Becky Olszewski

 

 

The constant nagging in my head tells me I can’t do it; tells me I’m not good enough.  If I’m not careful, I’ll believe it.  Not long ago, I did believe it.  The lies had twisted and coiled themselves inside my head so much that I didn’t even recognize their existence.  An idea or opportunity would present itself in my life and without even realizing it, I was telling myself “Nope, you can’t do that”; “You aren’t good enough, important enough, or special enough”.  A close friend pointed out the limits I had placed on myself.  She helped me process my thoughts and made me aware of lies I had come to believe.

 

The Enemy was so sneaky in the ways he got ahold of me.  My thoughts are one of the biggest ways he trapped me.  The more lies he got me to believe, the more I was confined to the boundaries those lies create so that I wouldn’t reach my full potential in Christ.

 

How was I supposed to serve God and follow the path He had for me if I believed I couldn’t do it and wasn’t good enough?!  I had to fix it; I had to change my way of thinking!

 

Changing my thoughts took a lot of consistent work.  First, I had to recognize the enemy’s lies that were showing up in my thoughts.  I had to focus and be aware of what I was thinking about.  Once I recognized a thought from the enemy, I had to cast out that thought from my mind.  Calling on the name of Jesus helped me do this!

 

Luke 10:17-19 says, “When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!  Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them.  Nothing will injure you.”

 

It wasn’t just the disciples Jesus gave authority to, we have it too!  I can say His name out loud!  “In the name of Jesus, I cast out this lie and throw it away.  I will believe it no more!  In the name of Jesus, I take away any power you think you have over me and I cast it away.  In the name of Jesus, I cover myself and others around me in the Holy Spirit who gives us strength, peace and power.”  AMEN!

 

I then replace the enemy’s negative thought with a positive truth about who I am in Christ.  Memorizing scripture about how much God loves me is a great way to do that.  Psalm 139 is my favorite scripture about God’s love for me. When I focus on God’s Word and His truth, I am able to overcome those lies and change my thoughts. I no longer am trapped and it is good!

 

What lies from the enemy are you believing?  Pray and ask God to reveal them to you.  Then bind and cast the lies away and find a verse to memorize that supports God’s truth.

By Stephanie Haile

 

 

My son loves war. War books, war stories, pretending to have war, etc. I’m not sure why as I’ve always been a peaceful person, encouraging my kids to get along, love each other and even be kind to their enemies. After all, that’s what Jesus would encourage his kids to do, right?

 

As I made breakfast for my kids this morning, I heard my 10 year-old son and 6 year-old daughter talking. My son was expressing his need for a book on World War 2, and my daughter yelled out “ If you like war, you love the devil!” Of course my son defended himself (thankfully without a hand grenade) and told his sister that Jesus even fought and God called nations to war. Upon hearing his wise words, I thought to myself, “What? Is my daughter right? Is fighting “bad” as we have been taught, or does God call us to fight?”

 

In Jeremiah 51:20, when God wanted to punish Babylon he called a man to be his “battle-ax and sword.” He did not say, “Be my flower delivery guy and bring flowers to every door in Babylon. Make peace with them and live in harmony forever and ever!” God recognizes, in his power and infinite knowledge when tough things need to be done, and when evil won’t go. It needs to be physically kicked out!

 

So how do we fight? Do we physically punch, kick and raise a ruckus with the guy in the checkout line at the grocery who won’t honor our expired coupon? While I may be tempted in that moment, God calls us in this aspect to be humble, just like Jesus. But like Jesus, we should fight for the big stuff, the God stuff.

 

1Timothy 6:12 says, “Fight the good fight of faith.”  So this tells me that Faith is a fight. The Bible says that war is waged against your very soul (1Peter 2:11) and Satan is out to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). So we can count on the fact that the devil hates us. He wants us to fail. He wants us to have no joy. While we may be inclined to sit back and wish God would do something amazing to help our situation, Satan is planning his next attack.

 

I don’t know about you but this lit a fire in me! I realize that I need to take on God’s view of the fight we are in and not stay stuck in a generalized view of fighting. I need to understand my position in the fight and not be afraid of the enemy. But I do need to fight the right way. I need to build up my faith and stay connected to God so that I am not taken off guard.

