Day 22: You are here – a brief recap

Dear Reader Friend,

There are less than 10 days left in this 31 day challenge. I’ve posted scripture and songs and stories from others. The things going on in my personal life (see Day 2 for a glimpse into THAT) have made it very challenging to carefully craft out a blog post each day. I lost a few days early on and am not quite caught back up yet. But thank you for hanging in there with me.

you-are-here-illustration by hikingartist (CC BY-ND 2.0)

you-are-here-illustration by hikingartist (CC BY-ND 2.0)

So, where are we now?

My goal this month was to look at the things in life that we try to build on, trusting in our own strength or ability rather than leaning wholeheartedly on God, his strength and his peace. I thought I would go through different things we try to rely on and show how they are kingdoms with foundations built on sand that easily crumble. Instead, my physical kingdom, i.e., house, crumbled. Not literally, but with water soaking our entire basement floor and an upstairs crammed with all the furnishings that were down there, it’s been a challenge. I’ve learned that I don’t need to wait until my house is perfectly decorated to invite people over. Instead, I’ve actually had more people in my house this month than probably the past three months combined. It’s hard to swallow pride and ask for help, but the community that has surrounded us has been worth it.

I’ve had some stumbles, too.

Temptations that repeatedly tease with their false hope of something “better” have been taunting me. Being tired and worn thin, it’s been easier to give in, to allow the serpent in the garden sweet talk me into taking a bite of his apple. When I look at it in light of crushing kingdoms, the sins I gravitate toward are often my attempts at building my own kingdom. The idols I manufacture are my attempt at putting myself on the throne.

The next step in this series, though definitely more difficult to spell out in words, is to look at four of those areas that are often classified as the deep idols. These would be the root of the issue, so to speak. If you take the sins you feel you struggle with and start probing even deeper, where does it lead you? At the heart of things, what is it you really long for? How do you figure that out? Here are some questions to begin asking yourself:

What do you worry about the most?
What, if it failed or you lost it, would make you perhaps not want to live anymore?
What do you rely on for comfort?
What do you do to make yourself feel better?
What do think about, or daydream about, when there’s nothing else pressing in?
What gives you your self-worth?
What are you proud of?
What would you want printed on your tombstone?

Think through these, so in the next several posts, you’ll more clearly see what deep idols you are clinging to as you crush your kingdoms.

Thanks for following along with me this month, whether you’ve been a faithful reader for a while or if you’re one of my new friends, many of whom are also participating in #write31days.

me in my World Help shirtHave a blessed day,

Janice
aka Claygirlsings ← (how this name came about)

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Day 21: What others are saying

God is Glorious

I’d like to share several things, mostly from fellow #write31days bloggers. They may or may not connect, but all have been impactful for me.

Beth, of Simply Beth, writes:

God does only good things. Although this is true, He will use our hardened hearts as an opportunity to demonstrate His power and to bring glory to His name. He will use everything to bring glory to His name.

She refers to the story of Moses to show how God accomplishes His purpose, even with stubborn people.

~~~

Jennifer Neyhart has blogged about C.S. Lewis this month. While Jennifer and I connected over a discussion on Eustace Scrubb, it was this post on longing in The Weight of Glory that really got to me. She quotes Lewis:

If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Jennifer concludes:

We were made for a whole, complete relationship with God, lacking nothing! So of course our heart aches for more than this fallen world can offer. And we know that God has set eternity in our hearts; he put the desire there so we would long for him and not be satisfied by lesser things. Praise be to God!

~~~

(Jennifer’s mention of Eustace, from The Voyage of The Dawn Treader, reminded me of a post I wrote on the stripping off of some sinful thoughts and behaviors – Stepping out of your skin.)

~~~

And on the waiting, Cheree Hayes reminds us:

Right now, things are not right.
Right now, things are broken…so broken.
Right now, you live here – on this fallen, muddy earth.

And right now, by grace through faith, you are also “seated with Christ in heavenly places.” You wait for His kingdom to come make its home on earth. You wait with Jesus in tears and groaning prayers, longing… You seek the things that are above. You are a citizen of the Kingdom. It’s who you are now. So you wait, eager for your faith to be made sight.

~~~

I hope you find some encouragement from these bloggers as I did.

I’m blogging on Crushing your kingdoms this month.

Click here to read all posts in the series

Day 19: Christ is King over Ebola

Ebola virus virion

Jeremy Writebol is a pastor and blogger. He’s also the son of Nancy Writebol, missionary and Ebola survivor. Jeremy wrote a powerful piece about how Christians should respond to Ebola in the US. ← I encourage you to read the whole post on his website.

