Welcome back to Tatum’s Truth. In this post, I want to share my favorite chapter from my favorite book of the bible, Romans 12. To me, Romans is like a guidebook on how God has designed us to live. For the next few posts I will be breaking down Romans 12, while pulling out applications that will help us in our everyday lives as Christ followers. The apostle Paul wrote “Romans”as a letter to prepare the church in Rome for his upcoming visit. His purpose for the letter was to confirm that their church understood the message of the gospel and how it applied to jews and gentiles. I think you will love this chapter as much as I do once you read it for yourself. Romans 12 is a testament to the fact that all of the Bible is God breathed; meaning God speaks the messages through the authors. God gave Paul these words to be expressed in a such a way that it is straightforward and easy to understand, yet poetic and beautiful at the same time.
Here it is, my favorite chapter out of my favorite book, Romans 12.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God– this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to everyone of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving let him serve; if it is teaching let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one anther above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty give him something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.
Do not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
So…What did you think? Do you love this chapter as much as I do? Scroll down just a bit to the button that says leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on Romans 12. Over the next few weeks we will basically be fellowshipping in an online Bible study as we break this chapter down verse by verse. I am looking forward to not only what I can share with you, but what the Holy Spirit reveals to me as we work together to soak in the meaning of God’s word.
Hey y’all, Im going to cut the introductions and get down to the truth of the matter.
I’ve been in a funk.
The kind where you feel like you are in a hole and you can’t dig yourself out. On and off for the past couple of weeks, I have struggled mentally, emotionally and physically. Now please don’t worry too much about me, I am not writing this for pity or for attention. I have an amazing support group that I run to when I need help digging myself out of the pits of self destruction I sometimes get lost in. The reason I feel the need to let my readers know the struggle I am going through is I think there is a pretty good chance that you might have or will go through a similar thing. Maybe you’re struggling now as you read this. God has a mysterious way of getting us to stumble onto reading the thing we need to read, right when we need it.
You might sometimes, like me, find yourself crying in your closet for no particular reason other than you can’t get that negative, self-hating voice in your head to be quiet. You, like me, might have felt so alone in these moments. Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t explain this to anyone else. How could anybody understand, when you don’t really get it yourself? It’s like everything in life can be going along quite nicely, but for some reason your mind gets caught up in a cycle of negativity and frustration and you feel like you might never be able to get it back on a positive course. It’s ok friend. I have those days, those weeks, those ever repeating “off” moments too. The good news is I’m starting to figure out ways to get myself out of them more quickly than I used to. I believe my strategy might help you get out of those blue moods a little quicker, so you can get back to enjoying life and seeing the beauty in all God is doing around you. The Lord gave us two tools we can use whenever we are struggling with anxiety or any other mental battle.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
These are simple things that don’t require me to get out of my bathrobe, I can do them even when I’m in the middle of a blubbering break down, and they start working for me immediately.
Prayer: This seems like a no-brainer, right? Prayer is the answer for everything. It’s our lifeline to our savior. Yes, of course. But the type of prayer I am talking about is especially powerful in those times when you need help getting out of your head.It’s easy, PRAY FOR OTHER PEOPLE. Get alone, get on the ground ( I like to pray in childs pose), and start praying for every single person that comes to mind. Pray for every person that has asked for prayer recently, pray for the ones that haven’t asked, pray for the loved ones that you desperately want to find Jesus, pray for the sick, pray for those who are hurting. If your mind is blank ask God who needs prayer and he will bring you the names. Pray for the orphans, pray for the widows, pray for the hungry, pray for those enslaved, pray for the broken, pray for those addicted to drugs or alcohol. Pray until you have nothing else to pray. You will end your prayer in a different state of mind. I promise. The beautiful thing is you will have spent precious time in the presence of God petitioning for the people who need it the most, while at the same time changing your focus from your own mental issues, to the needs of others. Phillipians 4:6
Thankfulness: Another no-brainer, I know. But it works. Get out a pen and a paper and start writing down the things you are thankful for. Thank the Lord for each little blessing as you go. Think about the good things, the little things that make you happy, the people, the sunsets, the cup of coffee, the full nights sleep, the compliment, the smile, the text. Think about it all, write it down on your list, and then thank God for it.
