Archives for February 2016

Should We Be SELF Confident? {What Even is Confidence?}

I can see my young self so clearly…walking to the board with my new pink and blue glasses.  It is third grade, and Miss Melton is teaching us to multiply.  No one else knows the answer. But, me? I know it. I (almost) march to the board, proudly writing the correct answer, basking in Miss Melton’s accolades.

Suddenly, I know…I can do the work IF I want to.  I am capable.

So, I begin trying a bit harder in school.  And like a duck to water, I become a learner.  (In fact, my Strengths Finder lists my greatest strength as”Learner.”) Something about learning and knowing generates a new self-confidence in third-grade Sarah. She’s chubby.  She’s teased about it.  She recently did a forward roll in gym class and ripped her hunter green corduroy pants straight up the crack and had to wear her jacket tied around her waist for the rest of the day. But, still…she’s smart.

And I carry “smart” through middle school, high school, and college.  I am not the prettiest;  I am not the skinniest.  I am not the anything-est. BUT.  In most cases, I am one of the smartest. I set my sights on valedictorian and do not give up until I cross the graduation stage.  I set my sights on top scholar at the School of Journalism at WVU, and by golly – DONE.

From this, confidence grows, branching and blooming in all endeavors. I take on problems with books and (later) Google.  Jesus. Faith. Marriage. Childbirth. Child rearing. Weight loss.  I read all about it.   I am sure of myself. Give me a task, and I know I can do it – or at least learn to.

Parts of that girl remain in me.  Thankfully, she’s lost her need to be the brightest bulb in the room and the arrogance that accompanied it.

In some areas of life I am still what culture would define as confident. In other areas? Not so much.  Learning is now my hobby, not my measuring stick.  I love it just as much, but the pull and motive are much different.

self confident

How did I lose this “confidence”? What even is confidence? Where does confidence come from? I ponder these ideas as I study Hebrews because it keeps coming up. The author is writing to a group of “newer” Jewish converts.  The audience is well-versed in all things Jewish, temple, and Old Testament, but the idea of a Messiah named Jesus is new to them. They grapple with relying on the old when there’s a new way. So, the writer of  Hebrews keeps reminding them…Jesus is better and above the rituals, the angels, Moses, Abraham, etc.

The author mentions having this confidence in at least six verses…

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear, what can man do to me?”

See? They – we – need to hold fast to this confidence – the confidence with which we originally answered Jesus when he called us to him. That confidence we felt when he placed a call on our life to follow him no matter the cost.  A confidence that spurs us toward his throne of grace and has great reward. A confidence in what we do not see, saying boldly and surely: I will not fear.

Wow. What a word.  It seems our relationship with Jesus hinges here, huh?

It’s important for the audience – for us  – to place full confidence in Jesus and nothing else.  Not brains or beauty. Not wealth or wisdom.  Not others or offices.  Nothing but Jesus.

Nothing but…a certainty and assurance of one’s relationship with God, a sense of boldness that is dependent on a realization of one’s acceptance by God, and a conviction that one’s destiny is secure in God. (from biblestudytools.com)

Sister, what if we lived fully confident of our Jesus? Assured of our relationship with him with a sense of BOLDNESS that can only come from knowing deep, deep down that we are accepted and loved by Him.  With conviction that our futures are secure in Him.

What would THAT look like? To live with God-confidence, not self-confidence?

I can’t imagine.  I am so conditioned to place my confidence in myself and in books and learning that I often struggle to let go and let God. To say….I can NOT do this, Lord.  You’ll have to do it through me.  And even more than that, Lord? I confidently believe you can and will.  

It’s new for me this kind of confidence.  But I pray for you and for me that we get it.  That we listen to the author of Hebrews and hold fast to our confidence in Him.

Confidently and with Love,

Appetite, Approval, and Ambition {Can You Relate?}

Today begins Lent.

Because Lent identifies with Jesus’ 40 days of testing in the wilderness, I decided to revisit those passages this morning: Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13.

Do you realize Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness being tested by the devil?

