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Friday, May 27, 2011

Pressing "Pause"

A few weeks ago, I felt led to press the pause button in my life.

I paused from Blogger.

I paused from Facebook.

I paused from Twitter.

And {gasp} ... I even paused from ministry.

I quickly realized how busy my life had become from seemingly good things. I want my blog to bless others. I consider it a privilege to edify and encourage women through words painted on a page. Facebook allows me to share Jesus on a daily basis with unbelievers and has become an effective witnessing tool in my life. Twitter enables me to connect with almost 1000 people simultaneously. And my ministry stirs my soul to dream big and believe God for infinitely and abundantly more than I could ever ask or imagine.

But when these seemingly good things shift my focus away from my two best things, I am in grave danger of losing my peace and perspective. And I've been teetering on the edge of "losing" for quite some time.

You see, I often take my two greatest gifts- God and my husband- for granted. Because I know they'll still be there when I'm done with the good things.

God will never leave me or forsake me. And most likely, neither will my husband. He's the rock-solid type ... a Mr. Steady through and through.

God patiently waits for me ... to spend time with me, to chat a while. So does my husband, but he often has to compete with the aforementioned "good" things in my life.

As I've paused these past few weeks, God has convicted me of just one thing- it's so easy to lose focus.

I'm called to love God first- to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness- and then to love my husband. To make my life about completing his. To be his helpmeet. His lover. His best friend.

It's really so simple. But in our busy world that beckons us to trade our true calling in for a fraudulent one, it's increasingly complex to be the woman God's called us to be. We need to hold tight to the truth that our love for our husbands should reflect the church's love for Christ.

I'm amazed at the peace that has flooded my life since I've pressed "pause". Maybe today you need to join me. I hope you'll comment and share what you feel God is asking you pause from so you can return to the two men eagerly awaiting you.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Less Than-More Than

Please welcome my dear friend, Hester Christensen, to Sparkling to Reflect His Glory. I had the privilege of meeting Hester at She Speaks 2009, and we have remained close friends and co-laborers in ministry since that time. Hester's heart for the Lord is incredible, and her goal is to lead women toward spiritual maturity. I pray that her post below will help you perform the needed heart work necessary for lasting life change.


1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV) "But the Lord said to Samuel, "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

My heart sank as my second born shared his troubles. Last week he had difficulty with friends and classmates questioning him about the birthmark on his face. This wasn't the first time nor will it be the last. His port wine stain covers half of his cheek, his chin and flows down to his neck. The pigment is not scarlet, but bright enough to be noticed by a nine-year-old boy trying to understand his identity. He tells me he thinks it looks weird and he doesn't want to be teased.

We live in a culture obsessed with our external packaging. Everywhere we look the world propagates an ideal to attain. Our world defines a person's value by what lies on the outside. The problem is, these expectations stem from a culture that values the wrong things.

The worldly recognition for youthfulness and perfection push individuals to have the right look, wear the right clothes, cover all the blemishes etc. The relentless pursuit of thinness drives people to lose more and more weight. Be the right number and wear the right size are the voices poured into our mind from the media.

Many strain to obtain these only to be left discouraged and feeling less than. Less than the air-brushed model in the magazine. Less than what Macy's offers. Less than what the day spa promotes. Less than the 'perfect' woman on the treadmill at the gym.

The temptation to look a certain way is enticing. It is easy to become fixated over physical appearance. As Christian women, God wants more for us than what the world offers. Our passage in 1 Samuel 16:7 shows us how to become more than in a less than world. It reinforces our understanding that the condition of our heart is more important to God than the condition of our hips. He cares about our faith more than our face. He's interested in our walk more than our wardrobe. He wants our maturity more than a makeover.

The prophet Samuel has arrived in Bethlehem to anoint the next King of Israel, one of Jesse's sons. Samuel sees Eliab, Jesse's oldest son, and thinks for sure he must be the one God has chosen. Listen closely to the Lord's response to Samuel's thought, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Did you catch that? "...but the Lord looks at the heart." Why the heart? God values the heart because it is the consummation of who a person is. It envelopes the eternal essence of each individual. God identifies us by what is on the inside, while the world tends to recognize us only by what is on the outside. If God values our heart more importantly than our exterior, then we should too. When our heart is rightly aligned with God, the expectation to live up to the world's standards fade away.

Sadly, I gave into worldly pressures and influence as a young teen and college woman. My heart was preoccupied with fat grams and calories, the number on the scale, my pant size, and how much exercise I could squeeze into one day. This obsession with physical appearance resulted in a seven year struggle with anorexia and bulimia.

I thought the pursuit of "perfection" would boost my self-esteem when in fact, it robbed my self-esteem and left me with a misplaced identity. Not only was I physically anorexic, I was also spiritually anorexic. I focused on my body more than my Beloved. I starved myself spiritually by being consumed with my appearance and not with my Lord.

God radically opened my heart and enabled me to see what I was missing: a fulfillment only found in Him. The nourishment my heart needed was met with a deep passion for God and a hunger for His Word. This eye opening experience shifted my priorities. I realized if I would exert as much energy toward God and His Word as I had toward exercise, eating, counting calories etc., then I would be on my way toward spiritual fitness and a heart that pleased God.

Don't misunderstand, exercising, getting our hair cut or even buying a new outfit is not wrong in and of themselves. Matter is not evil. God created beauty. However, anything can become an idol. Whenever we worship the created over the Creator we flirt with the world's standard of beauty and security. Our heart becomes divided because we cannot worship self and God.

As my son sorrowfully shared his struggle last week I shared God's truth with him in hopes of establishing a secure identity in Christ and an understanding of what God values in our lives. When God sees us, He sees our heart, not our hair-do, high heels or handbag.

The truth is friends, we are more than. More than an air-brushed model in the magazine. More than what Macy's offers. More than what the day spa promotes. More than the 'perfect' woman on the treadmill at the gym.

We are MORE THAN, because He became less than.

Heart Work:

Evaluating our motives is crucial and valuing what God values is vital. Evaluate your motives for doing the things you do pertaining to physical fitness and your body. Pray over them and seek the Lord to see if anything is out of balance in your life that He wants you to change.

Heart Exam:

What makes you feel "less than"?

How has the world's view of beauty distracted you from who you are in Christ?

Does your life reflect the values that God values?

Heart Changing Word:

Psalm 45:11 (NIV) "The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord."

Proverbs 31:30 "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

1 Peter 3:3-5a "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful."

Hester's Bio:

Hester is a devoted wife, mother, speaker and writer. She lives in Boise, Idaho and enjoys the blessings of her three boys. She has served in ministry alongside her husband for 16 years. During this time Hester has spoken to a variety of audiences. She has impacted numerous women through retreats, conferences, Bible studies, mentoring, and other women's events. Hester's heart is committed to leading women toward spiritual maturity in Christ. Hester is also writing her first Bible study and is hopeful for publication. For weekly encouragement visit her blog where she posts a new devotion each Friday. (http://www.hesterchristensen.com/)