That is all I’ve got. Don’t knock it until you try it. There have been times I have wanted to sit and sulk in my misery, and times I was too stubborn to follow my own simple two-step advice. However, any time I have committed to following my plan I have been able to change my mind set and pull myself out of that negative place.
I’m happy to report that I am out of that nasty funk now. The clouds have parted and the love of Jesus is shining down on me like rays of sunlight. I hope this post helps you when you need it. Life is full of the good moments as well as the bad ones. The key is staying close to God through every changing season.
Bombcyclone. That is what they called the blizzard that hit last Wednesday. We had plenty of heads up that this was going to be a big storm, but I honestly had no idea what we were in for. We spent Tuesday getting prepared.
Jeff and Garrett got pens ready so we could get all the calves in a barn and all the cows up into a windbreak for protection. I went to town and got us all stocked up on groceries so we had plenty of food and water and fruit snacks to ride out the storm. We went to bed Tuesday night not knowing what we would be waking up to. Wednesday morning was a blessing. The storm hadn’t yet hit so Jeff was able to go check on everything again and help his dad and brother for a little while before things got bad. Jeff picked the girls and I up on his way back so we could go lock my horses up about 8:30 am. The storm blew in right as we got to the horse pasture. It was crazy how it went from drizzling rain to blowing snow in a matter of minutes. I could barely see the horses coming. They were as freaked out as I was as they came running into the barn already pelted with snow. We quickly got them taken care and headed home. Driving back to the house, we couldn’t see more than a few feet ahead of us at a time, but we made it home safe and sound and were happy to have all of our animals taken care of.
Everything was fine and dandy the rest of the morning. Sure the wind was howling outside and the snow was blowing like crazy, but I was getting my chili ingredients out and about to start a Netflix movie. Then the power went out…. Uh oh. I didn’t prepare for that. Suddenly I felt a little panicked. I started going through the groceries I had stocked up on the day prior and realized they all required electricity to cook. In my 5 years of living in Wyoming I had never had to ride out a blizzard with no electricity, and this was first big storm we had been through in our new house. Quickly it occurred to me that we were not very prepared for an actual crisis. What if we didn’t get electricity for a couple days? Would our house stay warm enough with just our gas fireplace going? I hadn’t thought ahead to fill up baths or pots with water. We didn’t have a back up power source. We had about 3 small candles to our name, and one flashlight that worked about half the time you needed it to. I did have plenty of bottled water and enough goldfish and tortilla chips to keep us from getting hungry, but all in all I felt pretty unprepared for a disaster.
I was so relieved when the power came back on a few hours later and then stayed on all night. I am so thankful for the people that risked their safety and went out in the terrible storm to fix the power lines. They really are heroes.
The bomb cyclone blizzard wasn’t easy to get through. It was hard on livestock and the ranchers that work so hard to take care of them. Thank God it didn’t last very long. Everything settled down Thursday mid-morning and the sun came out. Through this experience I learned a lot about how to prepare for a storm, and I have a list of things we need to improve on for the next one.
Exhausted by the events of the week and not feeling overly
creative, I asked the Lord what He wanted me to write about in my blog this
week. The first thing that popped into my head was to write about preparing for
the storms. Man, what an incredible lesson He was teaching me when I didn’t
even realize it. Preparing for real life physical storms is a lot like
preparing for the spiritual ones. It all comes down to a moment of truth when
you realize weather or not you are ready to face something difficult. After all God never promised life would be
easy. John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may
have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome
We can have peace even in the hard times if we keep God
central in our lives. He is our source- our “super generator” that will never
stop working. If we are connected to him we will always have light, strength, hope
and peace no mater how dark or devastating our circumstances may be.
Isaiah 54:10 promises, “Though the mountains be shaken and
the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my
covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord who has compassion on you.”
We must be constantly preparing for the storms. It is not a
question of if, but when they will strike. God’s word and time spent in prayer
are our most valuable resources. There is one thing even a girl from Texas
knows you are supposed to do before a big snowstorm: Fill up your gas tank. So
how you do you make sure your spiritual tank is full? You pour God’s word into
it. You make sure it never gets low by studying and memorizing and storing His
word in your heart, and by spending time thanking Him for his faithfulness and
asking him for protection.
