What Is Your Condition?

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

So I have done quite a bit of writing about the importance of having wise counsel. And while I believe wholeheartedly that this is essential in a walk with Christ, I am starting to vividly see and experience how much deeper it goes than this. You see, over the past little bit, I feel like I have been living life in a fog. Which isn’t really living. I go through the motions every day and frankly, haven’t seen a thing wrong with that because if I am being honest, I like my motions and have them pretty down pat. But I recognized recently that as much as I love people, I haven’t been loving them as I would like to. Like intentionally loving them and investing in them. And some recent conversations caused me to pause and think about what it really means to love someone.

The most important investment I could come up with is being concerned with their spiritual condition.

What I have noticed repeatedly is that people are overly concerned if you have a physical condition. You may hear comments such as, “You need to take care of yourself. You only have one heart.” Or, “Oh my goodness. I hope you feel better. Do you need anything?” Maybe they will even give you some suggestions of alternative treatments they successfully used for the same ailment. But how are your friends encouraging your spiritual condition? What do they say when you tell them the ‘old you’ no longer exists? What do they say when you tell them you don’t get drunk anymore? What do they say when you refuse to engage in gossip? Are they concerned with your spiritual condition?

See, here is what I know. Taking care of our physical condition is super important. 1 Corinthians 6:19 states, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.” (NLT) And when I think about our spiritual condition, I think about how we arrive to a healthy place in this area. And I believe we get there by living the lives God called us to live. And while He has a different calling for each of us, one thing He calls all believers to do is live holy lives. 1 Peter 1:13-16, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (ESV)

The minute you make a decision to follow Christ, the old is gone. Leave it there. And surround yourself with friends who will support you leaving it there and will encourage you. Because the truth is, that physical condition may indeed kill you…but that spiritual condition determines where you are going when your time is up.

Too Long To Clear The Air

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

A few weeks ago I attended a funeral. While all funerals create a sense of sadness deep within me, since I have known Jesus, I am also able to see the beauty in death and despite the pain I feel for loved ones left behind, I often find myself beaming at the thought of my friend or family member being in the arms of Jesus. This sentiment turns quickly to utter despair if there is any uncertainty about whether my loved one knew Jesus before leaving the world behind.

At this particular funeral, however; even with unwavering confidence that this friend loved Jesus with her whole heart, I found myself deeply heartbroken for a young child who was left behind. I believe I was in a state of numbness as I was leaving and apparently along the way, someone in my path, who I care greatly for, felt shunned by me. Apparently she asked me a question in passing and I looked right through her. This did not come to light until a few weeks later when I learned through the grapevine that she had been extremely upset since that particular day and she thought I was terrible mad about something.

She even lost sleep over it! I knew I would see her soon and made sure to address this with her face-to-face. I apologized profusely for any misunderstanding and asked, “Why didn’t you just call me so we could clear this up?” She was so relieved to hear that nothing was wrong and we parted in a peaceful state.

While everything was ok from that point on, I could not help but think of situations when I have made assumptions and carried hurt around for weeks and months, only to realize I had been completely off track. You see, assumptions are dangerous for many reasons. Firstly, we do not know what state of mind someone was in when we last encountered them. Secondly, we may not remember what state of mind we were in! What struck me harder though was how quickly issues like this could be resolved. People do not generally like the word ‘confrontation’…including me. But guys, we can confront someone in love.

Hebrews 12:14-15 states, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.

That is exactly what happens when we make assumptions and do not confront the source quickly. Bitterness creeps in…takes root…and weaves its way into the most vulnerable places in our hearts and minds.

Won’t you call that friend today and ‘clear the air’?

I Hope He Sees Me!

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

I was driving down the interstate on a Tuesday morning and traffic was extremely heavy. I had three hours to go and I was already gripping the steering wheel tightly. At one point, I found myself surrounded by tractor trailers on all three sides, and if there is one thing I learned from my Papa throughout our 34 years of road trips together, it’s that you do NOT allow yourself to be surrounded by tractor trailers. You also do NOT take your time passing one.

So at the point where I found myself surrounded, I felt panic creep in. My face got hot, my knuckles turned white from my grip, and my heart started beating fast. Staring at the truck on my left, I actually said out loud, “Oh, I hope he sees me.” After what seemed like an eternity, but was realistically maybe only 30 seconds, I had cleared the big trucks and was safely making my way down the interstate again.

