Disappointed

Disappointed. God let me down.

I can’t count the times I have heard that – or the times I have felt that way. When things are going good in our lives, we say we are blessed. But then life disappoints us and we tend to pull away from God and blame Him.

We all face disappointment. Whether it be a two-year old being disappointed she can’t keep playing because she has to nap, a friend who lost a job, a teen who didn’t get a date to the dance, a child addicted to drugs or a cancer diagnosis, disappointment finds us. None of us are immune to disappointment.

Blessed when things go well. Blame when they don’t. Isn’t that human nature?

I had a friend who was going through chemo question me about God. “I thought God wouldn’t give me more than I can handle. I’m not sure I can handle this cancer thing. I don’t know why God thinks I can handle it.”

“The verse people base that on is actually talking about temptation. It says that God won’t tempt us beyond what we can resist,” I gently replied.

She paused and responded, “Oh, that is a totally different thing.”

Yes, God often looks much different than our expectations of Him. More often than not, we end up trying to dictate who God is- we try to create our own God. A God that we try to fit into our lives – into our understanding.

Who is God? Is He a genie in a bottle waiting for us to summon Him to do our bidding? If that is our picture of God, we will be disappointed. But if we allow the very words of God to teach us about the true attributes of His character, we will be blessed – even when we are disappointed.

God is faithful even when life is hard and the hits just seem to keep on coming.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
 your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Psalms 36:5NLT

Faithfulness that reaches beyond the clouds is a LOT of faithfulness. Attached to that is a love that is as vast as the heavens. When we focus on a God who is as faithful and loving as the heavens are boundless and infinite, our disappointment begins to fade.

God is a strong tower. He is a fortress.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe. Proverbs 18:10 ESV

When we run to the strong tower of the Lord, our disappointment and defeat seem to shrink in the shadow of the Lord’s fortress. We can leave our disappointment at the door and rest in His safety – no matter what the situation.

I think of a scene where my enemies – fear, guilt, inadequacies, unbelief, unforgiveness and disappointment – are chasing me.  In the distance, I see a castle – a fortress - on a hill. I run to it even as the fiery arrows of my enemies are raining down on me. The Father beckons me. I cross the drawbridge and collapse against the cool castle walls as my Lord pulls up the drawbridge – leaving my enemies outside – and He invites me to have dinner with Him. Safe with the Father.

God is always with us.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them,
for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.
He will not leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

Disappointment can be one of our biggest foes – locking us in a place of fear and dread - but the Lord is with us in that place. We can sit and slump when things don’t go our way or we can stand with strength and courage and live in freedom because the Lord is with us – always. He is with us no matter what our circumstances may be.

God delights in us.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love;
He will exalt over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

So often we think of God as a heavenly being who is keeping score and just waiting for us to mess up so He can whack us on the head. We often believe He is disappointed with us. This scripture says He is with us, loves us and sings over us! Wow! Have you ever thought of the God of the universe singing over you? That is a game changer right there. And it gets better. “Exalt” is translated as “to spin about wildly.” Have you ever thought about the God of the universe spinning about wildly while singing over you?

When we realize in our hearts the visual of that kind of love from our Heavenly Father, it makes it hard to be disappointed in Him. Yes, there are times things don’t go our way and disappointment tries to settle over us. But when we think of God spinning about wildly and singing a song over us, we can rest in His goodness, grace, hope, joy, love and peace.

Those are just a few of the many attributes of who God is. Spend some time over the next few days looking into the characteristics of God. What is your favorite characteristic of God? How have you seen Him display that characteristic in your life?


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WRITTEN BY:
SHELLY TEMPLIN
LEADERSHIP TEAM, YOU ARE WOMEN'S CONFERENCE


Roots & Wings

Pop Ralph is a hero of mine. Though I’ve never seen him face to face, my grandfather was full of joy in raising his four girls. The youngest daughter is my miraculous mama, whose life was revived twice after losing a heartbeat when she was a newborn. Pop Ralph was full of quips and one of his mantras in raising his girls was “give them roots and give them wings”. In other words, raise your children upon a firm foundation, help them understand the family roots and history. Raise them in such a way that as they mature they have the ability to soar in strength and gain perspective from a vantage point above their former fears and uncertainties. Doesn’t this sound like the heart of our heavenly Father? His desire is that we would be rooted and grounded in His love so that we could soar on the wings of His Spirit in strength. When our roots are found in the Father’s love and we allow Him to lift us up with wings, we find confidence in our true identity and strength for our inner being.