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. Luke 4:1-2

40 days of testing.  Not just the three tests we read about in the Bible, but 40 days and nights of NO FOOD (wow) and constant temptation. What must that have been like?  All we know is that when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. Luke 4:13

So, sister, there is NOT ONE temptation that Jesus has not endured or does not understand.  And this passage ends with an inevitability: Satan will return at an opportune time. As if 40 days was not enough, he will be back.  And when he comes back, chances are high that the temptation you face will fall into one of three areas:  Appetite, ambition, or approval.

I learned of the 3 A’s of temptation yesterday as I read Sarah Bessey’s Why Lent Matters to Me.  She linked a resource that included this…

appetite ambition approval (1)

He was tempted at three different levels: Appetite, Approval and Ambition. Although we have come two thousand years since Christ, our temptations remain the same.  

This stuck with me.

In verse 3, Satan says, If you’re the Son of God, command the stones to become bread.

I thought of my own temptations…appetite is no brainer. I have struggled with my weight for many, many, many years.  That’s a daily, hourly temptation for me.  And our appetites aren’t just about food.  They can be about money or people – just about anything we desire more than God.

And Jesus says, Man shall not live by break alone. (verse 4)  And that’s that. Our source of life is not of this world; it’s Jesus alone.

Then, Satan promises Jesus the kingdoms of the world – glory – if Jesus will worship him.  (5, 6)

Ambition? Have you seen the self-help section at Barnes and Noble? Have you glanced at the New York Times Bestseller list lately? Live your best life, be the best you – that’s the theme of 95% of books.  All having to do with our ambition to be more and get more.  Achieve. To avoid what Brene Brown calls FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out.  We join Facebook groups, check Twitter, and scroll Instagram in fear that we will miss out on what all the other __________{whatever group we identify with} are doing.  Our culture tells us we need to want and have it all.  Again. Satan knows it.  He knows it’s part of our DNA.

But, Jesus says You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve. (8)  Not man.  Not culture’s idea of greatness.  Not the FOMO.  Jesus. {A relief!}

Finally, Satan tells Jesus…if you are the Son of God, throw yourself off the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem (where all worshippers can see) and the angels will save you {my paraphrase}. Satan even QUOTES SCRIPTURE, reminding Jesus of the promise “he will command the angels concerning you, to guard you.” (Psalm 91:11)  This is about approval – Jesus proving to the world at the temple that he’s the Son of God, gaining their approval.

Approval?  Don’t we all struggle here? We all want others’ approval – even if you say  I don’t care what anyone else thinks, you do.  Sure, you can come to a place where the opinions of others do not guide or shape your decisions, but deep down, we want approval.  Affirmation.  Satan knows that about us. We are made in the image of Christ, and what might tempt him, definitely tempts us.

{I read a great post about these three A’s here. So worth the time.}

Friends, as we sit here looking at the 40 days ahead, I pray we consider Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. I pray we ask him to reveal our appetites, our need for approval, our ambitious motives.  I pray we move through the next 40 days in a new way, intentionally focusing on Jesus and laying down ourselves for His glory.

If you’d like to join me and a few friends on a journey through Hebrews over the next 40 days, you can read more here. Here’s the first verse:

Lent Feb 10 (1)

 

Over the next 40 days, I’ll share a verse a day on my Facebook,  Twitter , and Instagram (@sarahfarish).

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You can these verses – and about 35 others – each day.  I pray your time reading, writing, and meditating on one verse a day helps you to know him more.  Because as we know Him more, we can’t help but love him more.

How are you observing Lent? Are you fasting? I’d love for you to share in the comments, so I can pray for your wilderness.

Giant on the Inside {That’s You, Friend}

I sit in the the room against the wall.  The teacher calls out the moves and counts. I am clueless, but my girl is not. She knows what each French phrase means. This has been her life for years. He calls the steps – the room listens and executes. Like clockwork.

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The teacher, Joe, commands the stage as he walks back and forth, mic in hand, directing the class…jump, turn, plié.  The music stops and starts as groups change and the dancers begin again. And again. Each time expected to be better.

Lyrics…make believe people can fly. Dancers…leap into the air.  Storytellers – that’s what they are.

