Posted by: Tamara Harrison | June 7, 2011

Breaking Free

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We find comfort in the rules. Comfort in the way we can seemingly control something by placing restrictions over our lives. But when we break these restrictions in even the slightest way we judge ourselves as guilty and confine ourselves to chains.

You might have your own rules, but my rules tend to come in the form of food-rules. Food LAWS. My food laws have been things like “You will not eat any refined sugar”, “you will eat no more than 1500 calories a day”, “you will not eat anything that doesn’t have natural ingredients”. And those are some of the rules I’ve placed on myself since I’ve become better with eating. I don’t even want to go into what my old food rules were.

For the first 2 years of my life as a born-again believer I couldn’t shake the idea that I had to succeed at following my rules in order to have a right relationship with God. I thought that if I followed all these rules I would gain freedom from my sin. Do you see the error in this? I was finding salvation in myself. I was finding hope through my own performance. And when I didn’t meet my own imposed expectations I would feel shame and guilt in the most painful way.

I couldn’t even approach God because of the imaginary wall of shame I had erected before Him. This led to making countless pledges to “do better next time”. Of course it was always in my own strength, and so the cycle of striving, failing, shame, and guilt continued.

I lived Paul’s testimony:

“I discovered that the law’s commands (my “eat this, don’t eat this” rules) which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead ” (failing to keep the rules and feeling ashamed and guilty) (Romans 7:10).

However, there was life-giving truth I just didn’t get:

“But now we have been realeased from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power” (Romans 7:6).

I never fully understood what this meant for me!

The truth is, rules produce the ability to break them. The law makes the sinner stumble. God’s purpose for the Law was to show us we could never follow it!!

So why, why, do we place ourselves under rules only to see ourselves unable to follow them and then proceed to dig ourselves a grave of shame?

God made a better way! He knew we could never gain freedom on our own. That’s why He sent His Son to die for our sins and make a way for freedom through Him. “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord”! (Romans 7:25).

In Him we are declared FREE from the law! We are FREE!!! I no longer have to confine myself back to the rules, thinking those rules will bring me freedom. How backwards this is! Do you see the complete bondage? This self-imposed prison sentence is NOT from our Maker. He came to break that cycle, to set the captive free!

So now, I will no longer give myself a guilty sentence; I will no longer put my verdict above God’s. For who am I to claim that God’s grace is void in my life? Who am I to nullify the freedom and forgiveness available in my Savior? Who am I to look at God’s outreached hand of love and mercy and say NO? And who am I to look at the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for my sins and say that I want the old way?

Well, no more. No more will I be driven by laws and guilt instead of freedom and grace.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1).

NO CONDEMNATION. “No” means none. Not even a little.

To understand that the Judge of the universe does not, cannot, will not condemn you is to understand that condemning yourself because of your inability to fulfill the law is not only a waste of time but not valid! You can pretend that you’re guilty but you’ll be causing yourself, as I have done countless times, unnecessary despair and pain.

So I will live consumed and driven by the living God who forgives me and allows me to live abundantly free. I will NOT live being driven by dead rules and self-imposed guilt.

“Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead you live under the FREEDOM of God’s grace”!!!! (Romans 6:14).

The laws you place on yourself are DEAD. When you live through the power of God’s grace you don’t have to live by rules.

I have yet to meet anyone whose rules brought them lasting freedom. Only through complete abolishment of those man-made rules and giving myself over to the Holy Spirit’s control will I find true freedom.

What about you? Are you willing to admit that your rules are not bringing you freedom? I know the fear in the idea of not living by rules. Satan convinces us that we can’t do it and instead gives us something that looks like freedom but is the complete opposite.

I am testimony that by laying down your rules and living through the power of the Holy Spirit you will find complete freedom! I haven’t mastered it in the least, and I continually have to remind myself of the bondage that comes when I go back to my old way of living. Stop striving. Lay down your laws. Start living in Freedom.

Posted by: Tamara Harrison | June 7, 2011

Finding meaning in a mean world

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I wish everyone would just be nice.

Or maybe I just wish I wasn’t so sensitive.

