4 Ways to Respond When You S.P.O.T. a Battle on the Horizon

There have been many times when I’ve struggled with knowing how to respond in a situation. I am, by nature, a peacemaking, people-pleasing, don’t-rock-the-boat kind of girl.

It’s not always easy to know. Do I let this offense slide (turn the other cheek?) Do I confront and make my feelings known? What should I do when I feel I’m being wronged, taken advantage of, or downright attacked?

As I read through the book of Esther recently, I developed a battle plan to help me deal with these situations. So, the next time you spot a battle brewing here is the battle plan (based on Esther 4) which you can have in place.

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S – Seek the Lord. 

Esther 4:15 says, “Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, ‘Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do.”

The first step of her battle plan was to pray. Do you want to know why it’s important to pray before going into battle? Because not every battle is ours to fight. You may pray and the Lord may tell you to engage the enemy. The prophet Nehemiah told the people to “fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, and your homes.” In Psalm 144, David said, “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.” There are certainly times when we are called to battle.

But there are other times when, after seeking the Lord’s will, we will find Him telling us to be still. In 2 Chronicles, the Lord told King Jehoshaphat, “The battle is not yours but God’s…You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.”

How are we going to know if we are called to battle or to be still unless our first step is to seek the Lord? Do note, however, that being still is not the same as backing down. God is clear that the people were to hold their position – they were just not to actively engage the enemy in that moment.

P – Patiently wait.

We saw back in verse 3 that there was mourning, weeping, and lamenting in every province. There were people lying around in sackcloth and ashes. And Esther waits a whole day, then a second day and then a third day. Don’t you know there were those who didn’t understand? There were certainly some who just wanted her to go to the king already. Yet, Esther patiently waited for the Lord to respond.

There will be times when you want to rush into battle. But Proverbs 19:11 says that a person with good sense is patient. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit.

O – Obey the Lord.

It wouldn’t do any good for Esther to seek the Lord and patiently wait for His response if she had no intention of obeying. At the end of the fast, we see that Esther says, “I will go to the king.”

We have to be willing to obey whether we are called to battle or to be still.

T – Trust the Lord with the outcome.

This is often the most difficult part. We see this in Esther’s final words in chapter 4. She says, “I will go to the king and, if I perish, I perish.” We see this same sentiment later with Paul when he says, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” He trusted God to work it for good either way.

In 2011, my mother had stage 4 kidney cancer and stage 4 lymphoma at the same time. I sat with her every Friday that year while she took chemo and we laughed and told stories and made friends. People would ask her if she was afraid and she would always say, “It’s a win-win for me. If he heals me it will be great. If he calls me home it will be great.” She trusted Him with the outcome no matter what.

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The truth is that there is no shortage of battles constantly brewing around us. Whether we’re on Facebook or attending a family gathering, conflict is always just around the corner. Let’s be prepared ahead of time so that, when we S.P.O.T. it, we’ll know what to do.

You are loved. ❤

Stacy

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That Time I Prayed to be Invisible

My mother and I were in Birmingham for an event. We arrived on a beautiful, sunny Friday afternoon. I parked my car in the parking garage and we made our way to the venue two blocks away.

After enjoying the teaching and the music, ten thousand women exited the arena to make their ways to their vehicles. My mother and I turned to the right and began to walk and no one (not a single woman) followed us.

I don’t know how 9,998 other women all knew to park in the opposite direction. All I know is that my mother and I were left to walk alone, in the dark, to a parking garage two blocks away. Between us and the vehicle were abandoned buildings, empty parking lots and several men wandering the streets.

In that moment, all I could think to do was to pray that we were invisible. I asked the Lord that, if any of those men had any evil intentions, they simply would not see us. Now, I’m not saying that God made me invisible (although I’m not saying He didn’t either.) I do believe that God blinded the eyes of any potential enemy that night.

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I told that story at a recent women’s event to illustrate the power of prayer. I had forgotten about this incident and it came to me at the last minute. I couldn’t help but laugh as, as we walked those two blocks, I kept repeating, “It’s fine. They can’t see us. We’re invisible.”

