Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Submit to God not Goliath


I am both blessed and blown away when verses from my daily YouVersion Bible Reading Plan leap off my cell phone screen and into my heart and mind! It doesn't matter when they are very familiar passages, because I know God is speaking to my heart and wants me to see something new and to do something about what He is teaching me. 

Hence, here is this blog post! :) 

The Scripture reading was 1 Samuel 17, describing the popular story of David and Goliath. The specific verse that raised a bunch of questions in my mind, and I vocally responded to myself, too, was, "For 40 days, every morning and evening, the Philistine champion strutted in front of the Israelite army." (1 Samuel 17:16) 

And, when I draw stars next to my journal notes, well, then God really has gripped me with new insight! And as you can see, this one is a three-star insight for me. :)

Whaaaaat? Forty days? Wait a minute. Goliath stepped out in front of the Philistine army twice a day for 40 days and tormented the Israelite army by loudly barking threats at them? Wait. This went on for 40 days? This is a new thought for me.

Why did this army of God's people put up with this? For 40 days? Did they forget God?


Why didn't the 9'9" tall Goliath, wearing a massive bronze suit of armor,  just take his gigantic spear -- you know, the one with the 15-pound iron point -- and walk across the valley that separated the armies and just slaughter them? He was after all, big, loud, and scary. The Israelites were already so frightened by what they saw and heard even their armor suits were rattling, right? They were getting frightfully ripe for Goliath's picking them off. 

And then another thought popped in my head: God was restraining Goliath, in the same way He has a leash on the enemy of our souls, the devil, today! This analogy became a new kind of perspective for me. Yes! This is just like the spiritual warfare every child of God experiences today. Yep. God has our raging, fierce enemy on a leash.

When we listen to the threats of the enemy of our souls -- it all starts in our thoughts you know -- and we don't resist the tormenting words, we become exactly like the Israel army in the Valley of Elah. (1 Samuel 17:2).

However, God has given us the sword of the Spirit, which is the powerful Word of God. And just like David who is a picture of our LORD, confronted the enemy in the name of the LORD, it is the same kind of warfare for us today: "Submit yourself to God, resist the devil..." (James 4:7).

I kept thinking about this verse, 1 Samuel 17:16, wondering why the Israelites put up with torment for so long. You know, that 40 days of torment thing. But now I see. I've done the same thing. Maybe I'm the only child of God who can be deceived by the lies of the enemy of my soul, shake in my armor, submit to his lies, and go on and on in torment. Those are the times I don't call on the Holy Spirit power inside me to resist with these weapons:

  • "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourself to God, resist the devil and he will flee. (James 4:6-7)
  • "You dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)
  • "The devil is a liar and the father of lies. His native language is lies." (John 8:44)
  • "The LORD will fight for you, you only need to be still." (Exodus 14:14)
  • "I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish." (Isaiah 41:9-11)
  • "Finally, be strong in the LORD and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." (Ephesians 6:10-13)
  • Do we see that the LORD is our spiritual armor???!!! It's His power, His strength that wins battles. He's our covering, our shield! "In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." (Ephesians 6:16)

 Are we going to submit to God or to Goliath? If we would actually sit still and read God's Holy Word daily, and learn to pray daily, we would see that God has supplied us with a supernatural arsenal to resist and overcome the evil that comes against us.

"The LORD is trustworthy in all His promises and faithful in all He does." (Psalm 145:13). David was confident in that truth. In fact, check this out: "So David triumphed over the Philistine...after he killed him he cut off his head with the [Goliath's] sword... When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran." (1 Samuel 17:50-51) Whoo hoo! Total victory!

We don't have to put up with 40+ days of torment if we'll "submit to God and resist." Jesus came that we might have peace. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)

For all of my Sisters, you are not alone. Spiritual warfare is normal for us in this life. But ongoing torment is not. Fight back. God is with us.

XOXO
Polly
"Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name TOGETHER!"  
Psalm 34:3

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Jesus didn't have authority issues; He was totally consumed!

I can't find "Lone Ranger" or "Master of My Own Destiny" in any of my Bible concordances. Nope. Not one. Not NIV, ESV, NASB, nothing. 

