Tag Archives: thoughts

The Day I Knew Ashleyland Didn’t Exist…

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I know you’ve done it too.

Please tell me you’ve done it too. Because then maybe I won’t seem so crazy.

Creating scenarios of how things might be is unfortunately a large part of my thought life. “When we move into our house then…” “When the baby comes then…” “When my husband starts his classes again then…”

Sometimes the part after the “then” is pleasant, like a daydream. “When we move into our house, then I’ll feel more settled here.” But most times, it’s not so pleasant. “When the baby comes then I’ll be getting no sleep at all. Plus, my youngest will become the middle child, and he already plays that part all too well.” “When my husband starts his classes again then I’ll be a complete wreck trying to do this parenting thing at night by myself.”

It’s as if I’m constructing my own little world all in the comfort of my own mind. Ashleyland. Yeah, that sounds pretty ridiculous.

Life gets interesting when the scenario doesn’t quite play out like I’d imagined. Who am I kidding? It rarely turns out like I imagine! And most of the time, it’s a very good thing.

Jesus speaks to this issue and calls it by name – Worry. Well, that’s the unpleasant side of it anyway.

31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:31-34

The pleasant side of this thought game is more like planning, or trying to project our desires/plans onto the future. I call it the “pleasant” side because, even though it’s highly unlikely in our daydreaming state to really get what we want, it’s still nice to dream about how nice things could be.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Did you notice a common denominator between the worry and planning sides of our thought life? God is in them both. Or at least, He NEEDS to be in them. Jesus says that our Father knows exactly what we need, so that means we should not worry about how things will turn out.

Easy for Jesus to say… is my first response to that statement. Jesus and the Father have such a unique and close relationship that Jesus can speak this statement without flinching, without second-guessing, and He completely believes it 100%.

That’s exactly the kind of relationship the Father desires to have with each of His children. He wants us to believe Him without flinching, without second-guessing. The best part about believing Him is that He doesn’t disappoint.

Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. Psalm 34:5

Paul and the writer of Hebrews both speak about how we can have hope in God because He had sent His own Son, delivering His promise of salvation for all. I would say that if He can deliver in this, a MAJOR issue, He can deliver in ANYTHING else that this life brings our way.

Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Romans 9:33

17In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:17-20

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5

In other words, trusting or believing God (hoping in Him) does not leave us disappointed or ashamed. You might say it would make one unflinching. Steadfast. Confident.

Now the flip side or the pleasant side of this is that we also can trust God to plan our ways, in the most perfect way. Remember, God is in the worry side and the planning side. We can plan our lives until we earn an “expert” rating in our own little worlds. However, planning doesn’t make it so. And there’s the rub! A man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. No amount of daydreaming will ensure that I’ll get just what I want. Even more interesting to ponder is that what I want may not be the best anyway. This is quite possibly the most obvious reason we should trust God’s heart for us. He directs our steps for good, and not to harm us. Sometimes His good feels painful (like in times of discipline), but it’s ALWAYS good (see my previous post on this!).

To take a peek into Ashleyland recently, you may go here. I can’t promise that you’ll even find it interesting, but you will find that it is what I’m really thinking…

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Junior Holy Spirit

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Hello, my name is Ashley Farmer, and I have a problem.

I’m a recovering legalist, but I sometimes revert back into the destructive habits of my old self. One of those habits: looking at where my neighbor is going wrong and trying to correct her (or just thinking about how she could be doing better). Yeah, it’s a pretty bad problem.

I’ll never forget the term a youth pastor threw at us one Wednesday night. “God doesn’t need any ‘junior Holy Spirits’ running around.” Junior Holy Spirit. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be called the TRInity if there were four members…or 4 kajillion depending on how many people have tried it out.

The point of the lesson, all kidding aside, was that we as Christians don’t need to try to “convict” others of their sins because frankly that’s what the Holy Spirit already does perfectly. Now there is a whole other discussion concerning the issue of confronting a believer caught in sin, and this is prescribed in God’s word (one reference is in Galatians 6:1). But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m referring to the person who thinks it’s her job to point out where another person is going wrong. In my case it often stems from my own tendency to be critical of myself (I need to follow the rules…be a good legalist).

There is definitely a difference in motives between the person who confronts a believer caught in sin and the person who tries to convince a believer or nonbeliever that he/she is sinning. The former does so out of love and obedience, and usually the confrontation takes place with another person to mediate or encourage repentance alongside the “confronter” (and this is not someone that the confronter gossips to about the “sinner”). The Junior Holy Spirit would try to confront alright, but it would be out of a spirit of pride or selfishness to make herself look better, more spiritual, or to belittle the other person (if it sounds ugly and looks ugly, it’s probably because it IS ugly).

I don’t believe a single person would say (or want to admit) that this is an area in which she struggles. Who is brave enough to walk up to a friend (or acquaintance) and say, “you know, you are so prideful and I can’t stand that about you”? Uhhh…chances are very few would do that. But I do believe there are times when we fall into the Junior Holy Spirit trap, only it looks a little less ugly, if you will.

I’m referring to the insidious, I’m-more-spiritual, comparison game that goes on in our minds. Here I am trucking along in my walk with Jesus, and though I know I’m far from perfect, I don’t do “really” bad things. Bad things like so-and-so does. I begin to dwell on that person’s issue. I get worked up over his behavior to the point that my focus is not so much on what I need God to work out in my life but what needs to happen in this person’s life. Why??! Why do I do this? I feel like Paul when he says, “I do the things I don’t want to do” (see Romans 7).

I think I can easily struggle with this problem because I’m recovering from legalism. If I follow all the rules, I will be rewarded, and everyone (especially God) will like me. When other people don’t follow the rules, it will bother me because that’s not the way you play the legalism game. So if someone isn’t playing by the rules, I should probably be upset about it and wonder why they’re getting away with it. I may even be brave enough to say something to them, although it will likely come across as judgmental. Red flags should go up all over the place if this is my thinking.

God throws up the time-out sign and says, “since when does your obedience depend on another person’s actions, My child?” Uh… *gulp* it. doesn’t. I’m sure God ever-so-gently speaks over me, “why are you wasting your time thinking about how so-and-so needs to change? That’s always been My department. You have no control over what other people do, and you need to let it go.”

Trying to be a Junior Holy Spirit is hard impossible work.

What’s a girl to do? My obedience does not depend on another person’s actions. If God tells me to serve someone who has trouble with pride, and I think to myself “gee, I really don’t want to serve her because she’s just expecting people to serve her…” then I have an obedience problem. The other person is not my problem. I am my problem. 

Will it be hard to obey when God calls me to serve a difficult person? You bet. Does this mean I’m off the hook? Not on your life. Should I try to make myself obey? Well, it’s not about trying harder to do better (remember this Just Try Harder?). It’s about abiding in the Vine, relying on Jesus to change your heart as you are in constant submission to His leading. The struggle of the flesh (I don’t really want to obey) will be strong against the spirit (I want to do what God calls me to do). But the good news is, the real Holy Spirit knows how to do His job (on me and on everyone else). He is at work in you, willing you to work for God’s purposes and pleasure. So let Him do His job. He doesn’t need our help.