I love what he has to say about Christ being sovereign over viruses:

Our theology must start with Christ and with Christ as King over all, including microscopic biology and viruses. Jesus is king over Ebola. This epidemic and global outbreak does not take him by surprise or warrant fear or trembling from the Godhead. Christ is king over Ebola. Additionally this does not mean that God is some evil, maleficent deity. Ebola is a product of the fall. It is a product of a broken and sin-filled world. Christ is still king over it, and he will bring justice and righteousness.

Since I’m writing about it, I encourage us all to be praying for this global epidemic. Join in here – this prayer was posted to praytoendebola.org:

 

 

This post is part of the #write31days series, Crushing your Kingdoms.

Day 18: Even still

Do you know the old hymn, It Is Well? If you click that link you can read a very heartfelt reaction I had to that song a little over a year ago. I also share the story behind the song, written by a man who lost nearly everything.

This morning, as we sang the song again in church, I had a visceral reaction. The words that really hung me up are in a tag added by another band recently.

TreeThe words?
“Even still.”

It is well with my soul.
Even still, it is well with my soul.
Even still,  it is well.

Why “even still?” Because I sing the song with excuses. Do you ever find you do that? We internally might sing something like this:

It is well with my soul, but I hate my job, career, major.

It is well with my soul, but I don’t like my roommate, spouse, boyfriend, family.

It is well with my soul, but I wish I could live in a bigger/smaller apartment, house it in a bigger/smaller city, town.

It is well with my soul, but I don’t like my body, hair, ears, voice, feet, personality.

It is well with my soul, but I wish I was married, pregnant, single.

Even still.

The reminder is that, yes, this world we are in is flawed and imperfect and filled with people who sin (including ourselves). People may grievously wound us, intentionally or not. Yes, we may not be satisfied with our station in life. We may never attain that dream we’ve clung to our entire lives.

Even still.

With our souls it can be most well. Even still.


crushing your kingdoms

This is part of a series of 31 days of Crushing your Kingdoms. Click to read all posts in the series.

I’m also linking up with Testimony Tuesdays:

Holly Barrett

Day 17: Let your light shine

light_shine

 

Part of Crushing your Kingdoms, a #write31days blogging challenge series.

Day 15: King Me

My Dad used to play checkers with my sister or me on the pull-out drawer of his massive wood desk. We’d pull up a kitchen chair across from him and sit down to match wits against our beloved father. I can still remember the glee of being able to shout, “King me!”

firehouse checker by sciondriver (CC BY-NC 2.0)

firehouse checker by sciondriver (CC BY-NC 2.0)

King me, right?

King me. Put me on the throne. My thoughts, my preferences, my desires, my issues, my wants and wishes. King me.

Our Facebook posts, instagram feeds, and tweets shout it out – king me.

We spend our days building up a kingdom that centers around us. Our home, our family, our job, our school, our needs. It just keeps going. King me.

I guess I would call this the kingdom of self. We all reign in our own kingdom at times. We selfishly want things to go our way. We act or scheme or direct conversations so the focus stays on us.

It calls to mind Mark 8:

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

This kingdom may be the hardest to crush. It seems to be a back and forth struggle. Sometimes I feel that I can put myself aside for others, and then the next thing I know it’s “king me” all over again.

Do you see yourself calling out “king me” sometimes? I don’t think that this is one we can crush on our own or quickly. It takes prayer and constant handing over to God. Daily.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

crushing your kingdoms
← Read all the posts in this series here.

Day 14: Hear our hearts cry out

I’m just going to put this right here.

Seriously, though, this song by Vertical Church Band recently shuffled into play on my iPod and I ended up listening to it about five times in a row. From the first word, the focus is solely on worshiping God. I love that. Please listen to it. I think you’ll like it, too.

Holy, Holy, You are God Almighty
And You reign victorious over all the earth
Holy, Holy, You are God Almighty
Yes, You reign victorious over all the earth

Let Your Kingdom come, and Your will be done
Here on earth as it is in heaven
And to Your renown hear our hearts cry out
Singing “Holy is the Lord”

God of Glory see Your victory story
In the lives of those who gather at the cross
Rock of ages be adorned with praises
As Your people raise their voice in thanks and love

Focus with me on the true kingdom right now. Hear our hearts cry out – Holy is the Lord!
Do you have a favorite song that focuses your heart on worship of our God?

crushing your kingdoms

We’re continuing to work through the series this month. Click here to view all the posts in the series.

