Thursday, August 29, 2013

Soaring The Heights



"But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

We are meant to soar. God intended us to. He intended His people to see things from a higher vantage point.

We are to soar the heights of God's peace.

We soar when we seek His face and His character.

We soar when we keep our eyes fixed on heaven and not on things of earth.

We soar when we trust in His healing and His rich goodness.

We soar when our heart feels His restoration.

We soar when we see His justice and mercy.

We are to strive to do better, live better and always learn. We are called to see there is a better path. One that is like the eagle, who dares to soar higher than most and doesn't care about the approval of the majority.

We are not meant to be chickens, pecking at the ground with our eyes fixed on earth, satisfied with a life focused on scratching in the dirt.

We soar when we seek wisdom and knowledge to live a life based on God's foundation. We soar on wings like eagles when we know the rays of God's truth shine brightly on us.

We soar when we eat from the table God has laid for us. His table has forgiveness, love, refinement of our souls, healing, gentleness of spirit and restoration. His table is set with eternity.

We fall to earth when we reject His table. It is laid for us to make us soar. We turn away as it requires that we soar higher than the others and that we may not gain approval of man. To soar higher than the others will require work and discipline. It will require that we not trust ourselves, but that we trust in God to make us soar.

But the eagle does not fear. He soars and he trusts in God's power to be under his wings. He will not fall to earth while relying on God. 

For all of his days, the eagle will soar the peaceful wind and he will make his nest higher than the others. He will live his life in peace and victory, even when hardships come his way. 

He soars the heights with a peaceful heart, trusting God for his sustenance.

We soar when we know that God's ways bring freedom, and freedom makes the heart soar and experience a peace that is wide, vast and deeper than the deepest ocean.

We start to soar, and we too often quickly fall back to the ground. Soaring in God's freedom isn't meant to be momentary, it is meant to be eternal.

Jesus died to break the chains of sin that would keep us from soaring. 

We keep pecking on the earth as if we are bound here. The eagle will look above and see how high he can soar, because he knows he is not bound any longer.

We are commanded by God to soar! It's His intention for us.

The chains are broken. So soar TODAY.

"Is it at your command that the eagle rises
    to the heights to make its nest?" Job 39:27


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Distraction is bondage; Focus is Freedom!



"No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead..." Philippians 3:13

Distraction. It's all around us and it pulls our hearts and minds in many different directions all at once.  We become like the Looney Tunes character, the Tasmanian devil. We're swirling around tearing down everything in our path, but unsure of where we are going to end up. Pretty soon we stop somewhere and we just pick up from there and head off again.

There's no direction on that path, and there is no focus. It's just a hodge podge of heading out on any random road before us and ending up at a surprise destination. It doesn't lead anywhere that is truly life giving to us. It certainly doesn't lead to a solid foundation on which to build our wall of life on.

 God has a main focus for each of lives, something that He has called us to. In order to pursue that God given talent to it's full potential, we must be focused. A world filled with distraction is what the enemy wants. If we are distracted, we will not pursue the things God has set before us with diligence and we will never reach the heights of what God has in store for us.

God sets a few things on our plate and He wants us to excel at those. He wants us to do the things He puts before us with excellence and long term vision. If we have no long term vision, we will get distracted and easily move on to something else. Quickly that "something else" that we moved on to becomes another something else, and then another something else...and pretty soon there is a lifetime of something else's rather than a lifetime of productive focus.

We see how quickly distraction leads to being bound. The things God has for us in life bring freedom. Distraction along the path will detract from God's freedom and rope us into distracted bondage! We can't get deterred by the path others are on and we can't get weighed down by small things. Often it is not one large event or thing that takes our focus away. It is a slow leak of small distractions that have entered our life over time. Small activities that we think don't take too much time, small projects, too much tv, too many wasteful hobbies, taking on this obligation and that, and never saying no will distract us from God's best.

God gives us many examples of those who accomplished the goals He set before them. They were not filling their days with a puzzle of empty activity. They always achieved God's greatness for them because they didn't rely on their own strength or expect a "quick fix." They achieved this because with God guiding them they remained focused on the mission God set before them until it was completed.