Here’s the thing, though. I totally believed that God could do it. And, if I’m honest, it isn’t the first time I’ve prayed such a thing. Sometimes, at night, my spirit will feel unsettled and I’ll pray.

Lord, if there is anyone currently roaming the streets with ill intentions, let them not even take notice of our home.

God, if my children are out in public and the enemy is on the prowl, draw his attention away from my babies.

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It’s a prayer I’ve prayed often but never mentioned to anyone. It’s not exactly the parenting advice people expect.

What advice would you give for raising children in this broken world?

Oh, I just pray we’re all invisible.

Yeah. Hmm.

BUT – I found the coolest verse today.

Are you ready?

Wait for it…

Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked. – Psalm 64:2

I wanted to do the slow clap after reading it. Essentially, y’all, David just prayed to be invisible. Do with it what you will.

You are loved. ❤

Stacy

 

At the Eleventh Hour

There is a parable about the master of a great vineyard. Early in the morning, he goes out seeking laborers to work for him. He finds some workers in the marketplace, they agree on a wage and head off to begin their work. It’s easy to focus on this first group; they bore the burden of the day and the scorching heat (Matthew 20:12.) We tend to highlight these individuals; the early bird gets the worm.

As the day wore on, the master continued to go to the marketplace to seek laborers. At the third, sixth and ninth hour, he added more workers. Only, with these workers, he sent them into the field without an agreed upon wage. They were simply promised that they would be given “what is right.” A person would certainly have to view the master as someone they could trust or else their labor may be in vain.

Finally, at the eleventh hour, the master returns to the marketplace. With only an hour left in the work day, there are still people roaming around. When asked why they had spent the entire day idle, their answer is heart-wrenching. “Because no one hired us,” they say. No one wanted them. They had stood unwanted and overlooked hour after hour.

I’ve often sympathized with the first ones hired. They were the ones in the vineyard bright and early. They worked the entire day in the heat of summer. Or, sometimes, I would admire the faith of those next few groups. The master chose them and they set to work without knowing how they would be compensated. They trusted him to be just in his dealings with them.

Yet, this time, as I read the passage (Matthew 20:1-16,) my heart was stirred for the last group – those chosen at the eleventh hour. I began to brainstorm all of the reasons that someone would be not chosen hour after hour.

Had they proven untrustworthy in the past? Were they too old, too young, too small? Was their strength, endurance or work ethic being judged based on their appearance? Did they show up late to the marketplace? Were they withdrawn and quiet? Did they fail to sell themselves properly? Perhaps, they didn’t know the right people.

And then I began to think about those who, today, may feel like they’re at the eleventh hour. They’ve watched as others seem to have been chosen to work in the vineyard – to serve the Master. The clock keeps ticking, others keep getting chosen and, still, they wait.

They wonder if they’re too bad or too broken to be used by God. Perhaps, they fear they’ve wasted too many years and it’s simply too late. Maybe others have come, given them the once over and deemed them unworthy. It could be that, at one time, they were the ones in the field at first light. Now, they find themselves in a different season and wonder if their usefulness is over.

In Philippians, Paul is weighing the pros and cons of remaining in the flesh or going to be with Christ. To be with Christ, he says, is far better. To remain in the flesh, however, means fruitful labor (Philippians 1:22.) If there is, at any point, no longer work for us to do, God will call us home. None of us remain here to simply stand idle in the marketplace and pass the time. If we are still breathing then there is, not just labor, but fruitful labor for us to do.

God has work for you to do. You are not too damaged, too old, or too far gone for Him to use. You are not too late to the party, too awkward or too much for Him. If you have ever wondered if God can use you, then let Matthew 20:7 encourage your heart.

He said to them, “You go into the vineyard too.”

He chooses you, too. If no one else in the entire world chooses you. If everyone else only sees your flaws. When others don’t even give you a second glance. When you look in the mirror and don’t see anything desirable. God chooses you, too.