Truth is, I get really sad when someone is anything less than sweet-as-pie to me. An ugly tone or a sarcastic remark chases the sun out of my sky and leaves me feeling weepy.

And don’t even get me started on driving; if someone as much as honks at me I might start crying.

What is wrong with me?!

Perhaps you’re like me; you let the way people treat you set the tone for your day. You let other people’s attitudes determine your mood.

It may make you want to retreat from the world, creating insecurity in your heart. Or it may make you strike back in retaliation, creating anger and bitterness.

One thing I do know is that when people treat me negatively I must—I repeat—I MUST find my refuge in God.

When I am shaken by the wrongdoing of others, I need to set my mind on the love of my God, the love that never does me wrong.

Psalm 42:5 says:

“Why am I so discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God!”

I love the emotion in this verse; I can almost hear the writer saying “what is wrong with me?? Why do I feel so sad??? What am I going to do??? I know!!! I’ll put my hope in GOD! I’ll praise HIM!! I almost forgot! He’s my SAVIOR! HE’S MY GOD!!!!!!!!”

Yes, when people bite I will find my hope in my God.

My hope is in His love not in other people.

And when my hope is in Him I am free in the most amazing way.

I am free to not let people’s actions affect me. I am free to receive my joy from God and not from people.

No individual can complete me. No individual can satisfy my longing for approval and security. Refuse to look for it in people. Accept it in GOD.

My identity is rooted firmly in God; I am who He says I am. I am not how others make me feel.

And ultimately I can’t fix others. I can’t live in a world where everyone is nice, because everyone has hurts, problems, and sin.

I can’t fix them and I can’t be their judge. Everyone is responsible to the Ultimate Judge who will bring justice and will right all wrongs when the time comes. In the meantime, I will focus on 3 things:

1) I am responsible only for my own actions before God.

2) I can’t take it personal when people say and do hurtful things.

3) I must find ultimate approval and joy in God.

This spells freedom! Now, as Proverbs 10:25 says:

“when the storms of life (or mean people) come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation”.

My foundation is God, not people.

Focus on your own actions, don’t take other people’s actions personally, hope in God.

You can build your foundation on how people treat you or you can build it on God’s love. Which one will you choose?

Posted by: Tamara Harrison | June 7, 2011

Peace in the mess

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Lately I’ve been trying so hard to figure myself out. Yesterday I spent an hour talking to God about why I do the things I do, why I sometimes act so out of line with His will for my life. Why I return to my bad habits and give in to the temptations that leave me discouraged and empty.

See, I thought that by taking a hard look at my mind and heart I would come to a logical conclusion that would bring some sort of enlightened understanding. My background in psychology brought all sorts of behavioral jargon to my mind in an attempt to make sense of things, but it just left me more confused.

Why couldn’t I figure myself out? Why couldn’t I just realize why I do what I do and change it? I spent all morning trying to “help myself” in this way.

The only conclusion I came to that morning was that I am indeed a big mess. I don’t like that I snap at my husband yet I do it all too often. I don’t like that I obsess over food and perfection, but it seems like I never learn. I know I need God’s word in the morning to give me peace throughout the day, but I rush through my time with Him.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever tried to make sense of why you do the things you do, wanting to change so badly but not knowing how?

As I was searching my mind and heart, I felt God nudging me in that tender way He does, telling me to just listen to what He has to say.

God reminded me that His peace is always available for me. He waits for me to accept it but when I choose to busy my mind with thoughts and anxieties His peace has nowhere to dwell.

See, the word “peace” comes from the primary verb “to join”. This meaning is so exciting to me because it implies the joining together of two things. Peace isn’t something that we inherently have; it comes from joining our minds with God.

Joining my mind with God means to focus on Him, who He is and what His promises are. This brings a peace that soars above my intellect, a peace that tells me it doesn’t matter if I can’t figure myself out. A peace that tells me that it’s God’s job to “fix me”; my job is simply to draw near to Him and obey Him.

I love the Message’s translation of Job 22:21:

“Give in to God, come to terms with him and everything will turn out just fine. Let him tell you what to do; take his words to heart. Come back to God Almighty and he’ll rebuild your life.”