 

So, with that being said, would you consider fighting everyday? Fight for your children, your job, your marriage, your joy, your peace, your faith! If you belong to Christ, you have the power and the weapons. In Ephesians 6:10, God says he gave you armor. The FULL ARMOR!! Let’s remember to put on every piece, tear up your white flag and fight!!! Read Ephesians 6:10-18 and consider yourself victorious!!!!

 

 

By Dawn Smiling

 

 

I rose early on a Sunday morning and started walking to the finish line.  My son is competing in the Chicago Marathon.  The hotel is miles away from the race, but I am determined to be there to see my son achieve this accomplishment.  Two hours turned into four hours before I received a message that he completed his race.  I was so inspired to see all of the runners.

 

There were competitors who entered the race with enormous challenges. Some where injured, some had physical limitations they had to overcome, some were going after a dream they had yet to achieve. It was amazing to see them finish what they started.  A total of 27,000 competitors, and my son was one of them!

 

I was so inspired by his accomplishment, but when I saw him, he had a slight limp and looked like he wanted to sleep forever.  But I also saw the medal around his neck, along with the other runners who completed their race.  It was worth it. They met their goals even if they were tired and dealing with some aches and pains they didn’t plan for. It’s caused me to think of the race I’m running.

 

 

God wants each of us to complete our race in this life. There will be road blocks and detours.  There will be disappointments along the way.  There may be days when you think you cannot go another mile or even take another step.  You may feel defeated by push back from the enemy.  But Ecclesiastes 9:11 says “the race is not given to the swift nor the strong but he who endures until the end.”

 

How do you compete with all the obstacles and darts that may come your way?  I do it by being intentional in my relationship with Jesus and standing firm in my position as a woman of God.  But the most important think I’ve learned is to run my own race.  No one can wear my shoes and my foot prints are unique to every place that God sends me.

 

It is vital that we run our race with purpose, knowing that we each wear different shoes.  Maybe you are Puma, Nike, or a Sketcher.  Perhaps you are a praying machine, a woman in the word, or maybe your race is to lead a small group or volunteer your time.  Everything we do gets us one step closer to our finish lines.  I want to finish the work that God has begun in me. And I try to remember when I don’t see anything happening, that is when God is doing the most!

 

My experience at the Chicago Marathon renewed my understanding that God does not need for me to do all of the work.  God needs me to be prepared, and ready for where He directs my feet.  The most important part of my race is to not to turn back and not quit. I can feel him helping me when I start to feel those unplanned aches and pains and he gives me endurance to finish.

 

How do you feel God’s help and presence as you to complete your race?

By Nancy Strackany

 

 

During a visit to my sister in law’s, I was sitting on the lanai doing some reading when I overheard a neighbor on the phone. As she spoke I surmised that someone had just sent her flowers, and I was struck by her extravagant thanks. “Thank you, thank you so much, they are so beautiful. It was so thoughtful, it means so much…it is a beautiful bouquet, all different colors, different kinds, thank you, I really appreciate it!” I heard by her words how grateful she was.

 

I sort of wished I had been the one to have sent those flowers, her word and tone made the difference. I consider myself a polite, even grateful person but I knew this unseen person was saying something God wanted me to hear.

 

 

I put down my book and prayed, “Lord, make me more like that person, more like you want me to be. Help me a have a grateful heart, to be kind and generous, a loving person who expresses thankfulness to those around me, to You.”

 

Luke 17:15-17 says, “One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.  Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?”

 

Jesus had just healed ten lepers and of the ten, only one turned back to show his gratitude. Scripture is filled with exhortations to be grateful. Paul reminds us, “give thanks for everything” Ephesians 5:20.

 

Giving thanks is not just about a feeling, Jesus expects us to express it. Unexpressed gratitude expresses ingratitude. Unexpressed gratitude feels like rejection, as if we are entitled, we deserve it. Unexpressed gratitude can choke the heart out of a relationship. Charles Stanley says, “to refuse to pay my debt of gratitude is to live with an inflated attitude of myself.”

 

The recent hurricane has caused many in our area to be thankful that we were spared. It gave us all an appreciation for so much that we take for granted; for me it was my husband for his hard work and preparation, and neighbors who shared their home with us as we rode out the storm together. I was grateful to God for His grace and mercy through it all, for sparing us when not all were spared. It’s caused me to pray, “Lord help me not forget Your goodness. Now that the storm has passed, help me continue to honor you with a humble and thankful heart.”

 

How are you cultivating gratitude in your life?