We Must Know God's Word

AshleyMorganJacksonKnowGodsWord

 

 

The Enemy is coming for us, for our families, for our hope, joy, peace, anything he can get his little-lying hands on.

 

If we don’t know the truth for ourselves, if we’re not constantly reminding ourselves who we are and whose we are, who God is and what He can do on our behalf, how He tells us to fight and stand and all He has equipped us with, we will fall for it every time.

 

Our lives will follow what we think about most and if we aren’t filling our minds with truth and arming ourselves daily with it, we will walk in captivity and defeat.

 

The Christian life is a battleground, we’re in a battle, we can be a warrior or a prisoner of war. Let’s grab our swords, know it well, so we know how to use it. #walkingreflections #warriorprincessofthespirit

 

The Discipline of the Lord

I went through a season of several years where my world was turned upside down. I struggled through deep and dark days of depression, self-hatred and generally feeling...lost. I know two things, it was extremely hard, and God allowed it for my good.

I didn't know it but I had made myself responsible for my life in Christ. I had gone to a Christian school, served in all the ministries, gone on all the mission trips, I knew what to do when life came against you. I knew the verses to quote, the faith to have, the prayers to pray. I was completely reliant on what I did for Christ rather than Him. I looked to myself to figure it out or serve my way out of any struggle life would throw at me.

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This is a form of religion that looked good, made me feel good about myself, but is not true life in Christ and not what He had died for me to have. A self-reliant performer is a sure-fire recipe for self-destruction on all counts. The Lord knew to leave me in that place, acting that way, confident in myself and knowledge, feeling like I was somehow less in need of God's grace than others because I was a "good girl" would be to watch me destroy my life. So, instead, He disciplined me and corrected my course.

I felt confused and bewildered, mad and bitter for years, mostly because I truly believed that God owed me something better an easier version of my life than what He was asking me to walk through. After all I had sacrificed, all I had tried to obey and serve Him, this is what I get? Watching others get what I have long prayed for? Seriously Lord? Older brother much Ash?

Now, on the other side of the breaking, I can see how wrong and sin-ridden I was, but not then. I thought I knew and I wasn't going to be happy about this. Why couldn't He just make my life easier like I thought He was "supposed to".

Little did I know He was doing exactly what He was supposed to. If I was a legitimate child of His, then it was His job to allow pressure to be put on me until change occurred. Without the pressure or the pain, that would not have happened. Just like good parents, we know to let a child act any way they like or continue in wrong attitudes is to show them the doorway to a more difficult life, a life we want to save them from because we love them. 

In Hebrews 12:5-11 it says,

"And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

 

We sometimes start to believe that only good and pleasant things come from the Lord, but what discipline is pleasant? It's not possible to bring the change required without the pain to some degree.

 

Matthew Henry's concise commentary says this about it...

"God may let others alone in their sins, but He will correct sin in His own children. It is always for our profit. Our earthly parents sometimes may chasten us to gratify their passions, but the Father of our soul never willingly grieves nor afflicts His children. God's correction is not condemnation; the chastening maybe born with patience and greatly promote holiness."

My season was long, I believe, because I was so stubborn in surrendering to Him and what He was trying to accomplish in me. It hurt my pride to have been so wrong, how could I accept it and face so many years that I had lived so utterly dependant on myself. I hung onto that pride as long as I could till it felt He was prying that thing from my bony fingers.

When I could no longer save myself I became angry others wouldn't save me. Jesus had been my Savior from hell at 6, but this time of correction in my late 20s-early 30's was Him showing me He was my Savior from myself. I didn't need Him once, I needed Him like the air I was breathing,, saving me over and over again, every day. He had to keep me in that place until I not only knew the Words in Scripture in my head but they became alive.

Refiners fire, sifting, discipline, not fun, nor easy, but a part of our lives as God's children. When we can look for what He is trying to show us, wrong thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, repent and become dependant on Him in a new way, it will produce a "harvest of righteousness". 

Often it's on the other side of our season of discipline God is going to produce all we have been praying for.  He has to know it's about Him and not it.

Learn more in the video below! 