And there's a reason for that. As a member of the Body of Christ, we are a family of believers in Jesus Christ, The Good Shepherd. We are His sheep and we are totally dependent on Him for everything; all things come from Him!

All of our gifts, talents, abilities, imaginations, oh, everything comes from Him. We can't accept glory for our beautiful gifts whatever they might be -- but we do have the privilege to bless a lot of people by pointing them to Christ with our talents and give Him all the glory! Whoo hoo!



Jesus teaches us, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5) BAM! There it is. 

Lone Rangers don't want accountability. They don't respect authority. They don't like rules or boundaries. They want to control. So they will not find the abundant life Jesus came to earth to give His children!

Here's the kicker: The Savior of the World, Jesus Christ, bowed His knee to the Authority of His Father in heaven every moment of His life!!!! Jesus lived in submission to Him! He loved and trusted Him that much!

Jesus did not make a decision without consulting His Father God! His heart and mind were riveted on the voice and love of His Father. Yep. Even Jesus, The Holy Son of the Living God said, "By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgement is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me" (John 5:30). 



Really? Jesus? Yep. It's all there in black and white in the book of John; Jesus' passion to glorify His Father in every way! 

Jesus said, "I and the Father are one." John 10:30. 

When we are one with God we do everything with Him and through Him. Jesus is totally consumed with the love of His Father, God. God is totally consumed with the love of His Son, Jesus. 

He invites us to have that same holy oneness with Him, too! Whoa! Yes!


This book is under revision in preparation
  a ladies' gathering in early fall 2017! 

And speaking of invitations, here is a invitation to all ladies (high school age  to empty nesters) to join me!  As we gather and seek Him together, we'll discover we can truly abide in this supernatural love. It will blow your mind because it's so beautiful. We can have that oneness with Him, too! 

8-week Totally Consumed Ladies Gathering
August 20, 6 pm
Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Canton 30115

Stay in touch for more details, Sisters! 

Polly
"Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt HIS name together!"
Psalm 34:3



Saturday, April 15, 2017

Pray 4 Cara

My beloved friend and sister in Christ, Cara Tadsen, has been hit with a storm and it's turned into a tsunami of cancer.

Cara is the type of Christ follower who is always taking care of everyone else around her. She has always been like the Proverbs 31 woman who "works vigorously with her hands" and her "lamp does not go out at night." She is loving. Tenderhearted. Unselfish. Insightful. Athletic. Joyful. She takes care of her large family, most of whom have started their own families. She loves her Lord.

I met Cara decades ago when a homeschool mom prayer group spouted in our local community of Union Hill. We'd meet in different homes and pray for each other, our families, our community and country. We have been blessed by God with a special, lasting sisterhood and that is what is driving me to write this post.
Our prayer group at Cara's home. circa 1990.

For years we prayed together, for others. Now Cara needs everyone to be praying for her! She's tired and she's fighting and praying. Those close to her know all of this to be true. 

Almost two years ago Cara and her family spectacularly catered our daughter, Mary's, wedding at her family's Chukkar Farm Polo Club & Event Facility. When "The Happy Song" was played Cara came out from the kitchen area in her apron and danced with a couple of us. We rocked it so much no one was willing to step on the dance floor with us. Yep. That's Cara.
No one wanted to dance with us to "The Happy Song" at Mary's wedding reception! Why???? It didn't stop us, did it???

World-renowned Pastor Charles Spurgeon, also suffered greatly in his life and wrote several sermons fueled by his own serious afflictions. He wrote and preached on the power of prayers through pain, the grace of God being comfort and help in His chronic suffering.  

In one of his sermons Spurgeon said, "The storm has a bit in his mouth...[Christians] know that the storm has a bit in it's mouth, and that God holds it in, and nothing can hurt them; nothing can happen to them but what God permits."


Will you pray for Cara and her family?
They've set up a website for updates to help all of us target our prayers for the glory of God.  https://www.caringbridge.org/signin
"The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective." (James 5:16). 