 It is estimated that it took Noah 90-100 years to work on the ark. That was many years of intense and focused building.  "So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him." Genesis 6:22

Paul focused on traveling to spread the Gospel no matter what the cost and followed where God led Him.  "He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:8-9

Solomon focused seven years on building his temple.  "The word of the Lord came to Solomon: “As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, observe my laws and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father.  And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel.” 1 Kings 6:11-13

We are so quick to want instantaneous larger than life gratification for putting in a small amount of focus.
 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Peter 5:8)

The devil can easily devour us with distraction. He seeks to dull God's arrows and His work by taking us away from God's purposes with the disease of time wasting.

God wants us to display our faithfulness by giving Him our focus. Daily focus takes purposeful intent. Shutting the door on endless distractions takes a strong will and a long term vision that will not be blurred.

 When we keep our focus our days will be redeemed well, spent on the life giving and the purposeful. We will look back and know that we spend our days wisely. We won't wonder where the time went and what we wasted so many of our years on. We won't feel the bondage of wishing for the time back to do over again.

"I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do." John 17:4

In keeping our focus on what God wants us to do, we will find freedom.

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Resting in God's Victory


"For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory." Psalm 32:7



God is a victorious God. He has never been defeated. 

 God's victory should be carried in our hearts and minds every day. Sometimes we walk around with a defeatist attitude. That is not of God! He has conquered sin and death. There is no more death! As Christian's we are to live in this knowledge victoriously every day.

No matter what trials we are facing, God has already conquered them! God goes before us and guides us. God wants us to rest in the shelter of His victory and let that wash over our hearts.

Too often we end up in our self made sink hole of anxiety and defeat. Why would our God who has conquered so much for us want us to live anxiously?

Sometimes in our minds we've already taken the victory away from God. "This wall that stands in front of me can't be broken through. It's no use, this is just how it is." God can show us how to break through our walls and have victory. He already sees beyond the wall of our problems to the other side. So many people stay behind their walls of blindness their whole entire lives! They are unwilling to seek out how to overcome them or see the light of God's truth on the other side of the wall.

He wants us to be victorious with His help. He wants us to know we will be victorious and He wants us to actively seek victory over our challenges.

 We are to partner with God to be victorious. God will provide the ideas, insights, wisdom and knowledge to help us overcome. We have to believe the battle has already been won, not lost.

What did David do when facing Goliath? He didn't hang his head in defeat and say "there is no possible way I can defeat this powerful giant. Woe to me, this giant will defeat me. I've already lost the battle. Why even try?"

Instead he said “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47

To David the battle was already won by the power of His victorious God. There was no thought in His mind that it would be lost. The battle was God's and He trusted God. He was victorious!

Sometimes we fight as if the battle is ours alone, and we quickly become weak. Our shoulders are hunched and our hearts are weary. We can't fight the battles with our frail human strength. We need God's victory to go before us!

 We are to already have God's shield of victory over our hearts and minds each day.

"You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great." Psalm 18:35

Our victory banner should already be flying high every day.

"May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers." Psalm 20:5

Nothing that is man made can provide us an absolute guarantee of victory. Only God will always have victory.

"Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory— for all its strength, it cannot save you." Psalm 33:17

God IS victory. Take heart, He is already victorious. Our battles are being fought for us and they are already won.

"As your name deserves, O God, you will be praised to the ends of the earth. Your strong right hand is filled with victory." Psalm 48:10

Our wall of defeat needs to be broken down and built up by God into wall of victory.

What battles are you trying to fight alone in your life that God can fight for you? What is holding back your belief in God's victory?

"The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him!" Exodus 15:2

Prayer: "Lord, break the chains of doubt and defeat off of me. Show me your victory and break through my mindset to give me a victorious attitude no matter what I may face. You know the small things in my life and the big things Lord. You are not a God that will lead me to defeat. You are my God who will lead me to victory. Amen."





Scripture Lullabies

 You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. -Psalm 63:5

For the past few weeks my daughter and I have been listening to Scripture Lullabies in her morning play time. Scripture Lullabies currently has two volumes. We ordered both and I can honestly say these CD's are a blessing!

The music is relaxing, calm and puts the word of God into your heart and spirit! I can hear my daughter humming the music while she is playing, and I catch myself humming the songs or singing them in my head. I love these CD's as they set a peaceful tone in our home for the day. They remind us of God's love for us and that He is always at work in our lives. He is a God of peace!

