This week, learn how Jenn Baxter found peace, joy and fulfillment by simplifying her life and getting rid of 80% of her belongings. After going through a string of traumatic events over the course of just a couple years, Jenn found herself emotionally and physically depleted. But instead of spiraling downward into despair, God started her on a new journey by"stripping down" and "cleaning up" her life, which allowed her to not only survive the storms, but to rise above them.
This month, Journey with Jen as she battles through the Oklahoma winter that just does not want to end and see how it parallels to the trials in our lives and why we need deep roots.
Caden had a friend over today; a friend who has been to our home many times over; a friend who knows the ins and outs of where to find kitchen essentials- locations of cups, silverware, and plates. However, this friend went to another drawer today expecting to see what was inside, but it wouldn’t open. It was a false front, solely there for aesthetic appeal; no function whatsoever, just for show. We see it in our homes. Words like fascia, which exist to merely cover up what’s unappealing to the eye; and faux, as noticed in painting walls, cabinets and furniture. They’re all delicate ways of saying something is fake. It’s okay though because it meets the purpose of looking the way we desire something to look. Many carry this position when purchasing jewelry or handbags. Doesn’t matter if it’s a knockoff. People will say, “you can’t even tell.” Forget if it’s authentic, as long as it looks authentic the goal is met.
I completely understand. Obviously. Remember, I have the trickster fake false front cabinet drawer. Most often it doesn’t matter if something is fake, that is, unless it’s us.
I’d like to believe no one intends to be phony. So why are so many? Maybe it has something to do with a lack of garbage, or as I Peter 1:7 refers to it as trials.
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. -NLT
This past year we have sifted through a lot of garbage in our home. Quite honestly, it has smelled to high heaven. You know what I’m talking about. Trials. In the beginning we were like dogs licking our wounds, beaten and whipped by the unexpected. There were lots and lots of emotions. As you’ve come to know a little about me, I’m sure there is no surprise to imagine the intensity of those emotions. They are emotions familiar to trials: fear, failure, shame, disappointment, pain, hurt, betrayal, discouragement and despair. Yes, Heather Meadows, your inspirational blog writer knows the emotion of despair.
In the trials, we can experience such brokenness. I love how Dr. James Bradford views brokenness, “There’s no multiplication without the brokenness. Sometimes we want to go from blessed to favored without the brokenness.”
I’d love to report that the garbage has been gathered, bagged and taken to the dump. But honestly, we’re still cleaning. However, let me report something to you that is tremendously encouraging. The same trial we are experiencing, others have experienced and they have come out as pure gold.
Initially, we built a wall around the trash thrown on us, scared others may see it and make hurtful assumptions. As the Lord opened doors for us to share our trial, we have been ministered to by others who have been through similar. And there is where you find what is authentic and genuine.
Going through trials. Being tested in the fire. God produces a faith that is not only pure, but one that is effective.
The Message translates I Peter 1:7 as this: “Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of His victory.”
I’d rather go through garbage than to live phony forever. It’s not enough to appear as one with strong faith. It’s not enough to have a faux finish, to merely look like a woman of God. I desire authentic, genuine, pure. I desire a faith that is evidence of God’s victory in my life. A faith that He can use to minister to someone else in their life.
Whatever momentary brokenness, trial or trash you may encounter, remember it is just that, momentary. He will bless it and multiply it. Even better, He will use it to bring hope and healing to others as they encounter similar trials.
"Our culture is filled with people who abandoned the church not because of the Gospel, but because of the poor example of ‘religious people.’" -Dr. James Bradford
Live genuine. Live authentic. Live real. Others are desperate to see it.
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[Dr. James Bradford quotes from Coweta Assembly podcasts: "Believe for Greater Things" on 1.3.16 & "Second Chronicles 7:14" on 2.7.16]
A situation that occurred recently had my husband and me sitting on our back patio in tears. Brandon looked at me and said, “Why is the enemy attacking our family?” We seek the Lord to have His hand upon our lives; upon our children; upon our home. We are intentional to teach and follow His ways. The instruction in Deuteronomy 6:5-9 has been a life application, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” In our flesh, we can’t help but ask “why?” When the core integrity of our home is threatened, it’s difficult to not ask “why?” Or question ourselves. What have we not done? What have we missed? When we mistakenly feel that situations are within our control, we feel like failures. But God has given us wisdom to know that that is exactly the way the enemy wants us to think and feel.
We believe I Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I know the potential our family holds for the Kingdom of God is a threat to the enemy. I know attacks come where we least expect it and literally knock our feet out from under us, as did recently.
In these times, we rely on that solid, unwavering foundation. We cling to what we know. We don’t cower in defeat, resorting to staying under the enemy’s radar, so to speak. No, we boldly stand with confidence that God is in control. And He knows exactly what need, exactly when we need it. I melted in God’s presence Sunday morning as our worship team led us in the song, “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong. Phrases like, “in oceans deep, my faith will stand;” “Your grace abounds in deepest waters, Your sovereign hand will be my guide;” “I will call upon Your name and keep my eyes above the waves.” But the one that has taken me to my knees was, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders…”
My husband and I acknowledge the deep waters. And it is here, in this place, where there is no limit to our trust in our Almighty God. Whether circumstances are within or outside of our control, we trust God. We pray for healing. We pray for forgiveness. We pray for complete restoration. We pray and we trust. Where we are weak, He is strong. In this great unknown, He is here.