Out of the Pit: What to Do When You Are Discouraged

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When I am super discouraged or my hope is deferred, I am cautious of whom I talk to. I don’t want anyone speaking death over me, agreeing with what is going on, or giving me advice that contradicts the truth of the Word of God. Every time, I am very careful of whom I speak to and whom I lock arms with.

Everyone’s steadfastness in the Lord can have highs and lows—with moments of firm commitment and, other times, feelings of weakness. If I focus on my circumstances, I can easily become discouraged. When I focus on the face of Jesus, everything He paid for on the cross, and the truth of God’s Word, my hope can be revived. He has been faithful in the past and will be faithful today. He is faithful today, and He will be faithful tomorrow. My God is good, but sometimes I have to ask myself, “Do I really believe who God says He is? Do I believe it?”

What I do to get myself out of a pit—because I seem to be in one this morning—is start praying. I tell God how I really feel. I don’t hold back. I give Him all my ugly thoughts and all my ugly words. I give Him all my doubt and disappointment. I confess it all.

The next thing I do is start asking Him whom I could talk to, who could encourage me. I don’t need anybody to crawl into a pit with me because then we would both be stuck down low. I need someone who is up high and will encourage me with mercy, love, and truth. I need someone who will say, “That sucks, but God is really the only person or thing we can put our hope in.” I ask the Lord to bring someone to mind, or I simply listen and wait for peace. He will direct my steps if I ask Him. “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2 NIV). But if you seek Him, you will find Him.

Sometimes I don’t talk to anyone else. I let the Holy Spirit be my comforter. Today what came to mind was that I needed to call into a prayer line with beliefs similar to mine. I know, without a doubt, 100% of the time, they will strongly encourage me. They will agree with me in the truth and renew my hope. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and it is certain. It is absolutely resolved. It is believing for things that aren’t seen; it’s not visible. Man’s eye can’t see, but I am sure it is there.

I am reminded of the testimony of a man named Allen Moore. He had a stroke. He is not supposed to be able to walk or talk. His MRI to this date reveals that the part of his brain related to these abilities does not work. With man’s eye, it appears he should not be talking or walking, yet he does. I have met him personally, and he is walking and talking—living the unseen.

I start reminding myself of all the things God has done for me in my life and my family. I start reminding myself of the miracles and the power of God that have been on display in my life for years. As I do that, it encourages me. I am encouraging and sharpening myself in the Lord and in the truth. It awakens me and gives me hope. It gets rid of doubt. It doesn’t increase my faith, but it begins to smash out any doubt so my hope can be renewed. When my hope is renewed, faith is restored. Faith is present.

I can use my imagination in faith to see a part of my body completely healed and whole again. What would it look like the next time I can see it? I won’t look at it again until I have done this for a while and feel it is time.

When I fall into a pit, I do this to get out of it. How about you?

Doubt vs. Belief

Are you in a battle for your health, your life, your encouragement, or your positivity today? Don’t sit around and wait until you have no doubts. You have to choose to believe God’s word. It’s a daily choice. You are never going to live this life without any doubts at all until you are in heaven.

We battle. We battle our minds. We battle our flesh. That is why the Lord tells us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Him. That’s why we are supposed to be living sacrifices. A living sacrifice continually wants to walk, get up, move up to the altar, and take up its agenda.

We have a battle. There is a raging battle between the flesh and the spirit all the time. To assume you will not have any doubts is just deceiving yourself. It’s okay. Just choose to believe God’s word. Put the doubts down. Take the thought captive. Refuse to dwell on them, think about them, and think more about God’s promises than you do about the doubts.

You are not being a hypocrite when you choose to believe God’s word when you are in a fight and are in the middle of the struggle. You are deciding who you are. “Am I this person in the flesh who is in the middle of a battle between my doubts and my faith, or am I who God says I am?” Do you think the real you is your natural mind, your carnal-mindedness? Or do you think your spirit-man is your real you? You have to decide who the real you is and begin to stand in it.

I know the flesh is powerful. It feels like the real you. The doubts are the real you. But the Bible says you become a new creation. You are born again. You’re now a child of God, an alien in this world. You have crossed over out of death and into life. Who is the real you? You have to decide: “This is the real me.”

The new you on the inside is perfect and has the mind of Christ, says 1 Corinthians 2:16. Colossians 3:10 says we have been renewed in the knowledge and the image that created us. 1 John 2:1 says we know all things. It’s not talking about what is in our minds. It’s talking about what is in your spirit. We are just too carnal. We think we are limited by what we know and our knowledge instead of tapping into God’s power and unlimited knowledge. When we agree with our thoughts and understanding, we limit God from working in our lives and our ability to agree with Him.

The new you on the inside is righteous and holy and pure. If you believe the real you has been truly born again, is a new creation, and you are who God says you are, then you are a hypocrite for agreeing with your fleshly doubts. If you consider being a hypocrite as one speaking the word of God and believing you are the righteousness of Christ, then you think the real you is the emotional, physical you and not the spiritual one that has been born again.