Now, get out there and be fruitful.

You are loved. ❤

Stacy

4 Ways to Know You Have an Idol in Your Life

14305256_1737031053206700_2219233568440604115_oConfession time: I’ve had an idol or two in my day.

I’ve been reading in Isaiah the last several days and there is a constant theme of idols in the lives of God’s people. Perhaps, you think you can’t relate; it’s not like you’re carrying around a golden calf in your pocket. Or are you?

Many years ago, I was a working mom with a strong desire to stay home with my children. And, by strong, I mean a cry every Sunday night, stalk every stay at home mom on Facebook, imagine all the ways my children were going to suffer because I worked desire.

Then, after ten years of patient waiting, calm petitions, weeping and wailing, God granted my request. Here’s the thing, I love being home. In many ways, it’s everything I hoped. But, y’all, it comes with a whole different set of issues. It wasn’t the be all – end all that I believed.

Fast forward a couple years. I’d been blogging and writing my little heart out with my eye on the prize – my own book. It seemed like everybody and their mama had a book deal and I wanted it something awful. When someone chose to take a chance on me and offer me that opportunity, I was certain it was going be awesome in every way.

And it was. For a while.

All it took, for that idol to begin to crumble, was one person leaving a mediocre review. Not a bad one, mind you. Just meh. Some random somebody left a review that they really enjoyed the book, that it was a great addition to their morning Bible study, and the person gave it…2 Stars. In my flesh, I was offended. Seriously, what did they want it to do for them? Make their morning coffee as well?

Here’s the scary part; in the moment, I didn’t realize these things were idols. So, as I was reading through Isaiah, I began looking for idol signs – things that would be warnings for those of us who wish to avoid the pitfalls of idol worship.

FOUR WAYS TO KNOW YOU HAVE AN IDOL IN YOUR LIFE

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You are loved. ❤

Keep Your Hands and Feet inside the Ride at all Times

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I almost died last week. You might think that is an exaggeration but that’s only because you did not see the ring of death that I rode at the local Strawberry Festival. I don’t know if rides have gotten scarier or if I’ve just gotten older (okay, fine, I do know!), but there is no reason for an almost forty-year-old woman to be dangling upside down for a sweet forever.

My brother has always had this theory that you shouldn’t ride anything that can be put up and taken down in less than twenty-four hours. I used to think that was just fear speaking but, perhaps, it was wisdom at an early age. After all, as I was standing in line for the tilt-a-whirl, I did see the two workers have a pow wow in the corner. Then, one reached behind a curtain and pulled out a small bag of parts and proceeded to crawl under the ride. Were these the parts they had forgotten to put on? The “spares”, perhaps? Were they replacements for the parts that come off on the regular?

What would make a normally rational woman ride the ring of death fire? In my case, it was a little boy who rides the bus to our church on Wednesday nights. He came up to me as I was working a booth and begged me to ride this particular ride with him. He continued to check on me every thirty minutes to make sure I had not forgotten. So, at 6:00, I walked to my doom and rode the ride.

For the rest of the weekend, every time he saw me, he smiled and gave me a thumbs up. He would yell over the noise of the rides and crowd, “You did it!” He’s right; I did it. But, I’ll tell you, it was frightening and uncomfortable.

God often calls us to frightening and uncomfortable scenarios. If you commit yourself to following Him, you may just find yourself hanging upside down trying not to embarrass yourself by begging the workers to stop the ride when all you wanted was a funnel cake.

The Strawberry Festival draws you in with the cotton candy and bright lights. You’ve already bought the armband and gotten on the ride before you realize the cost. Christ, on the other hand, is quite upfront.

Pick up your cross.

The world will hate you like it hated me.

Everyone who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted.

You can never say that you weren’t warned. But, one day, when it’s all said and done, we will lay eyes on Jesus Himself. On that day, over the noise of the angels singing and trumpets blasting, He will yell, “You did it!” And you can know that, yes, it was often frightening and uncomfortable, but you did it.

Just hold on tight and enjoy the ride.