 

Day 13: The Words of Others

So, almost immediately after posting last night on all the hard stuff going on and not really knowing what to do with that, I read Laurie Wallin’s post – When We Can’t Control Life (and why that’s a great thing):

Regardless, I get Job because his story is about when life knocks us on our rear end.When we think we know exactly what could or might happen. . . then it unfolds so differently that we scratch our heads and proclaim, “You’re either clueless, helpless, or heartless, God! What gives??!”…

Then today I read a fellow #write31days blogger, Airman 2 Mom, where she says,

Before I left for Afghanistan I remember being scared. I was uncertain I would survive the adventure I was about to embark on. I’m not sure if it was the fear of dying or just the fear of the unknown, but either way I was scared and unsure. The Sunday before I left for training in Indiana the church I attended sang “Take my life and let it be for Your Glory.” I broke down. All the fear and uncertainty I was feeling were poured into that song. I realized I was trying to control a situation I had no control over and I needed to trust in God. Knowing whatever happened it would be for His Glory. Not mine. I couldn’t do this alone. I needed to trust in God. The song was a theme that I focused on during the whole deployment and it is still written on my Facebook page. My life is his and I am here to glorify him…

While I’m sharing from others, there are two blogs that I’ve been enjoying regularly as part of the #write31days challenge.

Tales from a Southern Catholic Momma is really stretching herself and her readers by walking us through the days earlier this year when she severely battled against depression and everything that accompanied it. I’ve never had such a privileged window into the thoughts and feelings (good and bad) of someone with depression. It’s been enlightening and engrossing. I’m on the edge of my seat each day, waiting to hear where the story will go. It’s heartbreaking, but I feel it must have a happy resolution, since she’s being so brave about sharing her story.

The Hope Diaries – blogging under a pseudonym, Caiobhe is writing painful, healing posts of the hope she found/is finding after breaking off an adulterous affair. I think my favorite post so far is Please be my strength, where she says,

Today is about survival. It’s about staying and not running away. It’s about God given strength because there is none of my own. It’s about surrender to God’s love, and a giving up of my will and my plans. It’s about holding on to hope. I have no words.”

crushing your kingdoms

This is just one day in 31 days of posting about crushing kingdoms. Click above to read through all the posts written thus far.

Day 12: My best guess

winter berriesThe words aren’t coming tonight.

*thinks a moment*

Nope, they just aren’t there. I have a ton of thoughts in my head, but none that make sense working on this series. So, I’m dumping out the words as they pop into my head and we’ll see where they take us.

I’m feeling quite a bit like a failure tonight.

Not just for my lack of coherence with the blog, but in not staying disciplined to work on house-related things, in lacking the stamina to continue vacuuming out water from the (still) flooded basement, for not planning out meals for the rest of the week (church friends have graciously helped out with meals every other day for the past 10 days), for not organizing the mess that sits around me – remnants of the stuff brought upstairs by helpful friends, for falling behind in my volunteer work for church, for not leading others well, for complaining again & again.

For giving into temptation again & again. For giving up hope again & again. For believing the lies repeatedly.

berries of winterI’m tired. I’m worn.

I don’t have beautifully strung out words for you tonight. I don’t have the answers tonight. I don’t have the solution to the problems. I do have a laundry list of problems.

I do know the answer is in Christ. I know the eternal picture makes sense, even when this temporal view is jacked up.

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. — Colossians 1:11-14

I think this may have been crushing the kingdom of I-have-it-all-together. Or, at least, that’s my best guess.

Today was just one random day of:

Click to read all posts in the series

Day 11: Appearance isn’t everything

hair colorEven though there are days that I go to work or out and about without putting on makeup, I still don’t leave the house without making sure every hair is in place. My stylist used to tease me because I had trouble getting my hair appropriately messy for a certain style I wore for a while.

We women try so hard to put together the perfect appearance. Right clothes, right hair, right accessories. Isn’t it exhausting?

Are you ready to crush this kingdom of appearances?

God sees us as beautiful. It’s true, no matter your age or body shape. We are imago dei – made in the image of God.

Two years ago, as part of the 31 day series, Prayers for the Hurting, I wrote the post, When You Believe the Lies are True:

Really, though, the issue runs deeper than just how we look. It’s more than our size, shape, hair color, nose, etc. that we see distorted. To us, the scars we carry (physically, emotionally, mentally) mar any remains of beauty that may have once existed.

We often fight to believe that God has forgiven us of all our sins. Especially, you know, that really bad thing.

Do you ever find yourself arguing with God about who you are? Mandisa’s song, “The Truth About Me,” reflects that struggle. In a short, but powerful video, Mandisa explains the story behind the song.

You say, “LOVELY.”
I say, “broken.”

I say, “guilty.”
You say, “FORGIVEN.”

If you click over, you can read a prayer that I wrote to accompany this post and the video of “The Truth About Me.”

Dear Friend, see past the lies that are so easy to believe and the society/culture that says we must look a certain way to belong. Crush this kingdom of appearance. Trust the One who calls you beautiful.

Day 11 of the #write31days series:

crushing your kingdoms

  • Hi, I'm Janice. I'm part bookworm and part creative. I love both science and music (and the science of music). I'm stumbling around trying to grow closer to God. Click the photo to read more about me.

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