It’s time to find out who you are in Christ and change your identity—to have that identity in Him. Be more true than what you look like, what you feel like, what your emotions say, what has happened to you, and the circumstances around you, so you would truly know who God says you are and agree with that more than anything. It would be greater and larger than anything that comes against you. You would not be faithless in challenges if you would believe.

Victim or Victor?

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A victim has the mentality that everything that happens to them is someone else’s fault. They are easily offended and emotional. They generally either cry or react in anger. They feel like the world is stacked against them, no one is for them, and they are all on their own. They look into every situation, searching for the point where they have been attacked, rejected, or left out. Their eyes are always looking at how someone wants to hurt them. They can’t climb their way out of the valley because that’s where they live and stay.

They find their identity as victims. Their identity is caught up in never being wrong but always being wronged. They aren’t leaders. They are not successful. Half of the time, they shoot themselves in the foot. They will never say, “Here is what I did wrong…” But you will always hear them say, “Here is what so-and-so did wrong…” They complain. They are atmosphere-changers. They can take a joyful, loving atmosphere and make it negative. They can turn the tide of momentum into a crash. These people weigh things down because the glass is always half empty. Their eyes can’t see through new perspectives. Thankfulness is not on their lips. Everything they do, someone else is to blame.

How do I know? I used to be a victim.

On the other hand, a victor is someone who has possibly been wronged but has climbed their way out. They have taken their thoughts captive.
“Maybe this isn’t just someone else’s fault. Maybe it was mine. If it was my fault, I can’t change anyone else, but I can change myself. I can change my thoughts; I can change my perspectives. All things are possible. This pit is not where I belong. It is not my calling. It is not my purpose. I belong in a victory position on a mountaintop. I will believe that not everyone is out to get me; instead, people are out to love me and help me.

“I assume the best about people through what they say feels twisted like it’s supposed to be hurtful. I know their hearts. I have seen their fruit. I’ve seen the actions of their love. This one thing is not going to make me change my mind. I believe the best about them. I am not rejected or left out. I am accepted, loved, and safe. If they are angry, maybe I need to reach out to them and try to shepherd their heart back into life, out of an offended or victim mentality, and into victory.”

Victors want other people to be victorious with them. They want to pull people out of the valley and help them see their gifts. They truly put themselves last and others first—or they try. They know the truth. They are bold. When they are emotional, it’s because they see other people who aren’t walking in victory. They know there is a better way, a better side. They are not easily offended. They are loving, kind, and strong. They will probably intimidate you because their confidence is sure and is not in themselves. They have been on the losing end before, and they long to populate the winning side.

Are You in a Battle?

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Are you in a battle for your health, your life, your encouragement, or your positivity today? Don’t sit around and wait until you have no doubts. You have to choose to believe God’s word. It’s a daily choice. You are never going to live this life without any doubts at all until you are in heaven.

We battle. We battle our minds. We battle our flesh. That is why the Lord tells us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Him. That’s why we are supposed to be a living sacrifice. Sacrifice that is living continually wants to walk, get up, and move up to the altar and take up its own agenda.

We have a battle. There is a raging battle between the flesh and the spirit all the time. To assume you are not going to have any doubts is just deceiving yourself. It’s okay. Just choose to believe God’s word. Put the doubts down. Take the thought captive. Refuse to dwell on them; think about them, but focus more on God’s promises than on your doubts.

You are not being a hypocrite when you choose to believe God’s word when you are in the middle of a struggle. You are actually deciding who you really are. “Am I really this person in the flesh who is in the middle of a battle between my doubts and my faith, or am I who God says I am?” Do you think the real you is your natural mind—your carnal mind? Or do you believe your spirit man is your true self? You must decide who your true self is and begin to live it.

I know the flesh is powerful. It feels like the real you. The doubts are the real you. But the Bible says you become a new creation. You are born again. You’re now a child of God, an alien in this world. You have crossed over out of death and into life. Who is the real you? You have to decide: “This is the real me.”

“The new you on the inside is perfect and has the mind of Christ,” says 1 Corinthians 2:16. Colossians 3:10 says we have been renewed in the knowledge and the image that created us. 1 John 2:1 says we know all things. It’s not talking about what’s in our mind. It’s talking about what’s in your spirit. We are just too carnal. Instead of tapping into God’s power and unlimited knowledge, we believe we are limited by what we know and our knowledge.We limit God’s ability to work in our lives and our ability to agree with Him when we agree with our thoughts, our own understanding.

The new you on the inside is righteous, holy, and pure. If you believe the real you has been truly born again, is a new creation, and you are who God says you are, then you are a hypocrite for agreeing with your fleshly doubts. If you consider being a hypocrite as speaking the word of God and believing you are the righteousness of Christ, then you think the real you is the emotional, physical you and not the spiritual one that has been born again.

