Out of Control

More often than not in the last week or so, I’ve felt out of control. Of my son, as he sprints around the house leaving utter destruction in his wake. And of myself, as I’ve found myself responding angrily to this behavior. It’s so frustrating to see myself continuing to be a bully when I want to be firm yet loving in my discipline. Jesus knows what I’m talking about. He said in Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” You may be thinking, “Alicia, your situation is a little different. You’re just being a grouch. You’re not faced with temptation here.” Is that true, though? Am I not giving into the temptation of my flesh to respond in the way that comes easiest? I certainly think I am.

So what’s a girl to do? Am I just doomed to fall into temptation at every turn? Absolutely not! Look again at the first sentence of Matthew 26:41. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” God’s Word tells me to commit myself to praying to resist temptation. Until I read this scripture in the light of my current frustration, it had never occurred to me to pray specifically for God to help me fight the temptation to respond inappropriately to my son.

The other thing God has revealed to me is that the feeling of being out of control is an indicator of my desire to be in control. If God is truly at the center of my life, I am to be in complete submission to Him. Jesus demonstrated this as he hung on the cross for my sins, telling God, “…yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) Proverbs 3:5-6 says that we are to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Emphasis is mine.)

So again, I pray. I ask God to show me how to fully submit to Him in all my ways. I listen. And, the hardest step for me…I obey.

How do you respond to temptation? What red flags tell you that you’re not completely submitted to the Lord? Leave me a comment!

Finding Balance

In matters of fitness and health, I find it difficult to walk on the path that Jesus wants for me. Sometimes I feel like I’m walking a tightrope between two bodies of water; if I fall to the left, I land in the lake of gluttony and sloth, with my focus on food/momentary pleasure rather than on Christ. If I fall to the right, I’m in the lake of obsessing over calories and stressing out if I miss a workout, and I end up idolizing my body/self instead of keeping my heart centered on Christ. The problem with both of these scenarios is that they are dangerously self-centered. A while back a friend told me, “I finally feel like I’m at a good place where I don’t think about food, and exercise is just a part of my routine. I’m happy with my weight and my body, and I feel good.” I felt a momentary pang of something, perhaps jealousy, not because she hasn’t worked hard to get to that point physically and spiritually. I felt it because I so badly want to find that balance, but just can’t seem to grasp it. So I turned to scripture for encouragement, and of course the Word of God had a couple of things to tell me.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)

Scripture tells us that every thing we do is to be is an offering of worship to God. For me, this means diaper changes, toddler discipline, meal prep and clean up, diet and exercise…all of this is intended to be done in a manner pleasing to God, as a form of worship. My food choices and physical activity should honor Him. Instead of viewing meal time as a test of my will, or exercise as a dreaded task to check off my to-do list, I can approach it as an opportunity to worship. This is interesting to me, the idea that worship is not confined to singing during Sunday morning church. And with this new perspective, I head into the week with these scriptures as my focus, and take one step closer to finding the balance I seek.

How do you maintain balance when it comes to taking care of your body? Leave a comment!

Psalm 51

Let me make myself clear. I have not “arrived” in my faith. When I write about Jesus, it’s not because I’m an expert on scripture or because I’ve mastered clean living. It’s definitely not to brag on myself for “living right.”

The truth is, I’ve always been nervous about sharing God’s work in my life. The shame of my sin, past and present, caused me to shrink back from God’s glory. I’m so afraid of being called a hypocrite. I worry someone might say, “She calls herself a Christian, but I was at a party with her once. Three margaritas in, she was using the eff word like a comma.” Or, “She may have had her own apartment in college, but I know for a fact she stayed at Aaron’s place more than her own.” Ouch. Then there are my more current issues, like coveting and jealousy. I envy that gorgeous, fit mom of six well-dressed kids under the age of seven (who all slept through the night at three weeks and who would never dream of hurling a wooden choo choo train at their mom’s face, even if they were just being playful). She’s the woman with the sexy wavy hair and full makeup in Chick-fil-A, who eats waffle fries with abandon and never gains an ounce. She’s got an immaculate home, terrific sense of fashion, and somehow finds time to volunteer at the homeless shelter each week, even though she homeschools her entire herd of offspring. Yes, sin is still a strong force in my life. I could devote a lot of space to my shortcomings, but I’ll move on so I can get to the really juicy part.

In the summer of 2015, I began the process of casting off the chains of sin and shame. I experienced such radical revelation that I could no longer bear to sit on my hands. The Lord basically grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the face, and said, “Wake up!” This happened through a cascade of events that were really tough (I’ll share a little more next week via A Letter To My Son). To waste a single opportunity to declare His goodness is to waste the blood shed on the cross for me. I’m not doing Jesus any favors by ducking my head and zipping my lips. In fact, in doing so, I’m depriving Him of the opportunity to demonstrate His sovereignty. If Paul’s sin (persecuting Christians) wasn’t too much for God to handle, then neither is mine. And neither is yours. One of my dearest friends recently introduced me to Psalm 51, a heart-wrenching song of repentance.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Friend, if you are allowing shame or fear to keep you from experiencing God intimately, I strongly encourage you to read this psalm and put an end to that right now. My prayer tonight is that the Lord would guide us in genuine repentance, creating in us pure hearts, and renewing our spirits. Thank you, God, for the blood of Jesus that paid the debt for our sins.

Are you letting shame or sin hold you back from experiencing God? Let me know how I can pray for you- it would be my honor.