His Grace is Sufficient

Do the “what ifs” sometimes overwhelm you? When you let your mind drift to any of the endless list of potential crises that could be a phone call away, do you feel unequipped to handle that grief? Do you look at someone else’s struggle and think, “I can’t even imagine” or “there is no way I can handle that”? That particular feeling struck me recently: I have two young mom friends, sisters in Christ, who have cancer. Both have two children under five. I can’t even imagine.

The possibilities seem crippling. And then, in steps the power of God.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

The picture below is of my first baby girl, Elizabeth Alane. I never got to hold her. Eric and I saw her heartbeat at seven weeks, and by nine weeks her heartbeat was no more.

His Grace is Sufficient

After my miscarriage God held me up in so many ways. One way was through the Scripture that comforted and assured me. One of the verses that brought me so much comfort was 2 Corinthians 12:9.  His grace is sufficient. 

A week and a day before we found out that the baby no longer had a heartbeat, I broke down sobbing, and I told my husband, Eric, I was scared of losing the baby. I was mess. Eric held me and comforted me, and he prayed that we would put the baby in God’s hands. If you looked at what a mess I was then, you would have thought actually losing the baby would have rendered me a useless waste. But God gave me the grace I needed in the moment I need it. After my miscarriage, I had an undeniable hope despite my loss. I didn’t know how this would work together for good (Romans 8:28). I didn’t understand God’s thoughts and plans in this (Isaiah 55:8-9). But I believed that God’s word was true and even though I didn’t understand how He would fulfill the promise of Scripture, I knew that he would. God was extending me the grace I needed.

His grace is sufficient. It is sufficient to meet our every need, day by day as they happen. It is also sufficient to meet our greatest need – for salvation. Let the power of God be your refuge: no matter what lies ahead, He is able to see you through it.

About the Writer:
Caroline Moore is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

Lost and Found

Growing up a pastor’s daughter meant many things for me during the course of my spiritual life. This meant I had the important job of riding my tricycle around the church as my Dad locked up, bedtime consisted of my Dad explaining different religions as I fell asleep, and the majority of sleepovers included drawing a timeline of Revelation. Just the normal childhood, right?

Somewhere a long the way I decided I was tired of playing by God’s rules. Other options looked more apt to meet my most pressing needs and wants. I knew God’s commands. But I decided God would understand if I just needed a break from Him for a while. I had no idea how that decision would cause me to end up further from God than I ever imagined. Through what I call “the lost years” of my life, God relentlessly pursued me and never left me.

I have learned through my years as a counselor that I’m not the only one who fears coming back to God. The shame of sin keeps many people out of church and fellowship with God. Many times we rely on what other people think about us to conclude what God must think of us. Since we are human, and only know other humans, we have the propensity to attribute human characteristics to God. We conclude things such as, “If my Christian friends didn’t accept me because of what I’m struggling with, then that must mean God won’t accept me either.”

The great news is God is unlike anyone you or I have ever known! Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” God’s thoughts and ways are beyond our comprehension. His plan for us is big enough to include our mess-ups. God is not confined by time, place, or our decisions. His heart and desire is for us to come back to Him regardless of what we have done. We can become discouraged when we focus on our sin instead of God’s power. But the hope of the gospel is God loves to redeem people, in fact, He specializes in it!

lost and foundMy favorite story in the Bible is The Prodigal Son (Luke 15). The most powerful verse is Luke 15:22, “So he got up and came to his father. ‘But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” When we desire to come back to the Father, God runs to embrace us. If you’re wondering if God wants you back, He does! God is not mad at you. God desperately wants a relationship with you. I never could have imagined how God could redeem my life after my “lost years”. I can say with confidence He wants to do the same in your life. Will you come back to the Father who loves you?

About the Writer:
Julia is a counselor at Meier Clinics where she specializes in treating teenagers and women struggling with eating disorders, depression, anxiety & self-harm. She is the Teaching and Creative Consultant for the Student Ministry at First Baptist Dallas and a professional youth speaker for Just Say Yes. Julia has served in student ministry alongside her husband for the past 7 years. Julia has a heart to see people experience the same freedom through Christ that she has experienced!

Gracious Justice

What is justice?

Where does it come from?

Who decides if something is just or unjust?