ROOTS

Paul’s beautiful prayer in Ephesians 3:16-19 is one that I often pray over myself and others.  It says:  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit on the inside, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.  Oh, the power of praying God’s Word back to Him and agreeing with it until it resonates deeply and is made manifest in our lives! If the essence of worship is agreeing with God about who He is and what He says, what an invitation we have to live lives of worship as we choose to agree with Him about His nature and His affections towards us! There are riches to be found in beholding His glory. I am reminded of Moses as He cries out to see the glory of God. He is in a desperate place, unsure of his leadership role, and uncertain of his future. He says, “I must see You, God, in my day, in my time!” Here we see Yahweh demonstrating His brilliant glory by declaring His name and nature to Moses. In essence He says, “I am a good God! I am not like you, I am gracious and compassionate, and I am rich in love!” We as New Testament believers have access to this same “rich love”, and it’s according to these riches that we should be strengthened on the inside. Our faith is bolstered in strength when we declare with our lips and agree with our heart the truth of God’s nature, His name, His love, His glory! Our roots sink down deep in His love and there is an invitation for us to take in the incalculable measurements of that love. This is a love that can’t be shaken, broken, or taken. It’s a love we won’t fully comprehend on this side of eternity and can’t even exhaust in the life to come. It goes beyond our knowledge and yet our Father doesn’t withhold the fullness of His nature in our day and our time. When our roots go deep in His love we are strengthened and gain confidence in our true identity as daughters of a good, good Father who is rich in love!

WINGS

Isaiah 40:31 says, "Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." What beautiful imagery and poetry Isaiah gives us! This verse is one that spoke powerfully to me when my dad battled cancer. I had one month from my dad’s diagnosis of cancer to his passing. There were moments in that season when I felt so heavy and my breath nearly taken from me as I crumbled in grief, but the Holy Spirit would break in and I could feel myself being lifted up ‘on wings like eagles’ above the current circumstances and my heart, mind, soul, and emotions strengthened. When our emotions and bodies become weakened by circumstances, His power can be perfected. It is such good news that no one who waits upon the Lord or hopes in Him will be put to shame. No.One. No matter the outcome, no matter our condition in the midst of the storms of life, He remains the same. He is the faithful One, the Rock upon which we can put our hope and trust in and He will mount us up on His wings. He will lift us up and strengthen us! What better wings to soar on than the wings of the One who never gets weary or tired? He lifts us up above our fears, our uncertainties, and our small paradigms. What once seemed impossible turns to joy as He lifts us up above our enemies and we see the accuser underneath His feet.  We will soar above that which once ensnared us in new found freedom and strength by the Holy Spirit. There is a promise of new strength if we will wait on Him and hope in Him.

Our roots as believers are established and grounded in the Father’s love. His love is the very foundation our lives should be built upon. Our history is wrapped up in the greatest of stories and He strengthens us along the journey. The wings we are given by the Lord lift us up above our fears and insecurities and release us into freedom and destiny! I believe there is an invitation for all of us to be strengthened by the Lord as we wait on Him and receive His love that’s wildly high, immeasurably long, immensely deep, and unfettered in width. As believers we can be assured that our Redeemer offers us the richest roots and most glorious wings.

Prompt: Take a few minutes and pray these two passages over your life. Make the language of the scripture personal. Begin to declare the truths given in the scripture over your life. Sing a worship song or listen to a song that includes language from these scriptures (‘Strength’ by Melissa Helser, ‘Everlasting God’ by Chris Tomlin, ‘Never See the End’ by Amanda Cook, etc) or create a new song! Invite the Holy Spirit to give you a picture of the Father strengthening you by His love. Wait for His presence and ask Him to show you how He is lifting you up above your current fears or past failures. Allow His truth to wash over you and His love to strengthen you!


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WRITTEN BY:
LAURIE WIMBERLY
LEADERSHIP TEAM, YOU ARE WOMEN'S CONFERENCE

You Are Chosen

I’m about 97% sure that I’m not alone in thinking this statement: walking into a room of women is intimidating. Oh I hope you are that 3% who feels differently. That you don’t second guess your shoe choice or add one more layer of lip gloss as you step out of the car. I envy you if you don’t scan the room for friendly faces or affirmations of welcome and acceptance because there’s even a twinge of doubt that you are enough.

