How to Grow In Grace

xpkmxdgpz0y-charlie-foster

Last year was a hard year but a good year.  And by the great grace of God, I have come out a better person because of it.  “Better?”, you ask?  Yes, not just better as a survivor of some horrible event, but thriving as a “growing in grace” kind of person and better because of what I experienced.  Here are few lessons I’ve gained:

1.  Acceptance:  Often we think that we are in control of our lives.  I’ve found that we can certainly own our lives to an extent but then there are some things, events, or occurrences like death, cancer, or accidents that you wrestle with but in the end have to accept.  No one likes to submit to what can’t be controlled.  However, one of the hard truths about life and death is that every person alive needs to accept what life hands them.  For instance, death has a place in everyday living.   Get used to it because death insinuates itself at the most inconvenient moment.

2.  Trust:  Since we are talking about death, along with dying comes the mourning and grieving process.  My friend once texted me (after I made a “faith” move) with a three-worded message:  “Trust the process”.  These words are sound advice.  The process of trusting is hard in itself and requires a deep faith but to accept what you can’t control and use self-control for what you can’t accept is truly the essence of living by faith.

There’s a process to learn faith in the deeper parts of life, like trying to understand life and death itself.  I believe death is one of life processes where understanding only comes in the grieving and you have to give space for mourning.

3.  Agreement:  One of my close missionary associates once said to our team, “How about we just agree with the Lord!”  My eyes met another team members’ confirmation to understand that the Lord was definitely opening our eyes and unstopping our ears in one accord (agreement) in a power-filled lunch.  Whoa, what an impartation!

Jesus actually said to do this, to agree with his teaching in John 8:31-32  “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Agreeing with the Lord means holding to the teaching of Jesus for the purpose of true freedom.  There’s no going your own way AND the way of culture.  You can own your life by being accountable for your actions but you have to trust the leadership of spiritual mentors in your life to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  It’s when you hold to righteous teaching then you will make progress and experience freedom on a whole new level.

4.  Leadership:  To grow in the knowledge of God by faith you have to live within the teachings of Jesus.  He started with a small group of willing people who were seeking some direction in their lives.  At the end of his ministry, Jesus had a band of brothers who were well-versed in the disciplines of learning, teaching and evangelizing.  Believers often skip the fact that this training was difficult, or intense, or challenging.  In all actuality, they were with Jesus as He walked, taught, and touched lives.  We have been given the same opportunity to be among those who are looking for a relationship with Jesus and we can easily lead them by the way we live our lives.  We can lead with what we know about Jesus and how He has touched our life.  Share that…it will take you far in leadership.

5.  Influence:  To be under the influence doesn’t mean the same anymore.  I’m not talking about drinking alcohol or smoking pot.  I’m speaking of the spiritual influence of total submission to the Holy Spirit.  The fact is once you examine the life Jesus lived he was led by the same Holy Spirit that we have access to.  He was all man and all divine.  You might say, “A perfect life was easy for Jesus!”  Yes, He lived a perfect life.  He butted up against sin many times but never did; was tempted by Satan himself, and He was tormented as He took a confident stand for all mankind!  For the entire time Jesus walked the earth, he was walking in his own humanity but totally submitted to the influence of the Holy Spirit.  We, as believers weren’t given a junior version of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit that empowered Jesus is the same Helper that believers submit to.  Want to live a sinless life?  Go ALL IN unto the power of the Holy Spirit and be a person of influence under the Influencer.

What I’ve learned has been gained by applying the Biblical teaching into my everyday life.  Life is a good teacher and we have the choice to respond to every occurrence or situation.  But when it comes down to the end of the day, we all have to reconcile our responses and experiences under the lens of faith.  This is living the Christian life as a disciple of Christ.  It’s full of power, disciplines, and experiences that will help you Home.  There’s nothing like an encounter with God that will meet you where your history has left you.  There’s more beyond what we know, I am grateful and am all in the growing in grace.

A Lot Can Happen in Three Years

img_3824-1

Three years ago when I stepped out of the radio studio I had no real clear goals other than the fact that I wanted to reach the lost with the Gospel, be involved in connecting with people, and help to build God’s Church all over the world. At the time, I knew what He had laid on my heart to do concerning the nations, and I’ve held Africa in the deepest recesses of my heart.

