Tag Archives: Discipleship

Show Me the Lies

This is Part 1 of a 4-part series on Opening Toward God: our part in letting God work. Go here to read the intro and find links to the additional posts. 

There are two things every Christian should remember every day:
Jesus loves me, no matter what.
Satan is shooting lies at me.

If we forget the first one, we forget our worth.

And if we forget the second one, we expose ourselves to the enemy’s attacks

Almost every time the Bible mentions Satan, he is either spouting off lies or being called a liar. Jesus said, “[Satan] was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44

When we follow Christ, we don’t fight a losing battle. Satan is a defeated enemy. God wins. Both now and in the end. So the key for us is to examine ourselves and expose the lies we are believing so we can speak truth over them. Where do we start?

Open the door for soul-searching
Carve out a block of uninterrupted silence where you can really think. Find something to write on. Start with prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Spit it out on paper
Whether you prefer to make lists or ramble in paragraphs, write out your recurring negative self-talk or inner feelings. Don’t analyze yet. Just empty them out. Keep going long after you think you have nothing else to vent. Don’t write like you’re going to post this on Facebook. These words are for God’s and your eyes only.

List the lies
Pick apart what you wrote. Do you initially recognize anything as contrary to God’s Word? For example, maybe you wrote “I feel like nobody loves me,” or “I feel completely alone.” Those feelings directly contradict what God says. He loves us. He is always with us. So you could write down “Lie: Nobody loves me. I’m completely alone.” But maybe you have to dig deeper. Maybe you wrote (like me), “I just can’t find or make the time to spend with Jesus. My kids wear me out too much.” So what is it you’re really saying? The lie I recognized in my situation was, “Sleep is more important than time with Jesus.”

Root out the root
Every lie begins somewhere: words spoken to us, how we see our circumstances, expectations placed on us. Dig deep for the root and pull it out. For the lie about sleep versus time with Jesus, I realized that I love sleep, I hate being tired, and that growing up I resented being expected to get up early. Maybe you feel like a failure because you’ve never been able to live up to your parents’ expectations. Maybe you feel ugly because of what someone told you in junior high.

elizabeth cravillion opening toward god letting spirit work lies truthFind the truth
Once you’ve identified the lie, search for the truth in God’s Word. Most importantly, ask God to show you truth in his word. He will speak his living Word into the deep needs of your heart. Then practically, look for verses that address your struggle. You might need to use a tool like the Bible Gateway concordance or an online topical Bible search. Or ask someone else who knows the Bible well. The truth I needed is that God is my rest (Matthew 11:28). He is my hiding place and my shield – more than sleep. I hope in his word (Psalm 119:114).

Claim the truth
Speak the truth over the lies. “I need God’s Word more than I need sleep. He is my hiding place. He will give me rest. I have all I need for life and godliness in HIM, not in getting enough sleep.” Then act on it. Let the Spirit of God change you as you believe his Word. As I committed to starting my morning every day in God’s word I began to believe the truth more. God proved to me that he really can be my resting place.

Fighting the good fight of faith takes strategy. It’s hard work, but God’s Spirit shows us what we need to know. He both reveals the lies and speaks the truth. We only need to give him space and permission to speak.

Off with the Old, On with the New

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would turn myself into a morning person who could function on about 5 1/2 hours of sleep. Helpful in this season of motherhood. Or I would erase my emotions’ ability to go from 0-60 in 0.5 seconds flat. Helpful in all of life.

A friend of mine, a fitness coach, uses her social media to challenge people to eat well and work out to care for their bodies. More than anything, as I scroll through her feed, she reminds me that everything we do comes from a choice. Our choice. We can stay where we are, or we can choose to grow stronger.

And not just physically, but also spiritually, emotionally, and mentally, every day we get to choose our direction.

Will we continue to disappoint ourselves by staying stuck in mental habits we want to shake? Will we try to handle life on our own or let God have control? Will we let life happen to us or will we overcome? Are we going to believe the truth of God’s word over the lies in our head?

Lately I’ve felt prompted to share some of the practical side of my journey toward self-discipline in a 4-part series addressing mental habits that drag us down spiritually. This series is for you if you want to change but don’t know how to begin. It’s for you if you’re discouraged because you can’t see God working in your life. And it’s for you if you are wondering how following Christ makes a difference in a person’s everyday life.

elizabeth cravillion opening toward god letting spirit work
Paul wrote in the book of Ephesians:

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

The longer I walk with Christ, the more he peels back my inner layers. I think one issue is resolved, like my struggle with anxiety, then five years later, it rears its head again in a new way. So God pulls back that layer to show me new steps to following his design for me more closely.

