Encouragement, Spiritual Growth

From the heart – 3 things I’m learning

whiteboard-wallpaper-hd-resolution-3i5I’m going to just jump right in with this blog.  Growth with God for me seems to come in spurts and after about 7-8 months of silence, the teaching and lessons and circumstances to practice the lessons are coming in fast.  Here’s 3 things I’m learning that I hope will help you as you grow closer to Jesus each day.

  1.  Prayer is a conversation.  I’ve heard this for years and honestly prayer for me has been me talking to God.  And after I’m done I say “Thank you Lord, Amen.” And then, I go on with life.  Recently, I’ve was inspired to pray a different way.  I went to have quiet time to pray over a specific circumstance that I needed direction on and an answer to – time was of the essence.  So, I got on my knees and prayed something like this, “Lord, you know all things – you know both sides.  I’m wiping all my thoughts and everything off the whiteboard of this circumstance.  I am completely open.  Help me to see it your way and direct me to the right decision that is in agreement with your way.”  When I handed the Lord a “whiteboard” for this – He handed me a clear understanding and a clear directive to take action on.  Since then, I’m all about being a whiteboard and letting the Sovereign Lord tell me.  There is an immense clarity, confidence and peace that comes from this approach – not the least of which is listening instead of just talking. Sometimes we do need to be heard and to bear our soul but more often than not we need to just come humbly and say, “what do I do?” and then when He tells us do it.
  2. “With”ness – it’s a new word I created – withness.  It’s not a typo.  Too often, as Christ followers we are compelled to “serve”, to do for Christ to be His hands and feet.  In fact, many of us simply wear ourselves out in busyness – “holy” busyness.  But, it is through our withness that we will naturally become a witness.  Jesus wants us to BE WITH HIM.  To simply spend time apart from everything else and BE WITH HIM.  When we are filled with withness, we can truly, naturally and easily be a witness.
  3. Through the eyes of the Lion – this concept is really a few blogs long and was inspired by the book of the same name written by Levi Lusko.   Jesus is the Lion of Judah.  The Lion has dominion (rule, power) in his territory.  Jesus is also Emmanuel – God with us.  In fact He is IN you.  So, look out at everything and learn to see through the eyes of the lion.  What does the Lion see?  A lion is calm, confident, sure of his position and his power.  Is this how you see through your eyes?  Or is it through fear and doubt and emotion? Be confident of your lion within.  Trust the lion. Don’t trust what you see, trust what He sees.  Ask to see what he sees and ask him what to do.  Let the lion lead. There’s more to this…and I’ll blog on it when it has marinated and percolated..but..think on it and of course, check out Levi’s book, Through the eyes of the Lion.  It is a worthy read.

May God bless you and show you truth.

Spiritual Growth, Uncategorized

How much do you want it?

I want to start with that question.

How much do you want it?

Did you answer alot? Good.

Now I have another question for you.

What are you willing to do to get it?

I am convinced that when we want something enough, we will do whatever it takes to get what we are after.  If we don’t, then we don’t want it that much! And if we want something enough we will also do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to get it.

In the Bible, God promises a lot to those who believe in Jesus.  A lot.  When I look back at our 12 years as a Christian, I can see many, many of those promises have come true.  I also see that Jesus has changed both Robert and me.  I also see that while many promises are true in our life and God has blessed us; I also know that God has tested us and taught us.  Each time we have been tested, we have been blessed.  Each time God has taught us a lesson and we stopped doing what we were doing and starting doing “it” God’s way we were blessed.  So, this has made us want more.  More of God in our life.  More living God’s way. Our life, as we have gotten closer to God has improved exponentially and that is a major motivator!!

So when we read the Bible and then looked at our life, we realized things had to change in order to experience more of God. Compared to how we were living, living in relationship with God and doing life His way has brought us much more happiness, joy and peace!  We wanted the tsunami to change from American culture and this world crashing in on us to Jesus crashing in on us! We wanted it and still want more of it – a lot.  A whole lot!