I didn’t know what the next step would involve, but God simply asked if I would trust Him in my next move.  Yes, I said move.  When that word first came to my awareness, I was a bit shocked.  I had been asking God to use me in a bigger way but was thinking (although very limited in my finite mind), I imagined a new plan would come to fruition someday.

I also believed that I would write books someday and several would be published for many to read. I never knew HOW or WHEN these dreams and trips would come to pass, but currently, as I sit here typing this, I see things unfold that I once could not even articulate.

Today on the fresh heels of Thanksgiving and returning from Africa, I am even more grateful and in awe of what has occurred in the past three years.  I have no magic formula, but over the years here is what I have learned:

Give yourself the space to dream again.

Get involved in your local church.

Do wholeheartedly whatever is before you.

Don’t have any agenda, but serve willingly.

Wait for God to open doors.

Submit to leadership.

Trust God because He is always in control when we are not.

There is no wasted experience; God uses everything.

God makes a way where there seems to be no way.

Have faith.

Be courageous.

Stay the course.

Be faithful.

Always remain part of something bigger than you.

Stay teachable.

Surround yourself with wise advisors.

Do nothing from selfish ambition.

Keep stretching and growing.

Continue gratitude.

Rally others to journey with you.

Bloom where God plants you.

Believe God for who He says He is.

Bonus: Obey God, He will not lead you astray.

Now I assume you are thinking, this makes a fancy pants list and all, but why should this work for you?  Or perhaps you have different goals than I.  Both could be true.  When you consider the infinite plans that God has for all of us, it’s easy to think small about what God can do through us.

The biggest truth I have realized over time is we rarely know the details of the journey when we start; like Abraham, we often go forth not knowing where we are going. But when you keep your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus and the covenant promises, He will always take you to your destination.  Whether you come kickin’ and screamin’ or run willingly to Him, either way, God always knows what journey is best for each of us.  He is the only One who knows us better than we know ourselves and has gifted each person the uniqueness that makes us who we are.

He is good at being our Judge, our Father, and but also our Friend.  Some additional thoughts about following God are (and it’s important to remember these things too!)

God’s plans will…

Take longer than you think,

Cost more than you think,

Hurt more than you think,

BUT GOD AND you are…

Braver than you know,

Stronger than you seem,

Smarter than you think,

And loved more than you know.

Recently I was shopping with my husband and he purchased the above saying on a wooden sign. I asked him why he wanted to buy that for me and he said, “I will not always be with you, but I want you to remember these things.” The Lord also encourages believers in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  As if you are the only one, God steps into time, to author your story, and to develop you with a unique plan all your own but He loves it when you partner with Him in the grander scheme of His plans.

When you don’t know what to do, take the next step and trust God. Sometimes it looks like you are going in a different direction than you thought, but obedience is worth it. And when you grab ahold of the Father’s heart for you, then you will realize you are loved more than you know.  His heart will lead you no other way but the right way.  Follow, trust, and take heart.  Oh and hang on, it’s wild out here!

 

The Day I Touched the Sky

A photo by Eli DeFaria. unsplash.com/photos/qKXnwCIaULI

The other day I spent some time on some much needed “knee mail.” I confessed my broken heart to the Lord. It was messy and let’s just say I could’ve invested some money in Kleenex stock. Yes, the tears came way too easy and I was overwhelmed. What could possibly cause such a deep emotional response from within?

I let my heart touch the sky and released my pain.

In the last four months I lost both my mom, 91, and dad, 94, to Alzheimer’s disease. We were personally involved in their care for almost three years. I don’t know if you’ve been down this road but it’s hard, specific and each parent required different care.

The details were love-driven but the sentiments were often lost in the details and mostly confusing to my parents. What we experienced as a family was challenging and difficult. But I sit here today to encourage you, if you are looking at a similar situation, there’s peace available to you by the measure of God’s grace that goes before you.

I have many stories I’m collecting in a book which will someday help someone, I just feel it. Role reversal in families is often hard, isolating and intense. However, I learned the most about peace of God who offers this peace by going through it. There are seasons in life only experienced by going through it.

“We do what we have to do.” says every mom.

With any big decisions, and we all face them, wouldn’t it be helpful to have a manual of knowledge with all the answers? You know it would. Wouldn’t it be comforting to know you could just “tube it” to get the answers you needed? The world as we know it is asking “Dr. Google” for everything. I am reminded we do have such a resource to help us figure things out what life sets before us.