**Be sure to subscribe on Youtube, once I get 100 subscribers I can then name my channel rather than having a jumble of letters and number ha**

 

Trusting God through Seasons of Waiting

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We all have those times and seasons in our lives that we just don't seem to get. What are you doing Lord? How does this fit into anything? It just feels hard and frustrating and often we feel overlooked and forgotten. In reality, God has heard all our prayers and perhaps this time of stillness and isolation is not a lack of answers but perhaps the exact answer to what we have prayed for. 

I tend to want God to "magic wand me" with what I have prayed for; more character, more faith, more boldness, etc. What I mean by that is a wish that He was just a little bit more like my fairy god Father, rather than my Father God, granting my wishes rather than allowing it to be developed in me. Just like when a mother is pregnant with her child, she can want it to be over, but the reality is that the whole process must take place in order for a healthy birth. Every stage as important as the last, none can be skipped.

Often these seasons that feel like we are in the dark and alone are exactly part of that process. I happened to come across an article about shepherds today and it asked the question, what was it about shepherds that made such good leaders? The answer? They had a lot of time to think.

Ponder that one for a moment. In our world and society today it's rush and demands and to-do lists and running from one activity to another. In all this busyness, if God never allowed a time of isolation and quiet, would He be able to cultivate the same amount of intimacy between Himself and us?

Listening takes time, knowing someone takes time, allowing character growth takes time. God needs to call people to work He can trust, who He is sure have learned how to hear His voice and to wait on Him to move and not be pushed and pulled by the world or by our societies demands. It's in these dark places we learn to hear His whispers and really begin to believe He loves us, not for how much we perform for Him, just us, as His children. 

Watch more in the video below...

What about you? Have you gone through a time you didn't understand?  A season of isolation, loneliness, of feeling forgotten? Are you in that place now? What did or what is God speaking to you in that place?

Inviting God into our Weight Issues Pt3- Thoughts & Judgements

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When I was struggling through year after year of depression, loathing myself, filled with anxiety and feeling hopelessly stuck, God began to show me my greatest enemy was my own mind. After He would no longer let people, circumstances, or old identities come to my rescue, He slowly began to teach me how to take my thoughts captive and how to renew my mind.

I don't know much, but I know the girl I was in those years is gone and who I really am is the girl typing this now. Ask anyone who knew me during that time how much I have changed and they will more than witness on my behalf, I am made new, by the renewing of my mind. God and His word in His patience did this.

As I have walked further and further into this freedom I began to stand in awe of how awesome and amazing this was. After being a believer for years it was once again made evident to me that God's Word works! It's not just beautiful words on a page if we apply it to our lives and circumstances things can change...we can change.

I began to wonder what else I could pursue freedom in? If this was available for other areas of my life, I wanted it. So I began to seek the Lord about my weight issues in regards to my mind.

What was it in my thinking or wrong belief patterns that were keeping me in bondage? What were the things that were my go-to behaviors based on what I thought about myself, health or others? Would I be willing to let Him speak to me about where I was getting it wrong and let Him bring truth, healing, and life to those areas in my mind?

 I began to ask the Lord why I always gained the weight back, why it was I could have some success but ultimately seemed to self-sabotage? 

Judgement

Through some research on self-sabotage, I began to realize that I was trapped by my own judgment. I had been hurt by the health and exercise community, I thought because I would never fit in with them. They were a bit "over the top", extreme, and wasn't there more important things in life? The truth was I felt shame over my own failure and when I looked at myself through their eyes they were mean and disappointed with me. So I judged them as mean and judgemental, healthy elitest types, who looked down on chubby peons of failure like myself. I assumed they saw me as weak and inept and I presumed "those people" were mean and rude. Why on earth would I ever want to become like someone that I judged that way?

Even though logically I wanted to be healthy and I wanted to eat better and try, my heart and soul were there to protect me from ever really becoming "like them" and so I would self-sabotage to ensure that.