Right now you can order them at:

You can save 15% with code: SLPROMO13

Here is a video of one of their songs "Be Still and Know"-

Thursday, August 15, 2013

American Supermom or A Mom After God's Heart? Pt 2


"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." 

-Psalm 90:12

She gets up early. She has a lot to start before her children wake up. She washes her face and takes a look in the mirror. She notices fine lines are starting to form. They don't bother her as they once would have. Now they are just a sign of her growth process. Her's is an inner beauty that shines on the outside--- a glow and peacefulness to her face. She brews her coffee, starts a load of laundry and pulls out something from the freezer to thaw for dinner. She checks her emails, and takes care of some other tasks for the day. She cleans up a few cluttered spots to keep the house looking nice. She has some quiet time reading her Bible and praying for lots of patience today. She knows it will be a long day and she needs lots of grace! The day ahead seems daunting and sometimes she feels overwhelmed at what lies ahead--- but she's going to invest in her children on this day that she will never get back.

She deeply trusts in God's promises. Although she feels inadequate most days she knows God grace will fill in her imperfections. "...may he equip you with all you need for doing his will." (Hebrews 13:21) She trusts with every part of her being that her children are placed in front of her by God to love and that there is no more worthy investment of her time.

Her children are awake and she gets them fed and settled into the morning. They have a "reading marathon" reading their latest library books. They say the verse they are working on for the week together. There's some fussing and a tantrum to work through. The kids almost spill her coffee quite a few times and there are some breakfast crumbs and applesauce marks already on her shirt. Her children play while she puts the laundry in the dryer.

They play during the morning, do art work and chalk, and the kids play outside. They take a walk outside and collect pebbles, leaves and sticks. She constantly cleans up the children's messes and kisses and hugs the child who took a fall. She corrects and disciplines them with love when they are disobedient or displaying a character trait that needs work. They probably won't be going anywhere today, the kids are settled into their playing and they've got lots to do at home. Her job is full time at home and it's hard to "leave the office." She's guards her families time spent in outside activities wisely. She knows that it takes time and effort to water her children's hearts and pull the weeds out of them. She knows it takes purposeful intent to build up a home for God, and that she has to be present to do so. The days are short, and she must use them wisely.

In the quiet of her own thoughts she wonders if it might be easier or give a temporary fulfillment to go pursue more of her own interests. Sometimes her life seems small within the walls of her home. She's not beyond struggling with the day to day monotony and the more exciting things that call her and would distract her from what is before her. Sure, it would be nice to have the time and money to make the bathroom more up to date or to have nicer clothes and more things. She'd like to do more things for herself. There is a lot she'd like to change about her home and she knows pursuing perfection in her home would be an unending pursuit. But she knows in the end those things are temporary. When the thoughts threaten to overcome her she remembers: "bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5)  She knows that a new bathroom does not make a home. She knows her children will not remember a perfect house, but they will remember a loving home. She knows that the time it would take to host fancy dinners and entertain would come at a cost to her family. When she does entertain it is simple--- but beautiful, thoughtful and from the heart.

She plays with her children more before their nap time. She knows there is great value in their playing and exploration. She wants them to view home as a place of safety, learning and joy. They sing some songs and do shapes, letters, numbers and anything else that comes to her mind. She has totally disconnected from any technology or distraction. She knows they need to see her there right with them. They talk to her and tell her about their toys and games. They climb on her and she tickles them. There is laughter and kissing baby feet and toes, and more kisses and hugs and cuddles. She believes Jesus when He said "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them!" (Luke 18:16) She knows Jesus wouldn't have treated them as a bother. They aren't an accessory to her life, a fashion to be changed with the seasons. Their hearts are treasures. She doesn't want to look back and have forgotten the dimpled, pudgy fingers of babyhood.

Sure, there haven't been as many vacations and their cars are older. There aren't as many extras in her life. The budget is tight. The lure of getting a job and working for extra money is there, and the lure of a life of ease calls. But she knows they are extras, the pleasure is momentary and fleeting. She knows to do this job every day she must know how to die to herself. She can't leave her family simply to have extra stuff. She is not popular for the decisions she makes for her family. But she never expected to be popular and be social butterfly. She doesn't do things the way the culture that surrounds her does. The world seems to be whizzing by her at times. It says to her "you are missing out on all I have to offer!"  But God is deep in her soul calling to her. She just wants to do what is right in God's eyes. There is not much earthly fame and no earthly notoriety. Her fame and notoriety are in her husband and children's eyes. More importantly, God see's her.

