#livefreeThursday: the Jesus you see in me

I follow Him

 

This email dropped in my in-box recently.

Dear Suzie, how can you believe in Jesus when so many see your faith in such a negative light?

What an honest question. This was my response to my new friend:

Dear friend, your email was much longer. You asked me to describe my faith. You asked if I was fundamental or moderate or liberal. You pointed out how people have used God’s name to hurt others. You asked why I believed.

Thank you for trusting me enough to have this conversation. Honestly, I’m so glad you asked.

I don’t see myself as a label. Not as far as my faith is concerned.

And I understand that faith can seem complex. Like, when it is tangled in a to-do list or misused. That’s the human element. We are all oh-so-human sometimes.

But I have also been privileged to also witness faith change the world and change people. If you see me on a Sunday morning, I’m watching people.

I’m seeing the young couple on the second row. He used to be an addict; she used to feel hopeless. Now they worship God freely, a child nestled between them.

I look at the woman in the choir whose husband doesn’t believe, but she loves him well. Her joy comes from family, but also through a deep connection with her Heavenly Father.

I see the extra-tall guy who’s bald and wears a funky cap. He’s so in love with Jesus that it’s hard to deny.

It’s His work I see inside of them that describes why I love Him so much.

It’s His work inside of me that does the same.

restored

There have been times when I lifted my hands to worship in the bleakest parts of my life and true praise rang out though there was nothing praiseworthy at the moment.

That was because of my faith, not because I was strong.

There have been moments when I felt His presence close, and knew I was not alone.

Knowing God has transformed my life and continues to do so, even in the questioning parts.

So, why do I follow Him?

I follow Him because I cannot see my life without a relationship that changed me so completely.

I can’t shake the truth that my life took a turn when I became a believer. Knowing him is a thread through the fabric of every choice, every decision, every part of my existence and I’m grateful.

My pastor recently asked a question.

Would people want to follow the Jesus they see in you?

I hope so. Not because I’m perfect or have all the answers, because the truth is that sometimes I fall way short.

But because He’s real and that knowledge changes everything.

It changes me. It changes us.

Thanks again for stopping by. I’m so grateful that you did.

Suzie

LIVEFREETHURSDAY


Should I be afraid of God? {{giveaway}}

trillia2

 

trillia

When you were a little girl, your fear might have been of the dark or the bogeyman under the bed. As adults, though, our fears morph from childhood imagination to things that could be real. Like the fear of what others think of us, or the worry that keeps us up at night.

Trillia Newbell believes that fear is an emotion that we feel in a number of ways. It can be paralyzing, controlling, and even motivating. She believes it also has the power to whisper lies to our soul about who God is.

Maybe you’ve wondered if you should be afraid of God. I’m grateful that Trillia Newbell came by today to share the answer with us.  ~Suzie

 

What Is the Fear of the Lord?

Trillia Newbell

I remember that as I learned about God’s sovereignty, I began to fear the Lord. I wondered if God was a tyrannical dictator and felt scared—maybe even terrified—as if God would rain down misery on my life, and I had no control over it.

I realize I am not alone with this struggle and misunderstanding of what it means to fear the Lord. But, thankfully, this isn’t what the fear of the Lord means at all. John tells us in 1 John 4:18-19:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.

The fear that John is referring to here is the wrath of God or final judgment. My fear of the Lord was not rooted in thoughts of His love for me as His beloved daughter.

Rather, I approached Him as if the wrath that He poured out on His Son on my behalf was still reserved for me.

I had a difficult time reconciling the struggles and difficult circumstances I encountered with the love of God and instead feared that those struggles were indicators of His wrath.

Did I do something wrong? 

No, this is not the way the Lord operates with those who love and fear Him. His wrath has been completely satisfied in Christ. He is loving and kind, slow to anger and abounding in love. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases” (Lamentations 3:22).

In our case, the fear of the Lord is to be understood as an awe and reverence of God, because we know that “the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:3). It starts in the heart. The outward expression is obedience and fellowship and worship.

The response to His awesomeness is to worship.

God’s not a dictator. He’s not ready to rain down misery on your life with one wrong move.

Instead, you can be in awe of Him. You obey and love Him, not out of a natural inclination to do good, but because you have His Spirit, and desire to honor Him.

That’s a beautiful reverance. A life changing reverance born out of relationship.

Trillia

fearandfaithMaybe you’ve feared God when He’s asking for relationship instead. What might happen if He held out His hands and asked for that fear?

What would you say?

Today, Trillia Newbill has offered to give away one copy of her new book, Fear and Faith. Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Randy Alcorn and many others say it’s a book that we need to read.

This book takes you to the root of a particular fear and shares how to learn to trust and find truth and strength in your faith instead. Just leave a comment below to be entered to win Trillia’s new book, Fear and Faith.