I can’t tell you what these words did to me. You know, I still haven’t figured myself out. But these words tell me that I don’t need to. God in His wisdom simply asks me to receive His peace and allow Him to continue His transforming work in me. If I “give in” to God’s peace, I won’t need to spend any extra energy trying to fix myself. I’ll leave that job to my Creator.

Will you lay down your desire to fix yourself and simply give in to God’s peace by joining your mind with Him?

Posted by: Tamara Harrison | June 7, 2011

Let Go.

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“Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.” Luke 17:32-33

Lot’s wife was killed because she wanted the pleasure of sin she was commanded to leave-she loved her lifestyle. She was consumed and controlled by it. Her mind and her heart were attached to it. She did not let go of her life, she held onto it tightly.

Lot’s wife wanted to pick and choose what she could and could not have in her life. I believe that she wanted to follow God but she strongly desired to still have the pleasures of Sodom, and that’s what killed her.

God is calling me to let go. Let go of my misled desires and the life I think I want. Let go and cast it into God’s hands. My life is His. He controls it and is using it for His purpose and my good.

The verse above gives me the best reason for wanting to let go of my life: if I don’t, I will lose it. The word “lose” in the Greek means to destroy fully. If I decide to cling onto my life and control it, my life is pretty much dead.

Think about it. God’s commands are meant for our good, they’re not meant to make our lives miserable. I know from experience that following God’s commands leads to peace and freedom. If I let my mind and heart flirt with temptation, sinful actions will be the result. And when that sin keeps growing, the result is deadly. That’s what it means to lose my life.

When I think of what God saved me from it makes me shudder. I was a borderline alcoholic, drinking to somehow ease the hurts I was going through and making stupid, life-threatening decisions while doing it. One drink turned into ten and drinking turned into drugs and drugs turned into many life-threatening situations.

God was so gracious to protect me and extend His saving grace to me but when I finally said “yes” to God, I had to say “no” to my lifestyle. Like Lot’s wife, I was told to leave. And like Lot’s wife, I am so prone to looking back.

It’s amazing how Satan highlights the “fun” parts of my old lifestyle with a bright yellow marker while erasing the deadly, miserable parts. I must not give in to this deception and I must continually be washing my mind with God’s word. I can’t be trying to grasp at my old life because if I look at the temptation through the lens of God’s word I can see that it’s trying to get me to cling on to my life, trying to get me to do life my way and not God’s way.

So what is God’s way? Letting go. The Bible says if I let go of my life and give it back to God to control, I will save it. In the Greek, the word “save” means to “produce life” or to “rescue”!

Releasing my white-knuckled grasp on my life and giving it back to the One who created and sustains it will enable me to have real life. I will be rescued from the destruction that occurs when I try to control my life and I will experience true life from the Life-Giver Himself: Peace. Joy. Stability.

What about you? Are you still holding on to this world with everything you’ve got? Maybe you’re trying so hard to control your career by working overtime and neglecting the more important priorities. Maybe you’re trying to control your life through food: overeating to comfort yourself or starving yourself to control your image. Maybe it’s salvation itself. You know deep down that there’s a God who loves you, who sent His Son to die for you, and who wants to give you new life but you’re too scared about what you’ll have to give up to follow Him.

Whatever the case, please, please read these words as truth: Nothing you can hold on to will ever compare to what you will gain in Christ. Just let go. Let go of your life and allow God to give you the abundant life He died for you to have. I promise you, you won’t regret it. There’s freedom in letting go. Will you let go today?

Posted by: Tamara Harrison | June 7, 2011

A dark night, the stark Light

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I felt like darkness was consuming me and all was chaos. My mind was home to a host of anxieties and fears. And no one was there to help. Even if there was, I didn’t want to talk. It felt too painful to open up the door of my heart and let the turbulence inside me pour out. No one would understand. I wanted to keep it all inside, spinning around and around, churning up the battle in my soul.

This was the emotional turmoil going on inside of me last night as I lay down in bed. I had just furiously consumed almost an entire box of chocolate mint thins-a common occurrence when I’m feeling so out of control. The thoughts in my mind stacked on top of another, fighting each other for supremacy.

What is going on? What is our future? When am I going to get a job? Where are we going to live? What am I supposed to do?

