Strongholds or Strong Arms? Because you have a choice

Beneath the sprawling oak tree in the middle of the park, sat a woman on a bench, Her children played on swings nearby.  Pumping legs and happy laughter pulled her gaze, unsmiling.  She longed to laugh but felt hollow and worn, "God, why am I so defeated?" She stood there shaking from the flow of angry words that had poured out over her lips like a tidal wave. Whimpering she prayed, "Lord, why am I so angry?"

Driving home from having dropped them all at school, a mother climbs again under the covers of her bed and closes her eyes.  A tear rolls down her check , making a gentle thud upon her pillow.  "This isn't how it's supposed to be," the words come out like a cry.




Weariness and hopelessness hang heavy on the skin and deep within the soul of women today.  Moms who long to laugh, grandmas who can't shake their sadness, wives who miss the way they used to love. Many learn to self-medicate  - turning to sugar, to spending, to other relationships, to social media.  The lifting lasts for a while, but it never long enough, and on the other side of the momentary happiness is a deeper measure of grief.  Up and down a woman sails, just like children on swings.

That crazy cycle of up-and-down-and-up-and-down, was the impetus for our  40 day sugar fast. Now here we are, a couple of weeks in, and I have to say that my emotions are leveling out.  I am not only tasting flavors more clearly, I am tasting God's Godness in the midst of real life more clearing, and I am finding Him to be good.  Though my imperfections still rear their ugly heads, I have the wherewithal to renounce them quickly and choose instead to press into the power of God.  That's what this journey has been for me.  Pressing in and pressing on.

At the park, and in our home, and in my car... pressing into Him, like a refuge, like a stronghold.

God has been using my own discoveries to teach me faithfully from within, however, he is usig you all to teach me from without.  Hearing your testimonies, confessions, and praises are pushing me forward as I press on.

This comment, especially, has shaped the way I am thinking and praying through our fast.


"...with sugar, I feel happy - but without sugar, I feel free. I so often want happiness, and not freedom."

(Jaimie Bowman, author of Breathe: 31 Moments with Moms)


The other night my husband mentioned some family friends of ours who are struggling.  He sighed and said, "They aren't living victorious lives."  I'd never heard him use those words before, it's not part of our normal vocabulary, and I don't know if I've ever thought the words about my own self - this idea of living victoriously.

Over the next couple of days I continued to think on the phrase, like a picture, imagining what it would even look like and why we can live that way at all.  As I mulled it over this old hymn provided the soundtrack:

O victory in Jesus My Savior, forever He sought me and bought me With His redeeming blood He loved me ere I knew Him And all my love is due Him He plunged me to victory Beneath the cleansing flood

I heard about His healing Of His cleansing pow'r revealing How He made the lame to walk again And caused the blind to see And then I cried, "Dear Jesus Come and heal my broken spirit," And somehow Jesus came and brought To me the victory

(Victory in Jesus, by Eugene Monroe Bartlett Sr.)


Wherever you are today, remember that there is Victory for those who are in Christ - victory both now and eternally.  "It is for freedom that He came to make us free."  He doesn't want us to bind ourselves again, to false gods that promise to make us feel better in the battle.  He is the Victor and the strongtower always standing at the ready.  Press into Him in your weakness and press on!


"Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."                     (1 Corinthians 15:57)


So why do we end up in the muck and the mire of sin and sadness again and again if our freedom has already been won?  Goodness, couldn't we spend a life time figuring that one out. But I think it comes down to this: Our Freedom has already been won, but it takes daily surrender to live like it's true!

Moment by moment, and challenge by challenge, temptation after temptation, hormonal shift after hormonal shift, living what we say we believe. And we believe in Victory through Christ


Let's claim what we proclaim.

Let's live what we profess.

Let's live victoriously.


If we truly believe that the all-powerful, radically loving King of Heaven and Earth chased us down in our sin and sadness to save and redeem us, and offers His power today to remake us... how would we live?  Defeated?  In bondage? Would we stay submissive to the strongholds that bind us today, bow down to false idols that entice?  Believe the lies?  Hold grudges of unforgiveness and let bitterness spring up from that gnarled root?

Oh the grace that should flow from lives that know Victory through Christ. Oh, how joy should mingle there. If God is who we say He is, and loves us with love everlasting, then the life we live should be one of victory and freedom!

"...with sugar, I feel happy - but without sugar, I feel free. I so often want happiness, and not freedom."

Caste off the ties that bind you today, my friends.  Whatever those ties may be, pull them out and cast them aside. Sugar is temporary fix - retail therapy is too - making us feel happy for a time.  But they are strongholds, holding us back from the true strength that allows us to live Victoriuosly in step with Christ.

Today my question is simple:


Do you want a stronghold, or the One who can hold you strong?


Yesterday's verse was "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." (Psalm 34:8) How perfectly it transitions into the strong embrace offered today.


This I declare about the LORD:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

he is my God, and I trust him. (Psalm 91:2) 


Held strong in the refuge that is God, when depression presses is.

Held strong in the knowledge of His nearness, when loneliness threatens.

Held strong in the safe embrace of His arms, when the enemy advances.  Bringing safety during a divorce hearing, a child's illness, a bout of anxiety over finances.

Held strong by Him.

Do not let yourself be consumed by strongholds today, but press into the loving embrace of a strong and saving God.


Press in and press on.


If sugar is not "your bag" - that thing that holds you captive - ask the Lord what is, and join us for these 40 days of bondage breaking resolve.


"For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’" (Deuteronomy 20:4)


Victory in Jesus,

My Savior forever...