We do what we have to do because the Holy Spirit helps us.

Jesus said (in His last few hours on earth) it was best and good for Him to leave so the Helper could come and be our advocate. It is good for man to release what he can’t do and find the Help to cover what man can’t do. That’s not to say you don’t have a part in God’s business, you do. You simply trust God has you covered and He is working out things according to His best plan for you and you do the next thing as He leads. God peace protects you from making wrong decisions. I am grateful today HE is my Shepherd and knows what I need, even before I have need of it.

Yes, He’s so good at being God and our good, good Father.  He anticipates needs before you have any needs. Think about this: God who has NO needs meets ALL of yours. And He knows every one of your needs and is at the ready to meet you and show you. So let us fix our eyes, look to the hills, look up and live a vertical life. Let’s reflect His countenance, and meet Him in the morning and again remind ourselves in the evening. Could it be said if we simply live with God, we won’t be fighting the will of God?

Life is a great teacher and I’m taking many notes. (By the way, I heard a preacher say once there’s a special gate in Heaven for us note takers!) With God’s help, He makes the ways of faith known to you and for you. It’s His grace goes before you and secures your mind. It’s His peace assures you when everything isn’t going okay. There’s comfort in sharing with friends and receiving godly counsel. Encouragement can come in many ways, and God loves to use you to help people too. Hard times teach you to lean upon Him and look to Him to help point the way for others in healing and keeping peace.

Keeping our head up is the challenge, as well as fighting discouragement plus trudging through life on our own strength. There are other times when God loves to grow us through situations which cause us to trust in Him in no uncertain terms, with the eyes of faith. When we believe He leads through adversity by His character, then we see the wonder of who God really is. Only God can give this kind of holy assurance to help us let go of the things we can’t control. And nothing can replace such kind of peaceful assurance!

How have you seen God’s peace in your life?

Six Words To Get You Through

A photo by Wilson Lau. unsplash.com/photos/MvjO-aMRwkE

It was 20 years ago when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I’ve watched him struggle to a decent level of health with many medical complications as a result of his diagnosis. There have been some good days for sure, but as a wife and help-mate, there have been more days that I wish we could do over. Instead of harboring regret and resentment, I’ve learned that every marriage has “those” days when it’s cloudy and the skies are not singing a sunny attitude.

Change in attitude came by faith in his simple prayer one day, “God, help us to be optimistic about all things.” I realized what I had leaned on to get me through the hard years was more than the disappointments that life had to offer.

Six words that have gotten me through struggles like cancer and hard days since are:

“You’ll get through this, have faith.”

Life is full of many scenarios and simply said we didn’t “sign up” for trouble. Like it or not everyone has good and bad “stuff” to contend with. Problems aren’t specifically set up for the result in disappointment but rather problems present opportunities to see God get you through…by faith.

There’s a choice in how you respond to life and when holding to a positive attitude, it can get you through the toughest of days. Let’s break this encouragement down word by word. In those six words, I found these treasures:

1. “You’ll – You will: Remember, yes you, reading this right now…aren’t singled out. The world is not against you. No one is out to get you. You can’t control every circumstance that comes your way, but remember you CAN choose how you respond to it.

2. “Get” – You get: Don’t buy into the lie that a bad situation has come because God is upset with you or you’ve done something wrong. God is for the good and right in this world. Whatever the situation is God can reach down and help you. He is always on your side, in a good mood and you get to ask Him to intervene!

3. “Through” – Get you through: there is an end to suffering believe it or not. “This” too shall pass. Healing comes for the hurts and wounds. Tomorrow is a new day, there’s newness every morning. Even when it seems endless, storms don’t last forever. Pray continually and don’t stop once the clouds clear!

4. “This” – You and “this”: There are many events that come into our life that the Enemy uses to marginalize, isolate, and segregate us from hope and God’s love. Satan knows when we have loneliness, rejection, and oppression, we become weak and closed off. Our numbers tank spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. When we want to run from our conflicts or storms that’s when we should be reaching out for comfort and support through together strength with friends, spouse, church, and family. There’s strength in numbers. No man is an island and as humans, we weren’t built to go through life alone. Even in paradise – the Garden of Eden – God said “It is not good for man to be alone.”