And then because Satan loves to use doubt and anxiety as a foothold, I heard the destructive thoughts come crawling in.

You’re not good for anything. You have no purpose. You can’t even keep the house clean. Why are you even trying? You’ve wasted your life. You’re not doing anything right. You have no future. You’ve ruined it all. You’ll never succeed. There’s no hope.

I tell you my friend, this was a dark night. I hadn’t felt such attack in a long time, such utter hopelessness and despair, such a noisy soul. It had been building slowly over days and had climaxed at this particular moment. I wanted to know where God was and why He had left me.

As I lay in that bed I knew what I had to do. I felt the Holy Spirit nudging my heart softly to go to Him. He wasn’t going to force me; it was my choice to make. It wasn’t a hard choice. I was a sobbing, sniffling mess. I wasn’t going to get any sleep like this. So I slipped out of bed and onto the couch in my living room with my daily devotional book “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young.

I flipped to today’s date and started reading. “The world is too much with you, my child” it started. “Your mind leaps from problem to problem to problem, tangling your thoughts in anxious knots.” It went on to describe how this leads to a darkened mind that forgets that God is with me.

Wow. It couldn’t have described me more accurately. Notice it started by calling me God’s child. Ever since I began a relationship with God I’ve always heard and felt Him calling me His “child”. It has been a term that He’s used in my darkest times to get my attention and remind me that I am His and He is mine. A term I had forgotten. A term that grabbed my attention once again and brought me into His arms. Brought me to a state of dependence on my God and remembrance that He is with me.

And then the verses. The verses that met me where I was, infused my very being with truth. Truth that bathed every corner of my soul with love.

Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand”

This doesn’t just tell me not to fear, it gives me the best reason in the world not to: God is with me. And it equips me with the promise that He will help me and give me His victory.

He. Is. With. Me.

Zephaniah 3:17.
For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

This one I personalized. Tamara’s God is living with her. He is Tamara’s mighty savior. With His love, He will calm all Tamara’s fears. He rejoices over Tamara with joyful songs.

It brought me to tears in unbelief over His love for me. It just shook me to the core because it made me so aware of His love. And His love is the most valuable thing in the world.

And finally, psalm 34:19.

The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.

Tamara faces many, many, many troubles. BUT the Lord comes to her rescue every time.

God came to my rescue last night. He rescued me with His love. He rescued my by showing me who He is. I remembered. I remembered His love and was ushered into the awareness that He rejoices in me, sings over me in love, holds me up, and helps me. He is my Lifeline. No matter what I’m going through, He is there.

I went back to bed last night and fell asleep instantly. Had my circumstances changed? Not in the slightest. But God was with me. He always was, but I hadn’t realized it. I had forgotten my Lifeline and allowed my heart and soul to sink under the anxieties and fears of life. It’s amazing how one verse from His word can send Satan running, slay my burdens, and set me free.

Oh God, thank you for setting me free through Your Truth. I know in order to stay free I need to keep coming back to it, saturating myself in it. You never left me. You are always with me. Thank you for being the author of love in my life. Let me please never forget it. In Jesus name, Amen.

Have you forgotten that God is with you today?

Posted by: Tamara Harrison | June 7, 2011

The Seduction of Success

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“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind” {Ecclesiastes 3:4}

I started this blog because I wanted a way to spread the good news about Jesus Christ and to encourage others in their journey of faith. Honest, those were my motivations. Well the world has a funny way of twisting your once noble motives into sin-drenched desires.

I was welcomed to this online world with a massive number of avenues, options, and ideas to explore. Oh, and who knew millions of others were doing exactly what I wanted to do? And doing it much better than me might I add.

This girl who knew nothing of the online world past Facebook and occasional Google searches found herself signing up for every social networking site out there. I became painstakingly aware of bloggers who are wildly successful and beautifully creative in their words and ideas.

And so instead of making God famous I wanted to make Tamara famous. Suddenly my foremost drive to give God’s hope to others got flipped into this desire to promote myself instead of God. Succeed, succeed, succeed became my mantra. And it doesn’t help that I’m a perfectionist. I started the pursuit of chasing the wind.

