Monday, December 31, 2012

Subtly Twisted Lies

I haven't written much in 2012.  It's been a heck of year, and now I'm on a new journey, and I don't know who reads this blog, but I want you to know, I write these things for me because when God and I start talking back and forth in my head, it has to spill out on a page or I explode, or as this past year has proven, I implode.  Let me explain.

In December of 2011, I wrote a post about what God had spent all of that year teaching me.  It's one of my favorite posts to date.  However, two days after that blog hit the internet, my husband actually began his new job.  January 1, 2012 literally began the first day of a new chapter in our lives as a family.

The rubber met the road, so to speak.  God actually expected me to apply what He had spent a year in 2011 teaching me. (Wow!  Who would have thought application would be required, right?  Duh...I can be so naive sometimes...anyways)  The concept that God was enough.  He was all I needed.  Well, let me tell you, I began spinning my wheels, mustering all my courage, all the fortitude and strength inside myself, but something inside me didn't take the car out of neutral.  Looking back, I know now I was on a fast track to a major burnout and four blown tires.

January passed relatively uneventful.  Joey wasn't traveling much yet, but you see, I've been down this road before.  I was secretly anxious and waiting for the hammer to fall.  I knew in my heart that when he started traveling, when he wasn't here, when it was just me and my two precious children all alone, I knew things would get tough.  I knew the looming storm would ensue.

I mentally began to borrow trouble.

That knowledge.  That expectation was like a rock in the pit of my stomach--a heavy rock.  It was like wearing a collar that's too tight, always feeling like one more good swallow and you're going to choke. You see, looking back, that was my first mistake.  I wasn't taking myself out of neutral.  I wasn't actively believing what God had taught me.  I had head knowledge of all the promises He had given me, but I didn't truly believe them--well, at the very least, I didn't begin to practice them.

I started believing subtle lies.  Not blatant ones, mind you, very subtle ideas that I'm still recongnizing as coming from the father of all lies.  His most deceiving attack?  He made me believe that these thoughts were my own because if I had identified them as from him from the very beginning, I never would be climbing out of the ravine I've been in now.

One of my highest spirtitual gifts is discernment, but added to my analytical yet highly creative and emotional personality, I am a walking time bomb for self-sufficiency to despair.  I know all the right things to do. (So I thought.)  I felt the rock in my stomach, the choking feeling around my neck, and the brewing storm in my life on the horizon.  Yet, instead of battoning down the spiritual hatches, filling my life with the Word of God, and relying soley on His strength to ride out the coming storm, I started making my own preparations.

Joey and I made sure weekly date nights were still a priority.  I would take time outs around the house to stop and take deep breaths, say short prayers, and quite literally suppress, push down the emotions welling inside of me.  "Keep calm," I told myself, "stop worrying about something that hasn't even happened yet."  I started self-talking to myself, "Ok.  You know when he's gone, it's going to be hard.  Just hold on.  It won't last for long.  The two of you will figure this out.  God will take care of you.  You will adjust quickly.  It won't take three years to figure out the new normal like last time.  You are strong.  You are capable.  He's depending on you to hold it together.  Your kids are depending on you to hold it together.  If you make this transition smoothly, then everyone will be ok."

Oh my soul!!!  Can any of you see how wrong this thinking is?  I can now, but I didn't then.  Those kind of pep talks occur often in my mind.  For, "as a man thinketh, so he is," right?  The problem is all the positive self-talk in the world is useless if it is not founded in Christ.  Everything I thought on a daily basis, were good things.  They were positive ideas usually based in a smidge of spiritual truth, and that's where satan took his foothold in my mind.  I didn't need a smidge of truth, I needed Truth in it's entireity.  I needed Christ and His words, His thoughts, His ideas to be the Anchor for the coming storm.

Instead, I bought into one of the biggest lies satan can tell a believer who's known Christ almost their entire life.  You see, I like to think of myself as a Lifer--you know, a Christ-for-life kind of girl.  When you grow up surrounded by Christian influence, heritage, and legacy, when you accept Christ at the age of four, get baptized at six, rededicate your life at eleven with full knowledge of Who and how to serve, then you're a Lifer.  I can't imagine my life without Christ in it, without His Holy Spirit speaking to my heart and mind.  I just can't.  I don't want to.  Now, this is a HUGE, enormous, tremendous blessing!!!!!

But I've lived long enough now to see how satan can twist the biggest of God's blessings into the biggest of our curses simply by leveraging our sinful flesh to his advantage.  Satan oh so subtly twisted God's words from the very beginning in the garden of Eden, and his tactics haven't changed much in over who-knows-how-many thousands of years. (Stick with what works, right?) But when you're a Lifer, I've realized recently that while I've been privy to so many more of God's blessings than most who don't find Him until their late teens or twenties, I also have been manipulated more over a longer period of time by Satan's subtle lies in my life.