5. “Have faith” – You MUST have faith: Jesus said you will have trouble in the world but John 16:33 ecnourages our faith by taking part of His heart, to overcome whatever has come to plague yours. When having faith it strengthens you to the end! Help is surrounding you, to navigate you through. There is a difference in talking about what faith is and believing God is your help and strength by faith. God is who He says He is!

Through it all, we count it all joy.  But how can you be joyful?  The truth is numbers don’t lie, but they often don’t tell the truth. Consider the joy that Jesus had as His reward on the way to the cross. What I know about crucifixions, the process is the most cruel way to die, but yet Jesus went joyfully. The process of life is often full of handling cruelties and torments of this world. But remember, you too will get through, because there’s joy to be gained by going through it with Jesus.

Hope that helps you this week as you are going through some tough situations. I would like to pray for you so please let me know what your situation is and I will!

Do you need to be held?

rope

My friend reassured me there was no need to worry.  “You’re going to LOVE it!” she promised.  I bought into her zip-lining adventure as an exciting one until my fear of heights rose up into my throat.  In a moment I realized it was too late to back out and it felt my heart was going to beat right out of my chest.  Then I remembered, that day, I had left my big girl pants at home!  I became doubly afraid.  Anxiety had secretly gripped my heart.

Not sure if you have ever experienced zip-lining before but it’s an adventure all on its own level.  Don’t even think about it if you are even a teensy-weensy squeamish about heights.  At least you’ve been warned.

My friend kept saying how much fun it was again and again.  Fear of falling gripped my mind.  Seriously, how could a person survive a 5-second ride tethered by a skimpy harness, and hooked to a thin wire which stretched tight over so many trees?  I gulped hard, and put on a brave face for her.

I stepped up to the platform.  I listened to each word of our guide.  I took in his advice and with all the gumption I could muster, I clenched the cord.  I’m pretty sure my knuckles were white.  I said a quick prayer, “God, hold me tight.”

In the woods, atop the trees, where the monkeys go to hide from humans, is where fear is heard.  Echos of the wild and free ricocheted off of the tree tops.  (It resembled a blood-curdling scream.)  If you’ve been, you know what I’m talking about and I bet you screamed like a 5 year old girl too!

Next, something wonderful happened I didn’t expect.

I was held by the harness, secure and firm, with no threat to my personal security.  I was safe and sound at the next platform.  I did come away with one piece of advice:  “You will love this, it’s more fun than you can imagine.”  Now this makes for a nice girl adventure and all, but there’s more.

God spoke the moment I started to let go of my fear and anxiety with His reassurance, “Trust me to hold you!” 

There are some days you just need to be held.  On those days when you feel insecure, unsteady or just flat out fearful of how things are going to work out or what will happen next, there’s power in praying these simple words, “God, hold me tight.”

Trust in His hold and let go of your fears.  In our spiritual journey, there are many circumstances which bring tons of opportunities to trust God.  Recently faced with the unknown, I asked God to increase my faith but quickly realized I was asking for what I already had.  The situation before me was an opportunity for God to lead me into a new level of trust.

Trust always involves making room for an active faith.  To let the perfecting work of faith complete its action, you must push fears out of your mind.  God’s faithfulness and security holds you close and guards against sneak fear attacks which tend to creep into your mind.

God is on your side, and is giving you daily opportunities to put your faith into action.  He’s got you!  Just like a harness, safe and securely tethered by His heart for you.  His love never fails to hold you when life is uncertain.  When you speak or scream, “God, hold on to me!”, feel His strong arms wrap around you.  Close your eyes to silence your anxiety, release your fears, and the place your trust and dependence in His hands.  He is the only One who says, “I am with you until the very end of the age.”  He never lets go of you!

Fears are overcome by faith alone.  As you let go, you’re held by His mercy, strength, and you are kept safe and secure.  You can trust God to keep you where He leads you!  Are you feeling shaky or fearful, afraid to look down?  LOOK UP to the One who holds you tight!  You can trust His hold on you!

When You Need Rest

It often takes the darkenss of a storm to show us the light of God’s presence. – Tony Evans.

rowing

Rest.  This one word has such a non-productive vibe to it.  It makes me wonder if there’s more to the idea of rest than a fat Sunday afternoon nap.  Who out there is in a stormy situation or in uncertain place of where life has put you?