My prayer for you dear friend is that you are filled with
the peace that comes from knowing that know matter what storms you have to face
in this life, whether they be physical or spiritual, God is with you.
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your
staff, they comfort me.
Instagram being my first app of choice and Facebook a close second.
I’m spending hours, yes HOURS, meaning more than one…closer to 4 or 5 a day staring into this perfectly pixilated screen. Scrolling through picture after picture, post after post, losing myself into a world of OOTDs, workout tips, beauty must haves and an endless supply of things I totally need to buy. It’s insane.
This is my first time admitting this, and I know my husband is going to have a complete “I told you so” hay-day tomorrow when this post pops up in his inbox and he reads the first line. Oh well, this situation is becoming a problem, and we all know the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one.
Ever since this new little Iphone tool called the “Screen Time Weekly Report” bombarded my life with the fact that I was wasting hours of my life in iPhone land, I have been thinking of a way to get a hold of this.
Why am I spending so much time on my phone? Lord knows I’m not bored. The hours that I’m not scrolling mindlessly are spent chasing two little girls, folding never ending loads of laundry, cleaning up messes, wiping bottoms, looking for lost sippy cup lids, and the list goes on. There is no shortage of tasks in this season of life. So what is so enthralling about social media that can steal me away in little 15 to 20 minute intervals adding up to multiple hours every single day?
I think it’s connection. I’m looking for some social interaction to pull me out of my “mom role” and into a community that makes me feel like I haven’t completely lost myself. I’m trying to escape cartoons and crayons for something that feels a little more adult and interesting.
The problem is, social media isn’t really social. It’s actually isolating. While I’m scrolling my newsfeed trying to connect with potential mom friends, I start realizing how put together and accomplished these ladies are. I start comparing myself as I am, still in my jammies at 3pm with peanut butter in my hair, to these perfectly done up mom influencers who apparently are so gorgeous they have photographers following them around as they wander the isles of Target, or sip their Starbucks on a bench. For real though?!? How do they do daily photo shoots in multiple outfits with kids in casually coordinated colors? I don’t get it?!?
Ok rant over. The point to my story is social media isn’t real. I need to get back to real life socializing. I need to make friends that are fun to hang out with in person. Friends that don’t mind my mess, that appreciate the unfiltered me.
I actually had a play date at my house this week and it was so refreshing. I should probably text her and apologize for talking her ear off, but the adult conversation felt so good. Instead of feeling insecure and insignificant like I sometimes do after wasting time on social media, I felt understood and encouraged after spending time with my real life mom friend.
So the only strategy I have so far is to do more “real life” social time. I’m going to be intentional about scheduling weekly play dates. I’m going to leave my phone on the charger and be more present with my family. I’m going to remind myself that social media is not a fix, when what I really need is a friend.
That is all for now, thank you for reading and have a blessed week.
It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Nothing horrible. I know there are people who are going through life stuff that is way harder than the culmination of a virus from hell hitting our household with a vengeance and a spiritual funk hitting me in the face. Nevertheless I’m on a struggle bus that I’m having a hard time getting off and I think talking about it here might help me sort it out.
My girls got sick first. I like most mothers of small kids hit the panic button when my babies are sick. It’s the worst thing watching your little ones in pain and not being able to take it way. Well JoJo had it for about 10 days and Ella is still in the last stages with a lingering cough. I managed to make it to about day 11 and thought I was going to get past this nasty thing when I woke up with the worst sore throat of my life and a headache that wouldn’t quit. So I’ve been down for the count the last 4 or 5 days too. If you’re rolling your eyes and thinking…Big deal. We all get sick. It’s that time of year….I’m totally with you. I’d be doing the same if I was reading this somewhere else, but there is something else.
1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind, your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Satan saw that I was having an off week. He saw me up with kids all night and consequently not up early in the morning spending time with God and studying my Bible. He noticed the time I usually spend listening to sermons online I spent rocking sick babies. He caught me at a moment when I wasn’t fully armored. I wasn’t fully connected to my source of power. He tried to devour me. But….
My God saw me too. He saw me mothering the babies that needed me to help them feel better. He saw me frustrated when I got sick and couldn’t get all my daily tasks done like I wanted. He saw my guilt when I slept past my alarm instead of getting up and spending time with Him. He heard me praying for help. He stepped in.