I am honored to be Cara's friend/sister.
Thank you, God, for this faithful warrior. Keep sustaining her, Lord.
Polly



Thursday, March 30, 2017

lukewarm


"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am going to spew you out of my mouth. You say I am rich; I acquired wealth and do not need a thing. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.
Revelation 3:16

It's not easy to understand God's ways. He tells us the simple reason is, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9). 

So when Christians -- His own people -- do not understand at times why He says and does things then it's an issue of our own faith. We have to believe God is the God of all truth. We have to accept His word and His ways as showing His love for us. We believe He is sovereign and in control of all things.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path" (Proverbs 3:5-6).

After He calls out our name and we drop everything and turn to Him, He fills us with His Holy Spirit so we can easily communicate with Him! From that point on, He loves us and cares for us more faithfully and powerfully than any human. We have to be a diligent student of the word of God to know Him better.  

Okaaaay...then what's with this vomit thing? I thought He was a God of love and all that?

He is all that! He is a God of love, mercy, compassion, power, faithfulness, kindness, long-suffering, wrath, justice, and He rules over all of creation.

So when He saves us through the blood of Jesus, His Son, we are changed and our hearts long for Him. And that's exactly what He wants! He wants us! He wants our time and love and fellowship! Seriously. He deeply loves His children.

When we take our eyes off Him and our ears begin to listen and follow the lies of worldly chatter, the fire in our hearts begins to grow cold toward Him. We are lured away from His ways and into accumulating stuff and to people and outward appearances. We are no longer hot or cold about being a Christ follower, we're just lukewarm. Fence sitters. Carnal Christians (oxymoron). Complacent. Apathetic. Just too busy for God. Period.

When we're lukewarm we'll only read our Bibles and go to church when we feel like it. Hey man it's trendy to show up at church when we feel like it, right? Trendy is cool.  And when we're in the worship service we don't sing or engage in the message, no, we just make an appearance. "Hey, I went to church! I'm a good person. I just don't have time to read a Bible. And praying? I don't get that. It's only for the religious Christians, really." 

This kind of attitude is what makes God vomit. Scary, isn't it? 

Charles Spurgeon writes: "Lukewarmness is nauseous to the Lord. The bad may be reclaimed, but those who are neither one thing nor the other are in a hopeless condition, for they are too  full of conceit to be led to repentance."

Is the American Church lukewarm today? Is God going to spew us out?

May God forgive America for our sins and turn our hearts back to Him. For the glory of God and the good of our own families, neighborhoods, churches, and communities.

"Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with Me... Whoever has ears let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches" Revelation 3:19-20,22).

In Jesus' Name,
Polly


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

catch of the day


Whenever Jesus goes fishing for disciples He already knows who will become His catch of the day as a faithful follower. His true disciples will see His invitation to follow Him as a blessing while others will see their invite as a curse.

Before Jesus called His first disciples at the Sea of Galilee, (Luke 5) He had already transformed their hearts from being fishermen to become fishers of men. With crowds pressing in on Him on the shore, He came to the water's edge, stepped into Simon's boat and asked him to "put out a little from shore" so he could continue teaching the crowd. Simon, who would be later called Peter, was already worn out from fishing all day long. Exhausted. Tired. Probably sleepy, too. Ya think?

When Jesus finished teaching He said to weary Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch. Simon answered, "Master, we've worked so hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets" (Luke 5:5).


Wait a minute! You mean weariness isn't an honest reason to tell Jesus, "No?"  Nope. What if we were fishing all night and not catching anything? Why would we go back out on the same night? Simon obeyed without an argument. Hmmm. Is that like us? Hmmmm. And maybe with Jesus helping, things would turn out differently. Ya think? Uh-huh. That's right.

When we don't persevere and do what we know is right, we're not believing God is always working things out for our good. For example, Simon was very tired and Jesus was fully aware of his state. He was in the midst of preparing to bless Simon's socks off!  However, Simon saw going "out in the deep" as just extending his already long night of not catching any fish!

When they were out there fishing in deep water Simon tried to pull up his nets up but they were breaking from all the fish inside them! He called out to nearby fishermen to come and help pull the bursting nets out of the water! What? Yes!

