surrender

Fighting Enslaving Behaviors by Leaning Into Jesus

Flower image with quote pulled from post.

Though I trusted in Christ for salvation as a child, you never would’ve believed this, had you encountered me in my young adult years.

It was like I’d grabbed hold of the fringes of eternal life but not the full expression of it.

I had a tainted, partial view of God. I saw Him as lofty, for sure. The One who not only set the rules but had every right to do so. I also knew I didn’t deserve the gift of grace He’d given me. In fact, I felt so undeserving, I was certain that was how He viewed me as well. As if He tolerated me on occasion but was mostly disappointed.

He certainly had cause to be. I wasn’t living anything like my Bible said I should. I went to church on Sunday and Bible study on Tuesday then got drunk with my friends on Friday. I took my daughter to playdates and acted like a responsible and emotionally stable adult. Then, while my husband and daughter slept, I spent the quiet night hours binging and purging in a desperate attempt to fill all my empty places inside.

I was trying to live the Christian life in my own strength, apart from Jesus, and I was failing miserably. Each night, I’d promise God the next day I’d do better, only to find myself falling into the same self-destructive behaviors.

Then one day, I stumbled upon Jesus’ response to temptation. You may be familiar with the story. Scripture tells us the Spirit led Him into the wilderness where He was bombarded, again and again, by the forces of darkness. Yet, He remained strong. Unshakable. Victorious. As I read Matthew 4:1-11 and all the ways Christ engaged in a more intense spiritual battle than you and I ever will, it was as if He were holding His hand out to me, saying, “Come on. Watch what I do. Follow Me.”

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So I began to do just that. I started to look at my faith differently; less about what I needed to do or not do and more about what God wanted me to learn. My first and most important lesson—discovering who He was. Gaining full knowledge of His love and glory, because only then could I truly live in Him.

In John 14, shortly before His death, Jesus spoke to His disciples. He left them final instructions regarding a rather overwhelming assignment—launching His church during a time of intense persecution. This by a group of men who, in a few short hours would abandon Him. In other words, individuals who, like me, were nowhere near strong or wise enough for the task.

But Jesus said to them, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; Believe also in Me.” In fact, He used the word believe six times in the span of fourteen verses. “Believe not in yourself or your might or plans but in Me,” Jesus said (paraphrased).

Jesus' invitation: Believe not in yourself or your might or your plans but in Me. Click To Tweet

As I fought against old behavior patterns, it was as if Jesus was saying the same to me. “I have so much more for you, Jennifer. I’ll show you precisely what that is, in due time. But today, believe in Me. Lean on Me, and learn from Me. (Matthew 11:28). We’ll take this journey together.”

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That was just under twenty years ago, and I’m grateful to say, Christ conquered each one of those enslaving habits and more as He’s molded me, slowly but steadily, into His image. This transformation hasn’t been quick or easy, but it’s been freeing and sure.

He’ll do the same for you.

Host Wholly Loved Ministries’ Fully Alive conference and learn how to move from striving and merely surviving to thriving, and visit Jennifer online at her weekly devotional blog found HERE. Check out her latest book release HERE.

 

Bible studies

Walking in the Freedom of Grace

Imagine if we truly lived with our feet firmly planted in grace and our hearts deeply centered in Christ’s love. Imagine the freedom and joy we’d experience! Imagine the growth that would occur, the relationships that would be healed, and the lives transformed.

When I lead our Becoming His Princess Bible study, I like to begin by encouraging women to vision cast for their lives. What might their days, confidence levels, home environments, and work places look like if they viewed themselves as Christ saw them and lived in that reality?

I encourage you to do the same, and to grab a free ecopy of our study, if you haven’t yet done so. Grab the PDF file for free HERE and the Kindle file HERE. If you’d prefer a print copy, you can purchase that HERE.

And if you’ve never experienced the transforming grace of Christ and want to learn more, watch THIS.

Uncategorized

When Love Feels Hard — Guest Blogger

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What happens when we’re called to forgive our enemy? Surely some acts, even some people, are unforgiveable, right?

Carolyn was the last person I wanted to forgive. The event I experienced because of her was so traumatic I’d blocked it from my mind for thirteen years.

I met Carolyn at a public pool when I was eleven. She was tall and pretty. We instantly hit it off, but my parents didn’t know she had a troubled home life. She was also friends with another girl with mental problems. They were best friends until I was put in the middle. One night, when I no longer wanted to be a part of their dysfunctional antics, I told Carolyn I didn’t want to be friends anymore. She begged me to take one last adventure with her and visit the roof of her high-rise apartment. I obliged, though terrified of heights.