I am not in that 3%. For sure.

Why do we allow ourselves to go down this road? What’s funny is that while we fluff our hair one more time or gird up the courage to step into a room full of women, EVERYONE else is doing the same thing too! My friend with beautiful green eyes and an even more beautiful heart, she is thinking to herself, “What am I doing here? I have nothing to offer.” Then there’s my friend who loves so well but is struggling at home in her marriage. She is pasting on a big grin yet on the inside she thinks, “I’m such a fake. But I will keep grinning.” And well, there’s me. I’m usually the one who shies away from group pictures because of my body image junk. But, I grab another cookie from the dessert table and give you a big compliment on your cute dress. If there were little conversation bubbles above our heads, we would see that EVERY one in the room carries some sort of deep-seated insecurity. If we could see it, might our hearts soften toward ourselves and might our hand reach out to our friends and offer more real, meaningful encouragement?

God sees. God knows. God sees what’s swirling around in our head and threatening our confidence to walk boldly as a woman chosen by Him.

Would you take a minute to sit with this truth...

“But you are a chosen people, set aside to be a royal order of priests, a holy nation, God’s own; so that you may proclaim the wondrous acts of the One who called you out of inky darkness into shimmering light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received it.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 The Voice

Chosen. This is a big one for me. I’ve spent years idolizing “being chosen” by people. I know in my head this is an idol and that striving to be chosen or accepted by anything other than Jesus will keep me in a cycle of despair and stuck in a deep pit all based on whims of humans. Just as Peter writes that God calls us out of that inky darkness, my own “shimmering light” moment was when I finally took hold of the VALUE of living, operating, walking confidently in the truth that I am chosen by God. He’s whispered into my heart, “I AM greater and have more for you. Put value and weight on My thoughts of you. In My presence you are accepted, you are enough, you are valued.”

But taking hold of being chosen by God starts first with taking hold of God Himself. Those moments where our eyes are taken off ourselves and captivated by the beauty and love of God put everything into perspective. To know that this God – the God that created us, created the universe, and holds it all in place- had it in His heart to love us and call us out of our brokenness is mind blowing! When we look and behold God for who He is, our desire for value in the eyes of others is but a shadow of the value we already hold in God’s eyes.  Yes, we have a deep need for validation and acceptance – God put that there. But He built that in us in a way that can only truly be met by Him. Compared to Jesus, the approval of others doesn’t even come close. As we take hold of God as a lifestyle, we can more easily take hold of the truth of being chosen by God.

I truly admire Mary who lived this kind of life. In Luke we read that she chose to sit at the feet of Jesus, soaking in His presence and His word. Yes, she had it right. She valued intimacy and connection with her Lord over the fleeting satisfaction of busily, anxious “doing.” She sat still and blocked out distractions. It is through this deep intimacy that God speaks to our need for validation, our need to be known, our need to be chosen. But, the distractions around us shimmer and shine, don’t they? We think they are more attractive because we perceive them to be just more tangible to take hold than the deep, eternal truths God has for us to live steadfast in His love. Oh yes, we are KNOWN by Him, called by name for a specific Kingdom calling. But we miss this calling when we get too caught up in what shimmers and shines. We miss God’s yearning for us to walk confidently in our God-given gifts and our unique calling.

We don’t want to miss it. Instead...

~Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)

~Let us look to Him and live radiantly, never ashamed. (Psalm 34:5)

~Let us quiet our heart to then live in confidence as we choose Jesus...chose what is better. (Luke 10:42)

What waves we could make if we took this word deep into our heart and in our thought patterns as we break the cycle of intimidation. Then, we grab more of our friend’s hands and lead them to this truth as well.

So, let’s change the atmosphere. Next time we walk into a room full of women, or anywhere really, let’s pray through these truths...

I am chosen by God!

She is chosen by God!

We each have unique and beautiful God-given gifts to share.

I will cheer her on in the ways God is moving in her life.

I will, with open hands, ask God to move in my life and walk confidently in that.

We will praise Jesus for the cross and for making a way for us to LIVE chosen by the God.


WRITTEN BY:
SARAH MARTIN
LEADERSHIP TEAM, YOU ARE WOMEN'S CONFERENCE

Clothed with Divine Favor

I have a friend who is a psychologist, and my favorite quote that I’ve heard him say often is,  “All behavior makes sense in context.”