Simon was overcome with the abundant blessing of the fish, and in humility told Jesus, "Go away from me, Lord, I am a sinful man!" (v. 6)

Jesus got his attention. Simon saw Jesus. Simon believed Jesus, became a fisher of men, and pulled his fishing boat up on shore to begin His walk with Jesus. Simon "left everything and followed Him."



This is us, right? May it be so, Lord.
For His glory,
Polly

Saturday, February 25, 2017

carrying friends are caring friends

Our church hosts a weekly prayer gathering in the student chapel. The same group of brothers and sisters keep showing up to pray together. Upon arrival we receive a list of requests that have been compiled by the church office staff. Then we pray.


We're seen God move mountains, save souls, heal the sick, restore relationships, comfort the mourning -- you name it -- God has been pleased to answer wildly and inspires "us to not neglect the gathering together."

Louis Chau is a faithful prayer warrior and each week we hear his heart cry out on behalf of others. Louis quietly fasts and prays -- alone at his home -- for everyone on the long list of requests. Then he meets the rest of us on Wednesday nights and prays with us all.

Louis has to walk with a cane due to a debilitating bout with polio many years ago. He has to lean on his left leg and hold a cane in his right hand to get around.  He is able to drive a car and his small scooter is suitable for indoors and sidewalks.


Several days ago Louis sent a urgent text message asking my husband Don and me to pray for him. It was already dark outside and he was backing up his scooter after taking out his trash. The scooter tipped, fell on top of him and crushed his knee: it was the leg affected by polio. We began praying. An hour or so passed and we heard from him again. The pain was so extreme, Don drove to his home and took him to the ER.

The text messages multiplied as the church family learned of the fall. The diagnosis was a fractured femur. Doctors made a special cast and gave him medications for the pain and sent him home for complete rest.
Louis Chau

Wednesday morning rolled around and I was reading my daily Bible plan. I read the passage of Mark 2 where the friends of a paralyzed man carried him to Jesus and the man was healed. 

With that thought, Don and I asked Louis if we could pick him up and take him to the prayer gathering and pray for his healing. He graciously declined because he was in too much pain and needed to be physically still.

Then the thought came to my heart and mind from the Mark 2 passage. We won't have to take him to the prayer gathering to help him! No! We can carry Him to Jesus with our prayers! Yes!  Just like the faithful friends of the paralyzed man in Scripture, since he couldn't walk, his friends carried him to Jesus.

The church family is carrying Louis to Jesus through prayers for him, visiting him, texting him, praying with him, and bringing him food.

Another church friend carried Louis to an appointment with his own orthopedic surgeon. Louis had asked us all for prayer that surgery would not be necessary in his healing process. He was praising God after his visit that the doctor said he did not need surgery!

Wow. We are living this thing! Glory to God!

"And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic carried by four men...and when Jesus saw their faith...He said to the paralytic, 'Son your sins are forgiven.'...but that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins -- He said to the paralytic --'I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.'...And he rose, and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, 'We never saw anything like this!'" -- Mark 2:3-12
Glory to God.
Polly

Saturday, February 18, 2017

radically radiant



Sisters, why oh why do we keep believing the lies of this culture that insist a woman must be flawless to have value? 

Magazine covers, TV commercials, billboards, reality TV shows, are selling outward beauty. Their product will help us become flawless beauties. Just think about it.  

The truth is there is only One who is Flawless. Jesus is Flawless. Sinless. Perfection. No one else. Never a People Pleaser. Never sinned. Never jealous of others. Always kind. Always loving. Always faithful. Yep. The Savior of the world. 

The Holy Flawless One came to earth to save His flawed people so they could turn their backs on the lies of this world and live and think like He does. 

He isn't concerned about what the world frets over. Nope. He knows "people look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7). 

Even His Word, the Bible, is "flawless" (Psalm 18:30). He uses it to teach His flawed children the truth and how to live and walk in the truth. His Word is an unstoppable weapon against the lies of the dark world. 

The truth is everyone on this planet is flawed. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) We need the Flawless One to save us.

If we will first go to His flawless Word instead of asking, "What about me?" we'll find treasures. "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear...for the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them" (Matthew 6:25, 32).