The music stops. Joe asks for attention. He wants them to understand the song. The words. We can’t feel what we don’t understand (truth, huh?). Do not get caught up in the steps. Feel and dance the lyrics – the music.

I’d been scrolling Facebook, but Joe has my attention. His body language and voice change. And I know…he believes what he’s saying. He believes in my daughter and the over 200 others. He truly loves dance, feels it’s art, and wants others to embrace it as expression, storytelling.

That’s conviction speaking.

Portray the music in the movement he tells them.  Motions? Steps? They’re no fun to watch. Those who feel the music and portray it in movement? That’s a joy to watch, and they make me feel it too.

Joe begins the story told through lyrics…there’s a giant in all of us. We let the presence or words of others dictate who we are.  We let our inner voices take over, making us hard on ourselves.  Don’t allow that; be a giant – confident in who you are and where you are. Not where your neighbor is, but where YOU ARE.  Be a dreamer – a giant.

giant on the inside

He goes on, but I lose him as I look across the room. I wonder at the story of each teen.  As a women I often struggle with comparing and poor inner dialogue.  I am betting these girls struggle with the I am not good enough –less than – inferior.  And Joe knows it. He’s not just teaching dance.

He tells the story of “Giants” by Matt Nathanson – their song. I am captivated by his speech – or sermon – because it’s filled with Jesus whether he knows it or not. I don’t get all he says, so I Google the song…

I don’t want to see the wires in the circus anymore
I wanna dream and make believe people can fly
I don’t need to be reminded what it takes to kill the fun
I got a head full of sharp knives

Don’t look up at the wires. Don’t look down at them. Confidently walk across, chin up. Dream – outrageous people-can-fly dreams. Don’t be so hard on yourself. See you as God sees you. Don’t take those sharp, harsh thoughts that others and culture have laid down in your brain and live out of them. Be who He says you are.

The world don’t speak for us. They lack the confidence
Yeah, we’re only hearts and bones and blood.
But we are giant. Giants

Friend, do not allow the world and this culture to speak for you or tell you who you are. Let Jesus tell you. Define you. Call you. You don’t need self-confidence; you need God-confidence – confidence in who HE IS and who he fearfully and wonderfully made you to be. You’re heart. Bones. Blood – his creation, made in his image for His purpose. And when the Spirit breathes life into you? You’re heart, blood, and bones that can change the world.

You are a GIANT. Not because you’re awesome, but because HE IS. And you’re not a giant who towers over others. No, that’s not his way. You’re a giant who stands tall on His behalf, walking where others won’t or can’t.

You know,
Everybody’s scared of things that they don’t understand
And all the living they don’t do.

Isn’t this so true? We have the fear of missing out – the fear of not being enough – the fear of all the living we DO NOT do. We fear refugees and poverty. We fear political systems that “seem” unfair. We fear other races and other belief systems. The unknown. Presidential elections.  The future.  All the things we don’t fully understand.

We’re more than what scares us
We’re final and fearless
We’ll dance where the ice gets thin

What scares you? What do you fear? You’re more than that, friend. HE IS MORE! He says fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)  Live brave. Be wise, but stand up tall and dance on thin ice. Walk in your call – even when it seems scary. Maybe even crazy. It’s never too big for God. He doesn’t call the qualified; he qualifies the called.

Be a giant. Allow God to make you a giant for him. Find the giant inside that Jesus is calling you to be. Stand tall, pull up your chin, look the world in the eye. And begin.

As I ponder this odd song, God reminds me of the woman at the well. She comes to the well when she knows no other women will be there. She doen’t want to interact because of her shame. Her living situation. She feels less than, inferior. She listens to the culture. But, Jesus offers her himself – living water. A new life. He calls out the giant he made her to be. To leave her jar at the well and run back to tell the village of Him. To be brave because of Him – of what he’s done. Hopeless? Shameful? No more. She runs to tell of him.

She’s such a giant! No longer running away, but running toward.