As it occurs to me, God gives us permission to rest, but personally I find it very hard to do.   In God’s perfect idea of paradise, on the seventh day of creating, God stood back and left a day of margin for rest.  He said, “What is accomplished is good, and I rest from creating.”  God saw everything before Him was good and gave Himself permission to rest.

If God says it’s okay to rest, to not produce, and stand back appreciate what His hands made, then it’s fine for us to do the same.  Did He obsess over it’s perfection?  No, it was already perfect the way it was.  Of course, this is God we are talking about.  The takeaway I get from His kind of rest is the need to let what we create have a time of margin or rest.  Also,it’s okay to celebrate the good, the right, the produced, the gifts of His hands in our lives.

 

I challenged myself with resting God’s way this past week.  Whenever a worry or stress-filled thought came to mind, I just stood back from it and released it to God.  My mind was filled with more peace and trust.  My questions were quieted.  My mind had more understanding about the care of God than ever experienced.  And I didn’t stew or fret over the details.

I had to choose rest over worry and fretting.  It’s easy to loose sight of the margin God wants in our lives.  I find myself desirous of the filling in the gaps in my human understanding or reasoning, and resort in worry or looking for purpose.  God is teaching me a new area of trust, dependence, and awareness of His security and supply.

In Rest, God reminds me I am not alone.

The more I learn about how to rest, the more intentional I’ve become in standing under His hand of rest.  Resting doesn’t mean laziness or doing absolutely nothing.  Rest brings an intentional action of behavior, based on the awareness and stillness, with a silent trust before the Lord.
Rest says God goes first in our daily conversations.  I believe God works in every problem or circumstance released to Him.  Praying in faith includes all of what God wants to do in our particular circumstances.  Faith includes timing, provision, results or fruit, every unknown, and all details unseen.
His rest covers all the problems you haven’t worried over yet!

With every problem, it brings an opportunity for God to attach provision and His promise to it.  As I was reading in Exodus 33:14 and God showed me something I missed in my hurry through Moses’s desert journey,

“The Lord replied, (to Moses) My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Rest in the journey!  Friends, this kind of rest isn’t just a long Sunday afternoon nap, but a spiritual place where you can release anxiety and worry.  Don’t let your mind fret about the things might not happen!  He has seen your days ahead and knows what you need before you live them.  It’s time to believe God thinks about the kind of rest you need too!

Rest in God is a lifesytle born out of intimacy with Him.  The best “Rest” is yet to come!  What have you found to help you rest better?

When you need to believe

windows to the soul
Windows are like needs, we all have one that needs to be opened.

The other day I read a story of courage.  There was a man who was an invalid for 38 years.  Everyday, he hung out by a place known for healing.  He could see the healing pool but he couldn’t get himself over to it.  It was a very popular place where many people gathered for the same reason.  On this day, he looked at his healing like all the other days, from a place where he only watched others receiving healing he desperately wanted.

He stopped believing healing was for him years ago but kept showing up to see others get what they needed.

All of a sudden, Jesus walks into the healing place.  Jesus was drawn to the invalid man immediately and picked the invalid out from all the sea of hurting faces.  In the mass of the broken, Jesus picks out the guy who has been a regular for 38 years.  Upon seeing the invalid lying there, Jesus asked about his condition.

Jesus gets some background on the one who has been in life’s background.

This broken situation  was a familiar place for the crippled man, but Jesus singled him out.  One man was picked out by the Healer and asked this question, “Do you want to get well?”.  The man responded with the reality he had no one to help him into the healing pool.

His response was the same as others who encountered Jesus.  How often we think of healing in just the physical sense.  But honestly, we can’t limit healing to just the physical realm anymore.  We all have a need in our lives.  Some be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.  We are needy people in need of a touch of God.

Always I thought by reading this story, healing came in the “walking, the leaping, the praising God.”  At last, whoever Jesus touched didn’t hurt anymore.  Truth is evident in their response by the action brought about from a divine touch.  Jesus took care of their need because He was known for healing people.  However, Jesus took care of the needs only HE could see, even in the unseen part of lives.

The lady who barely touched His robe received what she had been missing for years.  It’s recently my eyes are opened to the real miracle in the stories of healing by Jesus.  The first miracle was by faith and then multiplied.  The miracle wasn’t in the touch of Jesus, but by the faith He would!