It’s time to find out who you are in Christ and change your identity—to have that identity of who you are in Him. Be more true than what you look like, what you feel like, what your emotions say, what has happened to you, and the circumstances around you, so you would truly know who God says you are and agree with that more than anything else. It would be greater and larger than anything that comes against you. You would not be faithless in challenges if you would simply believe God.

Pray without ceasing

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Our tree was blooming this year. It had this pink, beautiful—we used to call it propellers when I was a kid but they were seeds, pink propeller seeds. They were everywhere. I’ve never seen this tree produce pink ones before, so that was unusual. I wasn’t actually sure what they were until they started to fall off the tree. When they started to fall off, I realized—oh my goodness, these are those brown propeller seeds!

I’ve just been thinking about that for a long time. That the tree produced a thousand seeds. Four thousand new trees—the wind blew them around. As of today, I have about 25 new trees growing in my yard. And I was thinking, you know what we’ll do with those trees—because they’re not beautiful, they’re not placed in the right spot—is we will pull them up, mow over them or something. But at the end of the day, that tree that produced a thousand seeds, not a single one of those trees will actually grow into a tree.

This year, for some reason, it just broke my heart. I just thought why would God make a plant reproduce itself and produce so many seeds if he didn’t want to see those seeds come to life and come to fruition and come to a full maturity and a full harvest.
And I just thought about we’ve become a nation in America that we care more about beauty than we do creation. We care more about the right placement of the tree rather than the tree. The tree is the very thing that gives us life. It gives us oxygen and we don’t let them reproduce, are we actually causing a bigger problem later down the road? Something we can’t even imagine at this time? Nor would we want to?

I’m wondering in what way are we stifling what God wants to do on this earth because the way that it happens naturally isn’t okay. We gotta realign it and make it better. What in your life have you stopped God’s creation or God’s work in you? What have you done out of your own flesh that has caused God’s creation to cease in your life?

Every waking moment is to be lived in an awareness that God is with us and that He is actively involved and engaged in our thoughts and actions. 

Unfortunately, many believers hold their “spiritual breath” for long periods, thinking brief moments with God are sufficient to allow them to survive. But such restricting of their spiritual intake is caused by sinful desires. The fact is that every believer must be continually in the presence of God, constantly breathing in His truths, to be fully functional.

Someday Your Feet Will Be Carried, Too

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Youth is celebrated.
Yet, everyone ages.
Everyone dies.

A new, baby tree is so cute and beautiful. It’s flexible; it bends to the ground in a heavy wind. It’s short, unable to see the horizon over older trees. The bark is youthful and smooth, without many marks or deep grooves. The bright-green, tender leaves are small and dainty.

The older tree climbs far above the new tree. The trunk is thicker. The bark is rough and deeply grooved. It’s apparent that it has had much wear and tear over the years. The trunk is strong and stable. Its branches can hold the weight of climbing children and homemade swings. It can stand firm through strong winds. It towers over the other trees, giving it a perspective many others cannot see. Its leaves are dark and thick, veiny and tough, even coarse. Each mark and groove tells a story of a storm weathered, a season endured.

My precious grandma stayed in a nursing home. My daughter said, “Mom, nursing homes are like orphanages for old people. They are mostly alone, with visitors few and far between. People come in for an hour to visit once in a while, and then they’re gone again.” It crushed her heart.

Youth is idolized in our nation, and older people are devalued. 

Getting old isn’t glamorous. 

What’s the …
Newest trend?
Best youth-restoring moisturizer?
Coolest thing to wear?
Latest diet?

People look to plastic surgery to lift it, tuck it, change it, keep it youthful.

Everyone wants to stay young. But it’s in growing that we gain wisdom to live by and share. It’s the storm survival that makes us like that tall, sturdy tree. Our marks are testimony to our endurance. We gain perspective and can have peace in the storm because we know we will make it through, even if we lose everything. We know there’s a circle of life and we are just a tiny part of it.

The life that once seemed larger than life when we really thought we were somebody now seems so small, like we haven’t left enough of a mark.

Will anyone remember me?
How long until I am forgotten?
What more could I have done?
All those years I wasted, believing I was invincible.

Everyone ages.
Everyone dies.

Someday your feet will be carried, too.

One day you will be like the very people you see no value in now. You may end up alone in a nursing home, wondering whether anyone will remember who you are in 100 years.

When you are on your next trip in nature, remember to look at the trees. The most beautiful ones are large and weathered, with the thickest trunks and intricacies in every branch. Their leaves are larger than your hands. Their branches stretch to the heavens.

That same stunning beauty can be found in the wrinkle lines, spotted hands, thick trunk, and hunched back of an elderly person. They carry their stories in their bodies and their minds. They will mesmerize you if you just ask.

Just ask.

Maybe you will find some wisdom to help your tiny new leaves weather some future storms.

You know they’re coming.


Trying to Reach Perfect


In the past year of dance, I’ve learned that you cannot—I mean cannot—reach perfection. If you knew how many times I have tried, but I only make it 80% of the time.

My dance teacher is the best teacher I’ve ever had. She has taught me so much. She has taught my class to do our best, no matter what. Maybe you’re tired, shut down, sweaty, or hungry. That’s okay. She doesn’t mean for us to push our hardest and then pass out. She says,

“Don’t stop because you have failed a couple of times. 
Keep trying. Don’t quit.”

I’m not saying I’m very good at dance, but this lesson can apply to anything, like trying to make a friend or going to a gymnastics meet. “Don’t stop because you have failed a couple of times. Keep trying. Don’t quit.” This applies to everyday life.

I have a confession for you:

I’ve almost cried about the other 20% of my time in dance. I can’t even squeeze my core for more than two combinations. Hey, if I ever get on pointe, I would be shocked. I don’t plan on it. I’m only eleven, so I’ve got time.

I’m just saying, “perfect” isn’t even a word for human beings. The only person who can use the word “perfect” is Jesus.



KK Grace


Speak to Your Mountains, Don’t Pray about Them

There’s a song that says, “I will climb this mountain with my arms wide open.” One day we were singing it in the prayer room, and the Lord said, “I never asked anyone to climb a mountain. I asked them to speak to their mountain. I also told them that I would give them a new threshing tool so they could thresh their mountain into chaff. I also told them that mountains of human obstacles would be made mere molehills.” God never asked us to climb a mountain, yet we are striving to overcome and become overcomers. We think it’s our religious duty and sacrifice to suffer and climb a mountain. 

We say, “Oh, we’ll do it with our arms wide open in worship to You, God. As I worship You and give You everything, I will lay down my life in sacrifice and climb this mountain for You because You are worthy.” That is really what the song is saying. The song is really not about God. It’s about them and what they will do for God. 

But what did God ask you to do? He asked you to love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength and then love your neighbor as yourself. He never said, “I want you to suffer for Me. I want you to struggle every day for Me.” No. He sent the Holy Spirit to be our guide and comforter, to help us get out of our comfort zone, and to be our teacher so we can learn all the ways of God. We can learn that through the Holy Spirit and His leading in our life.

Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.

— Isaiah 41:15 (KJV)

Jesus replied, “Have faith in God [constantly]. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart [in God’s unlimited power], but believes that what he says is going to take place, it will be done for him [in accordance with Gods will]. For this reason I am telling you, whatever things you ask for in prayer [in accordance with Gods will], believe [with confident trust] that you have received them, and they will be given to you. Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him [drop the issue, let it go], so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions and wrongdoings [against Him and others].

— Mark 11:22–25 (AMP)

Then he said to me, “This [continuous supply of oil] is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel [prince of Judah], saying, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit [of whom the oil is a symbol],’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘What are you, O great mountain [of obstacles]? Before Zerubbabel [who will rebuild the temple] you will become a plain (insignificant)! And he will bring out the capstone [of the new temple] with loud shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’

— Zechariah 4:6–7 (AMP)

It’s not by our efforts. It’s not by our sheer will. It’s by God’s Spirit that we have the power and are empowered to do anything at all. It’s from that close, intimate relationship and knowing Him, knowing He has it covered and His promises are true.

The answer to every single one of His promises is yes and amen. It doesn’t matter what you see with your eyes. His answer is still yes and amen. But our understanding can become a roadblock and a stumbling place where we think, “Oh, it hasn’t left yet. This hasn’t been healed yet. The struggle hasn’t left me. Maybe I’m supposed to be sick. Maybe I’m supposed to be poor. Maybe this is the banner I’m supposed to carry. This is a mountain I am supposed to climb, and I will climb it, Lord. With everything in me and every striving humanly possible in my body, I will climb it with my arms wide open and worship You.”

This is a bold statement that I am making to you. I am saying there is a mountain you are climbing and you weren’t designed to climb it. You were designed to thresh it, to speak to it, to command it to leave. God moves mountains. He is a mountain mover.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world. [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

— John 16:33 (AMP)

We will face trouble, but take heart, for the Lord has overcome the world. This doesn’t mean that when you are troubled, you should suffer and struggle and have pity on yourself. It means in your trouble, you can look through it almost as if it’s a glass to the other side and see the promises of God. The answer is yes and amen. There is a way out. There is freedom. There is a miracle coming.

Jesus died for you to have life and life abundantly, and only deception can keep you from having that. Our deceived mind, not fully understanding what Jesus Christ has paid for us, can keep us from receiving what Jesus already provided. What? Yes. It is true. It’s for lack of knowledge and understanding that we perish (see Hosea 4:6). Yet in 2 Peter 1:3, it says we have been given “everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him” (NIV). That knowledge is relational knowledge.

We can be misled in the teaching. We can be taught by believers—people like me or your pastors—who are teaching through their personal filters. Maybe they were hurt. Maybe they were let down. Maybe they didn’t get their miracle. So they teach through that. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes God’s word doesn’t come to pass. Sometimes God doesn’t do that. Sometimes God intends to put these things on you.

The truth is that we cannot filter God’s word through our own circumstance. We cannot filter it through what we see or what we know or our own reasoning. These things cannot be a strainer for the word of God in our lives.

If something does not come to pass, if we don’t see the miracle, if we don’t see God’s hand at work in our lives, we cannot question if the promise is true. It is, regardless of whether we see it or not. It is truth beyond truth. It is unchanging. It is black and white. I will tell you, you can stand on it.

There are times when we don’t see it come to pass, but we cannot change our belief in God’s word when we don’t see the miracle happen. You believe it every time. I believe, every time, when I pray for people that God wants them well. Not every person is healed, but I know it’s a desire of His heart. If I begin to compromise and think, “Well, sometimes He heals, and sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes He wants people well, and sometimes He doesn’t,” then I become an ineffective vessel of God because I am doubting His word, and that is idolatry. I am putting my own understanding above God’s word, and that is unacceptable.

Have you done that in your life? Have you faced your own reasoning and reasoned God’s word into a package you can swallow, tolerate, or deal with? That is unacceptable. God’s word is true every time. Scripture says that “by His stripes (wounds) we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 AMP). What does that mean? Jesus, when He died, took stripes on His back. He was marred beyond human likeness, not only for our sins but also for our physical health. That was two thousand years ago. That was all provided for.

Sometimes I don’t see that come to pass, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. It doesn’t mean it’s God’s will for that person to die. It doesn’t. We are in a true spiritual battle with an enemy who wants to steal our lives. He wants to kill us and destroy us and infect us with his STDs (spiritually transmitted diseases). He wants to twist the truth, suppress the truth, make us doubt the truth, and then sidetrack us from God. He wants to fix our eyes on circumstances and put our understanding on our own analytical reasoning. He wants us to have a filter that processes our understanding of God through what has happened to us. This is the greatest way we can be deceived.

There is no mountain that can stand in the name of Jesus Christ because His name is above every other name. Either it’s above every other name or it’s not. In Mark 11:23, it says we can speak to our mountains and they will be cast into the sea. When you speak to your mountains, do they move or do they stay? Many times you speak to them and they stay. Does that mean God’s word is not true? Absolutely not. It is truth. You can stand on it. You can bank on it. If you speak to your mountain and it doesn’t move, then you need to ask yourself, “Why do I doubt? What is causing doubt?”

Mark 9:29 and Matthew 17:21 both say, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.” I believe, with everything in me, that doubt is eradicated in prayer and fasting. Many people pray and fast to move God, but prayer and fasting moves us. It moves our hearts closer to God. It removes doubt because we are focused on the kingdom. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (KJV).

As you fast and you starve your body, your body no longer gets to control you or rule you. Suddenly your body learns, “Hey, I need to listen up. I am being retrained here.” Your flesh is no longer your ruler, and instead you’re fasting and starving it. You’re saying to it, “Feast on the word of God.” The more you do this, the closer you draw yourself to the Lord and the more doubt is weeded out. Therefore, faith can be effective. Your faith can become effectual in two ways: by hearing the word of God and by prayer and fasting.

Many times, people think, “I’m going to pray and fast this mountain out of here!” They’re really saying, “I’m going to give my sacrifice to God so He will have pity on me and see my great works, and then He will move.” I can tell you right now, God does not move based on you. He moves based on His will and who He is. He is just that good. His love and His grace are irrational. He is uncontrollably generous. It is the kindest love you will ever know. It is so fruitful and so radically true that you can bank on it every time. He moves because of who He is and His great love for you. He does not move based on your behavior. He moves because that’s who He is.

The name of Jesus has been granted to you for you to use the authority to speak to your mountain so it can be cast into the sea. If you are not seeing that happen, check out those other verses because God did not call us to climb our mountains with our arms wide open. He called us to speak to our mountains. He called us to tear them down using His name and His authority. It’s His power that is behind it. It’s His life. It’s Jesus’ blood. It’s Him being marred beyond human likeness that gives you great authority to use His name.

God has already done it. He has already provided. But will you reach out and grab it and take possession of it? Will you use it in faith, knowing that God’s promises come to pass because His answer to them is always yes and amen?

Sit, Walk, Stand: My Testimony

When I was a little girl, my grandma taught me about Jesus. She taught me that He loves me. Honestly, I wanted to be loved. Deep down in my heart, I always longed to be loved. I wanted to know that love. Back then I went to church with my grandma sometimes, but mostly my family didn’t go.