You can also purchase Trillia’s book easily with this link. ~ Suzie

  Disclosure

When your view of God is all messed up

loved by God

Meet Melanie Davis Porter. She once had a twisted view of God and it messed with everything that mattered to her.

Today she has a new word written on her heart. She’s loved. Plain and simple. Loved by God for exactly who she is. ~ Suzie

I Am Loved

Melanie Davis Porter

My view of God was warped. I was a broken, little girl with a constant hurting heart. Raised in a legalistic, caustic atmosphere, I became a loner and stuffed the hurts under my smile. Unconditional love was foreign. I was taught that God would get me for everything.

I lived terrified that God stood watch waiting to take something or someone away because of my sin.

Feeling unloved caused me to excel in performance.

I found admiration and attention free of criticism and constraints.

Feeling unloved caused me to abandon God’s will.

Life changing decisions now redeemed by grace, threatened my motivation to endure specific seasons of life.

Feeling unloved ham stringed my marriage.

Doubt shadowed me for years.

Feeling unloved, hindered my ability to be the parent God wanted for three precious little boys.

I held on so tight. I smothered to the point of dysfunction. I wanted them to feel the love I never felt. [Read more…]

#livefree Thursday: When my “but” gets in the way {{linkup}}

Live carefree before

Does your “but” ever get in the way?

I want God’s best, but. . .

I want to be physically fit, but. . .

I want God to work in my relationships, but. . . 

I want to take a step toward that calling, but. . . 

 Not too long ago I was listening to a woman share her deepest desires over her faith  and in her family. There was no doubt of her sincerity. She was desperate for change.

We prayed together and I asked her this question, the one question that I’ve felt pressing on my own heart.

The one question behind every conversation that you and I are having this month:

If Jesus offered you a mended heart and asked for {{fill in the blank}} in return, what would that be?

She knew the answer. She said she’d known it for a long time. She shook her head. “I want to give it to Him,” she said, “but. . . ”

And there it was.

A big ‘ole but. 

Perhaps you believe that I should have never asked her this question. After all, Jesus came to give us a mended heart. There’s no price attached. We don’t have to earn it. We don’t have to perform for it. We don’t have to twirl away and dance a dance a for it.

He just gives it.

Yes, He does. This gift has no strings. Instead, it’s a gift that continues to be opened and treasured and personalized over time.

It’s a carefree way of living as His girl.

We believe that this gift is ours to receive. We trust that behind every layer, every treasure inside, that God is waiting to show us something new because He cares for us.

Live carefree before God because He is most careful for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (The Msg).

Every time we offer up our “big ‘ole but,” we are holding up our hands for what He desires to give.

All of it. 

I want Your best, so here’s that one thing I’ve held on to for way too long.

I want You to work in my relationship, so here’s that resentment/hurt/pain/anger/lashing out/stuffing in/whatever fills this blank.

Not too long ago I was given a gift that surprised and delighted me,  a handcrafted kaleidoscope.

Like a child I held it up and looked through the stained glass treasure and I spun the wheel, the colored jewels creating a different masterpiece with every single spin.

My first instinct was to put it up in a cabinet where you could only see it from a distance, because it was fragile. Such a treasure.

It was only when I sat side by side with friends, with my grandbabies, with my grown children, and I held and touched and shared that gift freely that I was able to fully experience the joy of the kaleidoscope.

Giving up our “buts” allow us to live the gift. To enjoy it. To unwrap it. To experience it.

Are you ready to give up your big ‘ole “but?”

Suzie

 

 



 

She is rescued and repaired

rescue and restore

There’s nothing that delights me more than watching a woman discover who she is to Christ.

I met Jana Kennedy-Spicer online, but I’ll never forget the day that she showed up at a Texas event just to hang out. She was a delight! Since that time, I’ve loved getting to know her. Today it’s my honor to introduce you to my friend, Jana Kennedy-Spicer.

 

What does a mended heart look like?

w/Jana Kennedy-Spicer

If breaking commandments was an Olympic sport, I might have earned a gold medal. My bad decisions and poor choices often landed me in places where I did not want to be.

Two failed marriages, both abusive, and two sweet babies later, God reached down and pulled me up out of my mess.

I remarried, gained a son and spent the next fifteen years living a Christian life but lacking a real relationship with God.


janakennedy

 

Ten years ago our family imploded and everything that had seemed important in one moment lay in rubble the next. My daughter had been sexually abused by her (step) father.

God – again – reached down and picked up this child of his and delivered me to safe ground, delivered my children to safe ground, and repaired and restored our broken hearts and broken lives.

One of my favorite scriptures, Daniel 3:27, tells the story of King Nebuchadnezzar throwing Daniel and his friends in the fire, and this is the truth I found in that story.

God went into the fire with them,
God protected them in the midst of the flames
God delivered them from the fiery furnace
God removed any trace of evidence they had ever been in the fire
They didn’t even smell of smoke

That is what God did for my family!

My families’ ordeal brought me to my knees and back to the feet of Jesus. Our relationship was restored and grew into something I had never experienced as a teen.

Three years ago God brought a wonderful godly man into my life and called me to serve the Kingdom, that is when “Sweet To The Soul” began.

God took the worst thing that happened to my family. He rescued and repaired us, and turned it into a testimony and ministry.

Blessings Soul Friends,

Jana

I hope you’ll visit Jana on her blog, Sweet to the Soul. You’ll fall in love with her, just like I did.

Suzie

When it feels like you’re caught in a storm

You are my hiding place; you will

It was the middle of the night when the sirens went off.

Welcome back to Oklahoma. 

I crawled over my beautiful, sleeping granddaughter and scooped her up and headed for the closet.

Jane had been looking forward to our sleepover all week and her mom and daddy were excited to have a date night.

We colored in coloring books. We played outside on the swing. She climbed me like a jungle gym for a couple of hours and then, when her eyelids were heavy, she asked if I’d sleep with her in her new big-girl bed.

I longingly looked at the couch, but said yes. Sleeping with Jane is all about the memories and nothing about sleep. [Read more…]

#livefreeThursday – When it’s not in my control

doily

We’ve all experienced it.

Holding a dream in our heart. Working, doing everything right so it will all work out. Then something out of our control happens and there’s not one single thing we can do about it.

Not.one.single.thing.

That’s what happened with The Mended Heart. While I wrote this book, I drove to little coffee shops or a local prayer room, and for hours I prayed for the right words to come. I prayed for the women who would one day read it.  I carried that book and those women in my heart for nearly two years as it went through the writing, editing, marketing, and finally the birthing process.

A few weeks after the book was released, the publishing house was bought by another.

And just like that, The Mended Heart was launched out of an exciting birthing process into a warehouse.

I learned a long time ago that there’s lots of twists and turns that come with pursuing your call. There are a myriad of things that can happen that derail a dream (or at least it feels that way).

Several weeks ago, a year after The Mended Heart was released, I found out that it had been chosen by Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study for their summer study.

I wept. I twirled in my living room. I danced. I wept again.

Just as much as the sudden loss of my dream was out of my control, so was this. I couldn’t make this happen. I hadn’t even imaged it possible.

But what if, Suzie? What if this hasn’t happened?

To answer that question, I want to share a picture. It’s one of my greatest treasures.

photo

Her name is Claudia. Her words, so deep and private, rocked my world as she shared how God was mending her heart in ways she never thought possible. She sent me a picture of my book sitting on her bed alongside the Bible, sticky notes with words that were speaking to her heart.

If The Mended Heart hadn’t been selected for the OBS and it had only reached Claudia, then it would have been enough.

In fact, way more than enough.

If my “out of my control” moments have taught me anything, it’s that God doesn’t measure what we do by numbers, or success, or “likes” or sales or how many people fill a church or conference, but by weight.

If my motivation is to impact the heart of women who feel broken, then whether it’s one or one million, that matters to God. It weighs something.

If I am focused on success and keep trying to make it happen when it’s clear that it’s out of my control, or try to make it happen in my timing when it’s obvious it’s not, I might have missed the point of why I do what I do.

I’m writing book #8 right now (I can’t wait to share news about that with you later).

Who knows what is on the horizon for those words? I’m going to work hard, work smart, dream big, and then place it like an offering in His hands and watch what He wants to do with it.

And that’s enough. It’s my right now. It’s what I can do with His help. 

I hope you’ll join me in the summer OBS. You can sign up today. Tell a friend about it. Share it with your women’s ministry or small group.

We’ll connect on June 22. I’ll be the one twirling in joy as we watch what God can do, together.

Suzie

I also have a group of friends dropping by today. Several Compel writers are slipping in to say hello. For my Compel friends, the tip used in this was to write from a place of vulnerability.

When you’re tired of being a debt collector

eyeforeye

If you came over from Encouragement for Today, welcome! I’m so glad to see you.

He came to live with us for a year or so. He needed a safe place. We didn’t realize that taking in “D” also meant that we were going to deal with some pretty awful debt collectors.

One called daily. He threatened. He bullied. We had nothing to do with “D’s” finances, but his threats turned personal against us.

We explained that “D” was working hard and paying off his debt, that his life was turned in a new direction. That living with us offered him safety and stability, but there were also requirements involved. One was getting his finances in order.

Richard and called the guy to let him know that “D” was one payment away from being square.

The debt collector asked to come to our home to pick up the payment. . .

We had no idea who we were dealing with.   [Read more…]