As my face cooled off, my grip loosened up, and my heart slowed down, that statement found a way back to my thoughts…”I hope he sees me.” A smile came across my lips as I thanked God that He always sees me. This thought used to totally startle me. I mean, if He always sees me, then He has seen me at my worst. He saw me purposefully live through years of sin and not think a thing about it because I was having fun. He saw me all of the times I was manipulative and deceitful when I was growing up. He saw me all of the times I didn’t honor friends or family…or Him.

And now I see His sight of me as the gift that it is. He saw me through all of those times and in what I hope was the ugliest version of myself that will ever exist…and He still chose me. He sees me get frustrated and have little patience at times…and He still loves me. He knew He was going to have to watch me making these poor choices and live a life of disobedience…and He still created me. His sight of me is clear and unchanging. Whether I am at my best…or whether the best version of myself is covered up by my more unbecoming characteristics…He sees me. And He still chooses me.

Psalm 139:1-5, “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You even know what I am going to say before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing upon my head.

Psalm 139:7, “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!

Psalm 139:11-12, “I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in the darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

Psalm 139:17-18, “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

Without Rival—Week Four, Post Four

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

We continue along in our study of chapters 7 & 8 of Without Rival by Lisa Bevere

What if you were free to love? What if you allowed yourself to love with a reckless abandon? Not worrying about whether you were going to get hurt. Not worrying about whether someone was going to leave you. Not worrying about the love not being reciprocated. Not worrying about the possibility of appearing naïve. Not getting in your head and asking “what if?” Not holding back. Not resisting. Not sabotaging every relationship to hurt before you get hurt. Simply allowing yourself to love with every single ounce of your being. What if you were free to love?

It wasn’t until I began reading “Without Rival” that I had an ‘ah ha moment’ with regard to love. I mean a gut wrenching…oh my stars…I’ve got it all wrong type of ‘ah ha moment.’ You see, I love my husband. Like…LOVE love him. Like…I would do anything in this world for him…would die if something ever happened to him…would move to the end of the earth for him…

But I realize that is not enough. You see…in my life…even though people love…sometimes that love still leads to leaving. And I can honestly say that as much as I love my husband, I am loving with a fear of rejection. And with a fear of losing. And it isn’t a healthy fear. It is a fear that forces me to want to maintain some type of control to attempt to prevent that leaving from happening. It is a fear that causes my brain to create circumstances that may not EVER happen in this lifetime. But I go there. And I’m guessing maybe you have ‘gone there too.’ Maybe it is part of your ‘survival mode.’

In “Without Rival,” Lisa Bevere says this, “God is love. Love is eternal. Love never fails, and nothing entrusted to love is ever lost, and everything that is birthed out of love cannot die. But there are some places that love does not grow; love cannot flourish in the company of its rival, fear. Fear has an end—actually, fear is a dead end. Fear is an ungodly spirit that leads to torment. Fear advises from its seat in the shadow of doubt, while love draws its wisdom from the light of faith.” (pg. 160)

Shew! Hello! Does that step on anyone else’s toes like it stepped on mine? You guys, we are robbing our God, our spouses, our children, our family, and our friends of the most beautiful gift! Fearless. Love. Love that conquers all things. Love that connects us in the deepest of ways. Love that DOES NOT FEAR something going wrong because in this type of love…so much is going right.

Friends, we are commanded to love. Not only are we commanded to love our friends and neighbors…ya’ll…God does not discriminate. We are commanded to love our enemies too. Ouch.

Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

If we aren’t even able to love those we hold near and dear without fear…how are we ever going to love our enemies?

 

Without Rival—Week Two, Post Four

We continue along in our study and discussion of chapters 3 & 4 in Without Rival by Lisa Bevere

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

So I have this issue. Admitting the problem is the first step, right? I have never had much of an imagination. I am a person who deals much better with facts…with black and white as some say…and gray just does not work well for me. I like to be able to anticipate what is coming next. Some would say I have ‘control issues’…but who are they to judge?

I didn’t even recognize that I was lacking in imagination until I had a daughter. I would observe my mom playing with her and next thing I would know, they would have lyrics made up to songs and would have the plot created for a 15 minute long story that just originated from the depths of their minds a few moments prior. I used to wonder why my brain wasn’t created like that but if there is one things I have learned over the years, it’s that you never question the Master’s handiwork.

