So…..I’ve been going into strip clubs lately. There. I’ve said it. Now pick your jaw up off the floor. I know that confession shocks many of you. I recently shared that juicy tidbit of information with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while and to say they were shocked would be an understatement. Why in the world would I, the next best thing to Sandra Dee (ok, so I grew up on the movie Grease), go into a strip club? The answer is simple. There are women in those clubs who are broken and devastated (whether they know it or not) and they need to be told that someone loves and cares about them. There is One who will never leave them and whose love will never change. They need to be introduced to the Great Lover of their souls, Jesus.
The truth is, I go into the clubs for the same reason I go into churches all over the country with our Finally Free Women’s Conferences. There are women sitting in every church in America who are just as broken and devastated as any woman dancing in a club. How can I say that? Because women are women no matter where you find them. We all have insecurities. We’re all afraid we will never measure up. (I have no idea who is holding the measuring stick.) We’re all secretly hoping that somehow someone will find us worth loving and tell us we matter.
This point was made very clear to me just a few weeks ago. My friend, Stefanie, and I were in one of the clubs handing out small gifts to the dancers, which is something we do each time. Inevitably one of the dancers will ask why we are giving them gifts and being so nice? That’s when we have the great privilege of mentioning the name of Jesus inside the walls of those clubs and literally being His Hands and Feet.
On this particular night we were about to leave the club when we noticed a new dancer had just arrived going straight to the stage. We wanted to make sure she received a gift as well, so we walked up to her and held out the gift bag. She stopped and came over to us and asked, “What is this for?” Stefanie spoke right up and said, “We are loved and we want you to know that you are loved too. God loves you and you matter.” I’ll never forget the look in the dancer’s eyes as they began to well with tears. I’ll never forget it because it’s very familiar. I’ve seen it time and again in the eyes of women at our conferences when they hear those same powerful words. God loves you and you matter. I saw that same look as I stared into my own eyes in the mirror many years ago having heard that life-changing truth for the first time. It’s a sacred moment when the words go beyond the ears and enter the mind and begin to sprout in the heart. The moment the tiny fragile seed of belief is planted in a heart with the simple question we secretly ask ourselves, What if? You can see the dancers as the wheels begin to turn in their own minds. “What if these “church ladies” are right? Oh please, let them be right!”
We’ve been developing some amazing relationships inside those walls and each time we enter the clubs we get to throw a splash of water on the tiny seeds that God has already planted in some of the girl’s hearts. It’s truly amazing.
So that’s one of the things I’ve been up to recently. You will be hearing more about this in future blogs as well. I can’t wait to see what God has in store!
Can we make a deal? I’ll pray for you and you pray for me. Please pray for our outreach team that goes into the clubs. Pray for protection and that we would fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel by showing these women God’s unconditional love. And I’ll pray for you as God continues to reveal Himself and as He shows you where you can most effectively use the gifts He’s entrusted to you. It might be in a place where you least expect it!
My computer was freaking out today, so I did what many do. Actually, the only thing I know to do since I am certainly no tech wiz. I restarted it. After the screen went black for a moment, I heard the start-up music and within a few minutes my computer came back to life and began working as good as new! Phew!!
Have you ever needed a restart? Ever needed to hit the reset button on yourself? I’ve just experienced this in my own life over the past 2 months. 2013 was a stellar year in so many ways, but as the year was coming to a close I found myself overwhelmed. To put it mildly, I was dazed and confused. I had somehow lost my focus and my world and life seemed very blurry. There were circumstances that were approaching that I didn’t know how to handle. Problems were arising with no answers. I kept repeating this phrase in my mind, “I don’t see any way for this to work out.” For me, that particular phrase always leads to the same place….panic and worry. Many of you know my story and the stones I carried for so long, my old buddies, Fear and Anxiety. Well, my old unwanted “companions” were back. It took me a while to realize it, but it was true, so I decided it was time to hit the reset button.
That’s how I began 2014. I decided to reset. I heard a pastor preach a sermon a few years ago about what to do when you’re exhausted, overwhelmed and fearful. He said, “What do you do? You stay by the stuff!” What did he mean by that? Pressing in to the One who should always have my gaze and digging into the Word. So that is exactly what I did. I did a version of a Daniel fast, prayed and spent more time in the Word. I stepped up my intensity level with these things. Now please hear me. I’m not saying any of this to make myself sound like a spiritual superwoman. I’m most definitely not! Desperate times call for desperate measures and “desperate” was my middle name.
I mention this because I wonder if there is anyone else out there that needs a restart? Have you lost focus? Are you feeling overwhelmed with life and all the demands that come with it? Maybe even full of worry about how it’s all going to work out? Let me encourage you to press in to your Heavenly Father and to dig into His Scripture. If you’re already doing that, let me encourage you to step up your intensity level by even including some form of a fast.
