The Security of Insecurity

Have you ever thought that your insecurity is actually a gift?

Whoa, slow down there, Missy...” you might be saying, thinking I am a bit bold to put a label on that part of your life. And, yes – it is bold to bring out what you would normally try to cover up. But I hope that this subject will actually be something that can cause what is “dishonorable” in your mind to be a blessing for your brothers and sisters in Christ. What I mean to say clearly is that yes, even your insecurities can be something God redeems for His glorious purpose! It is never for nothing.

This blog post was prompted by a conversation I was having with a friend about our insecurities in our personalities. In a world that is so enthralled with personality tests, self-care, and career-driven identities, it is so easy to look at your personality and make it something that is centered on you. But what do you do with the things in yourself you are not proud of? What happens with the areas that are not presentable? In our culture, they are hidden, put away, and covered up. Our fleshly nature is so self-driven that if something is not building your reputation in the way you want it to, it’s best to not be brought up at all. But friend, this is not the perspective that God has over the weak areas of your life. As believers, our minds must be transformed to think the way He does in this area.

Your insecurity should not cause you to shrink into yourself but to be passionate about the body of Christ. I have always hated that my mind is not as fast as my mouth wants it to be. I have always wanted to be that person who is able to say something witty or keen in the middle of a conversation that would cause my companions to respect me or laugh at my charm, but that is where Emily’s weakness comes in. My inability causes me to look inward when as a believer it can actually be the prompt to appreciate and love each member of the body more deeply. We don’t function as an example of Christ alone! We function working alongside each other with both our strengths and our weaknesses. We as a WHOLE are a display of Christ. Where I am weak, you may be strong and if we join in God’s purposes together – our lives display what only the Spirit can do. Unity within differences.

What if I didn’t draw away when feeling my weakness like my flesh wants to and instead ask for my brother or sister to join me where they are strong? Or instead of being inward about how I don’t naturally do one thing well, I use my ability to observe it in others and encourage them in their God-given talent do what I can’t! Then my life is not bearing the fruit of selfish thinking, but it is using my weakness to build up the body in love. That is when your insecurity can be a gift. When it is used outwardly. Your lack could be in many different areas of life, but there is nothing too low to be used to glorify our God’s redeeming nature.

Your insecurity has value. It may, in the flesh, be that thing that causes you to stumble the most, but in the Spirit, it can be the single most powerful tool that God uses to encourage and bless the body of Christ. We should be marked by the Spirit of God and the Spirit humbles and edifies using even our weak things to bring forth strength.

So brother or sister, remember who created you and that He didn’t mess up by putting weak areas in your life. It is those areas that give you a chance to need other members of the body and be a display of Christ. Embrace them, thank Him for them, and let them cause you to join your brothers and sisters in life with words and actions that build up. You display the nature of God by being different yet being one! Can you see that even the weak things have an extremely important purpose?!

1 Corinthians 12:21-26
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

2 Corinthians 12:9
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

Worship in the Waves

Everyone had gone. Even my husband had left to run an errand and I sat alone in my hospital bed. My heart and mind were too full to think clearly – but my soul longed to declare and remember truth. I gathered the strength to hobble over to the bedside couch (which my husband claimed as his bed) where a borrowed guitar was left for us to use. The songs flowed. If anyone heard my shaky voice they would not have been able to understand, but I did, and He did. And that was enough. 

“As the sun begins to rise in that moment You are God,
In the darkness of the night, even then You are God.
In the dust, in the heights you remain You are God,
Give me breath and give me life and I will say – You are God.” 
– In Every Way By Christy Nockels 

There is a reason the Word is described as a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12-13). It defines what is true in your soul and in mine. The Word brings definition to what truth is in that moment. And in that moment sometimes all you know how to do is sing truth with tears choking every word. This is freedom. When all round you is screaming “WHAT HAPPENED?!” – The rock of Jesus Christ never changes. He remains your life, even when the wave of your circumstances have pummeled you to the ground and left you in shock.

Song unto the Lord is not meant to be complicated, perfect, or systematic. You don’t have to have the gift of music to declare truth. You don’t have to have an elegant arrangement to come before the throne. You also don’t need it to fit a certain way or style. All you need is the truth. That truth leads you into the depths of your security – relationship with God Almighty. This flows naturally though thanksgiving, praise, declaration, and quiet rest. His word is not merely for theology and study – it becomes a practical TOOL that becomes a shield from the lies, fears, and doubts that cloud our human weaknesses through a truth-filled melody! Though I am no expert of music or any sort of worship leader – I am as a Christian, a worshipper. Every situation that is laid before me is an opportunity to see it in light of God’s truth and to declare that truth in the face of it. Believers are called believers for a reason. We believe. When things are happy and when things are hard. 

