{re}fresh

A stronghold in times of trouble

by Mindy Kiker

Hiding Place by Kai Schreiber flickr.com_photosgenista_75511494__aa4aed1e74_CC BY-ND 2.0

The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9

When I face trouble, conflict, or chaos I look around for a safe place to hide, an escape. God is always there as a refuge or place of retreat, but unfortunately I’ve made a few hiding places of my own. These dwellings certainly are “strongholds” but only in the worst sense of the word.

One of my favorite strongholds is blame-shifting. This response to conflict helps me make trouble someone else’s fault. I frame all interactions into a win-lose paradigm and life becomes adversarial.

I can hear the voice of the accuser and it sounds an awful lot like . . . me! Read the rest of this entry »

Pure Gospel Grit

by Mindy Kiker

The Annunciation by Randy Williams
Flickr.com_/photos/realimagin/33945654273_CC BY NC 2.0

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38 (AMP)

Who is this young woman who said, “Yes,” to God and served Him with a steadfast heart, even though life took her into unexpected territory? When I ponder the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, I am astounded by the strength of character that she exhibited at such a young age. Think about the confidence she exhibited in her conversation with the angel Gabriel who arrived out of nowhere to tell her that she was going to become pregnant and bear God’s Son. What?

That ranks up there with the most outrageous thing that happened to me today!

When I read the gospel account of Mary’s encounter with Gabriel, I put myself in Mary’s shoes with some difficulty – this is definitely a Cinderella-and-the-glass-slipper moment. As I try to squeeze my bulging foot into the dainty glass slipper, I have to admit that it is not a good fit.

Here’s the honest truth: when a Word of God conflicts directly with my current circumstances, my gut reaction is to disbelieve God. Of course, I have not yet encountered Gabriel — perhaps that makes it easier to believe a Word. However, I suspect that even if I encountered a brilliant angel, I would still doubt. Read the rest of this entry »

A Whip-Wielding Crusader

by Mindy Kiker

It can be tempting to believe that Jesus doesn’t shine in the places where we have been wounded, where arrows or lies have lodged in our hearts from the hurt we have experienced in life. The painful experiences create damaged pieces of our hearts that feel dark indeed. Our enemy strategizes to attack our identity, our gifting, and even our bodies in order to break and shatter who God made us to be, to shroud out the radiant light of His love, joy, and peace.

Image by Blew bird
Flicker.com/photos/blewbird33/8905407840_CC BY-ND 2.0

In our hearts there are places where God’s healing light has not yet reached. Jesus died to purchase our healing, our cleansing, our freedom, but He also stands at the door and knocks. Unfortunately, it can take many years for us to trust Him enough to open our wounded places to His light. He will never force the door open, but instead Jesus waits patiently for us to say, “Come to me, my Savior. I open the door of my heart and give you permission to heal my wounds and make me whole in these areas that have closed me off from your love and freedom.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Love: as simple as it gets

by Mindy Kiker

Simple Love by JLHopgood
Flickr.com_6816878933_eab6c660b1_CC BY-ND

Everything in the Christian life pivots on the events we celebrate this time of year. Jesus was born, lived a sinless life, and offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to set us free. Am I the only one who feels uncomfortable that Jesus had to suffer torture, scourging, mocking, and finally a slow, brutal death?

Why couldn’t He destroy the grip of sin and death with some fire power? I personally like Peter’s approach, when he hauled out his sword to defend his Messiah and cut off the soldier’s ear. All of me cries out, “Yeah, Baby, don’t let them take you without a fight!”

Can you tell that God’s ways are not my ways? If I were designing the redemption of humanity, I would have sent Jesus to earth to create His kingdom through a political revolution. Wouldn’t it have been impressive to lead a fiery revolt against all the other nations of the world and establish a physical kingdom for God’s chosen people?

Read the rest of this entry »

How Good and Pleasant

by Mindy Kiker

United by Slana Slana
Flickr.com_5893113781_5d6309fc7e_CC BY-ND 2.0

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1 (NIV)

I consider Psalm 133:1 a “life verse” because I hold onto it for dear life. There is nothing in me that naturally wants to be in unity with others. In my flesh, I typically want to control others and make them obey me. Without God as my guide, I do not want to submit one to another — I want others to submit to me. End of story. All you need to do is say, “Yes, ma’am,” and we’re good to go.

Ouch! There looms Romans 12:15, stepping on my toes, making me squirm, recommending that we “live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but enjoy the company of the lowly. Do not be conceited.” (NIV)

Part of the problem with the concept of unity is that it requires humility, and when humility is in short supply, unity is hard to muster. My husband often says to me, “Mindy, unity does not mean that I must come into line with you, nor does it mean that you must come into line with me. It means that we both need to come into line with God.”

Read the rest of this entry »

A Clear Path

by Mindy Kiker

Image-by-paul-ritchle_flickr-com_4751328088_6bfe56a7fb_CC BY ND-2.0

Image-by-paul-ritchle_flickr-com_4751328088_6bfe56a7fb_CC BY ND-2.0

The phone rang. As I answered, I heard the voice of one of my mother’s best friends, a faithful intercessor who has prayed for me since I was a little girl. When she calls, everything stops. I pay close attention because, when she reaches out to me, she has a word from the Lord.

She said, “I’ll be brief, Sweetie, because I know that you’ve got five hundred things going on and those boys need you. As I was praying for you, the Lord gave me verse 36 from Psalm 18. He wants to tell you that he will enlarge the path for your feet.”

“You have enlarged my path under me, that my feet did not slip.”
Psalm 18:36 (KJ2000)

My spiritual mama went on to explain the message, encouraging me that God’s love reaches out to draw me forward on the path he has ordained. Picture a mom or dad clearing the path for a baby who is just learning to walk. Every obstacle is removed, and the excited parent crouches a short distance from the baby, arms outstretched, encouraging the youngster with love and encouragement, “You can do it. Come to Mommy.”

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