My desires didn’t change overnight. If they did, Satan would be out of a job because I would have stopped him in his tracks a long time ago. No, this was a slow descent into a desire so driven to succeed that I had forgotten why I started the blog in the first place. I started slowly piling a mass of confusion and chaos on top of my head. Suffocating in it. Drowning in it. Losing my joy because of it. What happened, Lord? Why did this all suddenly feel so wrong???

I had that feeling that occurs when God is taken off the throne of your life and replaced with something else. God hadn’t gone anywhere but oh how far I had moved away.

And then it came: I got sick. It came out of nowhere; gradually, ever so slowly but painfully, my throat closed up and my body starting aching, shivering, sweating. Yup, definitely sick. It’s an amazing act of chastening when God slows you down enough to hear His voice.

As I cried out to him from my bed-ridden state, I yelled “Why, God, why? Why is this whole thing so hard? I just want to succeed, have my blog flourish, and it’s just not happening. How come God?”

If I were God, I certainly wouldn’t want to speak to me right now. But my Father, my God of Love, my Creator and Comforter delights to chasten me, teach me, change me. Despite what I’ve done. And when God speaks into your heart you just know it’s Him. You just know. So plainly came those words, straight from my Father: “If I were to give you success Tamara, would it be enough?” Kindly but firmly those words rang truth deep into my soul. Those words stopped me in my tracks, put a halt to my whining and questioning and humbled me dreadfully.

No. It wouldn’t be enough. I would want more. I would want something else. Even if I was blogger-extraordinaire with “followers” from all over the world it would not be enough because I would be doing it with a misdirected heart. And a misdirected heart produces misdirected hope. Hope in myself, hope in the world, hope in fame, Hope in chasing the wind, which is not hope at all. Hope not in the ultimate Giver of hope.

Where are you today? Are you so consumed like I was with success? The desire to succeed above all else, to have what you currently don’t, to make it to the top no matter what consequence you have to pay to get there?

Let’s remember who our Father is. He is the Creator and sustainer of the entire universe. He is the author and finisher of our faith. He gives us breath and life and hope. This powerful, almighty God loves us and has our very best in mind. He gifted us with God-given desires and passions and wants us to use them to His glory. He doesn’t want to squash our dreams, instead He wants to ignite them and be the Fire that fans them into flame.

All throughout the Bible (just search the word “success”), God allows people to succeed. But before these people succeed we see them acknowledging God as the giver of godly success.

“As long as the king sought guidance from the Lord, God gave him success” (2 Chronicles 26:5).

“May the Lord be with you and give you success as you follow his directions” (1 Chronicles 22:11).

“Peace and prosperity be with you, and success to all who help you, for your God is the one who helps you” (1 Chronicles 3:16).

“So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did” (2 Kings 18:7).

“Then you will again obey the Lord and keep all his commands that I am giving you today. The Lord your God will then make you successful in everything you do” (Deuteronomy 30:8-9).

“Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

And my favorite:

“The Lord your God will change your heart and the hearts of all your descendants, so that you will love him with all your heart and soul and so you may live! Then you will again obey the Lord and keep all his commands that I am giving you today. The Lord your God will then make you successful in everything you do” (Deuteronomy 30:6, 8-9).

Do you see my friend? Do you see what must be done in order to gain true success? We need a heart change. We need to love God with all our hearts instead of success. We need to obey Him because He knows what’s best for our lives. Then, and only then, will we be successful. And not the kind of billion-dollar-fame-and-fortune kind of success, but true, godly, life-giving, joy-producing, not-chasing-the-wind kind of success. That’s the kind I want. How about you?

Posted by: Tamara Harrison | June 7, 2011

Power from the Source

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“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” {Acts 1:8}