I think about that a lot when I’m interacting with people.  And the more time I spend with Jesus, the more I realize how well He knows each of us intimately and our life situations so well.  For example, Jesus knew Peter would deny Him, hurt His feelings, and say things he would regret. But He treated Peter with compassion and grace.  Jesus knew Judas would betray Him, but He called him a friend anyway, and meant it. When I read that part and find myself in the middle of that dark garden where Judas kisses Jesus on the cheek signaling to the soldiers which one they were after, I stumble through those words of Jesus. “Do what you came for, friend (Matt. 26:50).”  There is something inside of me that wants to add sarcasm to the voice of Jesus as He said that!  How could He possibly call Judas His friend and mean it?! 

Amazing Grace.  Incredible love and mercy, poured out by an infinite Father.    

Maybe you have heard this explanation before when trying to understand the difference between mercy and grace?  Mercy is not getting what you deserve.  Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

I remember hearing that the first time and taking a hold of it as a simple truth I could wrap my hand (and my brain) around.  It made sense, so I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that simple little phrase to enlighten others when trying to understand how grace and mercy are different.

But recently it was pointed out to me what the Gospel of Luke says —

And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.  Luke 2:40

If the grace of God was upon Jesus, the only one who lived without sin, then maybe my definition of grace needs to change.

When I looked up the definition of the Greek word used for “grace” in Luke 2:40, I found that it means, “divine favor.”  Yes, Jesus deserved every bit of that divine favor.  And guess what?  His grace covers you.  His divine favor is upon you, too.  

What about mercy?  I always pictured a Judge, seated at the head of the court room, with gavel in hand pronouncing what the guilty was accused of, but then sentencing them with a lighter judgment.  

However, the Bible is clear about who the accuser is, and it’s not the Judge.  Look at what Revelation 12:10 says, 

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”

Satan is the accuser.  God is our merciful Judge, Defender, and Savior. 

Do we deserve the grace poured out on us?  Do we deserve the mercy shown to us?  No, but because of Jesus they are gifts we can receive gladly and share with others, abundantly!  

One of my favorite things about summer is the start of a new schedule.  If you have kids or your life revolves around the months of the school year in any way, then you know what I mean.  Living in a college town where so much of the population is taken up by professors and students, it’s hard not to notice the quiet hum of the city during the months of June, July and August.  Almost every summer I try to have a new Bible study to go to or a new book to read that will help keep my daily quiet time with the Lord in a good rhythm.  Last week I started a new study, and I have the honor of hosting it this year.  As I prepared for our first meeting together and asked the Lord what to say to the amazing group of women who would sit in my living room, one of the things I felt Him say was to ask them this question, 

“When you picture the Lord looking down at you, what is the expression on His face?” 

Think about how you would answer this question.  For so much of my life I pictured the Lord with a look of disappointment on His face.  I lived by a check-list in my mind.  If I didn’t have my quiet time that day or if I didn’t spend enough time praying or if I didn’t talk about Jesus to someone that day, then I would feel overshadowed by feelings of shame and guilt.  It’s hard to stand in confidence of being covered by His Divine Favor, when with every step you take, you are too busy being weak at the knees, hunched over, and staring at the ground.

Daughter, it’s time to lift your head

Maybe it’s time to stop believing the accuser and trust your Savior?  You, and all those around you who have the Spirit of the Living God in their hearts, are walking with divine favor.  If darts of shame are attacking you, then you can know without a doubt they are not from the perfect love of Jesus, because 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. ~ 1 John 4:18

The only reason we should grow weak in the knees is because His love makes us swoon.  And when we encounter a brother or a sister who needs to be reminded of this grace, then we don’t just call them out, we call them UP,  to walk within the divine favor upon their lives.  Jesus spoke to Peter’s identity, not his behavior.  Jesus saw Judas for who he was meant to be, not for what he had done.  

Let’s live each day trusting that the expression on God’s face when He looks at you is full of love and pure delight because you are clothed with divine favor to be who He created you to be!


WRITTEN BY:
Stacy Yoakum
Leadership Team, You Are Women's Conference

Familiar with Jesus

In our world today, it seems that there are so many opportunities to be familiar with people, ministries, books, authors, friends, movements, diets, blogs, and the list goes on and on. If I’m not careful, I will be more familiar with my friends and family, or familiar with the writings and  research of so many ‘good’ things while becoming less and less familiar with the person of Jesus.

