#livefreeThursday: knocking out everything but the real enemy

shadowbox

If you watch her, she’s got the form. Her fists are tightly wound and snug in the boxing gloves. She’s poised and if you watch her swing, you can almost hear the smack of contact.

Except the swing hits air.

She’s shadowboxing. There’s no one on the other side of her swing but an imaginary opponent. It’s the fight before the fight — you know, the one where the smack is real and the opponent is swinging too.

Shadowboxing is a great training exercise if you are a boxer, but it was never intended to be the real fight. It’s the warmup.

Yet spiritually that’s where many of us do our fighting and we don’t even have boxing gloves on. 

I’ve been there too many times. 

We gear up when our heart is hurt. We throw a punch with a passive aggressive statement, or that glare or that silence that weighs heavy in the room.

Punch, punch, swing and jab.

It never hits the real enemy, but it sideswipes a husband, or the clerk who is doing everything but checking out our groceries. It forces us to live with our “dukes up” internally at all times, making us tired, tired, oh-so-tired.

We have lots of excuses for our shadowboxing.

So stressed.

We’re tired.

Just a little cranky.

Oh and don’t forget about that person. That circumstance. That [fill in the blank].

All the while the real enemy is having a heyday with our heart, our family, our relationships, our health.

This is not the way we are supposed to live. Not as woman of faith. Not as a child of the most high God.

No.way.

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. Acts 1:8 

I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. Luke 10:19

But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you. 1 John 2:27

We can keep swinging at all the wrong things or we can fight the real enemy. 

That right jab of truth connects with the enemy as we stand firm. That deep swing toward prayer warns him that we aren’t playing anymore.

We fight in the power of His Word and in His might, and those who have been the unfortunate recipients of our former shadowboxing get to see a woman who is a real fighter, strong and firmly rooted.

Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
He trains my hands for war
and gives my fingers skill for battle.

Psalm 144:1

Let’s wrap our hands.

Let’s take a stance.

Let’s swing in faith and watch it connect with the real enemy.

No more shadowboxing for this girl. What about you?

Suzie

 

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10 scriptures that help you in the battle

not alone

 

Through the written Word we discover the Living Word—Jesus Christ.

~ Billy Graham

In Luke 4, Jesus was led into the wilderness. The enemy circled around him interested in attacking the man, but more so the Messiah’s purpose. Jesus had come to rescue you and me.

Jesus didn’t debate. He didn’t reason. He simply responded with the Word.

Forty days later the enemy’s plans were in disarray and he walked away defeated. Jesus walked out filled with power! [Read more…]

our shaky oh-so-strong stand of faith

be strong

I was on Gaga duty the other night and stood outside Josiah’s room to check on him. I had rocked him and put him down a half hour earlier. I kept hearing strange bumps so I quietly tiptoed up the stairs in the dark.

When I cracked open the door I saw him perched on the headboard of his toddler bed. His arms were in the air as if in victory. [Read more…]

#livefreeThursday: taking off our comfortable faith

dirty feet

Dirty, dusty feet.

It’s not a pretty image, is it?

Just today I received a magazine with a 30% off sale on shoes. They are my favorite brand — secretly comfortable and outwardly gorgeous. I’ll speak at a conference this summer and my winter feet could already feel the freedom of those beautiful shoes.

Will I buy them? (Maybe Mother’s Day?) I don’t know, but I still think they’re gorgeous.

shoes

While I appreciate a beautiful shoe, I long for my faith to resemble dirty, dusty feet.

I’ve been asking Jesus to redefine my faith.

Lord, I don’t want my faith to be comfortable and pretty. Show me how to follow You. Take me deeper.

My dirty, dusty feet are waking me in the night and lead me to pray for a couple living in Turkey. Maybe it’s two in the morning here, but it’s 10 a.m. there and God knows what they need.

My comfy faith wants to roll over and sleep, pulling tight in the thick comforter, but dirty, dusty feet ask me to war for them, though I have no idea what they need.

Dirty, dusty feet peeks into my bank account and says, “It’s all His.” Richard and I have known what it’s like to worry about bills and budget and work as hard as you can. Yet dirty, dusty feet shows me that, whether we are in the lean or breathing room periods of our lives, it’s all His.

He reminds me of the joy of giving sacrificially, especially when it meshes with His heartbeat.

Dirty, dusty feet shows me where I’m nurturing a grudge and asks me to love extravagantly instead.

Dirty, dusty feet take us places that challenge our faith in a thousand different ways.

They remind us that God designed us and knows what we are capable of doing in His name.

Dirty dusty feet shows us the heart of our Savior. It allows us to hear His voice because we’re following closely.