At her innocent, young age, our daughter has experienced a lot of loss. She has lost two great-grandparents who loved her dearly, and the feeling was mutual. She’s also lost two close friends of the family and a precious golden retriever who was the model of unconditional love. So I’m a little surprised at my shocked reaction when I asked her on New Year’s Eve what she hoped would happen in 2017. Her fairly quick, heartfelt response was, “I want Jesus to come back so we can all go to Heaven together.” My verbal response to her was, “Oh yes honey. I pray that very same thing.” But if I’m being honest, I couldn’t let my imagination go there. You see, all I could think about was, “But I’d miss watching you and your brother graduate and be the world changers that I know you will be. And I’d miss seeing you both get married and having grandbabies for me to spoil.” Here was my 9 year old tossing everything earthly to the wind and focusing her eyes above and I was the one holding back from craving that very thing that is the ultimate treasure. It was in that moment that God nudged my heart and I almost audibly heard, “Dear daughter…how nearsighted your vision is. None of these things compare to living your life with expectant hope and to the glory of joining me in your forever home.”

You guys, the events here on Earth that seem so beautiful and magnificent and wonderful do not come close to comparing to the treasure awaiting us in Heaven. In Chapter 3 of “Without Rival,” Lisa Bevere says this, “It might seem easier and initially more exciting if I were to tell you someone had just deposited a billion dollars in your bank account. But even if what was left to you was more than you could spend in a lifetime…it would never be yours. For the law of earthly treasure is that it must remain in the realm of its birth. When you die, it will be left behind. But this treasure, the one you possess, transforms as it enriches and will travel with you for eternity.” (pg. 54)

Luke 23:43, “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”

Paradise ya’ll. Paradise.

Please answer the conversation cafe question in our comments section below 🙂


Conversation Cafe:

What treasures or events are you clinging to here in your horizontal vision that are clouding your vertical view and making it impossible to imagine the glory of eternity?


 

Love Like That

advent

Megan01

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

I recently had a conversation with a dear friend of mine and as she was bearing her soul, she said words that would toss around in my head day after day over the next week. She said, “Frankly, I just feel unlovable.” I am fairly certain I became a poor listener in that moment as my mind started to swirl with times I, too, have felt unlovable. Times when I was sure I didn’t say the right thing and reacted instead of responding in love. Times when I was impulsive and was sure I didn’t do the right thing or make the right choice. Times when I was unreliable and said I would do something and then failed to follow through. Times when my actions certainly were not holy and did not represent Jesus well. Times when I sinned…and then repeated the same sin again…knowing exactly what I was doing but deciding to do what was ‘fun’ or what ‘felt good’ in the moment. And these are just some of the times where my actions, or lack thereof, caused me to feel unlovable. These do not even encompass the times I have allowed something others have said to cause me to fasten that label to my forehead.

But instead of sinking into a pit of despair and allowing myself to be discouraged in my own weaknesses, I started to see others through a window of love and allowed the word ‘grace’ to seep into every space in my heart. When others are being unlovable…instead of throwing around labels or even passing judgement, what if my first response was to extend grace? What if in that very moment, I stopped and reminded myself, “At some point or another, I have resembled all of these characteristics.” And instead of huffing and puffing and allowing myself to fill up with anger, I look at that person and say, “Hang in there. Tomorrow is a new day. You are doing a really good job. Give yourself some grace.”

You see, we do have an enemy. A very real and busy enemy. But it isn’t our friend, our spouse, our kid’s teacher, our coworker, or the customer service representative on the other end of the line. Satan wants us to be hasty and reactive. Unloving and unlovable. Impulsive and distracted. And he wants us to respond negatively to others who are all of those things to us. But instead…we have the opportunity every day to choose love. A deep, abiding love. A love that doesn’t waver when someone else is having a bad day and takes it out on us. A love that doesn’t waver when someone fails to meet our expectations.

1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

Yeah, let’s love like that.

This Little Light of Mine…

Girl Edition

Megan01Written by: Megan Kincheloe

Last year sometime, I started a bath for my daughter and she asked me if I would stay in the bathroom with her. Often she likes her own “me” time to play and play in there until she resembles a prune. This time, she wanted me close by so I stayed. I grabbed my devotional for the day and asked her if she would like me to read it out loud to her. She replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” so I proceeded to take my seat on the porcelain perch and began to read. The passage for the day happened to be Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a ‘fragrant’ offering and sacrifice to God.” We started to discuss what being an “imitator of God” may look like and then what came next shook me to my core. In fact, it shook me way more than it should have as a follower of Christ who desires to have unwavering faith.

My precious daughter said, “Mommy, what if we decide not to follow Jesus?”