I stumble when I think there is anything good within me. There isn’t. Deep in my core, the natural side of Elizabeth craves self-worship, self-satisfaction, self-pleasure. But that’s not the new me. I am created to be like God, truly righteous and holy. So the old woman has to go. My hands have to let go of their grip on what I want.

I can’t do this alone. I heard this recently spoken this way: Christ is the only one who can live the Christian life. It’s his life, and it’s our job to let him live it through us. As Paul stated it – “Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” The Spirit does the work. We get to let him do it.

I can look at myself and be discouraged by how I continue to fail. I can look around and be defeated by the brokenness of the world around me. Or I can rest on the fact that God is working. It is his work: in me and in the world. And all he asks for is my willingness to let him work in and through me.

This series will include
Show me the Lies
No Longer a Victim
Not Holding on Anymore
Never Going Back to Perfect

When it Comes Back to You

Recently I was blessed to listen to a webinar with Stacey Thacker and Brooke McGlothlin, who wrote Hope for the Weary Mom and its companion devotional. They were sharing about strategies for busy moms to spend time with God in the Bible. I was really blessed by their practical suggestions and genuine reminders of how alive and powerful God’s word is.

Here’s one comment they made: even when we show up and read God’s word and feel like nothing sticks with us, God can and will bring back what we read when we need it most. It reminds me of a passage in the book of Isaiah:

As the rain and snow come down from heaven and stay upon the ground to water the earth, and cause the grain to grow and to produce seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry, so also is my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It shall accomplish all I want it to and prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills, the trees of the field—all the world around you—will rejoice. Isaiah 55:10-12 TLB

God lives in his word. His Spirit takes the words we read and like water filling a creek bed, runs into all the cracks and crevices where we need it the most.

I realized just how true that was the very next day. I spent an evening studying Psalm 2, which is not the most devotional poem in the Bible. It’s a royal psalm, written by a king about God blessing on his people and defeating his enemies. It’s Messianic, which means it was ultimately written about Jesus, the Messiah. My study time was fairly educational but I didn’t leave with anything immediately encouraging or challenging me.

At the end of the psalm, David writes,
Serve the Lord with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.
Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

A commentary I used made this comment: “It is better to bend than to be broken” (earlier David had written that God would break his enemies into pieces).

Well, fast forward twelve hours and I had a toddler-free morning and a plan to sit in a coffee shop with my sleeping baby and write for 3 hours. Unfortunately, the baby didn’t sleep but fussed in his car seat. So I drove home, fed him, tucked him in his bed and reluctantly started cleaning my house. I was deep in the throes of sorting toys and putting boxes in the attic while crying my heart out because I was sick of motherhood when like a bell I remembered, “Better to bend than to be broken.” Submission. When things are hard, God asks for my willing heart. clean house elizabeth cravillion submission bend broken god's word“Serve the Lord. Take refuge in him.” A hard, rebellious heart must be broken before God. I can choose the better way – to bow before my King and say, “Yes, Lord.” The night before I may not have felt particularly challenged by those words but because I sat down and read them, soaked in them and tucked them away, God brought them back just when I needed them. His word does its job, like rain on the parched earth. As I submitted to God, he brought me peace and joy and I definitely later appreciated how gave me time to clean my house top to bottom.

Don’t grow weary in spending time with God. He is alive in his word and he will use it in your life.

clean house elizabeth cravillion submission bend broken god's word

Looking for the Deeper Life

So maybe you don’t know God, but you’re curious about him.

Or maybe you know him a little, but don’t know how to take the relationship farther.

Maybe you’ve just fallen in love with him and feel like the sky’s the limit.

Or maybe you’ve known him for ages but the excitement has died down and you don’t know where to go next.

Welcome to real life relationships. Have you had a dating relationship or a friendship that falls into one of the above categories? I have. Our human relationships mirror our relationship with God, because he made us like himself. He loves relationships, and he wants us to know him like we know other people.

Yet unlike that person you liked in high school who wouldn’t give you the time of day, or the friendship you really worked at that never got off the ground, God will never refuse a relationship with you. In fact, he’s done everything on his end to make himself available to us.

He created us to have a relationship with him. Yet as our Creator, he is also our authority. We rebel against that authority daily. All mankind has since the beginning of time. And the only fitting payment for our rebellion is separation from God – death. So God himself came down – Jesus – as a man, who never rebelled, yet died for us, taking the blame for our sins, then rose again to prove that he had defeated sin and death. All so that the barrier caused by our rebellion could be removed and we could be friends with God in spite of it all.

God breathed his words into the ears of human authors who wrote the Bible. He said, “Here I am. This is what I’m doing. Tell my story to the world.” And they did.

And anyone who picks up a Bible can read those things straight from God’s heart.