Songs are what you could call an object lesson of God’s nature. A creative, beautiful display of showing off who God is both though words and through melody. We are the one’s whose lives are the platform for such an object lesson to mean anything! And may God gain glory through the platform of your life. So sing dear brother and sister! Sing when you are afraid and sing when you are overwhelmed. Sing when you can’t think and sing when you have too much emotionally to handle. Sing the truth as loudly as it takes for your soul to be reminded of who your God is. And in that place, He will be faithful to remind you.  He is clarity in the fog and gives us songs of worship and praise from the Word to see the light in darkness.

My heart cried out in that hospital room with confusion of my situation having just said goodbye to my daughter – who died in my arms. What I needed in that moment was not an answer or another option … I needed a rock. And this was the nature of my Rock that I sang from my wobbly voice:  

“I know you do all things well… I know you do all things well…I know you do all things well…” 

Believe it. Sing it. Declare it. He does ALL things well. Continually –  return to the rock

A Chance to Sit

“Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38b-42

There is something SO satisfying in coming to the end of a long, full day with a checklist finished. I admit – it is one of my favorite feelings! I love dropping into my bed exhausted, feeling the accomplishment of productivity. In fact, one of my greatest joys is welcoming my husband home from his work and telling him all of my work that I had accomplished in the day!

I also admit that when my days are empty, with little to accomplish and much to wish for… I drive myself crazy! I also drive my husband crazy and probably my daughter too as she doesn’t like to be with an unmotivated mother either. Those days are easily open for complaining, bickering and stress. All because I don’t feel purpose in my day with the lack of something to “do”. I know my weakness and have been pressed and exhorted to see God’s higher purpose for these kinds of longer days. I know others can relate. Especially now as our entire nation has banned us from “doing” anything unnecessarily.

This may affect everyone a little differently. Some have been sent home from their jobs, and some are lacking their social activities. Some are doing school online in their bedroom, and some are not allowed to travel for overseas missions. Some are held from going into public altogether or having that daily gospel interaction with their co-workers. All are restricted from going to church. All are not allowed to pursue missional opportunities that involve the public… how can this be biblical or good as a believer in Jesus?!

Can I encourage and remind you of your PRIMARY goal in life today? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” (Matthew 22:37) Here is the test of our soul. Do we see something to DO for God as more important than knowing Him and loving Him? This commandment is FIRST for a reason. Martha thought that she was doing the “more holy thing” because she was serving her master, but Jesus corrects her. He points her to Mary who chooses to sit, chooses to gaze, and chooses to love. This same Mary later breaks her most precious possession over Jesus’ feet in the deepest act of love for her Lord. I wonder if she hadn’t been sitting and gazing at Him before, would she have had her heart in the right place to spill her whole livelihood over His feet later.

Remember what your life is about in these times of quiet. Knowing our Lord and being SO enthralled with His person is never wasted. It is as if you are pouring out your livelihood at his feet. Your livelihood might not be precious perfume, but it may be your job or your friends or your mission field. And though it might seem backward – these things take second place to your relationship with Jesus. This means that if you come to the end of each day knowing Him and loving Him a little deeper and a little more – YOU HAVE BEEN A FAITHFUL SERVANT. That is our goal.

When we see the face of Jesus one day, He won’t be saying “My good and productive servant” or “My good and missional servant”. No. He says “My good and FAITHFUL servant”. Will we love Him and know Him and give ourselves to Him till the day comes when He arrives to take us to be with Him? Let us use this time to invest our hearts, souls, minds and strength (because it will take all our strength to sit) and dwell on Jesus. Sit my brother or sister. Sit at His feet and listen! Revel in His word, listen to His truth, abide in prayer. Walk in thanksgiving! Rejoice with songs of praise! Invest in your relationship. This could perhaps be the most precious honeymoon with Jesus that you may ever get the chance to have – and by doing so you are walking in obedience.

It is the times like these that prepare us for the second commandment. To love our neighbors as ourselves. From the work inside flows a work outside. May we be prepared with this opportunity to sit to continue to love the world as He has loved us.