I went into that desert time with a lot of questions. Do I have all of the answers now? No. But peace has returned and I’m learning how to trust at a deeper level. And my Father has indeed been wooing and teaching me along the way. I’ll be sharing some of the things I’ve been learning and some of the things I’ve been questioning in future blogs, so stay tuned. But for now, stay by the stuff. It’s the only way to come back to life.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Philippians 3:13-14, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Do you have things in your past that you want to forget? I know I do. Poor choices, painful circumstances, tragic loss are just a few of things that we all experience that we would rather forget. But what about the pieces of our pasts that were joyful and brought great pleasure to our lives? The good ole’ days as some like to call them. Do you want to forget those?
I find it interesting that Paul says there is one very important thing that he does: he forgets what is behind and strains toward what is ahead. He forgets or neglects the things of the past and instead he pursues or chases the goal ahead. For many of us, it’s hard to let go of the past no matter how good or how tough it was. I know there are events that will always be logged in our memories, but I believe Paul is talking about living in the past.
Where are we living? God doesn’t want us living in the sorrows OR the joys of yesterday. We each have a life that is worth living right now. He has something special for us in this current moment, but many of us are missing it because we are so focused on our pasts.
I have a good friend who says, “I choose what I dwell on.” She has experienced deep pain in her past and after taking the appropriate steps to work through it, she has allowed herself to heal by choosing not to dwell on it anymore. She chooses to forget or neglect it and lives in the now. What an important lesson for all of us to learn. Both the triumphs and the tragedies of the past are done. There’s no going back. We must press on. There is too much life yet to live and I don’t want to miss any of it!
Where are you living?
Let’s Connect On Twitter: @KimTabor @FinallyFreeTM
Nancy Turner is a new friend of mine from Moody Radio. I had the privilege of being on her show, This IsThe Day, a number of times last year. During one of her shows she shared with her listeners what her “word for the year” was. She chose a word to focus on that represented an area she wanted to grow in throughout the year. I thought that was very interesting, so I decided to pick a word for 2012: Trust. I wanted to learn to trust God in a deeper way than ever before. When I look back I can see so many different events that occurred that gave me an opportunity to develop my level of trust. Some were extremely difficult, but I’m grateful. I’m definitely still a work in progress in this area!
As I’m journeying through 2013 I realize there is another word that is coming to the forefront for the year: Surrender. What does it truly mean to surrender every single part of my will and being to Christ? And I mean EVERY part. There are things that I easily surrender, but I’ve been asking Him to reveal to me the things I still hold too closely. What do I still want to control in my own life? Do you know what happens when you ask God that kind of question? He answers! It’s funny how that works. 🙂 And the answers have been VERY revealing. I have some work to do in this area for sure.
So the year 2013 will be known as my year of surrender just like the year 2012 was known as my year to go to the next level of trusting Him.
What’s your word?
Let’s Connect On Twitter: @KimTabor @FinallyFreeTM
This morning I’ve had the new Chris Tomlin song, “Whom Shall I Fear,” playing over and over again in my home as I work. What an amazing reminder that the One true God is all powerful. In fact, He is the Commander of the angel armies! Just stop and think about the sheer magnitude of that statement for a moment.
Depending on what translation you read, there are many times throughout the Old Testament that God is referred to as the Lord of hosts or Lord Almighty, in other words, the God of the angel armies. He is the Great Warrior who battles for us! The God that fought for the Israelites as they were being pursued by the Egyptians, is the same God that fights for us in the battles we face each day in our own lives. “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still” -Exodus 14:14. Is there a battle raging in your life today?
You crush the enemy
underneath my feet
You are my Sword and Shield
though troubles linger still
Whom shall I fear?
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a Friend of mine
The God of angel armies is always by my side
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be joyful always? Really? This has been a tough week in so many different ways. Every time I turn on the news I’m reminded of the lives and homes that were lost in OK. So much devastation. There are senseless killings here and abroad…..one person horrifically claiming “an eye for an eye” as a reason for brutally murdering an innocent man walking down the street in London.
Then there are things happening in our personal lives. Really tough things. A sweet friend of mine had been praying for a liver transplant for her mom and it looked like God was working to make that happen. Tiny miracles were happening along the way and she and her mom were both clinging to that each day. Over the weekend her mom suddenly took a turn for the worse and she passed away a few days ago before a liver became available. Be joyful always?
