How to Spiritually Survive a Difficult Season | by Seana

Life happens. Family sickness. Job loss. Rebellious children. Difficult diagnoses. Marriage strain. A deep loss. Our families consistently encounter seasons that test our limits and even drag us over the line.

I am in such a season right now. I see God moving in miraculous ways, yet there is trial that still leaves me heavy hearted, broken, and not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. Been there? If not, something will happen that takes the carpet out from under you. How do we spiritually survive these seasons? Not just survive, how do we thrive? Is it possible?

Ephesians 6:10-18 gives us some tangible Biblical truth to help equip us through these seasons. I will share 3 of these truths and 4 ways you can practically spiritually thrive in difficult seasons.

Truths:

  1. It is God’s strength that carries us. Eph. 6:10.
  2. We have a real enemy, the Father of Lies. Eph. 6:11-16
  3. We can stand firm with God’s supplied armor, but we need to put it on. Eph. 6:11-17

How?:

  1. How to depend on God’s strength? Go to Him in prayer (Eph. 6:18) and tell Him you need His strength. Then, in every moment consciously setting your mind on Him and not your own wisdom and resources. For example, when my sick son is complaining for the 100th time about the food that I spent all day in the kitchen to cook, I breathe… pray… and (usually) am then able to respond in encouragement and kindness. In actuality I want to scream (and sometimes do when I don’t breath and pray). Learning to depend on God’s strength is a process.
  2. Recognize the lies and replace them with truth. When I am in a difficult season the enemy is right there to point out my shortcomings and failures. These may be true or not, but what is even more true is who we are in Christ. So, when I am feeling overwhelmed by inadequacy or condemnation, I write out what I am hearing. For example: “You are not a good mom.” And then I pray for God to replace it with a Biblical truth such as “Only God is good. (Mark 10:18) In Christ I can be a good mom if I remain in the Vine.” (John 15:5) WRITE DOWN THE TRUTH and post it somewhere to remind you. Those pesky lies are like weeds that keep popping up until completely destroyed.
  3. Use your spiritual resources first. It is so easy for me to depend on my skills and abilities in difficult seasons, but that only leaves me empty. Ephesians 6:10-18 teaches us the spiritual resources to arm ourselves with for the spiritual battle we face daily, especially during difficult seasons. Read through Ephesians 6:10-18. What are the things we are to dress with for battle? Truth, righteousness, the gospel (good news), faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer. If we choose to dress our minds and hearts with these daily (and sometimes multiple times a day), we will see God at move and have victory over the darkness that threatens to steal, kill, and destroy our joy and our very lives. Choose to use your spiritual clothes first.
  4. Implement the “First 30”. In difficult seasons we often don’t have enough time to go to the Well of Living Water and find refreshment for our souls. During this time, I have implemented the “First 30.” It is the first 30 minutes in your day where there is not something urgent important that has to be done. Often times, it is during afternoon naptime for me. Housework can wait. Chores can wait. Find a quiet place and for 30 minutes connect with Jesus and read the truth (Bible). For me, the only quiet place I have in this season is my closet. Amongst the clothes, I find my solitude. Find your place. Find your first 30… and connect.

What are some truths and practices that spiritually sustain you in difficult seasons? Please leave a comment.

Find more from Seana Scott at her blog: http://www.SeanaSScott.com

Advertisements

It’s Time to Wake Up Before We “Sleep” through Life | by Julie

3034180-poster-p-1-how-circa-ceo-matt-galligan-trained-himself-to-wake-up-at-630-am-without-an-alarm-cl

Wake up. Pack lunches. Take the kids to school. Exercise. Do laundry. Take a few minutes to catch up on friends’ Facebook updates. Pick up kids from school. Supervise homework. Take kids to sports practices. Make dinner. Clean up kitchen. Put kids to bed. Collapse on couch for an hour of TV. Say a quick prayer (and I mean quick). Go to bed.

Wake up and do it all over again.

Oh sure, we’ll mix it up a bit. Run some errands here and there. Carve out a few minutes to catch up with our bestie. Maybe devote 30 whole minutes to our Bible study homework IF we’re meeting the next day. Throw in a little, ok a lot, of yelling, and maybe a 20 minute nap (Who am I kidding? No mom has time for a 20 minute nap.) But all the same, it’s like our life is stuck on auto pilot and we’re living out a real-life Groundhog Day scenario. At least I am.

Meanwhile, Satan’s kicking back in his lair, feet propped up, catching up on old episodes of the Vampire Diaries on Netflix while we voluntarily self-destruct.

Satan need not exude the effort to tempt us with murder, mayhem, violence, stealing, pornography, adultery, drugs or any other evil depravity lurking in the dark shadows. Matthew 4:1 says “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted.” For 40 days and 40 nights the Devil taunted him to no avail as Jesus clung to the Word of God. Unlike Jesus, we don’t require Satan to put in that much work. We willingly hand him the keys to our souls in the form of busyness, stress, exhaustion, apathy and worldly desires.

Truth is Satan doesn’t comingle with most us in the immoral, ugly, secret corners of life. Satan is in the details. He’s crafty. He’s scheming. He’s calculating, and, most of all, he’s subtle. Just as he duped Eve into desiring the apple, truth is he’s duped us into an over ambitious, overscheduled, pleasure seeking superficial, world-loving, purposeless, robotic existence. And we think we love and desire, even need, every second of it. And that’s the biggest, most devious, most ingenious charade that Satan has perpetrated on the universe, on us. We’re on the highway to hell and we don’t even realize it.