Clearing my throat…”What exactly do you mean, honey?” She responds, “Well, what if someone (whew…thank goodness she didn’t say what if ‘I’) decided they didn’t believe in Jesus?” Seriously girls? This is not something I even wanted to try to wrap my brain around, nor did I want to give this possibility too much attention. Only, that is what it needed. You see, I have believed in Jesus as far back as I can remember and was a pew warmer at church for years and years. At age 32, however; I learned that I did not have the slightest clue what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus. So yes, this question deserved my undivided attention.

What I should have done in this moment is prayed for the Holy Spirit to fill me with the words that my precious girl needed to hear about our Heavenly Father and about the consequences of a decision to not follow Him. Instead, I simply said, “If you decide not to follow Jesus, you will not go to Heaven.” She responded, “Oh no! I want to go to Heaven to see Papa, Uncle Clyde, Grandma Tut, Tom-Tom, and Bingo (a neighborhood dog).” Sigh. Relief. God used this conversation to teach me three things:

Firstly, often times, a huge explanation is not needed. The truth can be shared in many ways and even if I do not have the answers, which is often the case, I can point others to His Word where the answers to all of life’s questions can be found. People do not need me to be philosophical and speak “Christianese” to them. They need me to be a light and to show them Christ through the way I live and the way I love.

Secondly, we cannot be someone else’s Holy Spirit. You are not in control of your friends decisions and I am not in control of my daughter’s decisions as she grows up…but by golly, I will do the best I can to be a godly example for her and to plant the seeds that God will grow as she seeks Him in her life. And she will seek Him. She already does in her own little way and she will continue to. I have faith. In the meantime, I will commit to covering her precious soul in prayer and ask that God give her the wisdom and discernment to make good choices as she is faced with tough decisions throughout her life. Is there someone you know who needs Jesus? Pray for them! Pray for them until they come to know Him! Pray without ceasing!

Thirdly, I have a lot of work to do. I will never achieve perfection here on Earth. Thank God I was able to take that off of my ‘to do’ list. That being said, there are many times where I have not been an imitator of Christ. Did I say many times? I can probably think of many times today that this has been the case. Yikes. I certainly do not treat my body as a temple. Growl. There are many times I have not been humble. Ouch. As long as I am being real, there are many times that ‘this little light of mine’ has been hidden under that bushel and has been completely overshadowed by poor choices or a poor attitude. Gross. 1 Corinthians 8:9 says, “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” The last thing I want to do is be a “stumbling block” to anyone whether it be my child, my husband, my friend, or even someone I may not know. A stumbling block is exactly what I am going to be if I take my eyes off of Christ and allow the ways of the world to dim my light…

Thank you God for using this child of Yours to teach me and bring me back to a place of humbleness in my journey. Sometimes my lens just needs to be refocused.

Rise Up

Girl Edition

Megan01Written by: Megan Kincheloe

Recently our daughter was introducing me to a new young music talent by showing me her video online. She started to tell me, “Mommy, she’s a really nice girl and has a really great heart.” I immediately asked her how she knew about this young lady’s character and asked her if she was making an assumption or if she was speaking factual. I know from previous experience that if a celebrity looks pretty on the outside, our daughter will assume she is pretty on the inside. I was about to go into a lecture on this and immediately my thought process switched gears. While I don’t ever want my daughter to ‘judge’ a person…period…I certainly don’t want her judging someone based on their appearance. But I knew in that moment I had to be careful. After all…what is so wrong with assuming someone is good on the inside?

When I was growing up, if anyone ever commented on my appearance or said something to my Mom like, “You have such a pretty young lady there,” my Mom would respond, “She is my best work. But what is most important is that she is pretty on the inside too.” And that gave me something to strive for every day. Now, there are many times where I failed miserably and without even using a magnifying glass…my insides looked tainted and tarnished. But just hearing her say that altered my focus from my outward appearance, to the type of person I wanted to be on this planet.

1 Samuel 16:7, “But God told Samuel, ‘Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” (MSG)

Gals, aren’t we striving to live Christ-like? How much better would this existence be if we spent our time building each other up? Sadly enough, finding the flaws in another person can be super easy. But are you looking for the treasure? My Mom also used to say, “There is good in everyone, honey…if you just take the time to look for it.

There are plenty of people who find pleasure in bringing others down or calling out their mistakes and weaknesses. What if we bind together and decide to call people out on their strengths. What if we make the first move to welcome a new person? To leave a note for someone who seems to be struggling that simply says, “You are loved.” And Sisters…if you are going to love someone by being their friend in person or on social media…love them behind their back too. Don’t get caught up when others want to bring them down.

Rise up gals! Be the light in the darkness. You, alone, have the power to make a huge difference in this world by choosing to see beyond the flaws…and digging deep to find the treasure. You may just find that treasure isn’t buried as deep as you thought and is just waiting to be revealed by someone who will take a minute to get out their shovel.