I got a text from a dear friend Saturday afternoon. The timing couldn’t have been much better.
And just like that I knew He had this. I knew everything was going to be ok. My God was working on my behalf. He saw me, and He came running to my rescue. He used a simple text from a friend that was tuned in close enough to Him to know He was asking her to send it to me. He is Good. His timing is perfect.
The next evening I was still muddling through the lingering sore throat and headache. We were sitting on the couch watching the American Rodeo. One of my favorite barrel racers, Hailey Kinsel, won the barrel racing and walked up on stage to receive her $100,000 dollar check. The interviewer asked her a couple questions and she graciously answered. Then she said something that wrecked me. As she stood up on stage in a moment where she easily could of taken the praise and the accomplishment of another big win she instead said, “This is just proof that I’m an imperfect person serving a Perfect God.” I lost it. Jeff might not want to admit it but he lost it too. That’s all that this is about. Hailey said it just right. We are imperfect people serving a PERFECT GOD.
God is so perfect. He is so big, so powerful, so loving and kind. He cares so deeply for a little imperfect human like me. He makes sure I know He is with me, even in moments where my faith is on short supply. He gives me examples of His power and authority when I’m feeling weak. He is my rescuer, when the enemy thinks He has caught me off guard. God is my everything. I will proclaim His Glory forever.
Thank you for visiting my blog. Today I want to share a story that took place almost 4 years ago. This is the birth story of our first daughter, Grace Josephine Berry (aka Gracie Jo, aka JoJo) Disclaimer: If you are pregnant you may want to come back and read this one after you give birth. I know I hated when people shared their horrible delivery experiences with me when I was expecting. Also, anyone else that doesn’t want to know personal details of my birth story, here is your chance to duck out and catch me on the next post as well.
The story takes place in March of 2015. It was an abnormally nice week in Wyoming, and I had spent every day walking at the park getting my body ready to deliver it’s first baby. The night of the 17th I woke up and it felt like I had wet my pants a little bit, but the doctor had assured me the day before that if my water broke it would be a huge gush, so I wrote it off as another embarrassing pregnancy moment and went back to bed.
The next morning I woke up and once again it seemed like I had a mini pants wetting episode so I told Jeff about it. He had been with me at the doctor office the day before and reminded me the doctor said we would know when my water broke. I told him I wanted to get checked out anyway, and in true rancher form he said, “Okay. Let me go feed the cows and check everything and then I’ll take you to town.”
He got back about 9:30 and we got ready and drove to town. We both felt silly walking into the doctors’ office and calmly telling them we think my water might of broke. They looked at us like the first time amateurs we were and said they would let the doctors know we wanted to be checked out.
We got to see Dr. Story a few minutes later and he checked to see if I was indeed in labor. He decided to run a couple tests and was back in our room in a matter of minutes. Sure enough, my water had not completely broken, but I was leaking amniotic fluid and there was a risk of infection if we did not get to the hospital quick for delivery.
The moment felt surreal, Jeff and I were excited that we would be meeting our baby girl that day! We drove straight to the hospital, checked in and prepared to deliver our baby girl. The doctor on call that day was Dr. VanKirk. I had never met her before, but I instantly loved her the moment she walked in. She was upbeat and made us feel she had everything under control. We were giddy and excited, not knowing that the experience would go down as one of the worst and best days of our lives.
My body was not in labor even though I was leaking amniotic fluid, so I had to be induced. Since we were now on a time crunch to deliver because of the risk of infection, we had to be pretty aggressive with the meds used to induce me. The contractions came on pretty quickly and they were extremely painful with little to no breaks in between them. I received an epidural about 4pm. After getting the epidural in, I was able to relax and calm down. Unfortunately my body tried to relax a little too much, and my blood pressure dropped so low that I was not pumping enough blood to our baby girl. The baby’s heart rate monitor starting beeping loudly as the nurses and Dr. Vankirk quickly came into our room. I had discussed with Dr. VanKirk early on that I didn’t want to have to do a C-Section. She said we would try an adrenaline shot, but if that didn’t work we would need to go straight in for a C-section. I agreed, my babies well being and safety being my first priority. The adrenaline shot kicked in quickly and baby girl’s heartbeat stabilized. We were all able to take a deep breath and settle in for a few more hours of contractions.