She puts them down for a nap. Tired and weary herself, she finishes up a few things she needs to do. She cleans up her children's toys and messes, does some dishes. She finalizes what she wants to make for dinner. She has a grocery list to finish and bills to pay. She thinks of something special to do for her husband that day. She tries to get a half hour nap or time to sit down herself. She thinks of what it would be like to sleep for twelve hours straight! But she keeps pressing on, with her eyes on her long term vision. She knows these children need to know a right way of life, and she must live it herself. She wants them to know God. She wants them to know joy, peace and love. More than anything she wants them to walk the path of Life.

In her day to day life, there's a deep peace that she feels. It reaches to the depths of her heart and spills outward. She follows God's word and what He speaks to her each day. He brings freedom! She doesn't live in bondage to the world and it's expectations.  "Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

Busyness knocks on her door frequently. "Come participate in the busyness club!" Sometimes she is tempted, but she shuts the door. There are many temptations to say yes, but she says a lot of no's. She knows that busyness will distract her. It will keep her from her God given role and her God given goals for her family. It will hinder the training of the young hearts she cares for. She knows some outside activities, sports and classes are necessary, but she uses her discernment on what is wise to participate in, and what will bear the most fruit. She realizes too much busyness will not lead her family down the path of Life. She watches over her family carefully and guards the gates of her home with wisdom.

The children are awake from their nap time. It's dinner time and everyone needs to eat. There is play time with Papa and laughing and a few meltdowns. Dinner dishes to be done and end of the day chores to be done. After bath time, reading, songs, and bedtime kisses they put the kids to bed for the night.

It's late and she reads her Bible. She reads articles and looks up books to read to her children that will bring life to their home. She has a list of books to read in the future, and things she wants to teach her children. She wants to instill character, learning and a deeply rooted faith in them. She surrounds herself with Godly wisdom and knowledge so that she can surround her family with it. Filled with love but weary to the bone, she turns out her light to sleep. God will give her strength for tomorrow.

This continues for many years. There are changes throughout the seasons of motherhood. The pudgy fingers to kiss have long been gone. She has always been fully present, her feet firmly planted where God called them. She has been there through the teenage years to guide and listen, and now the beginning of the adult years. She has two in college and one is married. One is attending college nearby and she is glad to have one still at home. She is a big part of all of her children's adult lives.  Her children have had their struggles, but they have always trusted that they could open their hearts to her and she always listens with wisdom and points them back to God. They know their mother's deep roots in God and they draw from her wisdom. Her other two children call frequently and want to visit often. She is deeply connected to her children. Her husband's heart trusts in her. She knows her husband and he knows her. They have shared life all these years, and they share it now.  Her years as a mother and wife are still continuing, and she looks forward to being a grandmother. She will be fully present for all the remaining years. She has never once regretted her decisions. She can't imagine now it having been any other way.  What she would have missed had she given in to the trap the world had set for her! She has drawn from the life giving well of Christ all these years. He has seen her every sacrifice, her every tear, her every sleepless night, every toilet scrubbed, every nose wiped and every diaper changed. He has heard every prayer she has prayed for her husband and children.

She is a mother after God's heart.

He says to her "well done, thou good and faithful servant." Matthew 25:21

She never bought into the myth of the American Supermom.

"The best way to prove that a stick is crooked is to set a straight one beside it. No words need to be spoken." A.W. Tozer

"Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, "We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem." Ruth 4:11

"Godly womanhood...the very phrase sounds strange in our ears. We never hear it now. We hear every other type of women: beautiful women, smart women, sophisticated women, career women, talented women, divorced women. But so seldom do we hear of a godly woman- or of a godly man either, for that matter. We believe women come nearer to fulfilling their God-given function in the home than anywhere else. It is a much nobler thing to be a good wife, than to be Miss America. It is a greater achievement to establish a Christian home than it is to produce a second-rate novel filled with trash. It is far, far better thing in the realm of morals to be old-fashioned, than to be ultra-modern. The world has enough women who know how to be brilliant. It needs some who will be brave. The world has enough women who are popular. It needs more who are pure. We need women, and men, too, who would rather be morally right than socially correct."
-Peter Marshall, Former U.S. Senate Chaplain