The other day as we sat down for a bite at the JFK airport we encountered a group of about 10 teens all wearing those sticky name tags saying “Hello my name is __________”. The curiosity rose up within me until I blurted out, “So how come you guys are all wearing name tags?” One guy answered “to help our memory”, and laughed. “Huh?” I answered, confused. Another across from him said “We are a group of Jewish people who are going on a tour of Jerusalem and some of us have only just met each other today”. I wasn’t prepared for that. “You guys are Jews?” I asked, not knowing what else to say. “Yep” was the answer. “So…you guys don’t believe in Jesus?” I asked. “Nope” they said. My mind went blank. What do I say to that? I told them that I am a Christian and one guy said “So you’re one of those New Testament type people…” I said “uhhh…I’m both; I believe in the New and the Old Testament”. It was kind of silent after that and so I asked them some pointless questions about their trip, said “God bless you guys” and left. Of course, as soon as Jack and I left, all these amazing, intelligent things I could have said came to me. I replayed our conversation over and over again in my mind. I should have told them that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament. I should have told them about the Old Testament Prophecy class I just took. I should have asked them what they make of the claims of Jesus. I should have told them about the amazing books I’ve read on how Jews became Christians or on how Christ was more than just a man who did cool things. UGGGHHH!!! I can’t tell you how grieved I was for these teens. I mean, without Christ we live in vain. Without Christ we have no hope. Without Christ we have no salvation. But more than that, I was grieved that I didn’t say more. I beat myself up all the way back to Greenville. But beating yourself up doesn’t get you anywhere, does it? In fact, that’s exactly what Satan wants-to turn proactivity into destructivity (yes those are real words; I looked them up!)

I decided that I must take this as a growth opportunity instead of sulking about “what coulda been”. I learned a couple lessons. #1: I can’t do anything of heavenly value without the Holy Spirit’s help. 3 years of Bible school is utterly useless without divine empowerment from God. I have to pray as I go about my daily business: “God, are you working in this person’s life? Please give me the words to say”. As the verse above implies, the Holy Spirit is a prerequisite to witnessing, for He is the source of power. #2: I may think that my encounter with the Jewish group was a disaster, but thinking this way is putting God in a box. He can use anything for His purposes. Now He will use my prayers. I have been praying for these teens constantly; they have been on my heart like nothing else these past few days.

The Holy Spirit already indwells a child of God, but refusing to rely on Him will leave you floundering about in our own self-effort. Rely on His power and you will be His witness.

Posted by: Tamara Harrison | June 7, 2011

A deadly trap…

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Fearing people is a dangerous trap,
but trusting the Lord means safety. {Proverbs 29:25}

So I’m in Pennsylvania for my mom in law’s graduation—she’s graduating with her masters in biblical counseling, the same major that I just graduated with, how cool! It’s heavenly here. I have never been here in the spring before and it’s gorgeous. The Harrison house was built in the 1700’s and there’s nothing else like it. It’s so unique, from the old antique furniture to the springhouse outside that was used in the 1800’s for refrigeration. The house is surrounded by an old English style garden and a stream; it makes you feel like you’re miles away from anything. Waking up here was so relaxing; I can’t explain it other than there was such a magical feeling of serenity about the place.

The first time I was here was winter of 2009 and Jack and I weren’t even dating yet. SO much has changed since then. I remember worrying about how to ask for coffee in the morning in light of the fact that I need coffee to function when I wake up and Jack’s mother is the healthiest woman I know; she hasn’t drunk coffee since she was in college! And with me wanting to impress her I simply couldn’t fess up to my coffee addiction. But how was I going to get my coffee in the morning? I couldn’t impress anyone if I was having caffeine withdrawals! I woke up the next morning determined to find a way to solve this life dilemma. Aha! I found a couple of those Starbucks instant coffee packages in my purse! Now something to put it in… The room I was staying in was connected to the laundry room so I started my search for a mug in there. Why would there be a mug in the laundry room? Of course I came out empty handed. But, there was laundry detergent, and the lid from one of those could do. I washed the soap out, turned on the water as hot as it would go, dumped my instant coffee in and chugged back the “coffee”. It was disgusting. I gagged. But I had my coffee fix. I walked down the stairs to greet Jack and his parents feeling slightly silly and a little bit like a junkie.

About a year later, after Jack and I were engaged, I told him and his family that story and they laughed and laughed. It is quite hilarious, but looking back I can’t believe I didn’t just ask for a cup of coffee. At the time I wanted to project to them someone I was not. It’s not like they would have hated me because I drink coffee! It just seems like sometimes I care wayyyy more about what people think of me than what God thinks about me. And not just in this specific coffee situation, in many others too.

