Mar 172017
 

I’ve been thinking.  A. lot.  Which is somewhat detrimental to my overall efficiency throughout the day, but sometimes it’s good to mix things up a bit, right?  But seriously, read the below with caution because I warn you-my below journey caused me to do some serious soul searching, heart changing, life risking stuff and will offer you to do the same.  But the beauty is, if you are willing.  With a little spice of courage given from our good God.  The end result is a true, never turn back, rockin it with joy, purpose and freedom kind of life.  So buckle up and get ready for the ride my friend if you so choose.

Now, has your mind ever been a little slow to catch up with what your heart (nudge from God) is telling you to do?  And then the result is absolutely nothing.  Changes.  In.  Your.  Life.  For.  The.  Better?  And you wonder why?  Where I end up is hanging out too much of the time is in a state of mental denial and rationalization, equaling a paralyzed state.  My paralyzed state is my control or comfort state though and to change feels as though I were cutting off an appendage of my body.  Graphic?  Yes.  But sorry, you’re getting the real and raw rather than the sugar coating today my friends.  Here is where the “cutting off of the appendage for Jesus” happened for me this week:

This concept of claiming my identity as a “servant” of Jesus has been my “thing” during these weeks leading up to Easter.  It has been an eye opening season of recognizing, by God’s grace, some food, drink, activities which I regularly cling to for comfort.  And let’s be honest, I have known this for awhile but like I said up above, the mind was a little slow to catch up with the heart.

No one can serve two masters: Either he will hate the one and love the other,or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”  Mt 6:24-25

The Matthew Henry Commentary gives this insight, Serving Jesus looks like this:  “It is something the soul will have, which it looks upon as the best thing; in which it has pleasure and confidence above other things. Christ counsels to make our best things the joys and glories of the other world, those things not seen which are eternal, and to place our happiness in them.  God requires the whole heart, and will not share it with the world.”

The words “devoted” and “despised” stood out to me in this verse.  And I thought about my “unwind rituals” in the evening after a long kid and chore filled day.  I felt the Spirit gently bring this question to my mind, “What food, drink or activity would cause you to DESPISE the someone or something forcing you to give it up?”  Immediately with this one question, I was able to determine which “desires of the flesh” had become my master instead of Jesus.  Ouch.

Do not love the world or anything in the world.If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:15

So guess what?  I am finishing off the rest of the weeks before Easter with some “dying”.  To.  Masters.  Other than Jesus.  Am I a little scared?  “Yes.”  But am I confident by the power of His Spirit I can do this in His strength and in “cutting off this appendage” I am only being strengthened and equipped to step into the “next” plans He has for me?  Knowing the Kingdom rewards are real and best when we trust and obey Jesus?  “Yes.” I can take Him at His true Word every time, “my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  Phil 4:19  And “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Mt 6:333

  • So I challenge you, my friend, with the “cutting off the appendage” question-“What food, drink or activity would cause you to DESPISE the someone or something forcing you to give it up?”  And whatever comes to mind, are you willing to give it up with me and trust God to bring you His all surpassing joy from being obedient as you make ONLY Jesus your Master you are DEVOTED to?
  • What needs to be repented of/confessed/layed down in your life in order for you to die to the flesh in order to embrace the true, abundant life in Jesus?
  • What area of your mental thoughts needs to come “in sync” with your heart/Spirit’s leading so in unity you can bring glory to the Name of Jesus?
  • How can I be praying for you?  Email me at jillianmwillis@gmail.com

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Mar 012017
 

So, I set out with a strategic plan, that’s right people.  My spontaneous, right brained self was in a giving mood-it was time for the dormant logical, mathematical left brain (in which my husband uses every minute of the day) to have a turn in the driver’s seat.  Although this activity felt strange, I pushed through.  And I did have to verbally process it with someone or I am pretty sure my brain would explode.  And I digress.  All this to say, I came up with a Lenten season plan-No sugar or carbs (oh the joys of fasting-or as I call it, Getting rid of the thing which, if someone asked you to not incorporate this in your day or week, you get a little eye twitch because it doesn’t feel real fun or even possible.)  Ouch.  Since pretty much most of what I eat involves one of these (not really, but you get the point).

But in all seriousness, fasting is a spiritual discipline which only benefits us as it draws us closer to looking more like Jesus-submitting to the Father’s will and way and not our own in our day to day (and this ultimately is true life and freedom). I want to eat healthier, I want to “go to” my God for direction and comfort in the day and not have a looming donut dancing in my mind’s thoughts.

And now we get to today.  Today, some celebrate Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season.  6 weeks of preparation/a season of grief in remembering Christ’s death on the cross in anticipation of the end-the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter.  I have to admit, having not grown up in a church which partook in the Lenten season, or held an Ash Wednesday service for that matter, I was not quite sure what this day entailed.  So, I got pulled out all the spiritual stops and googled it (sorry to the Lenten scholars out there who are cringing and finding some flaws in my below summary) and here’s what I found:

The distinctive activity of Ash Wednesday services is the “imposition of ashes.” Ashes in the shape of a cross are placed on people’s foreheads as a reminder of our mortality and sinfulness.  The primary purpose of Ash Wednesday entails the biblical roots involving creation, sin, mortality, death, grace, and salvation.  It is also centered around the scriptures, “weep with those who weep” and  “confess your sins to one another.”