"We must not succumb to the deceptive mathematics of worldly thinking that considers the pouring out of one's life on a hidden few as a scandalous waste of one's potential."
~Kent and Barbara Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Family

“A Christian home should be a place of peace, and there can be no peace where there is no self-denial.” ~Elisabeth Elliot 

"In every generation, mothers must answer the call to be what no one else can be, to do what no one else can do for their children. It isn’t that mothers can’t do many other things, but if they refuse to accept their calling as a mother, some child ends up shortchanged, and the empty space that mother leaves echoes for generations. Mothers are neither the cause of all of society’s ills, nor the saviors of the nation. But the future of society does depend in part on what we do with the children under our care. What calling could be more significant or more glorifying to God?" ~ Jeanne Fleming


Monday, August 12, 2013

American Supermom or A Mom After God's Heart? (Part 1)

"Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Ephesians 5:16-17

She gets up early. She has so much to do today, so much to accomplish! She checks her email's and her phone, checks the news and rushes around to eat and shower. She let's the maid in and the contractor who is doing her bathroom remodel. She gets her kids up and dressed and rushes them to eat their breakfast. While they eat she checks over her grocery list. They aren't eating fast enough and they are laughing and seem to be dilly dallying! She sharply says to her kids, "Hurry up!" "Ten more minutes and we need to go. Mom's got things to do today."

The kids want time to play this morning, but there's no time. She needs to get to the gym! She needs to measure up and feel good, she needs to focus on herself! They can play in the gym's childcare can't they? They'll get their play time there. After all, all her time is focused on her kids. After her workout she needs to finish errands, shop for an outfit for a dinner party she's hosting tomorrow, pick up groceries, and then take the older kids to a class. Then she needs to go home, unload her groceries, put the kids down for a nap, and start things for her party tomorrow. She also needs to do some work on her part time home business. Although her husband makes a decent income, she needs more. She needs her shopping money and her "stuff" money. She deserves it, doesn't she? She needs to see the check with her name on it every month. She feels validated and she feels worthy.

After the kids nap she needs to take the two older kids to sports practice and the younger one is along for the ride. They'll eat a quick dinner on the go because that is all they have time for. She'll come home after sports and bathe the kids and feed them a snack. They play for awhile while she watches a new episode of her favorite show. Her kids ask her to play with them. She says "not now. I've been with you all day! I just want to watch my show."  The kids will watch a show or two when they're done playing and they'll go to bed.  She'll catch up on a few more shows after they are asleep. She'll chat with her husband for ten minutes during commercials.

The next morning she does her usual morning routine and gets her kids up. They seem tired and cranky, but she's got to take the older two to preschool, drop the baby at a childcare center and then get to her hair appointment. She runs to the store after her hair appointment with her youngest child, having forgotten a few things for the dinner party she's having. After the store she picks up her other children from preschool and they go home for a snack and nap time.

During their nap she prepares for her dinner party. She wants the house to look perfect! The kids wake up from their nap and she dresses them to the nines for the party. The kids want to play but she doesn't want their toys out around the house. She scurries around to get the finishing touches ready for her dinner party. She checks her twitter, facebook and instagram accounts. She uploads some photos to her instagram of her child having a great time at preschool! She uploads some pictures to facebook of her party preparations. She puts a few more photos of her bathroom remodel. She goes to put on makeup, styles her hair, and puts on the new outfit she bought. The guests arrive for her dinner party and they are all having a great time! How they admire her newly decorated and remodeled bathroom! Her husband seems tired as he gives a weary smile to the guests. She doesn't know what is bothering him. She hurriedly puts the kids to bed early so she can continue with her party. She'll have a late night cleaning up but she'll drink extra coffee in the morning.

She's got another busy day tomorrow! Sports practices and kids classes, errands and the gym. Preparing to host an event for a group she's involved in at church. She wouldn't know what to do with extra time on her hands. How would she entertain her kids all the time if everything weren't so busy? They'd drive her nuts! Sometimes her heart says something is off, but she ignores it. Everyone else is pulling this off, so why can't she? She can be superwoman too. She doesn't want to seem different. She certainly wants to be one of the in crowd. Certainly God requires her to try her best at everything.

