What Happens in the Normal Life, If You’re Lucky, Maybe…

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“I despaired at the thought that my life might slip by without seeing God show himself mightily on our behalf.” ―Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Jim Cymbala captures the heart of every soul seeking something more, yearning for significance to rise from all of life’s heartache, desiring the God of the universe to show Himself strong. While living a normal life, you find yourself hard pressed on every side, cast down, even perplexed, and if you’re lucky, the glimmer of hope in the goodness of God will shine brighter than the burdens you bear. Maybe this is the trajectory most often traveled in bringing God absolute glory. Perhaps, our problems equally beckon us to either “slip by” relatively unscathed by the clamor of desire or to embrace the center of our suffering with a heart still anchored in hope, still searching for miraculous intervention in the middle of life’s searing storms.

How unfortunate it is to go through life untouched by tragedy. Not that you must intentionally familiarize yourself with trauma, but wholehearted living requires embracing both beautiful and bitter morsels of your journey. In the normal life, trouble will darken your doorstep, and how unlucky you’d be if sorrow never swept your way between stretches of deep satisfaction and great achievements. That’s right. Unlucky if you remain unchanged by the pain that daily surrounds you and implores you to purpose it. Unlucky if you haven’t a single problem or unmet need that keeps you ever seeking our Sovereign Savior, ever stretching to reach beyond your grasp.

What a terrible waste of unlimited potential to skate safely through the life experiences that change so many others at the core, to never be transformed by loss, or heartache, or practicing to delight in the minutiae of seemingly mundane events. In the normal life, distance from Eden’s untainted perfection will ravage your soul and scar you deeply. If you’re lucky, you won’t be too rushed to “keep calm and carry on” or too willing to hide your heart at the first pinprick of pain. If you’re lucky, your agony won’t be invisible. Others will see your broken places, and maybe catch a glimpse of God shining from the cracks you refuse to conceal.

In the normal life, you’ll chance upon conflict. If you’re lucky, you’ll engage in loving confrontations that bear lasting fruit of deepened friendships, and maybe you’ll grow from the thing you didn’t avoid. In the normal life, doubt will visit your toughest decisions. If you’re lucky, repentance will swiftly follow the heels of remorse, and maybe you’ll choose your regrets more wisely when chasing second chances with those you love. Cruelty and cynicism swirl all around us, mingled with joy and generosity, and if you remain unaffected by it, you’ll miss the beautiful ways you were meant to reveal God’s glory. So, this is an invitation to open your heart to the things you’d rather avoid, to embrace every part of your story, especially the seemingly nuisance interruptions, to acknowledge the pain wrought by living a few thousand years past paradise, a summons to live with your whole heart expecting to be awed by God in the intricate details of your story, a request to open your heart to both the tragic and transformative nature of a normal life.

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Leaving God Margins in a Double-Spaced Life

Submit all work with 1” margins, double-spaced. As a professor, I hold fast to these two formatting rules so I have enough room to make corrections and provide substantive feedback. It made me wonder if we leave God enough room between the lines of our stories, if we leave enough space in the margins for God to bring our dreams in line with His divine plans. Are you slowing down enough to live the double-spaced life? He knows your story better than you. Are you leaving God margins so He can write it on your heart?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. {Jer. 29:11, NIV}

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. {Psa. 139:16, NLT}

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Gideon Bible Study (Final)

W H E N you believe God and choose to be faithful despite your fears, your words begin to align with HIS Word! God’s declared: you win! Your enemy believes you win. Now it’s time to act like it. Fear isn’t sinful; it’s an invitation to cower or live with courage. Faithfulness is a decision. You CAN be faithful, even in the midst of your biggest fears!