Every day that I watch TV instead of opening my Bible, Satan wins. Every night that I go right to sleep instead of praying, Satan rests easy. When I miss church to sleep in, Satan rejoices. Every time I let a swear word slip, Satan smiles. When I quarrel with my spouse, Satan is at peace. When I pass judgment on the way friends and family live, Satan is satisfied. When I keep my mouth shut, when someone bad mouths my Savior, Satan is delighted. When I allow the tragedies of this life to overwhelm and depress me, Satan laughs. When I worry the days away, Satan is pleased. And when I do all of this in front of my children, Satan goes on vacation. His work is done.

If I’m not careful, I think I may just get to the end of the long-in-years earthly life I desire and realize I haven’t lived my life at all. That I may very well miss out on the joyful abundance, the meaningful commission that God would have for me. And worse yet, this sort of going through the motions, trying to keep up with the Joneses existence is quite possibly a contribution as Satan’s inadvertent foot soldier.

HOLD THE PRESSES! This is not the way I want my story to be written! But I must will my thoughts into actions. I cannot wish the life God wants for me into existence. It’s not going to effortlessly manifest. We have to work for it. Fight for it. We need to be intentional Christians or it’s not going to happen. We will just comfortably slip back into the world’s routine. Wake up. Take care of the kids. Work. Relax. Go to bed. Do it all over again and again and again. Unless. . .

We help each other. We worship together. We serve together. We challenge each other. We hold one another accountable. Proverbs 27:17 says, “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

We need to change our relationships. We need to change the way we interact. We need to go deeper. What if we texted our friends every day and encouraged them to read their Bible. What if instead of gossiping about Jane’s divorce over lunch, we encouraged one another in our own marriages. What if instead of critiquing Mary’s parenting style over drinks, we offered our support to one another as mothers. What if instead of spending our extra cash on designer clothes and pedicures, we bought groceries for a hungry family. What if instead of a playdate at the park, we volunteered with our kids at a homeless shelter. What if instead of correcting our kids we complimented them. What if instead of nagging our spouse, we pampered him. What if instead of fishing for success or popularity, we became fishers of men.

I suspect IF we did our lives would overflow with joy and abundance, and we might quite possibly change the world.

Life was not meant to be about getting married, having kids, buying a house, becoming a CEO. Life was not intended to be a solitary experience where sink or swim we’re on our own. But we know all these things. We have the knowledge. What we need to do is practice what we preach. Put words into action. Immerse ourselves in our faith. Kick Satan to the curb.

WAKE UP!

Behave! | by Britta

IMG_20131010_115527

Do you ever have one of “those” days? You know the one…where you just want to crawl back into bed and rewind the clock? Oh boy I’ve had more than my share of days like that. You see I’m a recovering yeller. Is that even a word? I used to yell a lot.

One day the Lord started to slowly and gently stir my heart. He showed me that (ouch) I had an anger problem. I’m talking about the kind of anger that runs deep. Very deep.The kind that spills out of your mouth…you got it…in yelling!

What if someone put a video of me yelling on social media? I would not like that one bit. Then my goodness why was I yelling at the people I love the most in this world?

I tried my hardest to control my anger. I blamed my past hurts for my anger. I said “this is just who I am, I can’t change”. I got more angry whenever someone pointed out that I was angry. Then I realized…I could not control myself! I needed to surrender. Slowly but surely the Lord chipped away at my hard heart.

“Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9 KJV

Who likes to admit that they have anger issues? I mean come on…really? I want everyone to think my life is picture perfect or social media perfect…lol. But that just isn’t so is it? We all struggle with sin. I decided it was time to admit my guilt of being angry. My guilt of being a fool. I was angry. All. The. Time. I needed help. I needed deep healing of my deepest darkest hurts. How about you? What’s eating you up? Is it anger, guilt, pride, arrogance, lust, greed, abandonment, shame…the list can go on forever can’t it. Is it time for you to surrender?

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Luke 6:45 KJV

What does your heart look like? Mine sure wasn’t pretty. It says it right there in black and white…did you read that? Right there…go back and look at it again…”for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh”. Hmmmm…okay so that one got me too. I needed a transformation of my heart. This is where faith + action = no more anger. So this is where I started to fill up my heart with God’s Word. Thus the healing began. Each time anger tries to rear it’s ugly head I have to take it captive with the Word of God. Have you ever spoken to a mountain and seen it move? I have!! I speak to the mountain of fear, hurt, rejection, lust, greed, abandonment, and shame. I tell it to go in Jesus name. I tell it that the same power that raised Christ from the grave lives in me…lives in me! The Holy Spirit…you know that guy…the one who was sent to us to be our comforter…our friend. The Bible clearly says that He (Jesus) will never leave us or forsake us. That is why He sent the Holy Spirit. I believe that…do you?

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22 KJV

I love this verse. Have you ever read it? I mean really, really read it? Do you see there where it says the fruit of the Spirit? That’s the Holy Spirit…the One Who lives in every Christ follower!!!! So if you have the Holy Spirit living in you then where is the fruit? The fruit comes from surrendering to Jesus daily…dying to yourself every single day. I’m not going to say it’s easy. But…OH BOY…the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are so much better than my crummy old anger.

Maybe you are reading this and thinking. “Well good for her she’s got this all figured out, my life is a train wreck and nothing’s gonna help me.” This is where that thing called surrender comes into your world. I know it’s hard. Trust me. But Jesus is there…He is waiting for YOU. My goodness girl He created you!! Call upon His name…just say it…Jesus…That’s it! Ask Him to show you Who He really is. Ask Him to be the Lord of your life. It feels so good to surrender. Bit by bit, piece by piece He will rebuild your life, your heart. I know this to be true because this is what Jesus is doing in me!!

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV