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On Becoming Victorious Overcomers

November 07, 2019
By Kimberly Oden ~LCA Mama & Co-Founder
The other day I received a voicemail when I was at my Monday night Bible study. I thought it odd as the caller knew I was at study and doesn’t usually leave messages.  As I hopped in my car to drive home, I played the VM and suddenly had the breath sucked out of my lungs as I listened to a conversation captured by a “butt dial” – a conversation I was not meant to hear…a conversation that directly affected my relationship with this person.  As I type this, my heart begins to pitter patter once again because it hurt sooooo deeply.  Two days later, I discovered by happenstance that someone near and dear to me had lied to me about something.  That same week, a rift of anger was launched in my direction from a close friend.  What in the world?  As I look back to that week, I confess that I didn’t feel like much of an overcomer…to be honest I felt flat out defeated and wanted to throw in the relational towel in all three circumstances.
Later that week, however, I chewed on a thought that had been seasoned with feelings of yuck… a not-so-good thought…and then the Holy Spirit gently whispered, “What if others were privy to YOUR private thoughts?”  Ha, it was kinda like a Divine butt dial!  The Lord knows the deep recess of our hearts and at that moment, He wielded my unbecoming thought to call me out.  He made me aware ONCE AGAIN of ALL that I have been forgiven…of the undeserved love, mercy and grace that had been extended to me.  He reminded me that this well of Living Water within is not mine to have and hold but rather, as His follower, it is my responsibility to allow that love, mercy and grace to flow in and through me towards others in my life – even the ones that hurt my heart… 
I have been studying 1 John recently.  In chapter 5, verses 1-4, John writes that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and that everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. Did you catch the word, “whoever”?  This means even those who are hard to love!
He goes on to write, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God  - that we keep his commandments.  And his commandments are not burdensome.  For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that overcomes the world – our faith.”
As I mentioned above, I didn’t “feel” like much of an overcomer that week and you can bet your bottom dollar that I didn’t feel like loving the ones who hurt my heart…I was hurt and sad and mad and so much more that you don’t need to know…but THIS!  This Truth is a foundational Word that supersedes my feelings, if I will allow it!  I can - you can - we can all become overcomers even in the hardest of circumstances, but the only way that’s done is through faith in Jesus Christ.
But then the questions bubble…
  • Do I have faith that Jesus can mend the hurt in my heart so that I can love? 
  • Do I have faith that He did indeed forgive all of my sins SO THAT I can then extend that same forgiveness to others? (See Matthew 6:14-15 – FYI it might sting a little…)  
  • Do I have faith that he can restore the brokenness that unfolded in each of these relationships? That faith is the ONLY gateway to victory – the pathway to overcome any boulders that block the pathway before us.
The bottom line is that there is no other weapon, no other strategy nor any other way to steadfast and eternal victory except in and through the free gift of Jesus’ salvation AND choosing to follow His lead and submit to His eternal Lordship!
What is fascinating is that I looked up the word “overcome”, I discovered that it comes from this Greek word:

Yep! The word, “nike” means victory, but it actually means much SO more than that simple word – here is a screenshot of the explanation from BibleHub:

Isn’t that just incredible?!?!  That little Nike brand swoosh that we see all over tarnation is actually a reminder of the victory that is ours to have, a victory that results only from obeying the faith that Jesus imparts to us! 

I love that it says, “…His inworked persuasion”!  My flesh was persuading me to anger, bitterness, sadness and tempting me to withdraw from these people whom I love so dear…and yet JESUS!  Jesus’ inworked persuasion wooed me to a higher and eternal victor that is far beyond anything I could ever fathom, hope or imagine!
We here so often about how culture impacts us, our children, our families…what if  every single time we see this company logo that we allow it to become a consistent reminder of the victorious hope we have in and through Jesus alone! That when pressures, stress, circumstances and even the beloved people in our lives tempt us to defeat, we recall the victorious faith we have in our Savior, Redeemer and Hope - hope that can only be found in Christ alone!
He is our Rock!
  He is our Way!
    He is our steadfast and eternal victory that is above, across, around and through any obstacle that we may face!
p.s. Here is an oldie but goodie, In Christ Alone, sung by Kristene DiMarco | Bethel Music Worship that proclaims,

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand....

It is well worth the listen! :)

Entitled Expectation or Reverent Remembrance?

October 24, 2019
By Kimberly Oden ~LCA Mama & Co-Founder

Entitled Expectation or Reverent Remembrance?