The Beatitudes Part 7

The Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

I tend to think of peace as a ceasefire. If you can keep people from firing at each other, you are keeping the peace. I am naturally skilled at this task. I can diffuse tension and diplomatically navigate conversations. But peace from a gospel mindset is different. Peace in the gospel is a harmony, a union between God and men. That peace cannot be achieved by diplomacy. It could not be achieved by tactful conversation. That peace was achieved by blood.

Jesus made peace by the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:20). He brought peace where peace could never exist apart from the supernatural intervention of God. He bridged the unbridgeable gap. This is the gospel. He was the first and greatest Peacemaker. He is the Prince of Peace.

As children of God, we should reflect Jesus by being peacemakers. We urge people to be reconciled to God. We point to the great Peacemaker. We’ve been given the power and the privilege to participate in this mission. God has sent out His army of peacemakers to bring the message of reconciliation to a lost and dying world.

But we must remember. We are never bringing peace on our own terms. Jesus is the Peacemaker, and peace can only come on His terms. Many who call themselves Christians are false peacemakers with a false message of peace. Imagine if a rogue ambassador went to a nation and offered terms of peace that were not authorized by the king. No matter how sincere the messenger might be, the terms are invalid. At the end of the day, that nation is not reconciled to the King.

Let us remember, Christians, Jesus has bridged the gap. He has made peace. But the terms are clear. The gospel is clear. Repent and believe. This is the message. It has been and will always be the same. Let us be bold in bringing that message. Let us be peacemakers. And in doing so, we are the children of our faithful and peacemaking God.

The Beatitudes Part 6

The Pure in Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

Have you ever been that person in the middle of the room awkwardly not joining into the crude conversation? How about the person who has chosen to wait to give their physical body to their coming spouse in the midst of a culture of compromise? Have you ever had to be the one who walked out of the movie displaying and promoting darkness? Well, this might be the sort of thing you have run into as a Christian in the twenty first century. Why might these things come with the territory of being marked as Christian? Not because we were legalistically not allowed to watch Disney movies as kids, but because our eyes, ears, mouth and life are owned by another who commands our life to be all about one thing. God Almighty.

Lack of mixture & Wholeness

Both of the things above mean purity, but they take different roles in the way they flow through your life. I think very often the Christian culture is known for all the “don’ts” in the world’s eyes because we see purity as a list of things to not do in order to “be pure”. Yet the word itself also gives outline for how to be proactive (loving God) along with the reactive (avoiding the mixture).

The reality is that you cannot clearly see and know God (purity itself) when your heart is captured by so many other “loves”. How can you see the sun when clouds have masked the sky? How can you look at God (the Holy of Holies) holding onto your habitual sin? You can’t. That’s where purification comes in to play. The act of purification is both by sanctification of a loving Father AND the choice to partake in that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians. 4:8).

Purity is both cutting out impurity AND chasing after the Most Pure. You cannot chase after the Holiest of Holies while holding onto your “otherly desires”. You would NEVER drink some clean-looking water if you knew it had been contaminated by cholera! This is why the FISRT step in following Jesus is to loose our life (Luke 9:24). To count all other passions and desires as null in light of gaining Him! We can’t have both – just like you can’t drink a glass of water that has been contaminated by cholera!

Wholeness is the end result. It’s what happens when we have finished the race of continually throwing off everything that hinders (Hebrews 12:1-2). Wholeness is found when we gaze into the face of Jesus unashamedly. We taste this now only in part as we become more and more like Jesus. As He uses trials and gives us opportunity to resist our temptations, we become more like Him. We rejoice in the chance to choose that which is holy because even though it is a “self inflicted suffering”, it makes us ready to see His face just the same as a trial we would never choose. Do not be ashamed to turn down that compromising opportunity. Every time you choose to give your eyes, heart, ears, body (and every aspect of yourself) to God, you are showing forth that you see Him as more significant than any other fleshy desire. And one day… He will make us WHOLE as we gaze upon His beauty unashamed.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile…” 1 Peter 1:14-17

The Beatitudes Part 5

The Merciful

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Matthew 5:7

Jesus gives an incredible statement about the merciful: “They shall receive mercy.” As those who know the gospel and have received mercy from the Lord, we can often gloss over this verse. Yet it truly is remarkable. Think about it: the mercy you show to people has no bearing on the mercy others show to you in a natural sense. I may decide to show mercy to you for how you have wronged me. But that does not oblige someone else to show mercy where I have wronged them.