Maybe, Sisters, just maybe we're so stressed and insecure about our looks and our lives, because we're reading and watching the kind of worldly stuff that feeds that discontentment. You know, those magazines we love to pour over that are subtly transforming our minds into constantly comparing our looks and lives to other women. It's exhausting to try to be someone else! It is not God's desire for us! That's why we're anxious! 

Hmmmm. "What? I never thought of that!" 

What if we finally come to the place in our lives where we're ready to "throw off everything that so easily entangles" (Hebrews 12:1)? What if we decide we want to live Counter Culture lives and become radically radiant for the glory of God? 

What if we choose to throw off the comparison trap magnified in social media and beauty magazines and start reading the pure gold of Scripture?  What if then we start living joy-filled lives because we finally believe the truth of God's Word and we learn to stand on it and "let our light shine" (Matthew 5:16). 

That will be the day we've finally realized "God loves us with our flaws, quirks, talents, gifts and hearts broken toward Him" and we move on past thinking about ourselves? Our focus is on our Flawless God alone.

Sisters, we can be flawed AND radically radiant. Yep. And this is how we do it. 

We are the body of Christ.
We are sisterhood.
We are the light of the world.
For the glory of God.
Love,
Polly 


copyright 2017 by Polly Balint


 upcoming totally devoted 4




Monday, February 13, 2017

soul starving...anorexic faith

If I don't take a few brief moments to talk to God before my feet hit the floor in the morning, then I'll be starving my own soul of the strength and nourishment I'm going to need for the new day. I'll be hungry listening to my own voice, focusing on my own circumstances, and coming to my own conclusions about life. Yikes. Huge mistake. Why? God created me, saved me, unconditionally loves me and generously cares for me and I would ignore Him? "He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else" (Acts 17:25). BOOM! So if I chew on this truth for a while -- that all things come from Him and He controls everything -- why wouldn't I be hungry to know more of this Magnificent Savior?

Frankly when I'm really physically hungry I do not like to wait to eat. I don't normally put off eating when I'm famished. Nope. I want to be fed good food, real food, nutritional, life-giving food. Organic. Real. Healthy stuff. I know I will be strengthened after eating such a meal.



So if God brings us to a place in our lives where we finally believe we need Him every moment of our lives, for strength, guidance, protection, love, help, healing...why don't we "seek Him first" (Matthew 6:33)? If we believe He is the source of satisfying nourishment for our souls giving us the power to help and serve others, why wait to seek His face? If we know we need His presence in our lives and we're dependent on Him to meet our needs for everyday living why do we often put time with God on the back burner?

Do we answer, "Ain't nobody got time for that?" Well, that's the worldly chatter in our heads saying, "I'm too busy." Guess what, Sisters? We always seem to find the time to do what we want to do! Yes, we do. Yep. It's amazing how we can manipulate circumstances to do what we want to do! We really have no excuse for not daily, intentionally spending more time alone with God.

In this generation God's Word is served countless ways for hungry patrons: the Bible (with actual paper pages!), smart phones, podcasts, online video sermons, blogs by pastors, the Bible recorded on DVDs, and CDs. We can even feed our souls the truth of God's word in a take out menu of a podcast during a morning run!


"The one who feeds on Me will live because of Me" 
(John 6:57).

Early mornings in our home have the inviting aroma of fresh brewed organic coffee. A cup of that comforting beverage is my companion piece to meeting with my Savior. God has made me hungry for Him...because I know Him. I need Him to talk to me and I always have something to say to Him.

I know without getting equipped with the Word of God each day I don't battle the enemy of my soul like a warrior...I behave more like a wimp. Yep. I confess it's weakness on my part even though He has given me a spiritual suit of armor to wear to protect myself. He calls His Word the "sword of the Spirit" as part of our weapons of warfare. He's always at our side, Sister!

If I didn't read His Word -- through the help of the Holy Spirit -- I wouldn't know about the magnificent ways He has equipped each one of His children for each day. He wants us to spend time with Him. In fact, He invites us to dine with Him and says, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and He who believes in Me will never be thirsty" (John 6:35).

 Amen. 💖

Polly
Psalm 34:3 
Isaiah 62:1