In the Ring…

A boxing match kept coming to my mind….The punches, the spit, the blood, the countdown, the adrenaline, the exhaustion…

I’m not a fan of boxing. I don’t like watching others fight for fun or money. But, I know many are. I admire the athleticism and endurance it takes to fight, but I still don’t like to watch it. This correlates perfectly with the punches we take on in this life. It’s not pretty to watch others get hit over and over and it doesn’t feel good to be hit so hard that your head spins and your “teeth” fall out.

Do you ever feel like you are in a battle? Like you may get hit multiple times in one day and then out of nowhere once you manage to get up on to your feet, you’re taken down again? Each and every time you wonder if this may be it? The big one. The KO. But, it’s not. You wake up the next day with one heck of a shiner, feeling weak and sore from the fight, but a little bit stronger and quite honestly surprised you’re still going.

If you feel like you are in a battle, it’s because you are. And it’s warring every day. We are in a battle and it’s not against flesh and blood. It’s not with the people throwing the punches or our own bodies. It’s not with the bank or your boss. It’s not with your spouse or your ex. It’s not with your parent or your child.

Paul writes…

 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)

Our opponent thrives on division, wars, conflict, stress, and despair. His MO is to give us a KO. To knock us out of the running. To keep us from sharing that God is LOVE, still loves, will always love. To keep us from sharing how He works and how He is already wearing the Championship belt.

He doesn’t call us to fight as the world fights, but in the Spirit. In truth, peace, faith, His Word, and prayer. (Ephesians 6) This is war against an enemy who wants the EXACT opposite. He’s relentless in his pursuit to deceive, steal peace, intimidate, keep you away from the Bible, and away from heartfelt sincere prayer. I know this…because I’m fighting too.

When we fight with the weapons of the Holy Spirit, even to exhaustion, God promises…”no weapon turned against you will succeed.” (Isaiah 54:17)

In the heat and hurt of the battle, remember that He helps us fight our enemy. We are not on our own. It may feel daunting when you see that next fist coming at you, but his days are numbered and yours are infinite in the mighty hands of Jesus.

In preparation for this article, I looked up the word “Uppercut”. It’s defined as follows: “The uppercut is a punch used in boxing that travels along a vertical line at the opponent’s chin. It is, along with the cross, one of the main punches that count in the statistics as power punches.”

How fitting. I don’t know what a cross punch is, but it is because of the Cross that we have victory. No matter how beat up you feel, chin up fighter. I’m cheering you on, praying you through, and fighting in the ring next to yours.

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Create in Me….

pure heart

A pure heart is a surrendered heart. A heart that is willing to be honest about its own shortcomings and give praise for its victories. A pure heart relates with the pain of others and shares in their joys. It views others as a fellow child of God. It respects other cultures, races, sexes, humans just as they are. Humans who were born with an inherent need for love and nurturing.

If I could have and keep one thing in this world, it would be a pure heart. A pure heart for God and for others. This is a rich heart. This is a priceless heart. This is a heart that leaves a positive impression and a lasting legacy. Pure heart.

A pure heart is like a child’s heart. A heart that sees the best in people. A heart that is naïve to the competition, jealousy, deception, and hatred of others. A pure heart trusts. A pure heart feels conviction when it’s wrong and sadness when someone is hurting. A pure heart thinks of the other’s heart even in the midst of a disagreement. A pure heart relates. A pure heart cares. A pure heart mourns. A pure heart comforts.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8 (NIV)

A pure heart is beautifully open and transparent. A pure heart is priceless. A brain full of knowledge is not nearly as attractive to me as a heart full of care. A bank account full of money is not nearly as attractive as a heart full of patience and kindness.

Jesus had the purest heart. Pure for His Father. Pure for others. Did He have pain because of it? Yes. His tender heart broke from the separation from His Father and the ridicule and betrayal of those He dearly loved. Although, He suffered tremendous physical pain, the drops of blood he sweat in the garden were from emotional pain. He relates.

The enemy starts early trying to steal and harden our hearts. He wants them dark, dingy, heavy, hard, and cold. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Through circumstances out of our control and by people already hardened, he hopes to change our hearts towards God and others. This is why a pure heart in an adult is such a rare find these days. Because, our circumstances change us. They scare us. They hurt us. They shock us. A pure heart is not a perfect heart, only fully surrendered to and reliant on the Perfect One.

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

When we see Him face to face we will be changed. Our minds, bodies, and hearts will be made perfect. Then and only then. But, here on earth, our hearts and minds can be renewed. Our emotions and mentalities can be rewired. Our lives can be reshaped and made fresh and clean. Jesus purifies our hearts.

He still loves us with a pure heart. I want a heart like His….

 

 

Twisted

twisted

Don’t get it twisted. Each one of us are here because of sexual intercourse. As much as we may not like thinking about our parents in that way, it’s the truth. God designed each of us (the apples of His eyes, the ones He died for) to develop and be brought into this world through the act of sex. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalms 139:13 (NIV)

We forget that it is a Godly design, a gift. Not only for procreation, but for pleasure. God is not a prude, sex was His idea.

The enemy twists our sexuality in different ways. One way is to make us think it’s okay whenever we feel like it with whomever also happens to feel like it at the time. Two consenting adults with a physical need that needs quenched. This cheapens it. It may feel good in the moment, but that is not His design. We really do give a part of ourselves away each and every time. The more you give it away, the less it will mean to you. And, that’s just sad. Sex is not just a natural act, there is much more to it. Why else would infidelity hurt so much? Why else do we withhold when we are upset or hurt? Sex matters. You matter.

Another way it gets twisted is we think we need to have sex in order to feel loved or show love. This can definitely help in marriage, but outside marriage, we run the risk of falling for someone who’s just dating us for physical pleasure with no intention of permanency. This one’s very tricky, because we think we need to have sex in order for love to grow. We wonder if a man can really fall in love, or if we can, without it. When you’re used to it as part of a relationship, it’s very difficult to imagine one without it. You wonder how on earth a bond can develop and grow without this aspect, but God can and will send someone who agrees with this viewpoint if you have it. Pray for that.

As far as what’s okay and what’s not, communication and peace are key. Talk about it. Yes, it’s a hard conversation to have. But, if you have this conviction, ignoring or denying it will not lead to peace. Share what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not. This should be respected by both parties. It either works for them or it doesn’t. This is why it’s so helpful to date someone with similar convictions so you don’t always have to be the “strong one”. It’s already agreed upon. Set your boundaries and follow your peace. If you mess up, talk about it and regroup. Pray some more and show yourself and each other grace.

Another way the enemy twists our sexuality is with shame. He wants us to think that we’ve messed up too many times, are used goods, and/or our desires are bad. Nope, like I said, we are the apple of His eyes. “Whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye.” Zechariah 2:8b (GW) The (NLT) version says “Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession.”

He made us sexual human beings. Our sexual desires are not from the enemy, they are from God. He made us to desire it and enjoy it….at the right time, with the person we love and who loves us, for a lifetime. I wouldn’t want my daughters to think their desires are wrong or shameful. They need to be addressed and brought to the light as normal, healthy, and God given. It tends to get watered down too much or used as a personal shame sledge hammer in our minds by the enemy. He wants us to stay twisted, suffer, and question in silence. I share because I’ve been personally twisted.

Let’s iron it out and bring it to the light. God is good. The enemy is not. Sex is good. The enemy is not. God loves us. The enemy does not. Don’t let complacency or condemnation keep you twisted.