A little bit after 8 pm we had another scare, the same issue we had before of our baby girl’s heartbeat weakening happened again, but this time we completely lost it on the monitor. Dr. Vankirk calmly told me that I would have to deliver my baby right this minute because she was in danger. She yelled out that we needed more nurses in the room and the room filled up with too many medical people to count. Dr. Vankirk stayed calm and in control of the situation, but I could see the urgency in her eyes. Jeff also stayed calm and supportive, but I could tell he was freaking out on the inside. He grabbed my hand. I had multiple nurses on both sides of me holding my legs and feet. I remember in that moment a feeling of extra human strength as I began pushing my baby out with everything I had. Everyone in the room was yelling out encouragement, telling me she was almost out. It took only 3 pushes for me to deliver.
Doctor Vankirk lifted our baby up and was moving to put her on my chest when we all realized she was not in good shape. She was so blue that she was black. She was not making a sound. They cut the cord and immediately took her to the baby incubator to start working on her.
I remember pleading with everyone around me. Asking them, is my baby okay? Is she going to make it? Is my baby all right? Dr. Vankirk told me that for right now she had to work on me, and that my baby was in good hands, but the look on her face expressed her uncertainty.
I looked up at Jeff and he was white as a ghost. He, unlike me, could see everything that was happening to our baby girl as the doctors and nurses worked so hard to get her to breathe. Immediately it hit me. “We have to pray! Jeff, start praying!” Jeff began praying a prayer that I will never forget. I actually remember thinking, “No! don’t pray that!” But I knew the words he spoke were faith filled to a God we trusted with everything.
Jeff prayed, “Father God, we pray right now for our baby girl. We know that she is yours. We know that weather you take her up with you or we get to keep her here with us that she is yours first. We want this baby girl so bad God! We pray your will be done.”
I continued praying as I looked around and noticed a couple of the nurses by me were praying as well! And then we heard it, the beautiful scream of our precious baby girl. God had so clearly moved in that room, he had opened the lungs of our baby. I busted out sobbing, letting myself go when I had been trying so hard to keep it together. We thought we would name our little girl Addison or Avery, but Jeff said right at that moment, “We are naming her Grace.” I was in complete agreement!
Our baby girl was completely fine. She had no health issues at all. They brought her over to me all bundled up and beautiful. Words do not express the love I felt for her and the relief that my baby girl was in my arms and everything was okay.
I share this story for a couple different reasons. First, I share it for myself. I want to document our story so I can always go back and remember the moment that we cried out the God of the Universe and He so clearly moved in that moment to answer our prayer. There is pain in this story, but it is washed away by the joy. I wish in the moment I would of had the same faith and firmness of my Husband to be able to pray God’s will be done no matter what the outcome. My heart breaks for the families that have prayed the same prayer we prayed but didn’t get the answer we got. I know we serve a God that in all things works for the good of those who love HIM, but sometimes His way won’t make sense until we get to be up with Him in heaven and understand that it was the best way. I thank the Lord for every single day I get to spend with the precious babies He has trusted us with. I know we are not promised tomorrow.
Lastly, I hope this story can be of encouragement and attest to the power and love of our God. He heard our cry and He cared about our prayer. He is the God of the entire universe, but He heard the prayer of just two of His children and He was with us. His presence was in that room. He wants to be there when you need Him too. He wants to hold you when you need comfort, He wants to give you strength when your situation seems impossible, He wants to love you when you feel unlovable. He wants to be with you through it all.
I pray that you know your value and how precious you are to our God. Until we meet again,
It’s the morning after Valentine’s Day as I sit here writing this post. Time is moving so quickly. My babies are growing fast. Life feels like a whirlwind, leaving me scrambling to get from one place to the next. I feel the world’s pull on me to do more, to be more. The weight of all my responsibilities build up, And I feel like I can’t keep up.
Then I walk away for a moment, and I open God’s word. The never ending cycle of life’s obligations come to a stop for a few minutes, while I seek wisdom from the perfect words of my savior.