We moved away from Missouri to Oklahoma. My grandma taught me how to use a phone book to look up a phone number. I had an old corded dial phone. When I was nine years old, I dialed in a number I found in the phone book for the church bus. The church bus came and picked me up and took me to church. It was awesome. I had so much fun. I loved it.

My mom found me a different church. I rode their church bus nearly every Sunday. That church taught us every single week, “If you dance, you’re going to hell. If you do this, you’re going to hell. And if you do that, you’re going to hell.” I was really scared of hell because they talked a lot about it and how it was full of fire. I came to think, “Wow, God must be really mad. I’m scared. I want to do a good job and be a better person because I don’t want to end up in hell.” I worked really hard to be a good person so I wouldn’t go to hell. I obeyed the rules. In fact, I was kind of like a compliance officer.

One day, I just couldn’t keep it up anymore. I thought, “I’m never going to be good enough for God. I’m not going to come here and not be allowed to dance. I’m a pompom girl. I’m not going to give that up. I love it.” When I went to church every week, I felt so much condemnation heaped on me. I couldn’t take it anymore.

Even though I gave my life to Christ when I was ten so I wouldn’t burn to death, there I was in church at seventeen years old, thinking, “I can never do this. I don’t even like these people. They’re not even nice. They’re not even kind. No one here is kind.” I was sitting there, thinking, “God, I don’t really want anything to do with You because I’m never going to be good enough for You. I’m never going to be worthy of Your love. I’m not allowed to make a mistake.”

That church made me feel the burden of salvation was mine—that I had to clean up my life and do better and be a better person so I wouldn’t go to hell. One day, I just said, “Screw this. God, if I have to be all of these things, I know I’m never going to measure up. So forget it. If I’m going to hell anyway, I’m going to have a good time getting there.” That’s what I said, and I quit. I quit on God. I quit on church. I left the church, and I went nuts.

I wasn’t as wild as some, but that doesn’t matter because all sin is filthy. I made a lot of mistakes and hurt others along the way. I was determined to find joy and happiness and love and contentment. I was bent on being fulfilled. I was going to be happy, no matter what it took. I was going to do whatever I could to get it.

On that journey, I ended up hurting a lot of people, including myself. I woke up one day in the middle of a broken relationship. I’d gotten drunk the night before. I’d had way too much tequila; that was the drunkest I’ve ever been. Yet I was empty. I didn’t have anything. I had a career and made good money, but suddenly those accomplishments felt like nothing. I looked at my life and realized I wasn’t a faithful person. I wasn’t a faithful friend. I was so empty. I was hurting, and I didn’t know what to do.

It was in this moment that I remembered what my grandma had taught me when I was little about God and how He loves me. Then I decided, “Today I’m going to talk to that guy. I’m going to ask Him what I should do.”

What I felt, what I heard in my head, was that I had left my first love: God. The first thing I had learned about God was how much He loves me. Somewhere along the way, my view of God had gone from Him loving me to Him expecting from me something unrealistic I could never give Him. I couldn’t give Him all of my behavior; I always failed in one way or another.

I remember that day. I’m sad to say I was twenty-six years old. I had a bad reputation—I’m sure of it. Christians didn’t like me. Most of them looked down their noses at me. There were a couple who could see me as God saw me, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I knew they were pretty cool for a reason, and I understand now that it was because they could see me as God saw me. For the most part,  they treated me accordingly. They didn’t approve of my behavior, but they knew the difference between what I did and who I was.

When I was twenty-six years old, I got down on the floor and said, “Help. I don’t know what to do. I just know I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m sick of waking up every day in an empty life, in emptiness. I may have fun for a little while, but I’m still empty. I’m sick of it.” That day I made a decision. I didn’t have some huge moment—God didn’t come out of the sky and speak to me—but I made a decision that I was finished with my past life.

I decided to turn away from everything I knew was wrong. I did an about-face: I was heading in one direction, but I turned around to go the other way. I knew what ways of living were wrong because I was raised to know. I did an about-face and ran away from those wrong ways. I had been a sprinter in school, so that’s how I thought of it. I started sprinting toward God and the love I had trusted in when I was little. I knew I had been loved when I was really little. I simply knew it. Where had that love gone?

I stopped going to bars. I stopped hanging out with friends who drank. I just stopped. I stopped calling them back. Eventually, they stopped calling me. If you don’t drink around drinkers, they get mad, and sooner or later they’ll stop asking you to go. I stopped hanging out with people who were on a bad path.

I also tried to reconcile hurts. I met with people and asked for their forgiveness. I said, “I’m sorry I hurt you. Would you forgive me? Can we reconcile this? Can we fix this? I don’t really know what else to do, but I’m sorry.”