What Jesus is saying here is not that we earn God’s mercy by being merciful. That would be impossible. The crimes we have committed against the Lord are so much more grievous than all that we could have possibly forgiven. The reality is that the truly merciful are the ones who know God’s mercy. The effect is the other way around. Those who have seen God’s mercy cannot help being merciful to other people.

This is a statement about the effect that God’s mercy has on people. They are so changed and transformed by the work of Christ that they then display His mercy to others. It is an outflow.

This does not, however, take away the concern we should have if we are not marked by mercy. If those who are Christ’s are marked by mercy and we are not, that should be cause for soul-searching. We must remember the parable of the unmerciful servant and repent of lack of mercy where we find it in our hearts.

Praise the Lord for the truth in this passage. We shall receive His mercy. Let us be marked by that which flows freely and graciously from our Lord and Master.

The Beatitudes Part 4

Those Who Hunger and Thirst

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6

You know, eating healthy and living in a wholesome way of life takes an awful lot of effort. It’s not what our natural selves just long for. But we know it’s right and we do it. So when I look at our subject of hungering and thirsting for righteousness – you automatically know that it is a choice.

To keep my body functioning in its optimal capacity – I have to deny things I want (like ice cream) and accept things I don’t want (like vegetables). Very often in life doing the right thing is that which will cost you personally, but you choose to do it because it is right. Spiritually it is the same. Take the Christian discipline of fasting as an example. This is where, out of choice, you restrain yourself from a very normal practice (like eating or a habit of nature like eating) in order to fill that time or activity with a longing for Jesus. Your denying of what you normally practice puts you in a place of need, and fasting cultivates that need into strength as you seek the Lord!

Why think about this short phrase “hunger and thirst for righteousness” so much? Well – because unless you take a deeper look you don’t automatically realize that this is a “need” that is one out of choice. Those who mourn wouldn’t have chosen it, but those who thirst for righteousness make it a discipline.

“Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.Matthew 2:18b-20

We are in that day fellow believer. It is the time when we long, when we choose eternal longing over earthly longing. When our lives are full of denying self so that we can one day be filled with the promised coming of our Bridegroom. But remember that just as fasting is a choice, so is longing for that which is righteous and good. It does not come naturally and the promise of being satisfied comes with the sacrifice of hungering for righteousness over our natural inclination.

But remember the promise, remember the goal. Take a look at Jesus’ disciples. They didn’t fast. There was no need to deny their longing because they were WITH Him! What a glimpse of hope for us! To remind us that when we are with Jesus, we will have the fullest of the full! There will be no more denial of self or lack any more. We WILL be satisfied. So friends – embrace the longing, the need for Him and the trial of sanctification. Because one day… one day we will no longer need to need. One day we will be satisfied. And until that day our hunger and thirst for righteousness will make us ready to look into His face and never look away.

The Beatitudes Part 3

The Meek

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

The meek will inherit the earth. Yet they are not Napoleon or Alexander the Great. Those great warriors of old who took upon themselves to overcome kingdoms and take over nations by pushing their agendas to the max limit! Wouldn’t that be the definition of inheriting the earth? So why does Jesus say that when we are meek, we shall inherit the earth?

Meek, at first glance, seems rather sheepish. Quiet, shy or describing someone with a weak inability to speak up for themselves. But this is not the definition of meek. It’s actually the same Greek word that is used to describe Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem sitting on a donkey. It was humble. Not flashy, pushy, or gaudy. It is also the same Greek word that 1 Peter exhorts women to be known by. Their “gentle” (meek) and quiet spirit which is of great value to God. These examples in Scripture are anything but sheepish.

How is it that Jesus (God Almighty in human form) could walk into the city of Jerusalem listening to the shouts of “Hosanna!” (God saves) and not just take it all in for Himself? He was expected to deliver the Jews from their bondage from Rome… in the form of meekness? They WANTED an Alexander the Great! How is it that this world tells women that their identity is found in their specific style, creativity, or body in order to have any value? You have to push yourself and your agenda to be known and adored. Yet in God’s sight being humble and not gaudy is of great value? Both scenarios seem a little backwards to the eyes of man.