The Lord showed me I held deep resentment and bitterness and unforgiveness towards my mom and other people who I had perceived wouldn't love or accept me until I ate organic and joined their fitness program and tried hard enough to be "thin like them". I considered myself an outsider of a club I didn't want to be a part of anyways, I reasoned. I had to begin let God love me in these places where I held these deep wounds of rejection and show me that, just because I became healthy and incorporated working out regularly didn't mean I had to become this mean version of health that I had held in my heart and mind. I had to let that go, choose to love those people and forgive them and myself for being so harsh and critical.

No one told me I was an awful, lazy, overweight slob, I had told myself that. Every time I stood face to face with someone's self-discipline or success it reminded me of what an utter failure I had come to believe I was and the internal bullying began. The Enemy certainly doesn't have to work hard when he has your own mind on his side. 

Fear of Success

As I began to notice my judgments more and more and ask for God's healing of my heart in that area, I began to trust that I could move towards health. I never realized I was scared that I would become mean and look down on people like I had felt all these years. I had to let myself know that no matter how much success I had, I wouldn't allow myself to become like that. 

Because I had judged people so harshly for being successful, reasoning they must be freaky fanatics and doing something so shallow to meet their goals, I feared becoming successful. Other people would judge me the same, think the same, I would make them feel insecure or inadequate the way others had made me feel. I didn't want that, I didn't want to be unfairly judged....the way I had unfairly judged others?? Now I was seeing. 

I was afraid people would abandon me, misunderstand me, I wouldn't be able to be as real or relatable if I had success, who would I be if I didn't have that piece of my identity for so long? But the truth was that success or failure or people's opinions aren't the things that define us, it's the Lord and truth and everything He says about us. It's about our hearts surrendered to Him. Would I be willing to trust Him and move forward towards freedom, even with the possibility that people, just like me, would be sitting behind their screens scoffing at me as I had?

The more I forgave and received forgiveness, became aware of how harsh and critical I had been of myself and others and ultimately receive God's love for me in this area, freedom began to move in, slowly but surely.

We have to be willing to let God shine a light on the long dark places that we may not even realize that we have been stuck in thinking. Your area may not be mine, but He is so faithful to reveal wrong and broken thinking that may be holding us in the area that we logically know we want freedom in and yet somehow remain stuck. Let's be brave enough to ask Him.

Watch the video below for more....

Next week: My Eating and Excercise (although not a magical solution, I will share simply for anyone interested as it has really helped me)

 

Inviting God into Our Weight Issues Pt 2- Spiritual Strongholds

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For years I have loved the Lord and for years I have battled my weight. They were two separate things, what did one have to do with the other. I figured God didn't much care about my body, what I ate, how I felt, or my struggle with holding more pounds than I would really like to. All of that was my business and concern, not God's.

But if you have walked with Him for long you well know that He doesn't come into our lives to sit quietly in His god corner of our lives, He comes to take over. One door at a time He gently knocks on and asks, "and what about this one? Can I be Lord in this area?"

One year I just decided to get honest with Him and rather than defend myself to Him because of the pain it had caused me year after year, I decided to ask Him to help me. I realized that no matter how much I tried I always failed because I was relying on myself and my strength, practically denying Him access to this fragile part of me. I began to realize that there was something that was rooted deeper in my heart over this issue than I had been brave enough to look at before but I knew I needed His help, and began to ask Him.

I fasted over it and asked Him to show me what was it that was holding me and to help set me free. It took work, work that I am still at to this day because old thought patterns and ways of being aren't going to just disappear most of the time. That process of getting our minds renewed takes time but I knew He cared about the hurt I carried.

I realized I had to admit that this was a sin in my case, so many times turning to food for comfort or relief, rather than Him. Food, my faithful friend. I had used it to be something really only God could be. He didn't want to shame me for it, which was all I had felt for years. That shame made me defensive and mad and want to rebel because for goodness sake, can't I just be loved for who I am. But it had nothing to do with being loved, it had to do with being free. He couldn't address or free me from anything I was not willing to lay plainly before Him and simply admit my need for Him in that area.

He began to show me deep-rooted things in my heart and this was an area that was a stronghold for me. In 2 Corinthians 4:10 it says "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God by the pulling down of strongholds." So what was a stronghold?