Jesus has the power to heal everyone of whatever need in the moment!  Often the first healing needed is by faith to give yourself permission to help you have faith!

Faith is the evidence of things unseen and it’s difficult to believe in things you can’t see.  The world teaches us this self-medicate, self-examine, self-control and self-manipulate.  The world teaches to care for ourselves and look to ourselves to fix ourselves.  I wonder how much doubt has played a part in the receiving of miracles in our lives today.  I wonder how many miracles I have missed because I doubted God because of what I tried to do myself.

I’ll be honest with you I’ve believed in God for close to 28 years of my life.  I have drastically changed since I have accepted Jesus as Savior.  But it was some years later before I realized He wanted the whole of me, instead of the just broken parts of me.  They say walking with God is a process, and I would agree.  I believe Jesus loves to deliver us from our chains and set us free.  I also believe doubt is a bigger blockade to faith.

I don’t know where you are in your beliefs about physical healing or what you are asking the Lord for today.  Perhaps you just need to believe for the first time or maybe just believe there is a healing to what’s broken on the inside of you.  Perhaps this is the day you believe you are lined up for a miracle for the things you can’t yet see.  When you hear “Pick up your mat and walk.” Then run with it.  When you hear, “Who touched me?” Own your healing!  When you hear, “Your faith has made you whole!” Remember to thank Him for what He has provided for you.  The miracles of Jesus are amazing and life-changing and it all starts in the believing of who He is.

Believe in God who cares in the most intentional way FOR you.  Heaven’s healing can come in an instant or in God’s timing BUT healing comes by believing God knows your needs!  He sees you and can anticipate every one of your needs before you even know you have a need!  When you believe God to heal others, you have to believe Him for yourself.  We don’t have a part-time or half-time God.  In fact, God stands outside of ALL time.  Praying in faith includes God’s perfect timing too!

So believe, friend, pick up your mat and walk.  Touch the hem!  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you.  He loves to touch you so you can see Him and HIS great love He has FOR you.  He is everywhere, especially where your needs already are!!  Believe there is healing ahead of your asking!

The ministry of faith goes deeper than you know and heals the hardest of hearts.  You can’t outrun His reach to where He doesn’t know how to restore you.  Healing comes in many ways and it’s time to believe HIM!

Knowing God’s Will In Five Easy Steps

hand in his will

Is it possible to know God’s will?  Do you recognize when an opportunity is really “yes” by God?  In a recent chat with a friend over coffee, we discussed the courage needed to walk through a door that God was opening.  How can you tell for certain that God has giving a green light or a red for “don’t go!”

“You have a green light until God turns it red.  Go until God says, “No.” Pretty Simple, really!”  ~ Graham Cooke.  Do you agree or disagree?

The Bible gives us some helps to encourage us in faith leaps.  There are ways to know God’s will.

1. His “yes” will keep in you in church.  If an opportunity takes you away from attending church, you can be certain it’s not God leading you away.  God’s Word tells us not to neglect meeting together for worship (Hebrews 10:25).   You don’t need the four walls to worship, but you DO need to remain connected to other believers to be encouraged in faith and unity to build up the body of Christ.

2.  His “yes” will keep you in His Word.  He won’t lead you to fail nor abandon you to go it alone.  His “yes” would never result in a personal compromise or cause you to be disobedient.  His “yes” would never go against what has been promised.  God can’t lie, or contradict Himself.  Now, the devil twists the truth, and tries to get you to doubt what you carry.  The enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy and he dislocates your ability to be used by God.  Plus he will do anything to get you to doubt that you are hearing God right!   Don’t shrink back in fear! (2 Timothy 1:7)

3. His “yes” will keep you close to Him.  We have such a relational God and knows every one of our personal details.  His “yes” always requires more of Him to accomplish and faith to experience Him in a bigger way.  If God is calling you to do something, it will never be outside of His will for you.  Many times that looks like we are being stretched and strengthed.   God is not going to give you something that will alienate you from Him or lead you to believe that you no longer need him. Hebrews 11:6 says: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.”

4.  His “yes” will line up with the gifts He put inside of you.  God will equip you to what He has called you to do.  Never forget that He is the best skills trainer we know.  And that means letting Him develop what He has put inside of you.  You were made in His image, and our creative God loves to have His way with you.  Often that requires us to step outside our comfort zone to discover the God-given abilities He has crafted on the inside (Ephesians 2:10).  When things get tough (and they will) remember God measures not by man’s standards, but God looks at the heart, and sees you with His heart of love.