This schedule goes on for many years. Her younger two children are in college and her oldest is married. Her nest is empty. She can't remember the things that filled her time for all those years. Her husband seems distant. She can't remember the last time they really talked. Where are the fruits of all her activities--- all the "to do" lists? They seemed so important at the time. Her kids are struggling in life. Didn't she provide them with the best activities, preschools and the best birthday parties? Their faith is wavering and she doesn't know why. Didn't she take them to church enough? Maybe she should have involved herself more in church, maybe she should have led more Bible studies. They call her every few weeks but beyond that she feels she is disconnected from their lives. "Oh well," she passively thinks, "this is just what happens when they grow up." She can't recall her children's favorite games, or funny things they said. She can't recall morning snuggles and playing yet another morning game of "feed the dolly breakfast." She can't recall the quirks of her children's childhood personalities or the time she spent with them.

Wasn't she a great mom? Wasn't she the ideal American supermom?

Read part 2 here:

 "She was loud and rebellious, her feet would not stay at home." Proverbs 7:11

"Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." Proverbs 14:1


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Frantic and Rushed: A Modern Day Plague

 "This is what the Sovereign Lord,
    the Holy One of Israel, says:
“Only in returning to me
    and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
    But you would have none of it." -Isaiah 30:15



There's a plague going around and it's catching. We have all probably had it at one point or another. We might still have it or we might be in recovery. It's symptoms are: anxiety, exhaustion, frustration, a depleted soul, a frantic spirit and always feeling rushed. What is it?

Excessive amounts of busyness. 

We think our strength is found in our full schedules or being able to boast of our busyness. We think our strength is found in that which we have "accomplished" each day. We think our strength is found in the activities we do each day. We have convinced ourselves these activities make us worthy.

We have it all backwards. Our strength is found in Christ alone. It is found in listening to what God truly wants of us and in making the choices to change our lives in order to listen.

How can we return to God and rest in Him to be saved, if we never stop long enough to return?

To truly return to God, we must listen and very often listening means sitting quietly in His presence. It means having the time to listen. God wants for us to make time to listen to Him. So often we say "but if God really wants to speak to me, he'll find a way." This is true---at times. God is powerful and He will find His way to speak. But many, many times, He wants us to seek Him and He wants us to make the time to seek Him. It shows Him our pure and good intentions towards Him. 

"I love your sanctuary, Lord,
    the place where your glorious presence dwells."
Psalm 26:8

 We are to love, delight, and rest in God's presence. We are not called to love a life of busyness.

In the quiet of the time we take to slow down, we build our inner spiritual muscles. Just as we exercise to build physical muscle, we must slow down to build spiritual muscle.  Hearing the voice of God and making the changes God requires of us require stillness and quiet. He doesn't want to shout at us through the busyness of our days. He doesn't want to yell through his megaphone at us in our cars as we drive to yet another activity, "Hey, you, slow down!"

In the quiet of saying "no" to busy activities, to time fillers, we practice strengthening our inner muscle. In the quiet of snuggling and playing with our children, we are shown how to slow down and listen to God. Often, He even speaks to us through our children, or through a character quality we are learning as a parent.

Taking time to rest in God means we are taking time to hear God. We are showing through our action of slowing down that God is our priority. We are told to "seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." Matthew 6:33

Seek the kingdom of God ABOVE ALL ELSE! 

That should really change our perspective. We are to seek His Kingdom before our own desires. Before our own activities. First before anything else that seems more pressing, more important. For the thing that seemed most important, that new car, that remodel, that activity, was not more important than the things God would have said to us had we not filled up our time so unnecessarily. Often God will speak to us about what activities in our lives stay and which go.

We can seek His Kingdom each day by starting our day with our focus on God. This takes purposeful intent. To live a life at a less busy, frantic pace will take daily diligence and commitment.  

We can seek His Kingdom without fear. Many, many people want to slow down but live in fear of what others will think of their choices. We are afraid to say no. Afraid to take our kids out of a class, afraid to say no to an activity during the week, afraid to say no to so many things. We are afraid to be mocked because we choose God first. Do we fear man, or do we fear God? We cannot fear the life God wants us to lead. It will bring freedom.