My time with God has not always felt this way. In my early days of becoming a Christ follower, I would open the Bible and be so confused by the words. The Bible seemed too thick, too complicated, and to be honest, too far fetched for me to understand. That is when I learned about the power of Holy Spirit. I would pray for the spirit to give me wisdom and discernment to understand what I was reading. Once I had the help of the Spirit I started to better understand. Messages started to come out of the pages that were so applicable to my every day life. I believe the gift of discerning and understanding the Bible is available for anyone who asks for it. Once you have it, you will not believe the way the Bible comes to life.
The other thing I had trouble with when I first began studying the Bible, was knowing where to begin. My personality caused me to always want to begin at the beginning, in Genesis, therefor there are numerous times when I would set out to read the Bible cover to cover only to get lost and distracted before I reached Exodus, the second book.
My advice for beginners would be to start in the New Testament. The first four books are accounts of the birth, life and death of Jesus written from four different perspectives. They are easy to read and understand, especially with the help of Holy Spirit. These first four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John contain the actual words of Jesus. His words are written in red. We have the actual words of our Savior to read and learn from, that in itself is an amazing gift.
When shopping for a Bible there is no shame in finding a version that is easy to read. I would still be lost if I was trying to use the King James version. The version I use and love is the NIV Study Bible. There are many different versions out there to choose from. Lots of these contain commentaries and resources on every page to help you better understand what you are reading. I think the next Bible I buy will be “the Message” version which is probably the closest in translation to our present way of speaking.
That reminds me, a must have for new readers is the YouVersion Bible app. This app is so handy. I prefer doing my daily studies in my real bible that I can hold, but anytime I don’t understand what I am reading, I can pull up my App and read that section in different translations until it makes more sense. The You Version app also is full of reading plans based on topic or plans for reading the Bible cover to cover. It is really an awesome resource!
I know this post may seem elementary and may not apply to everyone that reads, but I truly believe there is upmost importance for every single believer to become experts on the book God has written for us. We must learn for ourselves what God wants to teach us, not just hear secondhand somebody else’s interpretation. Paul tells the Philippians they must “work out their salvation with fear and trembling.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,”
So I urge you to take responsibility. Make it your mission to not only read the Bible, but to know it. Your very salvation, and the salvation of those you love depends on it.
Today I am going to share a key take away the Lord gave me when I studied the book “Forgotten God,” by Francis Chan. I was blessed to study this book with some incredible women who have since become close friends and mentors in my life. I have read a few of Francis Chan’s books and will say although they are not easy reads, they are sure to make you take a look at the way you are living your life and direct you to full obedience to God.
“Forgotten God”, was a challenging yet life-impacting book. I highly suggest this book to anyone wanting to better understand the relationship we are meant to have with the Holy Spirit.
I think it is amazing how God can use a bible study as a tool to impact individual readers in so many ways. My husband and I can read the same exact book and come out with two completely different messages. My take away from “The Forgotten God” was so perfectly crafted for me that I feel I must share it. It answered many questions I have had as a new Christian. One thing in particular, has completely changed my concept on what living for God actually means.
Let me give you some background information. Ever since my breakthrough moment of realizing I couldn’t live this life without Jesus, in 2011, I have been searching for my God given purpose. I have come close to the point of obsession trying to discover the exact plan God has for my life. I have read many books and listened to many Youtube sermons all in the effort to find out what my God given destiny is. When I learned we would be studying “Forgotten God,” one of the first thoughts was, “great, I’m sure the Holy Spirit will help me make my God given purpose more clear!” Reflecting now on these thoughts and the lengths I have gone through to try to figure out my purpose, just seems silly. How could I have gotten so off track? How could I have such a selfish motivation? It is surprising how quickly we can get off track when we try to work from our flesh instead of depending on the Spirit.
Ok, back to the message, I managed to make it about half-way through “Forgotten God” still waiting for that “ah ha” moment when Holy Spirit would give me a vision, a prophecy, a breakthrough of the exact plan and steps I should follow to live out the purpose God has for me. Boy, was I in for a news flash when I hit chapter 6!
The title of chapter 6 is, “Forget about His will for your Life.” Wait, what? Did I read that right? Come again? You can imagine my confusion, which quickly evolved to sheer disappointment as I read on through the chapter and realized the error of my ways. I am now going to list some direct quotes from this chapter that I have underlined.