Pastor Mark D. Roberts says:

What I value most about Ash Wednesday is the chance for us all to openly acknowledge our frailty and sinfulness. In a world that often expects us to be perfect, Ash Wednesday gives us an opportunity to freely confess our imperfections. We can let down our pretenses and be truly honest with each other about who we are.  

So, in light of Pastor Roberts words, I confess to you my imperfections, on this Ash Wednesday: Because in spite of all my left brained efforts of carefully strategizing my no sugar/carbs fasting plan beginning today, I am drinking a Pumpkin Spice latte as I write this post.

You got it, a sugary sugar drink with extra sugar is what I ordered this morning at my favorite local coffee shop.  What a way to kick off the Lenten season as I forgot and failed right from day. 1.  Wow.  Pretty sure this 6 weeks is going.  to.  be.  long.  But I tell you this because our God is not up in heaven shaking His finger at me at this moment, because of what Jesus did for me on the cross, He is extending grace, grace and more grace mixed with some of His crazy love.

And so I encourage you to join me for the next 6 weeks and prayerfully consider something you could “let go of” in order to focus more on what God has for you in this season/year.  And if you aren’t perfect or you forget or you fail or fall to temptation, will you remember my  “failure from day 1”?  You are not alone and His promises of “His grace is sufficient for you” and “His mercies are new every morning” and “His love never fails” are for you, as they are for me today.  

And no matter whether you choose to incorporate a strategized fasting plan or not this Lenten season, will you promise me one thing?  Bask in the grace of our loving Father God and listen to this song by Hawk Nelson and “live like you’re loved” today-  Because we have life in His death.  No shame, no guilt, we are only more than enough as we walk in the freedom and love and identity as a child of God.  

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Mar 132013
 

The Bible study I attend is walking through the study, “A Clearing Season“, by Sarah Parsons.  She encourages you to spend time in your personal wilderness to discover what might need changing for the season of Lent.  What you might let go or start to participate in.  Sarah does a wonderful job of reminding you that Lent is not a time for self-deprivation, but rather a time of reflection.

In honor of Lent I decided I would limit my Facebook time.  Knowing myself well, I knew I would cave in if I decided to quit completely, so I decided to limit my “attendance”, as I called it. Through this process, God opened my eyes!  Not only to how much time I was wasting on the computer when there was a pause in the day but to other distractions in my life.

I found this “extra” time I had was spent with my family or used to do something productive. This in itself is a great break through, however the Lord took me deeper and continues to do so.

Through this process all the distractions in my life have become clear. It is almost as if a big flashing sign has been turned on!

What do I mean by distractions?

My distractions consist of computer time, commitments outside the home, hobbies, groups I am a part of, things I want to do and things I need to do.

None of the above listed items are inherently bad.  It is that I have too many of them.  By having too many, I am distracting myself and robing myself of the opportunity to live the life I long for.

I have a dream of what I want my life to look like.  Most importantly, I have a dream of what I want my home environment to be for my girls.  As a perfectionist, I have learned to hold this dream loosely, however I do not want to lose my vision completely because of all my distractions.

My dream involves time. Time to be present. Time to be creative. Time to be home. Time to be together.

With too many distractions, time almost becomes extinct.

I encourage you to take 10 to 15 minutes to sit.

Allow your mind to wonder. Breath deeply. And take note of what distractions, worries, stresses come to mind.

Make a physical list.

What distractions have you unearthed?

 

 

 

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Feb 282013
 

This lent–and probably this whole life–I am

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trying to become more like Seth.

To rest in my humanity, and in my limitations… To rest in the love and grace of God…

This kind of humility leads to great freedom. And it also involves suffering—the death of that idealized version of myself that can go faster, farther, better, and deeper.

I decided to give up alcohol for lent this year, which basically means forgoing my nightly 5 o’clock glass of wine.

So I guess I’m giving up my idealized version of myself with her exacting standards… as well as the glass of wine I feel like I need after keeping pace with her all day!

It’s been hard! I’m facing the raw realities of little ol’ me, and a fair amount of restlessness as a result.

I can see now that my ‘over-functioning self’ and my ‘evening glass of wine’

are two strategies I have routinely employed to avoid suffering.

“There is no other way to life and to true inward peace than the way and discipline of the cross. Go where

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you will, seek what you want, you will not find a higher way, a safer way than the way of the cross. Arrange and order everything to suit your desires and you will still have to bear some kind of suffering, willingly or unwillingly….There is no escaping the cross. Either you will experience physical hardship or tribulation of spirit in your soul. At times you will be forsaken by God, at times troubled by those about you and, what is worse, you will often grow weary of yourself.”

~Thomas a Kempis

Lent is a time to face suffering…like Jesus, who “set his face toward Jerusalem,” toward the cross.

And we walk the road of lent with the resurrection in view. We can face the death of our false selves and the death of our coping mechanisms…even in our restlessness we can face the suffering that accompanies this journey because it does not define us.

Thomas Merton writes, “It is of the very essence of Christianity to face suffering and death not because they are good, not because they have meaning, but because the resurrection of Jesus has robbed them of their meaning.”

There is no escaping the cross. And our attempts to do so make matters worse.

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So lent is the time to look death and suffering in the eye (in whatever forms they come to us). It is not a time to bear our burdens bitterly, but to practice making light of them. It is a season for learning to face and make faces at suffering, because it’s got nothin’ on us.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And

Apply happy have. Kiddo

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that is what we are. ~1 John 3:1

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