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines familiar like this: 
Accustomed by frequent converse; well acquainted with; intimate; close; as a familiar friend or companion. Affable; not formal or distant; easy in conversation. Knowing by frequent use. Well known; learned or well understood by frequent use. Unceremonious; free; unconstrained; easy, frequent and intimate. a close companion; one long acquainted; one accustomed to another by free, unreserved converse.

What does being familiar with Jesus look like and what does familiarity with Jesus produce?

The beloved disciple John shows us.

If you were around Jesus during His days on the earth, chances are you would find John right next to Him. John observed, interacted with and encountered the people Jesus healed, delivered and set free. Jesus ministered to and cared for the masses but John, it seems, has this ‘knowing’ that Jesus really enjoyed being with him individually too. I love the way the Amplified Bible highlights the familiar scene after Jesus washed the disciple’s feet and begins to share with his closest friends about his upcoming betrayal.

John 13:21-23: After Jesus had said these things, He was troubled (disturbed, agitated) in spirit and said, “I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, one of you will deliver Me up [one of you will be false to Me and betray Me]!” The disciples kept looking at one another, puzzled as to whom He could mean. One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved [whom He esteemed and delighted in], was reclining [next to Him] on Jesus’ bosom. So Simon Peter motioned to him to ask of whom He was speaking. Then leaning back against Jesus’ breast, he asked Him, Lord, who is it?

 Let’s pay attention to the real emotions of Christ here… He was disturbed, agitated, deeply troubled in His spirit. What does it actually look like when someone you love is deeply troubled? Possibly tears, a raised heart rate, faster breathing, flushed in color… not at rest. The writer of John is so intimately acquainted with Jesus and acknowledges this troubled spirit by the way he writes.  

The disciples began looking at one another for what to do in response to Jesus’ deep sadness. Peter looks across the room at John who is reclining near Jesus (literally leaning against Him at the table) and motions to him to find out more. This is a scene we have all experienced at some point. Someone in the room is deeply troubled and you are looking at your friends wondering what to do, how to approach this person, the right questions to ask, wanting to find out more but wanting to be sensitive, etc. The one that is the most familiar or the closest is usually the one called upon to take the next step.  

In this scene, John (the youngest of the disciples) was that friend. And what does he do in response to Jesus? The one that has already described himself as the disciple whom Jesus loves, delights in and esteems, LEANS IN. He was already close, and now John leans in closer. Don’t miss this precious moment. Being secure in our identity as dearly loved ones, through familiarity with Jesus gives us confidence to lean in and ask questions.

As we follow John’s life throughout the Scriptures we see so many beautiful displays of real relationship with Jesus. While Jesus was being crucified He appointed John to care for His own mother, Mary. John was the last remaining disciple who had the honor of receiving the Revelation of Jesus while exiled on the island of Patmos. His faith was unshakable. The One to whom he was devoted to remained his first love. Jesus was the One that was worth it all to John and the One that he continued to have deep fellowship with until he again saw him face to face.

 In 1 John, after many years of faithfully serving Jesus and after seeing his friends and fellow disciples martyred, John writes, “We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.” 

Joy is something that I have been asking God to increase in my life. As I have prayed through this, I’ve realized how closely related my joy is to my nearness to Jesus. Psalm 16:11 says “In your presence is fullness of joy.” The presence of Jesus and our nearness and familiarity with Him is the well of joy for us to drink from. Fellowship with Him will produce joy, even in the dry, painful and confusing seasons…His joy is our strength. John fully displays this throughout his life.

What are some practical ways to be familiar with Jesus? 1. Be familiar with His word. Let’s be more familiar with what the Scriptures say than what any other human on the planet says. This takes time and discipline to choose shutting off our screens and stilling our minds from so many things that distract. 2. Be familiar with His Spirit who always leads us to love Jesus more. Pray in the Spirit. Praise the Lord with songs and allow worship to flood your environment often! 3. Be familiar with His people - those that are alive on earth and those that have already run their race. Put yourselves around people that love Jesus with their words and actions. Read biographies of men and women that have gone before and be inspired by their lives of faith in Christ. If you would like some recommendations, feel free to email us (Amy Carmichael and Corrie Ten Boom are great ones to start with)! 

I pray that 50 years from now our love for Jesus would be like the Beloved disciple John, remaining strong and pure as our familiarity with the living God increases more and more every day.


Written by:
Stephanie Lee
Founder & Director, You Are Women's Conference