You see, Satan's war is with God, and if I don't belong to God, he may use me, block me from seeing the light, but mostly, I don't think he cares that much about me because I'm his eternal slave and unwitting bondservant anyway.  BUT, if I am a child of God, then his beef, his war is targeted directly at me.  If he takes me out of the battle, then I'm one less soldier he has to worry about trying to save one of his unwitting prisoners from the fiery flames of eternal hell.

And for me, he has always taken me out of the battle by twisting all the godly things I think I know into false teachings that root in my mind and heart and spread disease like wildfire through my system.  For me, this disease has always manifested itself in some form of depression.  Only in the past ten years have I learned to recognize the symtoms and call a spade a spade, but looking back on my middle and high school years, this is not a new pattern for me.  Depression is my go-to response to satan's influence and/or attacks in my life--this truth, I've come to realize in just the past few months.  Believing satan's lies drags me into depression.  Period.

So the biggest lie a Lifer can believe?  That I know it all.  That I've heard that already.  That I know the verse to combat that idea. (Without ever actually quoting the verse, mind you.  I just "know" it.)  That I remember hearing a message about that once. That I know the right thing to say.  Oh yeah, I did a Bible study about that once--it was helpful.  I know how God would handle that situation.  I know how you're feeling.  I know you're struggle.  I know how God feels about that action.  I have the righteous advice to give for every situation.  I know the consequences that will follow.  I know what scripture says, in general, about that subject. (Again, without actually ever quoting any scripture.) I know, I know, I know, I know, I know.  I've heard it all before.  There's nothing new under the sun anyway, right?

WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP.  And what a load of subtly twisted truths.  If you're a believer, can you spot them?  Can you see how an idea with a grain of truth (because there ARE some things I DO know) can be twisted into prideful knowledge that only steals, kills, and destroys others when the attitude, delivery, and relationship aren't exactly as God has them aligned for any given moment.  

I've learned over the years how damaging this attitude is when used toward others.  I still struggle with it sometimes--any one of my siblings can testify--but, by God's grace, I'd like to think that when it comes to dealing with others, I've gotten better.  However, this year has taught me how incredibly vicious these subtly twisted lies are to myself personally--to my own thoughts, ideas, and self-conversations.

I will explain, but for now, I'm going to stop here for today, and leave myself contemplating that huge, smelly, load of crap because unless I can wrap my head around the fact that my pride in being a knower is just as sinful as the rapist, the murderer, the gossip, and the disobeyer--then I can't really move forward.  I haven't learned my lesson if I can't confess this sin and move forward in the forgiveness and humbleness and brokenness that this revelation from the Lord in my life requires.

The Truth:
Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."

Deuteronomy 29:29 "The secret things belong to the Lord our God,(hence, I can know nothing He doesn't already want me to know) but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."

1 Corinthians 13:1-10 "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 

Isaiah 55:9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."

Ecclesiastes 1:17-18 "And I set my [t]mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. 18 Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain."

The TakeAway:  Knowledge of the Lord my whole life has blessed me beyond what I can ever think or imagine.  It has kept me from making many wrong and hurtful decisions.  But when I start letting satan slip in and twist this knowledge ever so subtly by slacking up and not keeping the truth ever at my fingertips, quoted word for word off my lips and in my thoughts, I will become prideful in my knowledge and the consequence is much grief and increasing pain.

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Letter 2012

post signatureMerry Christmas Family & Friends!                                                                                          
***If for one reason or another, you were missed on our Christmas card list this year, hear it is=)***

Our year started on an incredible high when Joey and I completed our first Tough Mudder ( challenge in January—almost 13 miles and 29 obstacles, and electric shock is NOT for the faint of heart! Then, the rest of the year went something like this—4 ER visits, 2 seizures, 2 ambulance rides, 9 stitches, 2 MRIs, 2 stress tests, 1 cardiac monitor, 2 echocardiograms, 1 EEG, multiple EKGs, 1 walking cast boot, and mono.  All of which resulted in outcomes of excellent health!  However, this sets the stage for our family’s year of walking by faith.