VIDEO:

Gideon Bible Study (Week 3)

Gideon was faithful in the small things before he fought the battle of a lifetime. If you’re faithful in the small things, God can cause even the things you fear to serve you and bless you for His purposes. Even Gideon’s enemies began to prophesy of his victory. NEWSFLASH: your enemy believes what God says about you. Do you believe it? He calls you: overcomer, victorious, more than conquerors. Week 3 of the #fearfulBUTfaithful virtual bible study continues below.
***This video and blog can be shared with anyone, but below is the audio playback number and info for the final live call next Sunday at 7pm CST.
Dial in #: 319-527-9115
Access Code: 788309
Playback dial in: 319-527-9296

V I D E O:

Resisting the Lies of “Not Enough”

K N O W  TODAY:
You HAVE enough.
You DO enough.
You ARE enough.
Your enemy speaks the language of “not enough” (not enough time, not enough money, not enough sleep, not good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc.). WHY? Because God speaks the language of abundance (exceedingly, abundantly above, grace that much more abounds, more than conquerors, more blessings than you have room to receive, etc.), and the father of lies will naturally speak in direct opposition to your Heavenly Father. Know and receive the Truth today. You are enough. {Eph. 3:20; Rom. 5:20, 8:37; Mal. 3:10}
Repeat this affirmation aloud: I am enough!
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God Fortifies Your Faith Instead of Stopping the Sifting

wheat-harvest“I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail…” -Jesus (to Peter, and to you)

Jesus tells Simon Peter that the enemy of his soul desires to have him, desires to sift Peter as wheat (a grueling, grating process), but that He’s prayed, not for the sifting to stop, but that Peters faith will not fail.

Declare this (ALOUD): My faith will not fail: JESUS is praying for me.

Always remember that whatever attack your enemy sends your way had to first seek permission from divine providence. In the midst of whatever sifting that’s come your way, God is still in control. Just as God allowed Peter to be sifted, He allowed the Israelites to be “sifted” by the Midianites (Judges 6). But, even in the midst of absolutely terrorizing circumstances, the God of the universe still had Gideon’s fate and faith in His hands. The beautiful truth is that no matter WHO does the sifting, the end result is that the wheat berry, your fruitfulness, is preserved, and everything else is driven away. Even Satan’s sifting serves God’s purposes.

Stay tuned for the next message in this Fearful But Faithful series, and do share with others and share your thoughts on the posts as we study together.

Life Soundtrack

I’ve updated the YouTube Compilation List below. Thank you for sharing your beautiful stories with me! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxGmW7hF3Tw&list=PLkdYnr_vDfzPx_CwImy1EnzT1N0W8xPKH

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Find Me:life soundtrack

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Many of our most powerful life experiences are inextricably tied to healing melodies that have both stirred our souls and lifted our spirits, music that will forever have an emotional impact on us and be indelibly etched into the fabric of our lives. Here’s a compilation of what was shared with me along with my own #lifesoundtrack. I thank each of you for sharing and blessing my life!

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat when I wanted to give up on any hopes of healing…but God…TUH #butGod

“When [my sister] Lystra died. “I’m going to be ready” by Yolanda Adams was on Serious REPEAT!”

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat for much of my senior year of high school when the pain of my past threatened to eclipse God’s plan for my life.”

[FOR THE SAME SONG, DIFFERENT TESTIMONY BELOW:]

“I sang this song outside the office of the professor that took…

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What’s The Best Way to Teach Boys to Value Girls?

 

A friend recently posed a question on Facebook: What strategies have you used to teach middle-school boys about valuing the worth of girls/women?

My Answers:

Teach boys self-worth and how to value themselves, first, and as an extension, how to value others.
Teach both physical and emotional intimacy. A lot of these things can and should start before middle school, but middle school is better than never.
Teach them the realities of how women are mistreated/undervalued in society (pay disparity, job inequality, etc.), and why it’s important to advocate for those with less power.
Explicitly teach them to value their bodies and women’s bodies via age-appropriate sex education, which includes discussing the realities of the porn industry and how it affects our valuing of sex and women. This also includes explicitly teaching consent (CLICK HERE for pointers on NOT Raising Rapists).
Ensure parents are on board with what you’re teaching and that they’re reinforcing these messages at home and especially in the media their kids are exposed to.
Teach boys to hold others, especially other males, accountable for their sexism and/or misogyny.

The time to be a leader isn’t later. The time to lead is now. Their ability to lead is now. During the preadolescent years, parental influence is paramount. But during the middle-school years, we tend to see a shift in how children internalize parental vs. peer values, so the earlier parents can model and make their ideals meaningful, the better. Likewise, the more we can help adolescents hold each other accountable on some of these issues, the better, because their peer groups become considerable influencers as they age.