Joy in the midst of the storm is only possible with Christ. I don’t know any other way to say it. Is it difficult to live above our circumstances at times, you better believe it is. But it IS possible and I’ve got to choose to have enough faith to live that out in my own life. The verse from 1 Thessalonians wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t possible. God’s not a game player using us as His pawns for entertainment. He wouldn’t tell us to live a certain way if it wasn’t attainable.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
THIS IS NOT ALL THERE IS! And I thank God for that! It’s only when I keep my eyes fixed on Him that I have any chance at all of living above my momentary troubles still finding joy in life.
Today you may find yourself on a mountaintop or in the midst of a valley. Either way, I would love to hear what is bringing you joy today? Sometimes it’s good to just write it down as a reminder to ourselves. You can comment below.
I love to read and occasionally I like to post what I’ve been reading in the hopes that these books can challenge others as well. God has gifted so many in the area of writing and I’ve gleaned little treasures from some wonderful books through the years. Here is what is impacting me currently:
Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning – I read this book or portions of it at least once a year. I don’t know anyone who writes more honestly or sincerely about the grace of God and our desperate need for it. He challenges me to look at things from a different perspective and I love that. Brennan finished his race here on earth a few months ago and he will be greatly missed.
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen – What a powerful book about the parable of the Prodigal Son. I never realized I resembled not only the prodigal, but also naturally the elder son. Most importantly, I should strive to resemble the Father in the story. What a great reminder.
Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James – Have you ever heard the term ezer-warrior? Carolyn discusses this term and what it means to be a woman today and an ezer-warrior for the Kingdom of God. Women are strong and brave and it’s time we step up to our battle positions for His Kingdom!
The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson – This book has forever changed my prayer life. What do you want God to do for you? Is it ok to even ask that question? Mark talks candidly about deep desires and what happens when we seek God earnestly and “pray through” for His inspired desires in our lives.
The Freedom Of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller – This is a power-packed little book. It’s only 44 pages long, but I have most of it highlighted. “What are the marks of a supernaturally changed heart? A truly gospel-humble person is not a self-hating person or a self-loving person, but a self-forgetful person.” Wow. A deeply convicting book.
I would love to hear from you if you’ve read any of these books or if you want to share others that are impacting you right now.
Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Isn’t it comforting to know that God has plans for you? And they’re not plans to harm you, but plans for you to prosper in Him! He has your best in mind. So many of His children are barely hanging on by a thread, but you don’t have to live that way. He doesn’t just want you surviving this life. He wants you to flourish! No matter what you are facing today, I hope you will take a moment and remind yourself of this eternal truth. Life can be hard and painful at times, yes, but God wants you to live your life as one who knows and understands that you have hope in each moment and a beautiful future in Him and with Him. That’s a life worth living!
Remember: “If the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”
Many of us are carrying burdens we were never meant to carry. We have become consumed with worry, fear, anxiety, depression, addictions; the list goes on and on. God has given us an extraordinary invitation to come to Him if we’re weary and burdened. He wants us to turn over all of the things that have been weighing us down. He wants to release us from our bondage. He wants to set us FREE! All we have to do is come and lay our burdens at His feet. His freedom is readily available to all of us, but we must choose to let go. You see, we can’t take hold of freedom while we’re still clinging to our bondage.
Today I invite you to accept Christ’s invitation. Come to Him, lay your burdens down and rest, knowing and believing that He has set you free.
Remember: “If the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”
Many of you know that I have lost some friends over the past few years to terrible diseases. I know those women are experiencing more joy, life and freedom than they have ever known before, now that they are in their Heavenly home.
Once in a while I come across something that reminds me of them and that brings a smile to my face. My sweet friend, Sherri, went home to the Lord this past October. This is one of the last things she posted on Facebook 2 weeks before her death. She knew her time on earth was being measured in days or weeks at this point and this is what she wrote:
“LIVE EVERY DAY YOU have breath! LIVE IT and APPRECIATE that GOD ALLOWED YOU THE day in which to live. Thanks to my honey for taking me out for some of the best seafood this gal has encountered. THANK you God!”
When Sherri wrote these words she was very ill and only able to leave the house occasionally for very quick trips. She knew there was no possibility of healing this side of Heaven. She told me she knew her race here on earth was done. In one of my last conversations with her I asked her what she wanted people to remember. She said, “I want people to remember to be grateful in ALL things.”
When I read that Facebook post, I see someone who was still filled with joy, someone who was still grateful for every breath she was allowed even in the face of death. In those moments Sherri was teaching all of us how to live and how to die.
What a precious reminder for me today. Each day is a gift and I can choose how I will live it. Today I choose to live being grateful for all God has done for me and appreciating the fact that He even allowed me to wake up.
Thank you, Sherri, for being such a powerful teacher in this life! I’m looking forward to celebrating with you again in eternity!