My Son!  You are ALWAYS with me and EVERYTHING I have is yours! We HAD to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is now alive again!  He was lost and now he is found!  Luke 15:31-32

“What would my life look like if I released entitled expectation and embraced reverent remembrance…”  That’s the thought that rolled like ticker tape through my thoughts as I listened to a song by Hillsong titled, “Remembrance.”  The word, “remembrance” means to notice something absent which had previously been present, whereas, “expectation” means to look forward to a future event that has the likelihood to unfold.  They both focus on something that is absent so what is the difference, I wondered. 

When we take a peek at the story of, “The Prodigal Son”, we are given a visual of the two perspectives.  The younger son who squanders away his inheritance, “comes to his senses” and remembers his good and loving father.  He was eating slop with the pigs when he suddenly remembers how well his father cares for his servants.  This moment of remembrance humbles his heart and causes him to return to his father knowing how little he deserved.  The older brother, however, had been “slaving” on his father’s behalf  for his entire life.  So when he learns that his younger brother had returned, and that his father had the audacity to throw a party to celebrate the prodigal’s return, the older brother sulks outside the party enshrouded with entitled expectation. 

Isn’t it so easy to walk through life like the older son feeling like we are, “slaving” for others, for God, for our spouse, for our children, for our job?  This focus of entitled expectation robs us of joy and causes us to forget the simple Truth that the father tenderly and excitedly proclaims to the older brother.  “My Son!  You are ALWAYS with me and EVERYTHING I have is yours! We HAD to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is now alive again!  He was lost and now he is found!” Luke 15:31-32

I mean can you imagine the father’s inexplicable joy when he sees his younger son approaching, the son he thought dead??!!!  Scripture tells us that the father was SO excited that he ignored cultural niceties as he hiked up his robe as he ran to greet his prodigal son!  The older son had always been with the father and was privy to EVERYTHING the father owned…even the father’s affection.  And yet, the older son’s entitled expectation clouded that truth…

As I type this, my husband just left for work. Things have been crazy busy in our home for weeks now.  I finally voiced my sadness of feeling a wee-bit neglected…simply put, my expectations were not being met.  My focus was on a future event that was simply not unfolding – him taking the time to do x, y or z.  The conversation was good and needed, but what might have been my approach if I laid expectations at the foot of the cross and remembered that everything I need can be met by my heavenly Father if I let Him?  What if I had a heart stance like that of the younger son, remembering how very good the Father has been to me, the compassion He extended to me by extending His love, salvation and grace even when I didn’t deserve it?  Perhaps I could approach my husband or children or coworkers with the same compassion that had been extended to me? What would our lives look like if we released entitled expectation and instead embraced reverent remembrance of our good, loving and faithful Father?  Perhaps the approaching thanksgiving season might be marked by a celebration song of gratitude verses a sulking song of entitled expectation?

Some Points to Ponder :)

  • This passage is often called, “The Parable of the Lost Son”.  In what ways might we consider the older son as, “lost”?
  • The older son’s heart had wandered into the land of expectation causing him to forget who he is and Whose he is. Does my heart stance align more with the older son or the younger son?  Do I focus more on entitled expectations or on reverent remembrance?
  • When I am tempted to complain about what is not happening during this holiday season, how might I remind myself of Who my Father is and all that is available to me as His follower? Holy Spirit, we ask that you would sustain a heart of remembrance within us that causes our lives to reflect the excited and resplendent glory of our heavenly Father!

Link to, "Remembrance" by Hillsong.