The faith walk began quite literally the day after I mailed 2011’s Christmas letter.  We got the phone call that Joey got the financial consultant position on staff with Chick-fil-A corporate, and we couldn’t have been more ecstatic!  January 1, 2012, Joey began the next stage of his career with Chick-fil-A, and he is happier and more fulfilled than I have seen him in many years.  I always knew God would open this door for him, but who knew it would take 10 years of prayer and faithful submission to God’s plan before this desire of Joey’s heart was finally fulfilled.  However, it WAS fulfilled (Ps. 37:4).  So for all of you out there waiting for those deepest desires of your heart to be fulfilled as well, be encouraged!  God’s timing is perfect.  I hate to speak for him, but I would say that Joey has been walking this year in the joy of faith-fulfillment.  New adventures are always just around his corner, but I think this year, he has truly enjoyed this 10-year prayer being answered in his life.

The kids have most certainly begun their faith walks this year in little ways that I have enjoyed planting, watering, and nurturing, but mostly watching.  I thank the Lord for BSF ( and the invaluable role it has played in helping me begin to lay a godly foundation in the lives of my children.

Two of those ER visits were for Savannah, and in the midst of the craziness of each, there were blessed sacred moments when I was able to point her to God’s hand, and she was openly able to experience His work in her life, even at the tender age of 4.  All the while, she has continued to charm people with her joy for life and abundance of energy and exuberance for everyone and everything.  Her little heart is so sensitive to her brother and our family; it makes my Mama’s heart soar.  She talks often about how she’s asked Jesus to come live inside her heart.  I pray daily that God would increase her understanding of His grace and love for her so that in this next year we will rejoice in her baptism which would only show to the world what I believe is already at work in her heart—that she loves the Lord and believes He died for her sins, for her forgiveness, for her salvation!  It’s my joy to see this prayer being actively answered in her life on a daily basis.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her!

Weston too has weathered his last half of the willful 2s and into his emotional 3s with as much dignity as any child can.  We are finally a diaper-less household.  Hallelujah!  And watching him turn from toddler into little boy brings both heartache and pride.  He is my baby after all=)  We’ve discovered he’s a bit of a perfectionist, so this has challenged me to be his biggest encourager in the area of “You can do it! Keep trying!”  But his charm, smile, and natural wit and humor are going to far outweigh any drawbacks to his perfectionism.  This kid is just plain funny!  I pray daily that God would bend his heart toward a life of obedience and teach me how to understand him, so I can raise him in the way God would have him grow.  I’m still watching and learning his “bent” for life, but one thing is for sure, people will love him, and he will have great influence for Christ one day.  I look forward to another year of watching him learn and grow in the Lord.

As for me, well, the list in paragraph 1 will explain why I dropped off the map in the blogging world (—hopefully more to come in the future!).  The speed of life has picked up.  Along with Joey’s new job came Joey’s new traveling schedule, and for the first time in our 11-year marriage we spend 1-3 nights apart from each other almost every week.  I’ve struggled with this.  Most of those medical tests listed resulted from a fluke seizure I experienced in May.  I struggled with that.  My Granddaddy Frank went home to be with the Lord in July.  I struggled with that.  And through the struggles God has always provided the help I needed.  It has come in the form of friends, family, car rides, prayers, kind words, encouraging lunches, medications, counseling, BSF lessons, and ultimately the never-shifting, solid ground of the Truth of His Holy Word.

I sit here and can honestly say, like Abram (Gen. 12), I failed a test of my faith this year, but also like Abram, I found favor in God’s eyes through His grace, and I have restored peace and faith and hope in the God who loves me.  This has been a year of the faith-fight for me.  I have not warred with things of the flesh, but with spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12). I am still learning how to destroy speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).  I’m seeking more scripture, praying out loud more often, crying out to the Lord for deliverance.  Because I am in a war for my mind that ultimately affects my heart, which in turn will affect the hearts of my children and generations to come.  The Good News though?!?!?  Christ has already won!!  And as His child, His soldier, I am learning to march and live in His victory through His blessed salvation by re-learning who He says I am in Christ.  And I am victorious.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58

May this letter serve as an encouragement to all of you who find yourselves in the midst of not just a fight, but a war.  God is more than able (2 Cor. 9:8).  He is our Shield and Strength (Ps. 28:7).  He has been my personal Refuge (Ps. 91:2) this year, and for my family, He has been the Banner of Love (Song of Ps. 2:4).  He has worked good in and through all things in our lives this year, and I pray He has been glorified even in my weak efforts.  May this Christmas season illuminate the Hope we have in Christ’s birth!  The hope of not just eternity itself, but an eternity of peace, unity, and victory!  No more struggles or war with this flesh. 

“Oh victory in Jesus, my Savior forever / He sought me and He bought me with His redeeming blood / He loved me 'ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him / He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.”-Victory in Jesus by E.M. Bartlett, 1939.

May the truth of God’s Word be your protection in 2013.
Praying His Truth over you and yours,

Joey, Jennifer, Savannah, & Weston Durham