5.  His “yes” will always be a “yes”.  We have a good, good Father who is always on your side and in a good mood.  If you ever thought He was out to get you, punish you, or spank you, well…you have a skewed picture of who loves you.  His “yes” is His will for you and when you sense that this is “too good to be true” remember Luke 1:37 ” For nothing is impossible with God.”  Remembering the context of this promise to Mary, the mother of Jesus, she was found highly favored and annointed to be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world!.  That was her chosen role in the history of Christ, and her purpose and destiny.  God has the same important role for you to carry too!  What looks impossible is possibly setting you up for a miracle!

Many times an “yes” from God is often missed because of fear.  We make decisions on two ideas according to Dr. Caroline Leaf, either faith or fear.  I choose faith, although sometimes I miss the mark too, it’s the goal of God to grow us and carry Christ-likeness.

Micah 6:8 says it simply, “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness].” (AMP)  

Remember His “yes” works FOR you!  God’s grace goes before each one of us and faith always trumps fear!

How the Word Can Make You Stronger

Bible and journal
TRUST ~ HOPE ~ FREEDOM ~ VISION ~ REMAIN

I’m one of those girls that enjoys praying through a word for an entire year.  Not only does it keep you focused on noticing the word, but God will often define it in ways that you haven’t thought of.  I’ve been practicing this for five years and what I have learned in the process gives a deeper meaning to living.  Each year brings a new adventure to digging deeper with God in faith.

“Have you ever thought about writing a book about your ‘word of the year'”?  Good question!  When my friend posed that idea to me, she had me at “writing”!  I wondered if I should pray about that idea first, then I realized I already am doing that.

It’s called journaling.

I’m a verbal processer, just ask my husband.  He says I can talk to a post about anything, even when I know the post isn’t listening.  I have that gift (smirking here).  I also accept that I have a different perspective about a lot of things, mostly because I am a girl and wasn’t blessed with an “empty box” like you dudes!  There are many days I desire to check out too.  Oh how I wish I could put my hurried thoughts and ideas to the side.

I can’t!  It’s the way I am wired and how my brain operates.  For me, if I’m giving my time to something, I’m all in on that something.  What that means is that I will look at an idea from every angle, perspective or meaning you want to throw at it.  I examine every possible detail.  Ironically, though I don’t have to know the details to follow an idea.

I know…don’t try to understand it because it’s the female human condition, but what I have learned from being a deep thinker is that there is always something to learn by taking a second look or looking at it from a different perspective.  I would like to take this process a step further to suggest, that once the negative influence is removed and the positive aspects are brought to the surface, there’s always a gem inside.

It’s much like the gold digger show my husband watches on TV.  They go to great heights to discover one little half ounce.  They consider it worth their time to dig more to find the hidden value, and desire to spend more time doing just that.  Digging in, even if it means time spent produces nothing!  Even when there is a risk involved, (they go to some precarious locations), even against all odds.  They still consider the costs of the desire and then match their motives up with what drives them.

Since I want a personal relationship with my relationship-driven God, then I am going to go for, dig in, and realize as much as I can about the relationship!  I consider it like this:

 Jesus is all about people and loving them where they at in the journey, so that drives me to respond as Jesus does, giving as Jesus does, and loving in a way that changes people toward their destiny.

The process gives me a stronger meaning of it all, but it’s hard work to focus on one thing.  Overall, the process is good, and requires determination, dedication and consecration of everything that you are.  You must faithful unto this as He has been faithful to teach us all. Here are a few lessons I have learned so far about my “words for the year.”

TRUST ~ HOPE ~ FREEDOM ~ VISION ~ REMAIN

When I need clarity, God teaches submission.  
When I need solutions, God teaches abiding trust.
When I need truth, God uncovers deception.  
When I need hope, God shows faithful.
When I need comfort, God teaches how to listen closer.
When I need direction, God shows His protection.
When I need strength, God gives opportunity to show weaknesses.
When I need His heart, God shows His deep love.
When I need faith, God shows me fears.
When I need more light, He pulls back my darkness.
When I need confidence, God shows me how to lead.
When I need freedom, God shows my chains.  
When I need healing, God shows power.
TRUST ~ HOPE ~ FREEDOM ~ VISION ~ REMAIN
Many things are never like I expected but each truth is right and good.  Life is a great teacher for sure, but the biggest lesson is one of humility and learning to listen well and loving in the most excellant way.  That’s a word that we can all grow on!