I remember my senior year of high school like it was 10 years ago…because it was. But I remember one night, it was late, and I was trying to get home from a band concert (please do not judge me. It was cool, I promise). I could not find my phone anywhere, I knew my parents would not be happy that I lost it and I had one more place to look…the band hall. I put my car in what I thought was reverse and hit the gas. Only to discover that what I thought was reverse was really drive. It only took seconds for this to become known. BAM!!!! I hit a pole. The front of my car was so banged up it was not funny. I found myself a little lost. You see my phone was still lost, and now I wrecked my car.justiceofgod

My parents had a moment to decide how to handle this situation. I called them from my friend’s phone and told them the story, probably through tears. That was how I operated in high school. Justice would have been for them to yell and make me drive that wrecked car for weeks till I could pay for it (and with my $10 a week it actually probably would have taken years to fix it).

Instead, my parents picked love and grace. They chose to calmly respond, and in their time, which was quite quickly, they fixed my car. When I found my phone they where happy. Life moved on.

At the time I saw this as a moment where my parents where “cool.” Now thinking about it, I see it as a moment where my parents could have found justice in making me live with the consequence of my actions and instead chose their own form of justice (which I was totally grateful for and still am learning all the moment had to teach me).

God’s justice is a lot like this moment. Truth is, I should have had to drive that car around and explain to everyone what happened. Live in my shame of wrecking a great car. The bigger truth is I deserve hell; I deserve to die for my sin. Yet God sent his son to die in my place and pay for sins he did not commit, so that one day I could spend eternity with him in heaven.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3:16-19

What is the justice?

This justice is love greater than we can think through. This justice is grace that knows no ends. This justice is patience that we will never be able to give; yet God so graciously gives it to us.

I love how verse 19 puts it, “This is the verdict.” It is simple from this point on, live in the justice that God has so graciously given to us in his Son Jesus.

About the Writer:
Liz, just a girl who spends her days in seminary classes, spends her afternoons interning with First Baptist Dallas Women’s, spends her evenings with her friends laughing and challenging the definition of community to be something much deeper. If you need her you can probably find her watching Dancing with the Stars while on Pinterest, challenging the worldly norm of a 28 year old.

Protection Against Discouragement

Like the atomic bomb of an army’s arsenal, I believe discouragement is one of the most Protection Against Discouragementpowerful and decimating of Satan’s weapons against us. Discouragement is often the basis on which we give up on our walk with God and on the mission He has called us to. Once we have placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, Satan cannot remove us from the family of God. However, if he can manage to discourage us, he can render us useless to the Kingdom of God.

Discouragement can come in many forms, but in my life, it most often comes from those around me disapproving of me, my looks, or my work. I can quickly be shot down by harshly spoken words or a condemning look. It is literally as though someone robs the strength from my body. Satan is an expert at knowing just how best to discourage and defeat us, and when we find our identity and worth in anything or anyone other than Christ, we open the door to Satan’s discouragement.

Maybe you have experienced this as well. If you have, let me encourage you that there is hope! Though Satan’s attacks are strong, we serve a much stronger God who offers us protection against discouragement. What is this protection? I’m so glad you’ve asked! It is the truth of our identity. When we understand the truth that our identity is found fully and completely in Jesus Christ and not in the approval of others, we can stand strong against discouragement.

The story of Nehemiah is an amazing picture of a man who was used mightily by the Lord because he found his identity and affirmation in the Lord and not in what others said about him. As he led in the re-building of the wall around Jerusalem, he was bombarded with rumors about his character, his motives, and his safety (Nehemiah 6). Yet, he recognized them for what they were, attacks from the enemy without a basis in truth. Nehemiah said,

“For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, ‘Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.’ Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9

If Nehemiah had found his identity in what was being said about him, he would have jumped off that wall in order to address the rumors. The calling God had placed on his life (re-building the wall) would have never been completed, and the enemy would have had victory. However, Nehemiah faithfully remained on that wall, finding his value and calling in God alone, and recognizing the lies of Satan’s attempt to discourage him.

If you find yourself struggling with the battle of identity, being bombarded by the enemy’s discouragement, I encourage you to claim these facts as truth about who God says you are in Him:

  • You were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27)
  • You were created purposefully (Jeremiah 1:5)
  • You do not have to live in condemnation (Romans 8:1)
  • You are a co-heir with Christ Jesus, a daughter of God (Romans 8:15-17)
  • Nothing can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:35-39)
  • Your weakness allows God’s strength to be made known (2 Corinthians 2:9)
  • You have been called to walk in the worth of Christ alone (Ephesians 4:1)

“Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:9b).

