by Susan Tuttle

So I talked early on about names we believe about ourselves, rather than the name our Father has for us. The problem with believing these names is that they are lies told to us. We begin to believe these lies, and some of us even use them as excuses to keep from doing what God created us to do.

However, as a Christian, we cannot rely on them for an excuse. Once we have accepted Christ as our Savior, once His spirit lives in us, we can no longer claim to not be good enough. By doing so, we minimize His strength, his creativity, and His redeeming power in our lives. He makes us good enough. That’s our testimony! We came from nothing, we were nothing, but in Him we are everything. Important, treasured, loved, forgiven, and He has a plan for us. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us this, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”God never would have made a plan for you if He thought you couldn’t achieve it.

Why, then, do we believe we’re not capable of achieving God’s plan for us? Satan. He’s ‘the accuser’ – he’s always willing to whisper in your ear that you’re not enough. And sometimes he uses those in our lives to do that whispering. A parent, friend, sibling, co-worker, and the list goes on. We’ve all had someone in our lives, be it on a daily basis or one comment that stays with you, who help stick on those labels we were never meant to wear.

We don’t have to believe them though, and we certainly don’t have to listen to them. Instead, listen to this: “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” (Col. 1:22, emphasis mine)

We are free from accusation! Be firm, hold onto the hope that God gave us through His word and believe it! Stop listening to the lies that, for whatever reason, you’re not enough. You are more than enough in God’s eyes, created with a purpose that He wants to see come to fulfillment in your life.

_ By Marie Wells Coutu

It happens every year. Many of us make a New Year’s Resolution to exercise more in the coming year and eat less. Or we resolve to watch less TV and spend more time reading the Bible.

One woman I know resolved not to make sarcastic comments about other people. She says she succeeded for about an hour and sixteen minutes.

If you made a resolution, how do you define success or failure? If I exercise twice a week instead of four times as I resolved—is that failure? What if that is two times more often than I exercised last year? Could that be considered success?

Maybe, as some people have decided to do, we should skip making resolutions altogether. Just “resolve” that we are incapable of change.

Or maybe we should redefine “success.” Diet experts warn you not to give up just because, for one day, you fail to follow the diet plan.

It’s that way anytime we determine to make a life change, whether at the beginning of a new year or sometime later in the year. Whether I want to diet, exercise more, stop gossiping, or spend more time with God, I can’t give up when I blow it.

After all, God doesn’t call us to be successful. We will never be good enough on our own. He only asks us to be faithful:

We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith.–Hebrews 12:1-2 (GWT)

So if you’ve already blown your resolutions for 2012, remember the year has just begun. And you can start over. Today. Be faithful to your goals.

by Susan Tuttle
Life can be hard, even unfair at times. Moments when other people blow into our lives and leave a trail of destruction behind. The question is, what do we do with the mess they leave behind?

Tamar, daughter of Kind David, experienced this. A princess, beautiful…her life full of promise until her brother Amnon’s lust got in the way. Amnon only saw what he wanted and took it, never once thinking of Tamar’s pain. He left her on his doorstep, broken. In the aftermath, out of her shame and disgrace, Tamar tore her gown and threw ashes on her head, an outward sign of her misery over what Amnon had taken from her.

Another brother, Absalom, found her, but rather than defending her he used her disgrace for his own plot of revenge against the brother he hated. He didn’t hold Amnon accountable, but rather told Tamar to keep quiet and go to his home. Her father, King David, even heard of what happened but did not stand up for her. The last words of Tamar’s story break my heart: “And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.” (2 Samuel 13:20)

No one told her any differently. A path of destruction wove through her life, and she didn’t know how to pick up the pieces. Alone. Forsaken. Taking on a shame that wasn’t hers. Have you ever felt her pain?

You don’t have to.

There is One who wants to replace the ashes of your broken life with beauty. One who wants to comfort and champion you. Listen to these words from Isaiah 61:

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
     to proclaim freedom for the captives
     and release from darkness for the prisoners,
  2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
     and the day of vengeance of our God,
     to comfort all who mourn,
  3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion--
      to bestow on them a crown of beauty
      instead of ashes,
      the oil of joy
      instead of mourning,
      and a garment of praise
      instead of a spirit of despair.
                          (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Read that again. Look at how He wishes to clothe you. Instead of ashes—a crown of beauty. In place of your cloak of despair—a garment of praise. And He desires to pour His joy over you, letting it wash away your mourning.

The pain you’re living in right now, the desolation, it was never meant to be. Yes, there are hurts that cut so deeply they need time to heal. But allow Him to heal them. Allow Him to comfort you. Because He didn’t mean for you to live a desolate life. Beloved, He loves you too much for that. While “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy: [He] came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Not desolation. But abundance.

Things may happen to us that we have no choice over. But we do have a choice over how we respond to them. What will be the last sentence of your life? That you lived as a desolate woman? Or that you allowed God to heal you and lived an abundant life?

Don't let the enemy steal one more moment! Pick abundance and let His healing being.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3