“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong, you who cherish my law in your hearts. Do not be afraid of people’s scorn, nor fear their insults." Isaiah 51:7

Will God have us scurrying about in heaven? Or will He have us delighting in, worshiping Him and resting in His Holy presence?

 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." Matthew 6:19-21

 Excessive busyness brings barrenness. It brings a life that is filled with the unnecessary, the empty. The things we were busy with will pass away. Busyness leads to a path of inner desolation. The path God wants us on  leads to a life filled with the necessary, the edifying, and the truly soul filling things. We are so often afraid of "missing out." This fear keeps us frantically busy. We are afraid that if we say no to something, if we shut the door on things in our lives that our lives won't be full enough, satisfying enough. He won't leave us desolate, empty, and bored in our decision to follow Him and forsake other things.  He will leave us full, satisfied and peaceful. 

"He will give you everything you need." His promises are always true.

Prayer: Lord, help me to see the life you want for me. Help me to see the emptyness in my days of busyness and show me the fullness of the days you have for me. Help me to not fear your ways and to walk in them with confidence. Amen.

"When the fire of prayer goes out, the barrenness of busyness takes over." George Carey

"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels..." 2 Thessalonians 1:7

Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? Isaiah 66:1 

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1 


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Courage: Dying to Ourselves

"Courageous Voyage" By: Thomas Kinkade

"This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

We are commanded to be strong and courageous by God. It is not a suggestion, but a command. He doesn't give us an alternative! He doesn't allow us to sulk in the corner like the cowardly lion. Courage is something breathed into us by God. It is a God given trait that swells in the heart and will always push forward. There is nothing that can hold back courage when it is backed by the power of our Almighty God.

Sometimes courage does not involve fighting a battle with swords and guns.  It may not be climbing the highest mountain peak or braving the strongest storms. It may be waiting quietly and resting in God's presence during a trial in our lives. It is shown in a mother birthing a child and a father supporting his family day after day. It's in the small, everyday, unseen things. The quiet courage of a mother caring for her sick children after a sleepless night. The one fighting a painful disease. Fighting for a marriage hanging by a thread. It may simply be the trust we have in God that He is what He says He is. Courage is walking the path God has us on and not straying.

Jesus was strong and courageous. He walked a counter cultural path. He healed those that were the ultimate cast offs in society---lepers. (Matthew 8:1-4) He spoke against the Pharisees, who thought they were the most righteous of them all. "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:20

He said that exactly the opposite of what is valued on earth, is valued in heaven. What courage it took to say to people that everything they valued was of no value!

"What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way." Luke 6:22-23

Jesus died to Himself in His life on earth. It takes courage to recognize that we have to die to ourselves every day. Jesus nailed our disease of selfishness on the cross with Him. There was no selfishness in Jesus. If He had given into selfishness, we wouldn't have a savior. Jesus did not live for His remodeled house. Jesus did not live for the next car He was going to get, the next promotion and the next vacation.  He simply lived His life as a sacrifice to others. He died to what would have been His own ambitions. He never thought of how His skills benefited Him. In fact He always thought of how they would benefit His flock. What courage He had to live for everyone else and not for Himself. What courage it took for him to not run away from the cross.

"And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Galations 5:24 

Our selfishness has already been crucified. Think about that for a moment. Our selfish desires, ambitions, the things that involve no benefit to others but only to ourselves, they've been crucified! They are done with, over, gone, dead. Yet too often we live in the "living for self." Yet we are told that that doesn't produce peace, only strife. 

"For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." James 3:16-17 

When we have courage to die to our selfish ambition we will by the power of the holy spirit produce pure peaceful things in our lives. We will produce sincere and merciful things. Life giving things! 

What a very important choice we have to make. Living for ourselves and producing strife? Or living for God and the ambitions and desires He has for us that reap a harvest of peacefulness?

Jesus walked the path of courage. He courageously died for us so that we might have peace and life giving things, not strife and evil things. We forget all of our selfishness is already conquered but it takes daily intent to die to ourselves. We need to live in that courage and self sacrifice every day. This is what Jesus died for---that we may live in the fullness of life every day. That we may live in courage and submission to God. Then we will daily die to ourselves to find a rich and abundant life.