About the Writer:
Kate has the privilege of serving as the Girls Ministry Director at Frist Baptist Dallas.  She has a heart for helping girls come to know and build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She is also contributor to Lifeway Girls Ministry resources. 

God’s Protection

It took me 3 years to fall for a boy.

It took him 20 seconds to break my heart.

It took my heart 5 seconds to throw up all kinds of walls that ran very deep to “protect” my heart from that pain again.

It took 3 years for me understand true protection from the Lord.

And it took the Lord moments to tear down my walls and replace them with his protection.

Where I went wrong during the above-mentioned years, was trying to protect myself. You see, I am not the girl who thinks she needs protection. However, I am the girl who hates bugs, would prefer not be in scary situations, and will scream if you scream.

So maybe I do need protection.

The truth is bugs, scary situations, and screams I can watch out for. Don’t go outside, avoid haunted houses, and be on guard for people who like to scream in your ear. That seems simple enough, but protection on God’s level is a hiding place, a safe haven, and a guard.

The Lord is my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble. Psalm 32:7

He keeps the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked. Psalm 12:7

He guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Proverbs 2:8

What God taught me in those three years was that I didn’t need to protect myself. I did not need to build up walls that kept people out. I did not need to define protection as a negative. I needed to let God define protection for me. I needed to see that God’s protection is more than someone standing in front of me while I coward behind them. And even more important, God’s protection is more than a knight in shining armor riding in to save the day at the very last second.  protection image

God’s protection is a refuge, a fighter for me, a guard from those who are evil. God’s protection is the light that reveals our path, is the safety we need to follow the calling He has placed in our lives, God’s protection is the hiding place we need to run to when our hearts get broken.

God’s protection is not a negative or a sign a weakness, but rather provides the strength we need to accomplish all God has set out for us. God’s protection is a constant in our lives. When I realized that God was the one fighting for me and that all I was doing was pushing people away, I suddenly realized that I had it wrong. When true understanding came, a perspective shift took place and true protection was easy to receive.

About the Writer:
Liz, just a girl who spends her days in seminary classes, spends her afternoons interning with First Baptist Dallas Women’s, spends her evenings with her friends laughing and challenging the definition of community to be something much deeper. If you need her you can probably find her watching Dancing with the Stars while on Pinterest, challenging the worldly norm of a 28 year old.

Radiance of the Father

When I was in my early 20’s I was plagued with cystic acne. Having always enjoyed pristine skin, I had no reason to anticipate these changes that accompanied my early adult years. At first I tried to cover it, then I tried to fix it, then I felt ashamed of it (taking it quite personally), and then I just endured it and avoided mirrors. Of course, I was never happy about it nor did I fail to notice the constant ache it created as the deep-seated nodules put pressure against my facial bones. Looking back, it seems so insignificant and not even worth recalling — if not for the valuable lessons God showed me during and after those uncomfortable, drawn-out years. Eventually my skin cleared up; but, surprisingly, the change did not make me any happier or more confident as a woman.

We all know that external beauty is only skin-deep; but oh how easy it is to let injuries, childbirth, deformities, cancer, physical decline, sickness and scars maime our sense of self-confidence. Praise God for His unconditional love that considers us beautiful and valuable no matter how we feel about ourselves.

When I think about the times that I feel truly radiant, I notice that it has nothing to do with my physical appearance. It is not because I am pleased with my weight, my hair, my face or my outfit. Instead, such moments of true radiance, when I know beauty, are when I gaze upon beauty — not compete with it.

Psalm 34:1-5
I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.

Continually celebrating and knowing the Lord as the Holy One, the Worthy One, the Magnificent One make the release from any fears or self-consciousness a gracious certainty. As pride seeks to compete for God’s glory, thankfulness and joy come to the ones who turn their eyes to Jesus. Any glory that God has reflected upon us must be turned back to Him. We decrease and He increases (John 3:30). He makes us beautiful because He created us in His image (Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 139:14). He makes us radiant because of His glory and calling (2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 5:27). He makes us full because of His fullness (Colossians 2:9-10, John 1:16). He makes us pure because of His precious Son’s blood (1 John 2:12, Revelation 1:5). Having caught His eye, we realize that no greater admiration is equal.