Part of a Bigger Part

October 03, 2019
By Kimberly Oden ~LCA Mama & Co-Founder
Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a member of it.
1 Corinthians 12:27
We have family dinner every Sunday at my parent’s house.  I love this consistent time of gathering together.  This particular Sunday, however, I felt a melancholy settle over my heart. You see, this Sunday, was a marked Sunday.  The next morning my oldest would begin a new career, my second would begin preparations to fly back to Los Angeles to continue his pursuit of acting, my third would leave for UGA and my youngest would begin his junior year in high school.  As I looked around the table, my heart longed for the land of littles and yet rejoiced to see my mighty men about to launch into a new season. 
After dinner the band of brothers went upstairs to record a vlog episode about this last day as a fam together. As I listened to the banter of, “ok, you do this, I will say this” or, “Zay, you crack me up”, I was reminded of the importance of family and that we are all part of the bigger Body of Christ.  Each of my sons, each of your children, have been created with a facet of God’s almighty character in order to launch as mission-minded leaders who will impact culture for others good and God’s glory!  It is so easy to see giftedness and even calling in my sons, but over the years, I can’t say that I’ve pondered my part much.  Even though my nest has become quieter and quieter, the quietness has provided the space and place to also ponder my part.
1 Corinthians 12:27 says that we are ALL a part of the body of Christ and yet individually members of it! The years of littles were like a fast-moving train leaving little time to ponder purpose.  To be honest, I had a hard enough time simply being present and completing the tasks of motherhood, so the idea of pondering my part in the body of Christ didn’t surface much in my thoughts.  If I could go back and whisper to myself a word or two, it would be this:  “This season seems impossible at times, but lean in and learn as it is not only a refining and preparation time for your children, but also for you!  The gems that you see in each of your sons, the leadership potential, the compassion for others, the diligence to follow through, those are all facets of God’s divine character that He has created within them the moment He knit them together in your womb!  Wield this time well and all the while, continue to spend time in the Presence of the Lord, allowing Him to BE Lord over your thoughts, words, actions and deeds.  As you do, you will grow as a bold daughter of the Most High King, equipping and preparing yourself for ALL that the Lord has for you within His body of believers! Like our friend, Dr. Kathy Koch, often says, "We are ALL created ON purpose, WITH purpose and FOR a purpose."  What’s yours?
  1. We all have individual gifts and talents.  Things we would do all day long even if we weren’t paid for it.  Those gifts point to our part.  What is something you L-O-V-E to do that does not require effort?
  2. How can you use that passion to serve others and bring glory to God?
  3. Pray and ask the Lord to reveal the giftedness of each of your children – that you would have eyes to see and ears to discern their beautiful God-granted giftedness.  Ask Him to give you the same eyes for yourself – to remind you of who you are, but more importantly, Whose you are as a son or daughter of the Most High King.

Here is a song about seasons.  Sometimes walking through, "the land of littles" can feel like a winter season, a hidden season that will prolong for won't.  I promise :) The proclamation in the song is so encouraging and is a reminder that the Lord is working out his purpose for us in whatever season we may find ourselves:

I can see the promise
I can see the future
You're the God of seasons
And I'm just in the winter
If all I know of harvest
Is that it's worth my patience
Then if You're not done working
God I'm not done waiting
You can see my promise
Even in the winter
Cause You're the God of greatness

Seasons by Hillsong



Tags: Identity, Purpose

i got it...

September 26, 2019
By Kimberly Oden ~LCA Mama & Co-Founder

Years ago, when one of our sons was five, he came in from the garage, sweaty, eyes red and puffy from crying.  He walked right past me to his room where he grabbed a pillow and a belt.  What in the world?  When I peeked in the garage, I realized that he had been watching his brothers zoom around the garage on their new roller skates. He had watched and studied and decided that he wanted to try his hand at it too. The problem was that he had no one helping him.  He had fallen down so many times that he decided his solution would be to strap a pillow to his beaten and bruised bottom.  He didn’t ask for help because, as he told me, “I got it!”

Aren’t we all a little like this with our heavenly Father?  Psalm 68:19 says, “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”  The author of the Psalm is rejoicing and praising Jesus for who He is, our Savior, and for who God is, our daily burden bearer!  And isn’t it so easy to pass through life at lightening speed, pulling up the bootstraps and letting our decisions, emotions, words and actions stubbornly proclaim, “I got it!”

God can only bear our burdens if we will release to them to Him.  I love the visual of the New Living Translation, it says, “…for each day he carries us in his arms.”  Our sweet son could have saved his little bottom if he only allowed us to be his support, to help “carry him” as he learned how to balance himself. 

Our Father desires to do the same, to be the same for us, but He loves us enough to not force His love upon us!  One of the names of Jesus is, “Emmanuel, God with us”.  It’s not just a name, it’s a name with a promise – He is WITH US DAILY!  Another name for Jesus is our Salvation! When we face the pressures and stress of daily life, let the word, “daily”, remind us that we have a good and loving Father on whom we can call who is just waiting for us to place our burdens at HIS feet!  He will carry them for us daily!  In fact, He will carry US daily if we let Him!  One of the best ways to do this is mentioned at the beginning of the verse…through praise.  Kinda like a great exchange?

Psalm 55:2 commands us to cast our burdens on the LORD in exchange for two promises  - for His promise to sustain us and to never permit us to be shaken!  What would our daily lives look if we actually believed He is who He says He is and will do what He promises to do?  Do we trust Him enough to daily cast our cares upon Him and praise Him for His promise to daily carry our burdens?   