“I think a lot of us need to forget about God’s will for my life. God cares more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today’s decisions.”
“..dwelling on God’s plan for the future often excuses us from faithful and sacrificial living now.”
“Thinking, questioning, and talking can take the place of letting the Spirit affect our immediate actions in radical ways. God wants to see His children stake everything on His power and presence in their lives.”
Major reality check… but isn’t this so true? God wants us to follow him right now, not in 5 years when it makes more sense, or once we have found the step-by-step guide to our entire plan and feel prepared. I have unknowingly been using my quest of finding God’s will and purpose for my life as a cop out in my day-to-day living. How many opportunities have I missed, how many needs have I overlooked because I was too busy trying to figure out my ultimate purpose? Well…Not anymore. I pray Holy Spirit will help me forget about accomplishing a life purpose. I pray that Holy Spirit will come into my daily life, that He will wake me up, draw near to me and lead me on a daily basis. I pray that I will be bold and fearless in following him, even though I don’t have a clue as to where He is leading me or where I will end up in 5 years. That doesn’t really matter. It actually makes me feel more free, more light and ready to move!
After proof reading this post, it occurred to me that some of my readers might be confused about the way I am referencing Holy Spirit. That was another thing I learned from reading “Forgotten God.” Francis Chan states that we should speak to “Holy Spirit” not address Him as “The Holy Spirit”. Just like we wouldn’t pray to “the God” or “the Jesus.” I will dive into this in a near future post. I know as a new christian the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) was something that really confused me. Until then, I pray this post is relatable and that you gained something from reading it. I know I feel blessed just to be able to write it and reflect on such an important piece of wisdom that the Lord has been given to me.
“The cross I carry is all that Jesus has done for me, just as the cross you carry is your gospel, or witness, of what He has done for you.”
So basically, our cross is our testimony. It is the story of what God has done in your life. The cross is your past. It is where you were at before you knew Jesus, and it is the journey of where He has taken you, what obstacles He has helped you overcome, and what chains of bondage He has helped you break. How incredible is that? Writing this post has opened my eyes to something I did not understand God was asking me to do. I am supposed to pick up my baggage, my failures, and my brokenness and follow Jesus. I just have to carry my story. He will make it all matter. He will make it all worth it.
Whoa! How crazy big is our God, that He can take our past, no matter how terrible, or boring, or great, or sinful it was and He can use that for His glory. Our cross is — our story for God’s glory! That blows my mind.
We could end right there, but let’s tackle that last part while we are on a roll.
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
This is where the loser part comes in. This verse confused me when I first read it. I had to do some research and ended up finding some cool stuff. The summary of my finding is this; if we cling to our picture of life the way we imagine it should be, we will lose it. If we are so focused on accumulating wealth, or fame, or success, or whatever thing we think is most important to achieve, we will lose the very life that matters.
Mark 8:36 says “What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
Instead we should strive to lose ourselves in Christ. We should make our sole purpose in this life to know God more. The more we work to get closer to Him, the less we will try to become whatever it was that we thought was so important in the first place.
God can’t use us until we have surrendered control. He can do amazing things through us when we have agreed to leave our idea of what our life should be behind. That is the sacrifice he asks us to make.
For the longest time I thought in order for my life to mean something I had to become the best at what I did. In my younger years, that was playing basketball and pushing that love and talent I had for the game to a state of total burn out. Then in my early twenties I decided that for my life to matter I had to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo. I put all my energy and effort into that for a few years and ended up feeling like a complete and total failure when my short lived professional rodeo career didn’t take me to the top.
It’s so obvious now, but I was blind to all of this back then. I was clinging on for dear life to things God never asked me to do, and I was completely lost. I was praying to win basketball games and barrel races, when all He wanted was for me to just draw near to Him.
Giving up control and letting go of doing it “my way” has brought me such freedom. I still have times where I get caught up in trying to achieve something that God isn’t asking me to achieve. I recognize this when I begin feeling my stress and anxiety levels rise. I ask the Lord to help me let go of those things and all the worry is washed away. I hope this post has helped you understand what it means to take up your cross and lose your life for the Lord.
I think I got more out of this blog post than any of the previous posts. God’s way is so much better than my way. Following him brings me true peace and true joy.