Glory-stealer. That is the term that has been rolling around in my heart and mind the last few days. Laurie’s warning to us as she wrapped up our Heart of a Woman study was very convicting. She said we can produce “fruit” by our flesh, that may appear good and beautiful to others, but it draws attention to us and not to Jesus. True fruit birthed by the Spirit in our lives points solely to Jesus. We get no credit…because well…we didn’t do anything to deserve the credit. It is all BY Him, THROUGH Him, and FOR Him.

And if I am brutally honest with you…this is a tough pill to swallow…because of that incessant fleshly root called pride. Deep down, I still want to be SOMEBODY and receive at least some of the glory. I still desire to have some known worldly value…being a good wife, mom, friend…a hip dresser, funny, smart….the list goes on and on.

But here is the tension, paradox, and GOOD NEWS. Laying down our lives for Christ is the death that brings life. We do not simply lose our identity or our value. Instead, it actually means that we gain a completely NEW identity and a worth in Christ. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old had passed away; behold, the new has come.” The identity He has given us and the plans and purposes He has for us compared to our own cleverly concocted identities and dreams are like comparing cubic zirconia to diamonds. Both may look beautiful outwardly, but only one has lasting value.

But lets be honest. This exchange of identity is scary. Why? Because He is now writing the story and we aren’t and the loss of control drives us crazy. And this is where the beautiful, messy, and dirty work of walking out our faith takes place. Jesus was so clear in His instructions, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). Crazy talk, I know. It’s the upside down way of the kingdom.

Remember what is at the bottom of the tree that produces a harvest of true righteousness…Christ. It isn’t you or me. And that is actually such good news. If we are daily laying down our plans and purposes and accepting His, we will be producing all kinds of amazing, sweet, beautiful fruit for Him and His kingdom.  And guess who gets ALL the GLORY? Our Magnificent Heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe (Psalm 145).

And we get this really awesome additional blessing. Every step of surrender and obedience we take by trusting in the love of our Heavenly Father more firmly establishes the kingdom in our hearts through faith, hope, and love. And that my friends, is a very lasting, eternal, and beautiful thing. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20)

Rooted in Christ


Every time I’ve gone through a Thistlebend study, the Lord typically has some type of theme for me. As we’re coming to a close of this Heart of Woman study, I’ve been thinking of what that theme is. I have a lot of fear and I have little discipline.

Obviously this is not a full list, but I fear what others will think of me because I fear not being accepted and I fear not being liked, I fear being the weirdo or the outcast, the loner. I don’t speak truth for fear of making someone uncomfortable—myself included. I fear confrontation. With my first little one on the way, I fear I won’t love him the way that I should. I fear that my ideas of what a good Christian should look like won’t happen in my life—my identity is in my plans and ways rather than who my God is and His ways. I fear being too separated from this physical world. I fear losing my identity completely. I fear that I’m not the person I’m supposed to be, the person that I’ve concocted in my head. Truly the list could go on.

Thankfully, by the Lord’s grace, He has opened my eyes to these sins, but nothing has happened. Instead of confessing and asking the Lord for His grace to look to Him in spite of these fears and asking for His help to plant His seeds of faith, hope, and love in my heart, I have been lazy and have lacked discipline. Instead of choosing to see my fear, see my circumstance, see my feelings and turn to the Lord in spite of them, I have done nothing. Instead of choosing to look to the only One who is worthy, I have been fearful of my sin, I have been fearful of my fears. I have continued to look at self.

My husband and I listened to a sermon this morning on the Parable of the Sower from Mark chapter 4. The pastor went through each type of soil—the path, the rocky soil, the soil among thorns, and the good soil. He explained the thorny soil as people who are preoccupied. As Jesus explained each type of soil He said of the thorny soil in verses 18 and 19, “And the others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” While I know I have been given a heart with good soil, I also honestly couldn’t think of a better Scripture to describe my heart condition. I am preoccupied by this world. The pastor went on to explain that those that live in the thorny soil are comfortable with their thorns and as they go on, their thorns will multiply.

The Lord is revealing to me that while I am fearful of my sin, because I see that I cannot do this Christianity thing in my own strength, in the same regard I am comfortable with my thorns. It’s easy to be like the world. My husband always says, “Anything worth having takes hard work.” This world isn’t worth having. And I think about what we’ve read in James and what Laurie discussed in last week’s lecture about faith without works being dead. In this past week’s weekly email from our Head Abigail she said we often look at faith as the anecdote to our fear and she pointed out that while this is true there’s a reason Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, “…but the greatest of these is love.” My obedience will stem from the root of a true love for the Lord over any of the other thorns that are among me. The Lord has had me think about Psalm 63:3 this week: “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”

I’m praising God for allowing me to see my sin through this study in a deeper way, to the roots of my heart, and honestly I’m sure they go even deeper than what He’s allowing me to see right now. Even as I finish up this post I sit here in my living room after a crying session because I realized I went to a get-together today, saw pictures of myself afterward, and automatically, my demeanor changed. I see now, after the fact, that my confidence was in myself, not in who my God is. This is a daily battle between the flesh and the Spirit, but God’s love is greater, and, Lord, please make that my focus—make that our focus. I don’t want to live among the thorns. The Lord has given me a new heart with good soil and as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3, He will provide the growth! May we all continue to press on with eternity stamped on our eyes, with His love that is better than life itself stamped on our eyes, one step at a time, one righteous fruit at a time—all by God’s amazing grace. Father, please help us.

Planted for His Glory


The Lord gave me a gift tonight. My sister-in-law posted this video on Facebook and somehow it gave me a comforting perspective. (Here is the link:

I am loved and known. In my littleness, weakness, and frailty the Lord, the great I AM sees me and knows me…and suddenly that is all that matters. This one perspective has made all the difference.

It reminds me of David’s powerful and beautiful prayer in Psalm 139, the very Psalm we have been praying this semester as a plea for God to search our hearts and lead us in the path of true life. David says,

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. (Psa. 139:14-18)

Laurie started out her lecture this past week by reminding us that we must not be frightened by our sinfulness or weakness. Challenging words. Fear is actually what paralyzes us and keeps us from taking that ONE step forward in obedience.

I loved Laurie’s description and drawing of the tree planted with its deep roots of faith, hope, and love. We often view faith as the antidote to fear, and rightly so in many ways. But as a fellow participate paraphrased the next lecture point, “…clearly God’s love is also instrumental in dealing with our fear. His love for us is what will ultimately cast out our fear. Therefore we must believe and receive and abide in His love in order to stop living in fear.” John also reminds us along similar lines, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).

So my encouragement to you today is that if you feel stuck, defeated, or discouraged, as you have continued to battle your sin struggles, DON’T GIVE UP! Take a few minutes and watch this video and consider that your Maker and Creator is currently, right now, holding the Universe in place. But He also deeply loves and cares for you…not because of your performance….but because of who He is and because of who you are…His precious child. May this incredible promise propel you on in your journey as you continue to yield to Him: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).

Rooted in Christ