Friends, the same Jesus who approached the outcast woman at the well wants to walk with you. He wants to pull your chin up, look you in the eye, and say….you are not what they say you are. And if you are, I offer you new life. He wants to say, remove the replay of past voices; hear my voice only.

He’s offering to make you a giant for him. Instead of carrying a small jug, he’s offering an entire well that never runs dry.

I look back at the dance floor. My eyes are drawn to those who feel and dance the story. Joe’s “sermon” has changed many of them.

And aren’t those the people we are most drawn to? The ones who feel the music – live the words, His Word? Those whose lives aren’t a series of motions, but a symphony of the Spirit, living through them.

I want my Hannah to be that. I want to be that. A living and breathing Giant for Jesus. Telling his story – and living ours well. Keeping our eyes fixed on Him, the author and perfector of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)

Thank you, Joe, for teaching this dance mom. I don’t think you set out to preach, but I wanted to yell Amen.

And, girls? Live like there’s a giant inside – because there is – and his name is Jesus.

(Just a side note…Jesus is teaching me to LISTEN everywhere I go. A dance teacher. A “secular” song. I’d never have listened a few years ago. What could they offer me? (pride, arrogance, dumb). Jesus can and will teach us anywhere because he’s everywhere. Where are you seeing him today?)

Lent {A Journey Through Hebrews}

As I pray about how to approach Lent this year, God is slow to answer.  The Lent devotional options glow in my inbox; they are so beautiful.  Pages filled with Scriptures, commentary, and artwork.  I want all of them, but God never lets my heart settle on one.  I have a book of poetry to read for Lent, but I also want to be in the Word because I know the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:13

Because I am currently studying Hebrews alongside Jen Wilkin via podcast, I realize God is leading me to take a page from her book – literally – and focus on God’s Word minus commentary. I rarely do this. As I read God’s word, I continually look up word origins and commentary – and there’s nothing wrong with that. I just feel God saying…read my words.  They’re alive and active. I want to speak to you through them.

So, me, God, Hebrews, a pencil, and five of my friends.  That’s my call to Lent this year.

Here’s the daily process if you’d like to join us!

  1. Read the verse.
  2. Write the verse.
  3. Meditate on the verse.
  4. Read the verse again.
  5. Pray.

As you read and write the verse, notice what words stick out to you.  Notice who God is and who He says you are.  Insert your name into the verse while reading it.  Listen to the still small voice of the Spirit as you read, write, meditate, and pray. Write as little or as much as you feel compelled to record. Somedays you might think…nothing in that verse struck me. I don’t think I heard from God today.  No worries!  Any time spent in God’s word is time well spent as you get to know Him better, as you renew your mind, and as you store up treasures in your heart that He can and will bring to mind when you most need to remember it.     

Here’s a graphic you can save to your phone or print as a reminder. 

Lent 2016

We each have a folder with this graphic, directions, and the verses.  We also have a cute composition book to match for writing verses and recording how God is speaking. 

Our lent notebooks

 

We hope you’ll join us!  You can read the verse each day on my Facebook (like and choose “get notifications”) and (most days) download a cute graphic of the verse!

We’ll begin February 10 – Ash Wednesday.  If you’re not sure about Lent – what it is, what’s expected, why we observe it – you can find a brief, thorough description here.  We will read one (or two) verse per day, except on Sundays. You can rest or choose to read entire chapters of Hebrews to fully grasp the context of the verses.  

Please join our prayer for this season…

Lord,

We give the next 47 days to you. Help us not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Then we will be able to test and approve what Your will is–Your good, pleasing and perfect will. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear as we meet with You each day to read and meditate on your Word.  Have us to hear exactly what each of us most needs. Give us new understanding and transformed minds and hearts.  May we bear fruit on this earth for Your kingdom and Your glory.  We honor your 40 days of testing in the wilderness by walking through a wilderness of our own – a wilderness in which we look to you for every need instead of our usual comforts – a time in which reading your word becomes part of the fabric of our day. And we thank you – inadequately – for your death on the cross for our sins.  May we never take this season lightly, keeping our eyes focused on you, your death, and resurrection.  When March 27 comes, may we have a deeper and more abiding love for You.  

Amen.