But it’s a big book. Really big.

Where do you start? Let’s have a go together. Dig in a few sentences at a time. Maybe you don’t like to read. Maybe it’s hard for your heart to be quiet. Like any relationship, this one takes practice.

deeper_life_cover
If you’re up for it, walk with me in the next few months through one book of the Bible, written by Jesus’ brother, James. We’ll read a few sentences, ask a few questions, think through what God might be saying to us, and share our thoughts back with him in prayer.

No matter if you don’t know God, have known him a few months, or have walked with him for years, there is always more to discover about him in his word. He’s there. He’s waiting. Let’s seek him out together.

Why Resolutions?

A new year, new resolutions. I think I’ve read about a dozen blog entries about goals and resolutions this past week. And though I’m making new year’s goals with the best of them, there’s this thought in my soul that I can’t get past.

Why are we all obsessed with resolutions?

What does it mean to “resolve” something?

Dictionary.com says it’s “to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine to do something.”

We sure are flippant with our resolutions if making them means being definite and earnest. I think we approach them more like wishes, honestly. We all want so badly to be the best we can be and the idea of a fresh start in the new year appeals to our hungry hearts.

Years ago I read a list of resolutions a preacher named Jonathan Edwards wrote and my thinking changed. He wrote deep goals for himself such as,

  • Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
  • Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
  • Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
  • Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

I began prayerfully listing spiritual and practical goals for myself every few months – something I still do today. As I grow, I’m learning that the goal of goals is progress, not perfection. And resolutions give us the courage to boldly move forward through the challenges of the self-discipline required to achieve those goals.

As we think through our goals for 2015, let’s bring them to the foot of the cross of Christ. We can’t change our own hearts through any amount of determination – change can really only come through the work of God’s grace.

And above every other resolution, let’s seek to know God more. In the end, that’s all that matters.

resolved

Waiting and Praying {31 Days}

God called me to spend my summer in Colorado praying for Nate, specifically for an open door for us to pursue a deeper relationship. I learned some valuable lessons on prayer through that

coloradoSometimes Christians believe that the Bible says God will unconditionally give us whatever we pray for. As I learned more about prayer, one thing that stood out to me was how Jesus said,

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)

Another verse Christians love is Psalm 37:4,

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

We like to think that “better” Christians have more prayers answered because of how good they are. In reality, the more we know God, through focused time in his word and prayer, the more we understand his will for us and want what he wants, so the more we ask for those things, and receive them.

That summer I studied the book “With Christ in the School of Prayer” by Andrew Murray. He wrote,

In His words His will is revealed…In the exercise of obedience and faith, my will becomes stronger and is brought into deeper inner harmony with Him. Because He can fully trust it to will nothing but what He wills, He is not afraid to give the promise, “If my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

colorado_liz1The Bible constantly talks about prayer, because following Christ means a relationship with him and prayer is simply our conversations with him in that relationship.

When we know more of God’s heart, our hearts align with his will for us, so when we make requests, he will do them. I’ve seen this in my own life at the times I have been the closest to God.

By the end of summer 2010, I knew in my heart that Nate and I would eventually be married. I was prepared to wait on God however long Nate took to come around. Little did I know that God had been doing an intense work in his heart all summer, too, and he was waiting in Dubuque for me to come back and be his girlfriend.

Moments of Surrender {31 Days}

Have you ever heard of Isobel Kuhn? She served as a missionary in China for 26 years in the early 20th century. But she didn’t start out on fire for God. Her parents followed Christ but she rejected their faith in college until God revealed himself to her and she surrendered to him.

She wrote a book called By Searching that tells the story of her college years. A book addict, I read this autobiography as an 11-year-old. Isobel’s journey of coming to know God spoke to me in a deeply personal way. I saw how God answered her prayers and proved himself to her. I saw how she started to choose him above other things and the blessings she gained because of it.

God spoke clearly to me through his words to Isobel, when he said he would be near her if she chose him above all else.

And as an 11-year-old girl, I knelt by my bed and said, “Lord, I give myself to you. I really believe you’re the best thing for me. A relationship with you is what I want more than anything. Please take me and use me how you want to. I surrender to you.”

When I was 5 I said “Yes” to God for the first time. At 11 I responded with an even deeper “Yes,” understanding more what it meant to be Christ’s follower. Those promises to God would soon be challenged by real life.

When I look back to my childhood I have little but good memories. I’m aware of just how unusual that is and can only thank God for that mercy. When I look back at my teen years I have a lot of regrets about the attitudes I built up and the baggage I created for myself emotionally and spiritually.

I’m going to go there with you guys here on this blog. God is gracious and I’m so thankful where I am today because of the work he did in my heart even as a child.