1) The next time you are tempted to act like a child who proclaims, “I’ve got it!”, how might you remind yourself that God is ready and waiting to daily bear your burdens?

2) How might you tangibly exchange your burdens for praise? i.e. You feel frustrated that you don’t have a plan for dinner – flip the script and praise God for all of the food in your pantry and ask Him to show you an easy solution.  Pancakes & eggs anyone? J

3) The word “cast” literally means to fling or throw.  The next time you are tempted to grumble, fling your frustration at the Lord’s feet and choose instead to praise Him that He promises to sustain you!  Any praise is awesome praise in the eyes of our fond Father! What can you praise God for today?

Here is an amazing song by Amanda Cook that speaks to the faithfulness of our God amidst the most difficult of circumstances :)


Tags: burdens, praise, trust
1 comment

Living with Eternal Perspective

September 18, 2019
By LCA Faculty and Staff
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from His perspective.  Colossians 3:1-2
I once had a pastor that consistently encouraged the church to keep an eternal perspective.  It’s kind of a broad statement but I think it is less about pondering a destination and much more about relying on a very real relationship.  You see, eternal life is not a place we go but a Person we know!  Eternal life is Jesus!  When we keep cadence with the King and align our hearts and eyes with Kingdom come, we can experience Eternal Life in the here and now!   It guards us from glorifying the high moments and grumbling in the low…
I heard a story recently that caused me to ponder perspective.  I mean, if we are all honest, life this side of heaven would be beyond difficult without the proper perspective…an eternal perspective.  The story went something like this:
A farmer had a horse that ran away.
His neighbor said, “Oh, that is such a shame!”,
but the farmer replied  “Is it?”
The next day the horse returned with a second horse!
The neighbor said, “Oh my! What a blessing!”,
but the farmer replied  “Is it?”
Shortly thereafter, the farmer’s son went for a ride on the new horse, but the horse reared up and the boy fell off and broke his leg!
His neighbor said, “Oh, now that is such a shame!”,
but the farmer replied  “Is it?”
The very next day farmer and his neighbor received word that the government was going to war & thus were drafting all men between the ages of 18 and 30.  Because the son’s leg was broken, he could not be drafted.
The neighbor proclaimed, “Oh my! What a blessing!”,
but the farmer replied…
Y’all get the gist! This side of heaven would be miserable if we did not have a steadfast and loving God who can be trusted with every single solitary thing we face!
We would all be riddled with anxiety and stress and fear if we did not securely fix our gaze on the only One worthy of our trust! Jesus!!! He’s got it all handled! He is the Alpha and Omega! The beginning and the end! He knows all variables, and we can trust Him with them all!
The perspective of the farmer is so vital!  He does not rejoice too highly over circumstantial highs, and he does not mourn too deeply over circumstantial airtime to either sets our hearts on things of this earth…whether it’s a financial win or woe, a relational concord or conflict or a personal vice or victory, how might our hearts remain steady if we kept lock step gaze with the only One worthy of the very words we speak?  This is Jesus...The One Who is not of this world but rather came TO this world as Eternal Life SO THAT we might experience Him now, knowing that someday we will spend eternity with Him?
The farmer chooses to remain
anchored, and unshaken…
We can do the same!  Isaiah 28:16 says that the one who believes in the Lord need never be shaken!  I LOVE that! "...need never be shaken..."
Another one of Jesus‘s names is The Rock! The term for "rock" literally mean bedrock!
Not a Pebble
not a stone
not a boulder,
but a bedrock!
Fascinating side note – I recently learned that the entire city of Atlanta, Georgia is built upon bedrock! The outcropping of Stone Mountain is a visual of what lies underneath the houses in which we reside…but on a grander scale, it is a nature-made visual of Jesus, who is the foundational bedrock right beneath our feet!
Our very lives are founded and grounded in the bedrock security and perspective that only Jesus can offer!
He is our salvation!
He is our rock-steady security!
And He is our eternal life!
May we ever keep an eternal perspective, eyes fixed on keeping cadence with the King who alone is worthy of our words of praise!
p.s. Eternal Perspective is one of the four objectives in L.I.F.E. Prep.  Click <here> to learn more. :)
Here is an amazing worship song that is ALL about perspective! 
Highlands (Song of Ascent) by Hillsong UNITED
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