Radiance of the Father

Psalm 8:3-4
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him…

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Waiting with Expectation

Now, I would guess if you cleared some time in your busy schedule this morning to spend a few minutes with your Creator, you did not go searching for encouragement from the book of Lamentations. The name alone is a little depressing. Lamentations means “the passionate expression of grief or sorrow; weeping.” As a girl who does NOT enjoy “a good cry” or even understand the meaning of “a good cry,” I do my best to avoid all things sad, depressing, or unfortunate.
However, let me encourage you to see past the title and into the beauty of this book. It is so much more than mourning and sadness. It is a book of hope! When the prophet Jeremiah poured out his heart in this book, the people of Judah had just been taken into Babylonian captivity. Here is a picture of Jeremiah’s emotional and spiritual state as he wrote this book:

“My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, ‘My strength has perished, And so has my hope from the Lord.’” Lamentations 3:17-18

Pretty dismal isn’t it? Well, the first time I really read Laminations was a pretty dismal time in my life. I Hope of God Picturehad just received a phone call that ended a relationship I had placed a lot of my hope in. As the Lord led me to Lamentations that night, I cried right along side Jeremiah. At first I cried tears of sadness, mourning the loss of the hope I had in that relationship. However, as I kept reading, my tears of mourning turned to tears of hope, not hope in that relationship, but hope in the truth of who my God is even in the midst of hardship.

This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:21-25

In the middle of Jeremiah’s mourning over sin and bondage, he recalled to his mind (he set his mind on) the truth of who God is. He even praised God for His lovingkindness, compassion, and sufficiency. The word “hope” he uses in these verses means “to wait; to be patient, stay, tarry, trust, wait.¹” God’s people were going to spend a total of 70 years in captivity. Seventy years…talk about waiting. Hoping in the Lord often means waiting with expectation. In our times of mourning we are called to:

  • Set our minds on the Lord alone
  • Praise God for who He is and what He’s promised
  • Wait with expectation for God to fulfill His promises

Maybe you feel like you’ve been in mourning for 70 years or you have 70 years of hardship ahead of you. Let me encourage you to try something crazy and read through Laminations this week. I pray you will see great hope in the midst of mourning, so, that like Jeremiah, you may learn wait on God with great expectation.

¹James Strong, A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 49.

About the Writer:
Kate has the privilege of serving as the Girls Ministry Director at Frist Baptist Dallas.  She has a heart for helping girls come to know and build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She is also contributor to Lifeway Girls Ministry resources.  

My Hope is in You

I tried to think of a good story, a memory or life lesson I once learned on hope. But the truth is I have nothing. I got nothing. I sat in front of my computer for hours and all I could think of was the truth I wanted to talk about, not the fluff that an intro lends itself to.

When it comes to the hope of Jesus, a true understanding is the foundation of all that life is. Hope in Jesus is what brings you identity, it’s what brings you passion, and it is what brings you understanding. Hope in Jesus is what gives life.

I found myself hopeless earlier this year. I was deep with a job I did not want but looked good to the world, I was overwhelmed with church commitments that left me drained; I was nowhere near where I thought I would be as a 28 year old.

I had a choice.

I could continue buying into the lie that my hope would be found in this world–that finding a man, a good job, a hobby, or anything really, would one day satisfy the hopelessness I was feeling. Or, I could learn what hope in Jesus was really about.

Hope

I had experienced a true understanding of Christ’s hope earlier in life. You know, one of those moments when you pause and think, “I thought I got this already. I thought I trekked this path and came out knowing the Lord better,” only to find out that you have fallen into a pit and need God to pull ya out again and you need to relearn the lesson all over. So I knew what I needed; I needed Jesus to pull me back to the only foundation I knew was solid….hope in Jesus.

Hope in Jesus is the truth that He sent His Son to die for me, He choose my sin and shame, and died that I might live in the hope that one day He is coming back.

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalms 25:5

So I choose Jesus. I choose hope in Christ and praise the Lord that Christ never un-chooses me.

For me, waking up to the hope that comes with Jesus meant finding my identify in Him and not a relationship status, it meant finding value in His name and not mine as I climbed the ladder of professional success; it meant remembering that every encounter and every conversation has the power to reflect Jesus to someone.

I am choosing to live in the power of the hope of Jesus. I pray that today you choose to as well. That you will view the hope that comes with Christ as the foundation and the definition of who we are as women and as daughters of the Most High King.