I don’t want my life to be controlled by what others think of me. There’s no freedom in that. And Christ died to give me freedom. The verse I quoted tells me that if I fear people I will fall into a trap. This trap is insecurity, anxiety, and misery. Instead of caring so much about what others think of me I should focus that energy into knowing God more and discovering how He thinks about things.

This morning I asked Jack to brew me some coffee and I drank it while sitting at the kitchen table and talking to my mother-in-law. Wow, things have changed a lot. Of course I still struggle in this area but I know that it only brings insecurity and bondage. So by God’s grace I will instead focus on pleasing Him. I know by doing this I will achieve the freedom for which Christ died for me to have.

Posted by: Tamara Harrison | June 7, 2011

A fall-to-your-knees kinda Love

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May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully” (Ephesians 3:19)

Yesterday I was challenged to read Ephesians 3:14-21 every single day for 30 days straight. Why? To experience God’s love more fully. The radio preacher I was listening to was Charles Stanley (by the way, my father-in-law came to Christ through this man’s preaching!!) and he told his listeners to ask God to reveal His love to them while reading these powerful verses. Since I got saved 3 years ago I have been prone to thinking I need to earn God’s love; it’s hard for me to understand how He could love me so unconditionally despite my failing and rejecting Him so so often.

So I jumped at this challenge. It’s only day 2 but it’s amazing how God has opened my eyes to see His love all around me. Even as I was driving around town in 90 degree heat and rush hour traffic, I was reminded of God’s love everywhere—from the sweet text message from my husband at just the right time to the car in front of me that stopped long enough so I could read the street sign and find out where I was going. Mundane, everyday things, I know, but suddenly the little things I usually take for granted became strong reminders that God indeed is with me and loves me so much that He wants to show His love to me, if only I’ll ask.

My day ended with talking to a dear friend, who had asked me out for coffee and started explaining something spiritual that I had been struggling to understand for years. God. Loves. Me.

Paul starts out the passage by saying that when he thinks about God’s love he falls to his knees. This is a man who understands the love of God so much that it knocks him over at the very thought of it. How different would our everyday lives be if we understood the love of God? Just ask Him to reveal it to you and read this passage everyday with me. I can promise you He will show you His love in an amazing way.

Posted by: Tamara Harrison | June 7, 2011

Jealousy’s Ugly Roar

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A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones {Proverbs 14:30}

Well, we all just experienced the Royal Wedding plaguing our screens and creeping its way into the mouths and minds of people everywhere. Sitting outside of starbucks I heard almost every table around me speaking of the event. And then it came. Jealousy. What was I to be jealous of? I have a wonderful husband and a life showered with abundant grace. But so often I find that feeling creeping up inside of me, that feeling that tells me I don’t have all that I should, that I want more. I think it goes back to the Fall. Eve was tempted by satan when he told her she couldn’t eat of the fruit of ANY tree in the garden. I hope you caught what just happened. Satan completely deceived her! Telling her she couldn’t have the fruit of any tree was a complete lie. And although Eve caught the lie, she was still deceived in her heart. She bought into the lie that God was keeping something good from her. And you know what happened after that.

So often we experience the exact same thing. We are not immune from the deceptive lies of satan… “you’re not good enough, pretty enough, successful enough” etc.

If God is sovereign in my life He has put me in the right place right now. He knows exactly what I need and what I don’t, all in order to make me grow. If He had made my life differently or let me live how I think I should live, I may not even know Him today. For example, if He had made me with the beauty and body of a super model I would struggle more with pride and most likely have succumbed to the lusts of men around me before God saved me. God in His sovereignty knew I am too weak for such temptation and in His wisdom, He made me exactly how He wanted me.

Because I can trust in His sovereignty I am FREE to rejoice in what I have and in what I don’t have. This frees me to be happy for others and the gifts God has given them to mould their lives. I am not equipped for the life God has given anyone else.

Covetousness will ALWAYS leve me empty but finding the truth in God’s sovereign plan for me will set me free and give me peace. Don’t believe the lie that you’re missing out on something in life. God is too wise to let us have whatever we want and too good to keep us from what we need. Rejoice in that and see satan’s deceit disappear.

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