In the commentary by Barnes Notes on the Bible, he says

"It is here beautifully used to denote the various obstacles resembling a fortress which exist, and which are designed and adapted to oppose the truth and the triumph of the Christian's cause. All those obstacles are strongly fortified. The sins of his heart are fortified by long indulgence and by the hold which they have on his soul. These strong fortifications of error and of sin are to be battered down and laid in ruins by our spiritual weapons."

We can get tied up in a pattern of sin that builds walls high around us by long indulging in something we ourselves have been defending for years. Of course it's not going to come down without a fight, but not in our strength, in His.

Barned also says, 

"Conquerors and earthly warriors go into battle depending on the might of their own arm, and on the wisdom and skill which plans the battle. The Christian goes on his warfare, feeling that however well adapted the truths which he holds are to accomplish great purposes, and however wisely his plans are formed, yet that the efficacy of all depends on the agency of God. He has no hope of victory but in God. And if God does not attend him, he is sure of inevitable defeat."

This was the big one, realizing how this victory would ever come was by knowing clearly it was not me. It was not my brilliant diet or my crazy workouts I would attempt, it was not be sheer willpower or by shaming and bullying myself into it, no...by His power alone. He began to show me that I needed to be completely dependant on Him for this, daily. I had tried so many times all those other ways, what if I tired it His?

It's a battle, one we have to show up for every day. To become disengaged and disconnected from the One who brings the victory was to lose. But dependence on Him, that was where all the strength we need always is. We demolish our strongholds through Spiritual weapons and those weapons are only found in Him. Can we trust Him and learn how to use them, even in this area?

Check out the video below for more...

Next week: Dealing with our minds when it comes to our weight issues...

Inviting God into Our Weight Issues Part 1

invitingGodintoourweightissues

It's January, and for the first time in my life when I walked through the grocery store, I didn't feel bad, guilty or somehow full of shame. Usually, this time of year I feel overwhelmed, I want to make a change with my weight, I want to work out, I want it to stick, but I feel like I am drowning in all the options. Where to start? Will it last? Is this something I can actually do?

For the first time this year as I walked the aisles I wasn't buying new healthy foods, quietly chiding myself for spending the majority of the last year "off the wagon". I went through each aisle and bought the same foods I always do. Was my cart full of only organic fruit and only whole foods?? Don't make me laugh too hard, not even close, but somehow during the last year the Lord has set me free. 

The biggest thing I feel I have been set free from is my harsh, mean and critical judgment of myself. It wasn't only that I had made progress and was 35 plus pounds lighter this year, but that I had learned how to stop shaming myself for being imperfect and let God show me how to be much more kind to myself in the process of learning. That it wasn't about doing something and being perfect every time, it was about the beauty of learning and gracing myself the space to learn.

I thought that if I really wanted to change that I had to be harder on myself, "just do it, Ashley, what's wrong with you?" But that never worked and still doesn't. All that spurs me to do is rebel and tell my mean, strict, fitness and healthy eating Ashley to shove it while I shoved whatever I wanted in my mouth just to spite her mean self. Shame and guilt and being mean to ourselves will never bring lasting change.

This is a series of videos I want to share with you that attempt to explain the journey that God took me on in this area of my weight. I was desperate to understand and find solutions that would last past January 31st. I am not at my goal weight, I am not a health and fitness guru, all I am is a fellow sojourner next to anyone who has also struggled and been pained by this issue year after year. I have a mind to believe that God can and wants to set us free from anything that keeps a bondage over us or causes any kind of pain. This is the journey he took me on.

In these videos I will discuss the spiritual, the mental and lastly what I did and still do physically, although I feel the what is far less important than the whys. 

I know this is a hard and sensitive subject, that is exactly why I want to share on it. I carried the shame of this issue for years and I pray that as I continue to find freedom maybe one small thing God has shown me might help you in your journey as well.

Thank you for being here.

**The video below this weeks video is a vlog I made at exactly this time last year 1/2017 and what I was thinking and feeling. In all its raw honesty I share it so maybe you will feel less alone. Nothing, not even this, is too hard for the Lord. Be brave and be kind to yourself **