About the Writer:
Liz, just a girl who spends her days with fifth graders challenging the normal way of teaching, spends her afternoons with her friends laughing and challenging the definition of community to be something much deeper, and spends her evenings with Dancing with the Stars and Pinterest, challenging the worldly norm of a 28 year old.

The Unmet Need

One of the reasons I enjoy writing for Yada Yada is that it helps keep me accountable to God. When the topics make their way around to me and I find myself up to write, it is always an opportunity to grow and a challenge to stomp out lies in my own mind more than a desire to list facts. This month’s question, the Provision of God, has and continues to surface in my reflections quite often. I am a single mom. Many days I feel a strain from what I consider to be unmet needs. The reality is that all my needs have been met — quite generously and abundantly actually. The unpleasant truth is that I have an abundance of desires that apparently don’t qualify as needs. Not exactly what one wants to hear! However, God is so kind to correct His children in love. And when the Lord corrects, hope is intertwined.

For me, the things I desire are not in and of themselves evil; however, an impatient heart is.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

The following verse (“now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”) reminds me that sometimes, as one who belongs to Christ, I am called to dissociate myself from former desires that are not God-honoring. However, more often than not, this verse convicts me of my dependence on God to dislodge the subtle attitudes of flesh that seed fruit on much deeper heart level. As Jesus said in Mark 7:20, it is what comes from a man’s heart that defiles him. Fleshly attitudes are just as sinful as carnal actions, and usually come one right after the other (James 1:15).

So now, when I feel annoyed, impatient, frustrated or discouraged by an unfulfilled desire or strained circumstance; it is like that flashing warning The Unmet Needlight on my car’s dashboard — a gauge that I definitely don’t want to ignore. Galatians 5:16 says, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” That verse has become my solution: the desire that I use to fight desire. I make it my number one pursuit to abide in Him — knowing that He promises to abide with me and bear His fruit in and through me along the way.

“He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 5:5

God is the only one I know able to turn my “unmet needs” (i.e. desires) into a fertile vineyard of the choicest fruit: godliness.

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Remember

I have bags full of old journals filled with my teenage thoughts, problems, questions, and prayers. Since I work with teenagers, I will often open those old journals for the purpose of “research,” and in doing so, I remember the Lord’s past provision. Whether it was financially, emotionally, or relationally; the Lord has provided for me in more ways than I can count. Being reminded of my moments of desperation and His perfect provision time after time is really the reason I hold on to those journals.God's Provision

When was the last time you simply recalled the many ways in which God has provided for you?

If you feel like God has forgotten you, your needs, and your wants; that may be a tough question. You may feel abandoned by God much like the Israelite people did as they stood on the edge of Canaan.

“…the whole congregation said to them, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?’” Numbers 14:2-3 (NKJV)

At that moment, all the Israelites could see was a land filled with enemies, giants, and insurmountable odds. They felt like God had abandoned them and that they would have been better dying in Egypt as slaves. The fear they faced as they looked into the Promised Land, blinded them to the power of God. All at once, they forgot the incredible ways God had already provided for them along the way. God Himself said to Moses,

“How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?”  Numbers 14:11

Here are some of the ways God had already demonstrated His power and provision:

  • He sent the ten plagues
  • He went before them to lead the way in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire
  • He parted the Red Sea and dried the ground so the people could cross over
  • He made bitter, undrinkable water into sweet, refreshing water
  • He rained down bread from heaven to feed them each day and made the bread taste like honey
  • He provided quail so the people could eat meat
  • He made water flow out of a rock
  • He brought a miraculous victory over the army of Amalek

Despite these miraculous acts of God, the people of Israel stood fearfully immoveable just outside the land they had been promised. They refused to enter because they did not believe their God was able to give them what He had promised.

Is this true of your life today? Are you fearfully standing just outside the blessing of God because you are struggling to believe He will provide what He has promised? Let me encourage you to take a lesson from the Israelite people who “…could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19). Do not allow unbelief to keep you from the blessings of God. Stand firm today on the truth that the same God who provided in the past will provide for your future.

About the Writer:
Kate has the privilege of serving as the Girls Ministry Director at Frist Baptist Dallas.  She has a heart for helping girls come to know and build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She is also contributor to Lifeway Girls Ministry resources.