prayer.

This note from one of my students says it so well.
Posted in Devotion

Satisfaction

What makes you completely happy and content? Maybe it’s a good time with friends or a tall cup of coffee. Maybe you find happiness in a thrilling novel or feel complete when you’re with your special someone. When you were younger maybe you threw a tantrum in the store because you thought only the newest gizmo would satisfy you. Now that you’re older, you understand that the toy you wanted so badly didn’t make you happy for long, but you still long for the newest phone or a bigger house.

Whatever it is that you think will satisfy you, it won’t last.

Believe me, I’ve tried to satisfy my longing for love and security and happiness with a variety of things. None of those things were bad in and of themselves, but their satisfaction level only lasted a brief moment.

Truly nothing will satisfy us like God.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14

We all long acceptance, love, and contentment, but only God can fill that thirst. How does that happen? God fills us completely when we spend time with him, whether that’s through a church service, Bible reading, prayer time, or worship through song.

My prayer for myself is that I will seek God more when I’m feeling thirsty rather than seeking earthly things.

Satisfy me Lord, oh oh
Satisfy me Lord, oh oh
Yeah, I’m begging You, to help me see
You’re all I want, You’re all I need
Oh, satisfy me Lord

-Tenth Avenue North

 

Posted in Devotion

Fully known, Fully loved

Let’s get real. Being vulnerable and letting others see the real me is not easy or something I do very often. I imagine I’m not alone in this either. One of my deepest fears is that someone will see past my surface and not like what they see. It’s a struggle with self-confidence, and it’s not only a problem for teenagers.

Some days I can clearly see all of the good qualities God has given me, but other days I feel blinded. So I hide. I allow the lies of Satan to convince me that trusting will only lead to heartbreak. He tells me that there’s nothing inside that is worth sharing. If you’ve had the same thoughts, they’re lies. Maybe letting other people in will lead to heartbreak, but God made us for relationship. Maybe there is some badness inside each of us, but God can redeem anything if we let him.

The truth of the matter is that God, the one whose opinion matters most, has already seen all of my flaws and accepts me just the way I am. Nothing I do can separate me from him now that we’re connected. That truth gives me the freedom to trust earthly relationships. God is holding my heart so even if it gets hurt by someone who rejects me, God will keep it together and mend it.

Even in my insecurities I publicly proclaim, borrowing the words of Tauren Wells, “I’m fully known and loved” by God.