The roof was dark, cold, and windy. I didn’t want to go to the edge, but Carolyn encouraged me. A few feet away, I gingerly peered over into the abyss. Carolyn gripped the back of my shirt. She pushed me closer to the rail and delivered her ultimatum, “Say you’ll be friends with me forever or you’ll go over the side.”

I hated her, but I’d buried the fear she’d instilled deep inside. I thank God people rescued me from her physical clutches, but I still needed Jesus to heal me from the mental one. As an adult, I had to confront the past, but I didn’t have the power to unlock the door. Jesus showed me my mental prison, the truth about my worthless warden, and the key to breaking out.

Choosing to love the person we most fear or hate is difficult. Jesus died on the cross for everyone, even His enemies. Conquering all sin and rebellion, his sacrifice demonstrated the greatest act of love that was won with the greatest weapon: Forgiveness. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 ESV) and we choose to forgive because we are forgiven (Eph.4:32).

Following Jesus’s example of unconditional love enabled me to forgive Carolyn. It was by no means an easy task, but I know now it was a necessary one.Following Jesus’s example of unconditional love enabled me to forgive. It was by no means an easy task, but I know now it was a necessary one. Click To Tweet One week after I prayed to love and forgive her, I received an email to an account I rarely used. The subject: Do you remember me?

It was from Carolyn. She was married with kids and had recently found old photos of us. She remembered my name, which recalled happy emotions, but because of childhood trauma she couldn’t remember any events before high school. She wanted to know what I remembered about her so I chose to be honest. She was so mortified by my experience that she asked to talk to me over the phone. By the loving mercy of God, it was an hour-long conversation that set two once-tormented little girls free.

Love is a choice. Forgiveness is priceless. Both are the keys to freedom.mirachellequote2-apr8-fb

Perhaps you struggling to forgive someone today. What will take for you to choose God’s love in order to forgive?

Love is a choice. Forgiveness is priceless. Both are the keys to freedom. Click To Tweet

Get to know Mirachelle!

Mirachelle's author photoMirachelle Canada is a writer, playwright, screenwriter, and theatre director/producer from Northern Virginia, where she teaches television production at her high school alma mater. She is passionate about awakening creativity and the gifts of God in everyone.

She is currently working on her first historical fiction novel set during WWII, inspired by her time studying theatre education in London, England.

Connect with Mirachelle at:

her Website  on Facebook,  Twitter, and  Instagram.

Faith

In God’s Wisdom — Of Greater Consequence Than What We Do Today

Woman walking on planked walkway with quote pulled from text

I have a tendency to focus on all the problems and opportunities in front of me. To plan and plot and scheme and strive. But I’m learning, God is more concerned with what is going on within me than anything going on around me.

God is more concerned with what's going on within me than anything going on around me. Click To Tweet

He’s much more concerned with my growth, in wisdom and character, than any role I fill or opportunity I accept. As a result, He rarely tells me what’s up ahead. Instead, He gently whispers guidance for today.

One summer, I found this particularly frustrating. I was wrestling with some career decisions, feeling as if I needed answers immediately. I wanted to follow God’s wisdom, to yield to His guidance, but He appeared to be silent. Feeling discouraged and unsettled, I met with a friend for coffee.

I shared with her all my concerns, all my options, and of course, all of my confusion.

“Well,” she said, “What’s God saying to you?”

I sighed. “Nothing. Other than character-growth stuff.”

She smiled. “Then that’s what He wants you to focus on.”

Later that afternoon, as I puttered around my house, tidying up (also known as allowing my thoughts to stew), realization hit. My personal growth would have far greater benefits, not just in terms of my faith and relationships with God and others, but also in relation to future success, than any momentary decision I could make.

We don’t need to have everything figured out. We simply needed to follow God’s guidance, trust in His wisdom, & lean into His strength.

Scripture and experience tells me my view is faulty and distorted on my best day. But God’s wisdom is perfect and infinite. He knows everything I’ll face tomorrow and precisely what I’ll need, internally and externally, to overcome every challenge.

Foggy road with quote pulled from postIn His wisdom and infinite love, God was preparing me for what lay ahead. This understanding lifted my heart and stilled my swirling, chaotic thoughts. I didn’t need to have everything figured out. I simply needed to follow God’s guidance, trust in His wisdom, and lean into His strength.

We don't need to have everything figured out. We simply needed to follow God’s guidance, trust in His wisdom, & lean into His strength. Click To Tweet

The rest would come, in His perfect timing. And it did. With each opportunity, and endeavor, God showed me precisely what steps to take, leading me in a direction I hadn’t known existed but proved far better than anything I could conceive on my own.

He’ll do the same for you.

Let’s talk about this! Are you in a period of waiting? Are you tempted to jump ahead, to make things work out according to your plans and wisdom? Do you trust that God truly does want to guide you toward His very best? How might focusing on that truth give you the courage to yield to Him–His timing and will? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!