faith, wisdom

Examine Me and Know My Heart

A couple of days ago, I was curled up in my husband’s recliner with the comfort of my weighted blanket hugging me. (Oh yeah, weighted blankets are amazing!) Scrolling through Instagram, I lost focus when thoughts of a nap began to slip in. I don’t take naps often, but when it’s there for the taking, I’m all in! But in an instance, I was pulled out of my sleepy thoughts and stopped my scroll with this quote from @bethmoorequotes.

Wait… what?

At first glance, there’s not much that makes sense with this quote, but as I stared at this picture, my brain went into overdrive and all thoughts of a nap vanished with a dose of what could be hard truth.

Wanting to know what other people thought, I clicked on the comments to find a bunch of Amens and Yeses. But honestly, I felt pulled in two different directions with these words.

You can’t really have sincere and pure devotion to Christ and still be completely seduced by the devil… can you?

To have a sincere and pure devotion to Christ, don’t you need to know Him? Knowing Him is getting into the Word. Building a relationship through prayer and trust. I know Him. I have a relationship with Him. I trust Him.

But on the other hand… can’t we think we are ok in our relationship with Him and not really be ok? Sure, the church is full of people who think they are ok. But do they really show the fruit of being ok? Do I?

This rattled me enough that I looked up the meaning of seduce. “To attract (someone) to a belief or into a course of action that is inadvisable or foolhardy.”

To attract… sounds pretty benign. Ok, what am I attracted to? Am I attracted to the things God wants or what I want?

Then another question came. When is the last time I said, “God, examine me and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any bad thing in me. Lead me on the road to everlasting life.”

Psalms 139:23-24 NCV

Honestly, it’s probably been a while. Because, I’m ok, right? I’m in the word, journaling, and praying daily. I’m trusting God in the process… or at least I think I’m trusting the process.

But am I really? Or am I just saying I am?

What are my recurring questions with the latest issue going on in my life?

God, what’s going on here? What are you doing? Why won’t you tell me which way to go? Why am I going through this? Where are Your promises? Where are Your blessings?

Does that sound like someone who trust God in the process?

No, it does not.

***Side note: questions are ok—good even, but when they get stuck on repeat that is where a problem slips in.

Am I being seduced by the enemy? Is he attracting me with the things I want to happen? And because I really don’t like the answers (or lack of answers) I’m getting from God, am I playing into the devil’s seduction?

Can you be seduced and not even know it’s happening?

Well, yeah. Isn’t that how seduction works? The first step: Enticing a person with something they want. They become so focused on it they will most likely forget the bigger picture.

The truth is we are all sinners (Romans 3:23), whether or not we are sincerely devoted to Jesus. Being a sinner won’t change until the day we step into heaven. We will always have something that trips us up. The enemy knows exactly what that is, and he will use it every time.

Am I too prideful to believe that because I am sincerely and purely devoted to Christ that the enemy won’t or can’t seduce me?

Ouch! Now that’s a hard question, but one that needs to be asked.

Here’s the thing, once seduction is recognized and we continue to focus on the attraction to the things we want, not what God wants, it’s no longer seduction… but a choice. A choice we make.

With this quote, I ended up with more questions than answers. But it did change my recurring questions from less-me-centered to more God-centered questions. And that can and will change my heart to be a little more like Christ. And isn’t that the goal?

When is the last time you said, “God, examine me and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any bad thing in me. Lead me on the road to everlasting life.”?

dreams, faith, fear

Dream Killer

Dream Killers

Do you have a dream to do something big? Well, big from your standpoint. Maybe not big for someone else’s, but it’s HUGE in your eyes. 

I did. I do. 

It scares me to death. 

I don’t know how to achieve this dream. Honestly, I feel a little lost in the whole process. The thought of chasing this dream scares me enough that I have prayed, on and off, for nine years for God to take it away from me. And yet… I’m still dreaming. It’s still burning in my heart. So, that’s got to mean something, right?

But isn’t that what makes a dream a dream? If it scares us, then probably, it’s beyond what we can do or control. We know somehow, someway, God is going to have to step in and take the reigns on this baby.

I recently asked my friends on facebook, “Why do you think we have big dreams but refuse to chase them?”

All of the answers were great! They ranged from “procrastination” to “laziness” to “feeling alone” to “I’m too old” to “not enough time” to “overthinking” and so on and so on… 

But the most common answer was fear—or an answer stemmed from fear. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of stepping out. Fear of man.

Even I said, “It scares me to death.”

Gosh, I hate fear… it’s downright nasty. If we could see fear for what it is—a means used by the enemy to stop us from doing the will of God, do you think we’d rise up and stand up against it? 

I’d like to think I would. I don’t want to be used in the devil’s ploys. Uhmm… no sir, you don’t get to have that power over me, because the Word tells me the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in me! (Acts 2:24) You, Satan, are under my feet. (Romans 16:20)

But I gotta be honest, I’ve allowed fear to stop me for a very long time. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of what people will think or if they will take me seriously. Mean and ugly fear. 

But guess what, fear only has power if we give it power. The enemy can throw a little fear our way, sure. But that fear doesn’t have any real power at all … until I listen to it. Until I entertain it. Until I believe it. Until I allow it to stop me.

How do you ignore dream killers? First, we have to recognize it for what it is and what is at the root of our dream killer? Is it fear? Most likely, yes. Even the “not enough time” can be fear of saying “no” to something or someone else. But if God has placed a dream in your heart, then that, my friends, is called a calling. Who would you rather say “no” to, people or God? 

I, also, think we need to step back and evaluate where our focus is. When we allow dream killers to come into our lives and stop us (especially, when the dream is from God) we are not focused on God. We are focused on ourself and our ability. When we focus on God then His perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18) and we believe He will do the impossible (Matthew 19:26). And you know what? He will do the impossible! We just have to trust Him and His timing. 

God is going to help, but we have to make the first step and continue the steps along the way. We have to make a habit of ignoring the fear and keep moving forward. No matter what.

As for me and my scary dream, my first step is saying it out loud (writing it here for you to read). So … here goes: I wrote of novel about nine years ago, and I dream of one day having it published. This dream is covered in fear from the beginning to the end. I’m afraid of taking the leap to try, AND I’m afraid of what I’ll need to do if it were to get published. Every outcome of this dream scares me! Pretty strange to have fear of failure and fear of success at the same time. LOL.  But it’s there.

I have to trust that God will give me the knowledge I need each step of the way. I must stop focusing on me and start focusing on Him. 

I have to give my God-given dream a reality and allow Him to do the supernatural. 

My reality is, if just one person reads my book and is blessed by it, then my dream fulfilled a purpose. And if God wants to take it and roll with it, then awesome! Keeping God in charge of the supernatural keeps my pride in check, because I can do nothing without Him. 

And the last little nugget God spoke to me today, we can’t get caught up in the discouragement of the dream not moving forward fast enough. We need to learn how to be happy in the small beginnings.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zachariah 4:10 

So if you’re like me, been stuck in the small beginnings for close to ten years, God is rejoicing to see the work begin! 

I’ll leave you with this last scripture to hopefully jump start you chasing that dream! 

“If you are faithful in the little things, you will be faithful in the large ones…” Luke 16:10 

In other words, be faithful with each step, one step at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed with the big picture. The big picture doesn’t happen all at once. It grows bigger as we take each step. 

So let’s stop focusing on the dream killers and focus on the Dream Maker.

What is your big dream? Maybe your first step is telling someone. Write it in the comments below and start really praying about what your next step should be.