It reminds us of what is important — the eternal perspective — and allows each of us to hold everything else lightly.

Maybe, like me, you really love a pretty shoe, but my prayer is that the world will begin to notice our dirty, dusty feet and take off their shoes and follow too.

Dear Jesus, remove our comfortable, pretty faith as we place bare, clean feet on the road you have carved out for each of us. Show us the deep, though we admit freely that we fear it sometimes. We trust that where You lead, You teach and comfort and love us. Thank you for the honor of walking with You, wherever it leads, whatever You ask. In Your beautiful, mighty name, amen.

Suzie

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Putting up your spiritual dukes

abundant life

 

It felt like a girlfriend celebration. Lots of cheering and “whoop, whoops.” At the end of all of the good ministry news, one person gently issued this invitation.

Will you fast with me?

There weren’t a lot of details, only encouragement to pray about what that fast might look like for each of us individually.

Later that night I was walking and tears started trailing down my cheeks in gratitude. I love the fact that I get to be a part of a team of strong, faith-filled woman that celebrate victories, but who don’t settle into the role of victor.

Instead, they are smart enough to realize that spiritual victories launch us deeper into spiritual battle. There’s more to do, so let’s be prepared.

Is spiritual warfare real?

[Read more…]

If the Bible is a love letter and you are a recipient. . .

love letter

If I pull out the box of love letters that Richard wrote when we were just two young kids in community college, I can’t help but smile at some of the words.

So earnest.

So unaware of what we would one day face together.

So infatuated and crazy in love.

Those love letters were the beginning of our story, but it’s the love letters that have been written since that time that really capture this girl’s heart. [Read more…]

A prayer that will change your life

LIFEshakingWord6

 

 

I don’t know what God wants from me. 

I’m not sure that God can use my life.

I think that being in ministry is only for a few. 

May I be completely vulnerable with you? There are times that I just stand in awe at God’s choice to use this girl in ministry.

But may I take it deeper? [Read more…]

Growing out our roots

LIFEshakingWord12

 

I spent last night in the hospital with Richard and we are still there as I write this. We thought he had the flu and then it turned into something much worse. The doctor sent us to the Emergency Room, and from there we waited. . . and waited.

Eventually he had a CT scan, which confirmed that he needed intervention. His fever climbed: 103.6 degrees. They wired him up to a few machines, got the antibiotics going. I spent the night listening to him.

He was restless. I was restless.

At one point I got up in the middle of the night. Eyes all red. Hair in a wad. That’s when a super spiritual thought crossed my mind.

I’m sure glad I got my roots done.

When I say “done,” I mean that I applied a $2.99 box of WalMart’s finest the morning of our adventure. I looked like I’d been rolled down a hill, but the scattered silvers weren’t shining.

So, what does this have to do with anything? Is it spiritual at all? 

Not really, but I laughed as I read today’s scripture because it was all about our roots.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)

Paul was praying for a discouraged church.

Sure, guys, it’s discouraging that I’m in jail, but I pray that out of his glorious riches (abundance, depths greater than we can imagine) that he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. 

If there’s one theme I hope we take away from this life shaking study, it’s this:

God cares about the external, but his greatest work is internal

Deep roots that lock into his love — so deep, so wide, high, so long — that we can’t help but be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

tree

Paul was sitting in a prison cell.

Right now I’m sitting in a hospital room, lights blinking, a hard place to lay my head, events turned upside down.

Our God cares about the external, but his greatest work is internal

 

I’m rooted.

There was that moment when they rolled Richard’s bed down the hall to the operating room and I closed the door and sank in a chair. . .  and there He was. 

Waiting on his girl.

I was able to sink my roots deep into that love and strength, if even for five minutes. The fullness of God welled up inside and it was enough.

I didn’t know how things were going to turn out, but regardless of how they did I was anchored on the inside.

We can’t make that happen on our own. We just can’t. 

I’m glad my shiny silver roots were covered for this adventure, but I’m also glad for the deep roots that hold us fast no matter what’s going on around us.

Even in the external bumpy, roller-coaster, not-what-we-asked-for-at-all moments of our lives.

Suzie

  • Read Ephesians 3:12-19. 
  • Why does Paul emphasize the internal over the external circumstances?
  • What do deep roots offer in the natural? What do they offer in our faith?
  • Consider someone who is going through a roller-coaster external circumstance. Pray Paul’s prayer over that person.
  • If you feel led, text it or write that person a note with his or her name in the scripture. Commit to pray for this person throughout the day. (God has already placed someone on my heart. I love that!)
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