I decided to go to church. I needed some friends. I needed some friends who were doing what I was doing—because I couldn’t do it alone. I started in a tiny little semi-school class. I did this right away. I felt really awkward, as if I had a big “Chief Sinner” sign on my forehead and everyone in the room knew what I had done. They knew I was wrong; they knew I was a sinner. But the truth is, we all are sinners and every sin is forgiven by God. Will you choose to humble yourself and put yourself out there? Will you take a chance on yourself to have a new life? It was really awkward, but I did it anyway.

It’s awkward to go to church as a visitor. It’s awkward to walk in and be like, “I don’t know where the bathroom is, and I’m about to wet my pants.” It’s awkward to walk in and say, “Yeah, yeah. I’ve been here before. Yes, I know where the sanctuary is,” and then end up in the library. It’s awkward, but it’s worth it. I think all of us have the moment when we’re lying in the gutter and we realize, “Hey, something’s got to change, and it’s worth whatever it takes.”

I made my decision. I left everything from my past and started going to church and getting involved with people who (supposedly) loved God. I started serving. I became a greeter. I got on the finance committee of my church. I went to church Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights—every time the doors were open. I ended up joining a Bible study where we read the Bible from the beginning to the end. I did the slides for the music ministry. Every time we did praise and worship, I was the one who had typed up the words. I typed up the verses. I served on every committee.

I pretty much had the reputation: “If you need something done, ask her because she never says no.” I just started doing, doing, doing. I see new believers on this track every single day. They say they want to be in Christ, so they start serving, serving, serving. What I didn’t know was that eventually I was going to hit a roadblock. God did not design me to be a human doing; He made me a human being. What I needed to do when I decided to give my life to Him was sit down and get to know Him.

Ephesians is one of my favorite books in the Bible because I think it describes the believer’s journey in the beginning. In the beginning, we’re supposed to sit. Then we’re supposed to stand up and walk. Then we’re supposed to stand firm. A newborn baby can’t even hold up its head; momma has to hold it up. That’s what we’re like when we first come to Christ. Were like newborn babies who can’t hold up their heads, yet we may try to jump right into serving. Our heads start bobbing around, and sometimes we cause ourselves pain and trouble because we busy ourselves with serving before we really know God.

Even though I turned my life away from sin, I still didn’t know God. And its knowing God that sets you free. It’s the truth that sets you free. Eternal life is knowing God. It’s not heaven or hell; it’s knowing God.

I hadnt understood this before. No one had ever told me that its not about how good or bad you are but about knowing God. When I finally learned the truth, I realized I wanted to know God so well that other people around me would want to know Him. They would see that I know Him and would want to know Him as I know Him.

I remember waking up one day completely exhausted from serving. Dont get me wrong—I love serving. It set me free because it started in me the passion to read Gods word. When I typed those scriptures for the church slideshow, I couldn’t put my Bible down. I couldn’t stop reading the passages. I wondered, “Is this who God is? I never knew this.” Up until then, the only way I had known God was from someone else’s perspective and through someone else’s teaching.

It was when I started reading Ephesians that my entire life truly changed. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 helped me to understand the basics of the faith. When you first come to believe in Christ, you need to have the sitting stage. You need to take the time to sit down and read Gods word for yourself and study it and meditate on it. You learn about who God is and who He made you to be: an adopted child.

There are amazing prayers in Ephesians 1 and 3. If you were to pray those two prayers over yourself, you would be forever changed. Every day your mind would be transformed in the image of Christ. You would be renewed and made new in your mind. When you’re saved, your spirit is made new and perfect.

Reading Ephesians opened my eyes. I realized, “This is what we’re designed to do!” The first thing were designed to do when we come into Christ is sit down and get some spiritual milk so we can begin to understand the forgiveness and the love of God. When I finally got to the point where I truly forgave myself—because I truly believed God had forgiven me—I received the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit to stop sinning.

I will never forget the day I realized I hadn’t forgiven myself. On that day, I finally did. I thought, “I’m letting this go. God has forgiven me, and I’m not going to hold condemnation over myself anymore. I’m not going to hold on to bitterness and guilt.” This is what changed me forever. I havent been the same since that day.

After we sit and we learn, we start to fall in love with God. The more you know Him, the more you love Him. The more you love Him, the more you want to obey Him. You want to walk with Him. You want to be righteous—and He makes you righteous. You are righteous in your spirit. Your behavior cant change who you are. It can’t, not ever. Never ever. But you can improve your behavior to match the righteousness to which God has called you—to match what He has already made you in Christ. Your behavior can continue to become more and more in the likeness of Jesus Christ. You start doing Gods will and walking in the path of Christ, and this becomes your new way of life.

That is what we read about in Ephesians 4, 5, and 6. If you understand the love of God, if you know who He is, and you understand how valuable you are—a masterpiece, chosen before you were born to be holy and blameless—then you dont act in your old way of the flesh anymore. You dont continue in that sinful behavior. You dont continue in sexual immorality. You dont continue being selfish and a pain in the rear and angry and bitter.