When you need rest

photo-rest

I wasn’t sure what to expect in this season.  I received an open invitation to a season of rest and was, quite honestly, afraid of it.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens.”

Why would a person be afraid of resting?  Could it be that there was something to learn in this season too?  Most people crave a break from the normal routine, but an odd feeling of unrest was rising up within me.  It was a battle to open my mind to the idea of resting.  But God has proved a worthy point in this season too!  The very thing I was afraid of was the very thing I needed to realize.

Rest is a gift from heaven.  The Holy Spirit whispered…”what if I could show you an easier way…”  My mind immediately spiraled into a “oh no, (regretful sigh) I’ve been doing this wrong!”.  Ever found yourself in a proving season that you are pointing inward instead of outward?  I have and that’s NOT a fun place to dwell.

Let’s talk in analogies here.  Imagine you are making a pizza with all the wonderful toppings on it and then baking it to perfection with the cheese all melting perfectly golden.  You slice it up to individual slices and then serve it.  You watch the taster just sigh with delight, and know you have hit their cheese nerve of delicious-ness!  It’s so wonderful, you know how to replicate this delicious delight plus how to serve a wonderful pizza product.

Rest in God is like that perfect sigh of delight that you want to replicate in your life.

But how do you get to this kind of rest?  Think of the pizza and it’s many slices.  The gifts inside of you are like those pizza toppings.  The crust and the sauce are like a foundation of faith in God.  The Holy Spirit adds the cheese, to help with those divinely placed gifts to grow and give the delight to you and back to God when you are doing what He has designed you to do.

God has placed His design upon your life a long time ago.  Maybe you are in tune with those gifts or not.  Fact remains there is divine “something” inside of you and you long for that to show in your life.  I’ve had those same longings to know and show God’s working in my life too.

Is what I write here the cheese?  Is this what God has called me to do?  Or is there more?  Yes, and yes.  I believe there is MORE of God to discover and how it’s proven in my life is something only HE can do.  So when I was faced with the thought that I might of missed or messed this design up, well, then I recognized I needed to rest my heart on His.

I needed another dose of holy confidence and assurance that this season was the place of rest for my pride and to go gently unto Him again with all my stuff and lay it down.  Rest assured that entering His rest is nothing to be afraid of nor reject.  It’s His perfect design inside of you, a longing to align with His heart FOR you.  You can’t mess up His work because He is more than that.

God’s work is bigger than your human efforts.  He works in the supernatural realm, which means outside of your human effort, or outside of your way of thinking, or outside of your realm of human influence.  God is at work in your life in all and every one of your life seasons.  No matter what you need, even when you don’t know what you need, you can have rest and He wastes NOTHING!

When looking for the work of God it’s often left at the bridge of faith and put in the doorway of our minds.  We have a choice to believe it and receive it, thus believing that God has gifted you with His divine “sweet spots” of grace over your life too!  Faith is a gift in itself and has to be received supernaturally to believe God for who He says He is.

Now, I don’t know where you are in all of “resting” idea.  Having faith is a good thing, believing God for who He says he is a great thing!  The Supernatural way is the “more” things of God.  To have confidence in your faith will get you there, and will keep you where God wants to work in you and through you.  So don’t question His invitation when the seasons change for you, or look different than you expected.  Even in seasons of rest He is operating from His heart FOR you.

Rest in His confidence is a sweet place.

Resting on Him is a great pleace of trust, is good FOR us, and often missed as needed healing in our lives.  Rest is a choice that even God made on the seventh day of creation.  When I think about how intentional He was in setting aside an entire day to rest on what He had done in the previous six days of creativity, I realize that rest is needed to remain in a creative place plus the fact that rest is a HUGE part of His design for our lives.

Resting, assurance and confidence are sweet places to dwell on and in.  I think, no…I believe, I don’t have to be afraid of resting when it aligns with His creative design in me and around me.  Thank you God that you give us rest.  Yes I will come to You to receive the lighter burdens you have assigned for me.