Finding Your Purpose and Saying NO

You’ll find your purpose by seeking, studying, and serving. Once you do, your “No” to good things will make room for your “Yes,” to God things. Listen below and subscribe to Pastor Kymone Hinds’ Ideas to Life podcast, available on iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play, and more.

God Remembers You

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But God remembered Noah… {Gen. 8:1}. In your barrenness, God remembers; in your brokenness, God remembers. He remembered Hannah, He remembered Rachel, He remembered Abraham, and God remembers you! If you feel forgotten by God, know that as with Hagar, He is still the God who sees you and remembers His promises to you, even after the wildest storms in your wilderness places. {1 Sam. 1:19; Gen. 30:22; 19:29; 16:7}

GOD REMEMBERED…some of my favorite words in the Word! A God who knows all, yet we’re told several times that He remembers…remembers your pain, remembers your purpose, remembers His promises. God has not forgotten about you; He remembers.

Christ Died for Your Sins and Your Shame

 

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Christ didn’t just die for your sins. He died for your shame, for the ugliest things you’ve experienced and the ugliest things you’ve done. His punishment paid for your peace and proves your immeasurable worth. Resist the voices that tell you otherwise. {Heb.12:2; Isa. 53:5}

You’re no less loved by the Healer if your wounds are self-inflicted. ~Beth Moore

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How to Hear God’s Voice and Not Your Own (or Others’)

i hear voicesHow do I know it’s GOD speaking, and not ME speaking? How do I know it’s the voice of GOD, and not the voice of the enemy? These are valid questions because 2 Corinthians 11:14 says, “…Satan disguises himself as an angel of light…” which means it will sometimes be difficult to discern between the voice of God and the voice of Satan.

In John 10:4 & 5, Jesus says His sheep know His voice, and they follow Him, but they also do NOT follow the stranger and run away from him because they do NOT know the stranger’s voice. That means, it’s not enough just to know the Shepherd’s voice, but we must also be unacquainted with the voice of the enemy!

Adam and Eve spent time hearing God’s voice in face-to-face encounters, but it wasn’t enough just knowing what God said. Adam and Eve knew God’s words, but they entertained the enemy! Likewise, our Bible helps us to know what God said! But it’s NOT enough to just know your Word. You have to defamiliarize yourself with the voice of the enemy!

2min 30 second VIDEO with brief story: https://www.facebook.com/DrDeeKnight/posts/10154856340226492

Finding Peace When Life Throws a Punch and Your Emotions Take a Hit

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P E A C E does NOT mean your emotions won’t take a hit when life throws a punch. It just means you don’t have to come out of character when you’re hurt, angry, etc., and that if you do, you rest knowing you have an Advocate with the Father {1 John 2:1}. Getting to know the Word (Jesus) is so integral to this kind of peace. Getting to know your Word (the bible) is so integral to getting to know Jesus. The Word anchors us. I have quite a hold on a peace beyond my understanding, or perhaps that peace has quite a hold on me.

After the gut punch life threw me a couple weeks ago, I realized I’m deeply entrenched in a season of my life where I know my enemy has already done the worst he could do, and he failed. I know he failed because I’m still here, and you’re still standing, and hallelujah, the grave is still empty! Crucifixion Friday was literally the worst our enemy could do, and he failed! We serve a Risen Savior!

Our Risen Savior is now our great High Priest, the one who is able to feel with us. He knows when life hits you, your emotions will sway up and down some. It’s okay for your emotions to be flexible to your life experiences, to be disappointed, sad, lonely, or angry. But the peace of God, which surpasses our understanding {Philippians 4:7}, meets you at the place where you decide your faith will NOT follow your feelings, so that if your feelings are wavering, your faith is still secure because it’s anchored in God’s faithfulness, not your feelings. The only way to anchor your faith, is to plant it firmly in the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God {Romans 10:17}.

2-Minute Video on this: https://www.facebook.com/DrDeeKnight/posts/10154838368521492