You don’t stay there, because the love of God is so overwhelming that it overshadows all of the hurts and the pain and the sin and you want to shed your old self like a snakeskin. So shed it. It’s ready to be shed. Just let it go.

You have to take possession of your new identity in Christ. You have to own that you are chosen, holy, loved, and blameless. When you know it and you believe it and you say to yourself every single day, “I’m chosen, holy, loved, and blameless,” then your mind, your will, and your body transform into the image of Christ. When you actually believe you are a new creation, the old way of thinking and speaking and acting becomes easy to shake. Speak the truth in Ephesians 1, 2, and 3 over yourself daily.

I finally realized through reading Ephesians that knowing and loving God and knowing who I am in Christ are what make my behavior right. It’s not what I do or what I work at that makes the difference. It becomes easier to take possession of my new identity and go Gods way when I understand the battle has already been won.

It’s not easy in the sense that I have to deny my flesh. That part is always a struggle. I have to guard my mind and deny my tendency to dwell on negative thoughts. I have to take every thought captive, but the key is that I now want to do it because I know I belong to the Lord and am filled with His Spirit. I have such a strong desire in me to be free in the Lord that I actually have the ability to turn away from my sinful and destructive nature; it can’t control me anymore because I know who God is.

This brings us to the part about standing firm, Ephesians 6:10–20. Once you know the love of God and you’re not trying to work out your salvation for yourself, once you stop worrying about trying to be good enough and trying to be worthy, you realize you are free from your sin. You throw off the old snakeskin of your previous life.

You decide, “I’m not going to be entrapped by the devil any longer. I’m not his slave. I’m a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and I refuse to be a slave to anyone else.” You are able to stand firm because you can identify and distinguish between the fingerprints of the enemy and the fingerprints of God. You know Christ came to bring life and life more abundantly while the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10 NKJV).

You know how the enemy tries to steal from you; you know how he has stolen from you in the past. You know when the door has been opened to the enemy, and you quickly slam it shut. You stay on your guard and stand firm, and you slam the door in the enemys face. You refuse to allow the enemy and his lies to hold sway over your life anymore. You stand firm in the truth and the love of God because you know that you are chosen, holy, loved, and blameless. You are Gods workmanship, His masterpiece, and you refuse to allow strife into your relationship with Him. You refuse to let anything get in the way of the abundant life He wants you to live and the good work He plans for you to do.

You refuse to allow the enemy to undermine and steal your friendships, your marriage, or your relationship with your kids. You refuse to allow the enemy to make you feel unworthy or unloved. You refuse to allow the enemy to make you feel trapped and a slave to your sin. You stand firm and take the word of God seriously. You allow the word of God to renew your mind. God equips you with full spiritual armor and gives you His word as a sword (Ephesians 6:10–17 NIV). He gives you everything you need to fight the enemy and stand firm in the faith.

It’s a choice. It’s up to each of us. Today you have “before you life and death, blessings and curses (Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV). Starting today, choose life.


I was twenty-four years old before I heard of agape. It was a time of trial in my life. I was driving in the car with a coworker when he started explaining to me the differences among three types of love: erosphilia, and agape.
I had been in church, on and off, for most of my nearly twenty-five years, yet I had never heard of agape. My coworker described agape as unconditional love. It is always there for you no matter how righteous or wicked you are. You cannot do anything to lessen it or increase it; it is the same, steady love day in and day out. This type of love does not keep track of your sins. It does not stifle you or imprison you. It is the kind of love that fills you and frees you. It is the kind of love that changes you.
I had spent the last fourteen years deprived of love. I had sought love in every corner. I had pursued passionate love, romantic love, and friendship. I had searched high and low for a love that would make me feel valuable. I yearned for love. I simply wanted to be worthy of someone’s love.

You can only be rejected so many times before you start to believe you deserve it. At that time of my life, I felt alone and unlovable. Then my coworker guided me to the truth of unconditional love. I did not fully comprehend the significance of this concept at the time, but I have since come to understand that I am loved. When I felt rejected and worthless, however, those feelings were not my true identity. In truth, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14 NIV). God Himself “created my inmost being”; He “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13 NIV). God set me apart before I was born as one who was and is and always will be loved—by Him.

The church needs to wake up and stop constantly fixating on everyone’s flaws. We cannot afford to forget who God is and what He did out of His abundant love for every single one of us. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV). We did not and cannot deserve His sacrifice and love for us, yet they are ours to receive. How dare the church allow another child to endure a life of desperately searching for love because no one shared with her the blessing of God’s free gift.
Jesus Christ issued his disciples this command: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35 NIV). Will you rise to the challenge and share agape with someone every day this year? In one year, 365 days, I challenge you to convey this message of unconditional love to the people God brings into your life. Tell someone, “You are loved. It is part of your identity. It is etched into your being, and it can never be removed. It is in your very fingerprints—every indelible line testifies that you are loved.”