Our identity, our instruction, and our worth come not from the crowds cheering hosanna’s. Nether does it come from our clothing, the style of life we choose, or the weight on the scale. As C.S. Lewis puts it “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Jesus’ identity was set. He didn’t need to ride in to Jerusalem with horns and a gusto of pomp! He was doing what the Father instructed him to do, by humbly offering Himself to a lost people. We as Christians do not need to be promoting ourselves as if we have something to prove outside of Christ. We don’t. Our identities are SECURE. But that security comes straight from the throne room of grace. Meekness is a beautiful fruit that proves your chosen place of rest in your God.

May we be a people who are not looking to promote ourselves.
May we be a people who do all that we do for Another’s glory!
May we be a people who confidently rest in our citizenship of heaven.

For it is the MEEK who shall inherit the earth. Why? Because we are first and foremost God’s! And all of life comes from, through and to Him.

The Beatitudes Part 2

Those Who Mourn

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Recently our daughter’s revised due date came and went. She would have been born at 34 weeks gestation through induction to give her the optimal chance of survival due to her rare diagnosis. However, instead of entering into a physical labor on her due date… I entered an emotional labor. Also known as mourning. She was born 11 weeks ago which was far too early to even hope for treatment.

Though your situation may consist of different circumstances, if this topic in the Beatitudes applies to you in anyway, you are feeling a deep, empty hole in your life. The preciousness of this section of scripture is that Jesus is speaking to you. You who have a hole. The hole of loss. The hole of formerly possessing and now – not.

What is boggling about His words are the way He describes your situation. “Blessed” means “happy”. Now, if you are like me – I would not consider “happy” to be the greatest way to describe someone who is mourning. In fact, it is the exact opposite. And that was purposeful on Jesus’ part. See, the sermon on the mount is full of concepts and instruction that seem a bit backwards in our minds. But they are there for a reason. To cause you to wonder. To cause you to question what He really means. And what does He really mean?

Why would someone like me or you who have a deep emotional hole be happy? Well the answer is simple. Jesus says this backwards statement to lead you to Himself. He presents a need (mourning) and a result (happy) that only He can answer. He is the key. He wants you who have a need to be filled and since He knows happiness is found no where but Himself, these words are to prod you to Himself. And friends, don’t shrug off His words. He presents you a way, a fulfillment to your need by asking you to look for it. He knows that only those who want it will find it. He knows that the proud of heart will not take the time to seek Him out and find the true key to their longing. But happy are you who are humble (perhaps because of your deep hole) because it is only you who will find answer to your need.

Oh you are happy! Oh you are blessed! For only you who have humbled themselves before God can find the answer. Truly the answer is what our souls long for! Our emotional holes of loss are completely filled by the person of Jesus Christ. Happy are those who mourn. Take advantage of your loss by finding Jesus in the midst of such deep pain. You are blessed.

The Beatitudes Part 1

The Poor in Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

Poverty is not popular. It never has been and never will be. Nobody wants to be poor. So why would poverty of the spirit be any different? What is it about this quality or state that is aligned with the kingdom of heaven? Jesus is taking our conventional wisdom and turning it on its head.

Charles H. Spurgeon writes that the poor in spirit are “not those who boast themselves of spiritual riches and personal goodness, but the lowly, the meek, the trembling, the humble, the poor in spirit, ‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'” The poor in spirit acknowledge their need. They realize that on their own they have nothing.

This is a point that all must reach before coming to Christ. Jesus is clear in other places in the Gospels (Matthew 19:24, Luke 12:20) that those who perceive themselves as having much cannot enter God’s kingdom. Humility is required. The truth is that humility is just viewing ourselves the way we actually are. We have nothing. We can contribute nothing to our own salvation. He brings everything.

When we see ourselves this way, it frees us. We can receive Christ and all that He has done for us. We are set free from our own pride. It is truly a miraculous mindset to have. No one is born poor in spirit. It is a work of the Spirit of God to bring us to the point where we see our own smallness in light of God’s greatness. Yet we as Christians must also continually strive to “have this mind among [us], which is [ours] in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

So let us remember these great words from the Lord Jesus. Vain confidence in our own abilities will not make us great in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is not looking for those who trust in their strengths and know their own greatness. He is seeking those who will readily acknowledge that apart from Christ, they have absolutely nothing to bring to the table. They are the ones who have been changed by Christ and have taken on the true mindset of the kingdom of heaven.