Caution Tape

Girl Edition

Megan01Written by: Megan Kincheloe

I was driving down the road the other day and saw the oh too familiar caution tape around a space in the road. From a distance, I assumed the caution tape was there due to an accident. Upon closer observation, I learned the bright yellow tape was there to warn of a hole in the road due to ongoing construction. I started to think about how quickly we respond when we see a caution warning. In this case, I knew to slow down and stay away from the hole. And there are many other instances when we are warned in a way that is visible or tangible. When we see a traffic light change to yellow, we know to immediately slow and to stop if there is time. When we see a sign on the road that notifies us of deer crossing or children at play, we know to slow and be aware of our surroundings. When we are going into a restroom and see the triangle “caution…wet floors,” sign, we know to tread lightly because there is a chance we could slip and fall.

Then there are the times where there is a chance of harm and we are asked to sign a waiver so the owners of the facility or the doctors performing the surgery aren’t held liable if something goes wrong. In most of these cases described above, if we do not heed the caution, we are taking a risk that could lead to harm. The thing is…none of these could lead to soul harm…

What about the cautions we receive from the Holy Spirit? Have there been times when your Spirit has given you a clear message, only for you to decide you know better and you move ahead anyway? Full steam ahead? Maybe your Spirit has said, “Don’t repeat that information. It’s not yours to share. It’s gossip.” And you decide, “What’s the harm? The person I am telling won’t tell a soul. I need to get this off of my chest.” Maybe your Spirit has said, “Don’t send that text message. It will result in you being unfaithful and deceitful.” And you decide, “What’s the harm? I enjoy how this person makes me feel and would never act on it.” Maybe your Spirit has said, “Do not be jealous of what that other person has?” And you decide, “But I deserve that too. I am mostly a good person. Why should I have to want for things?

Sisters, these are times where your caution…your Spirit…is giving you important information to guide you towards holiness and lead you away from temptation. Just because there are no flashing lights or obvious yellow tape, doesn’t mean the caution isn’t as real…even more so than the glaringly obvious road signs. Don’t ignore that stirring, sweet girls. Your Spirit is such a beautiful gift and it is readily available to give you guidance and protection from sin and harm.

John 14:16-17, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

{Online Book Study} He Stuck With Me…

Megan01Written by: Megan Kincheloe

Shame, unworthiness, defeat, fear, and worry are terrible places to visit and even worse places to stay. They are where the devil takes you when he wants you to obsess over your faults and wallow in your weaknesses. They are where the devil takes you when he wants you to believe all of the lies he is feeding you with your favorite spoon. They are where the devil holds you when he wants you to believe your sin is too big and when he wants you to believe that last big mistake you made is the one that is unforgiveable. They are the places where the devil tries to convince you that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or important enough to ever make a difference in this world.

But Sisters, God does not want us to take root in any of those places. He wants us to take root in Him! In fact, he wants us to loudly proclaim our victory and redemption in him and share our stories.

Psalm 107:1-2, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.” (ESV)

In “God is Able,” Priscilla Shirer says this, “Your It problems have probably seemed to defy resolution. They’ve mocked your attempts at steady endurance, insisting they have the staying power to outlast whatever confidence you can muster up, even on your best days. They’ve pointed to their presence alone as ample proof, not only of God’s lack of ability, but worse—His lack of concern. And yet you’ve finally seen through their showboating now. The One “who is able” is the One who’s telling you the truth.”

Ya’ll, I lived much of my life…we’re talking 30+ years…proclaiming to be a Christian but not making choices that represented Christ well. I would go to church on Sundays, say what was preprinted in the bulletin each week, and then proceed on about my life making the same poor decisions and trusting that I could go to church on Sunday and be forgiven! I had no idea what a relationship with Jesus meant and I certainly didn’t understand the magnitude of the ultimate sacrifice God had made for me…and for you. I took grace for granted and never had a heart of true repentance.

I am beyond grateful for God’s constant pursuit of my heart and am here today to tell you…God. Is. Able. He stuck with me through seemingly endless insecurity due to lack of people ‘staying’ in my life. He stuck with me through seemingly endless shame due to living a life of sin for so long.

Psalm 40:2, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” (NIV)

And He is sticking with you gals. Nothing you have done, will do, or will face in this lifetime is too big for Him. Let Him be your Savior, your Redeemer, your Provider, your Comfort, your Strength, your Guide, your Anchor, and your Peace. And never doubt that He. Is. Able.