Prayer: Lord, show me how to die to myself. Show me the things in my heart that are my "selfish ambition." Show what your ambition is and what your desires are for me. Let me live in your life giving desires rather than my faulty human desires. Give me your courage to die to myself that I may have life. Amen.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." John 12:24

“A Christian home should be a place of peace, and there can be no peace where there is no self-denial.” ~Elisabeth Elliot


"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:24

"Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."  Ephesians 5:21

"Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead." 1 Peter 4:1-6

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Forgetting God's Healing Power: A Modern Day Plague

"Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up, and roll up your sleeping mat!” And he was healed instantly." Acts 9:34

 There's a modern plague going around and it seems to be contagious. It's not always visible to the naked eye. It doesn't show itself with boils on our skin or a fever. It has one symptom: a high wall of doubt that we have built around us. What is it?

 We've lost sight of the fact that Jesus heals.  He heals today, in 2013 and he healed a few thousand years ago. His healing ministry has never ceased. It has continued from His ministry on earth until now and it will always continue. There is no scripture in the Bible that says "when modern medicine advances enough, God's healing shall no longer be needed." In fact the Bible tells us the opposite.
"But the crowds found out where he was going, and they followed him. He welcomed them and taught them about the Kingdom of God, and he healed those who were sick." Luke 9:11

When large crowds came to hear Jesus speak, they instinctively saw Jesus as a healer. Their faith made them already believe they were healed. So much of this instinct that Jesus heals seems to have been lost in today's modern world. The pure faith that Jesus will heal us should never be lost. We should not limit His miracles.  Often we trust in man's healing, but not in God's. We have doubt. Our mind is plagued by the question "will God really heal me?" We are suffocating with doubt!  Mans healing can be wonderful and no doubt many medical advances are put in mans minds by God and many doctors are used by God as an instrument of His healing. But let us not forget who is also a Great Physician.

We believe as Christian's that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Do we also believe that He heals? Can we find the faith to believe that He heals? It is impossible to separate Jesus from His healing ministry. So much of Jesus' short ministry on earth was defined by healing.

"A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”  Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?"
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.  Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Look at the pure faith of the bleeding woman!  "If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed." She did not doubt. Jesus said to her "daughter your FAITH has healed you." Her pure faith in Jesus healed her. She did not ask twenty doubtful questions in her mind and heart if He was capable of healing her. She did not dilly dally with idleness in her trust. She simply reached out, touched Jesus' clothes with the pure belief she was already healed.

Her faith and God's power healed her. But our lack of faith can also hold us back from healing. Our spiritual disease of doubt can prevent us from being healed from our physical diseases.

 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. Matthew 13:53-58

They asked a lot of questions didn't they? They made up every reason to block the instinct that Jesus heals. They smothered their own healing with their excessive questions, instead of trusting in God's power. They did not have a natural instinct that Jesus would heal them, so Jesus did not do many miracles there!

Jesus showed God's power through many miracles that seemed impossible to man. Diseases that were not curable in men's minds were easily cured by Jesus. 
 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.  So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Luke 7:21-22

The healing power of Jesus also goes beyond physical diseases. It touches spiritual, mental, and emotional diseases. When He heals one, healing of the others tends to follow. Because when we are healed physically, our faith grows, so we are healed spiritually. Our spirit is renewed and we are healed mentally. Our mental state is improved and we feel better emotionally. Jesus is an all encompassing, complete healer. He was not a trained physician and He did not go to medical school. The power of God alone brought forth these miracles. And the power of God alone brings forth miracles today.

We should always pray with a pure faith for God's healing and see where He guides us. We should not trust in man first, but in God first. God is our first and greatest physician. The God who knit us together in our mother's womb knows our bodies enough to heal us! He knows every cell, every organ, everything that is going haywire in our bodies. He has the great and complete knowledge and power to heal us.

Let us be like the woman who knew even before she touched Jesus' garments that she would be healed. 
 God's healing power is unrivaled by any man.  HE HEALS.

"Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me." Psalm 30:2

"A large crowd followed him, and he healed ALL who were ill." Matthew 12:15

Prayer: "God, you know my diseases. You know the plague of doubt in my heart. Give me a pure faith in your healing. Remove the doubts from my heart and mind and heal me God. I KNOW you can and I KNOW you will. Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts and your ways are higher than mine. I don't have to understand how you will heal me, I just have to believe that you will."