I will now speak strictly for me.   The first “shift” was taking a look at how I spent my time.  A good hard look.  How much tv did I watch?  How many hours did I train?  How much was I reading the Bible?  How much was I studying the Bible with others? How much time did I spend on facebook?  Twitter?  The internet?  How much time was I spending alone with God?  How much was I looking for opportunities to help others?  What was my mind busy thinking?  What was preoccupying me? I realized that in order to get more of God, I had to give up a lot of other things – perhaps temporarily.  Perhaps long term.  I didn’t know. I had to start focusing on God!  Over the course of about 2 years, I really stripped my schedule down.  Sometimes I wondered just how much I would need to cut out of my life!  What I learned was God really wants to spend time with me and wants to be with me.  This was stunning to me.  Me?  God wants to be with me?  So, I began to tell myself, “The God of the universe is asking for your attention.  You.  He wants to spend time with you, so what are you going to do?  You better spend time!”.  And this is one of the big shifts  that starting causing the J-Wave to roll in my life.

Once I began to say yes each time God asked me to let go of something that took my time and my interest, it got easier to say yes.  And this caused a big shift.  I believe with each yes the J-Wave built momentum!

This is my story.  My experience.  Your experience may differ! See God created each of us uniquely and He plans to relate to us just as uniquely.  There is no one more inexhaustibly creative than God! If you will quiet yourself and look and listen in His direction you WILL know that God is asking you to spend time with Him and give Him your attention because He wants to spend time with YOU..yes YOU.  What could be a better investment of your time and attention?  The answer is unequivocably, nothing.

I pray that you will take the offer God gives below in Jeremiah 29:13 and that the J-Wave will gain momentum in your life!

Jeremiah 29:13 (the Message translation)

When you come looking for me, you will find me.  When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I will make sure you won’t be disappointed.

(How’s that for an exciting invitation?)

Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.

I John 2:15-17 (the message translation)

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you don’t have the love of the Father (God) in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see and pride in our accomplishments and possessions.  These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.

Proverbs 15:14 (NLT)

A wise person is hungry for knowledge while the fool feeds on trash.

Tomorrow:  Shift #2 – 11 yrs in the dessert finally ends

Spiritual Growth, Uncategorized

Pie charts and the J-Wave

Good Morning Dear Readers!

It is a dreary and drizzly Monday in Wichita and the feel of fall is in the air this morning.  For your sake, I’m going to skip the cup of coffee that sounds great right now; I know that 2 is a good limit for me!

J-Wave. This is potentially what we will put on the license plate of our motor home, the Tsunami.  Why? What is the J-Wave?  Allow me to briefly introduce and explain today with more depth to come in the blogs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

A few years ago, Robert and I began to reorient our life.  Instead of giving a” slice” of “our” life to God like we give a slice of life to work, hobbies,sports, entertainment, etc., we realized that we needed to center the life God had given us around Him.  Think of a pie chart as how we were living and God had a certain % of our life.  Now, compare that to  life as  outwardly radiating concentric circles with the innermost circle being God.

As we went to church, prayed and read the Bible, we began to learn what God centered living looked like and the many amazing benefits and blessings associated with it.  However, making this shift was not easy and for us at least, it was  difficult to sustain.  We’d make some progress with God being in the center and then wham a big giant pie chart living  wave would come in and throw us all off course.  We would recognize what had happened and then have to reorganize and work toward God-centered living.

We began to refer to these waves as tsunami’s because that’s what they felt like!  Just as we’d start to get a little traction in our God centered living, life would roll in big waves of distracting events, old habits, beliefs and thought patterns. These waves would crash on us and wipe out the progress we were making living in a God centered way.   We’d recover and reorient and the tsunami would once again hit us.

The “J wave” concept came when we realized that the tsunami force had been changed.  Jesus was now the tsunami force rolling into our life in big waves and dismantling our pie chart living!

Aha….So, how did we transition to the J-wave?

Well, I want to set the record straight, we haven’t fully figured this out, but the shift has happened and we are on our way.  As our pie chart life gets dismantled, we are truly living in greater peace, greater unity as husband and wife,  greater purpose, more love, peace and hope than ever before.

Tomorrow, I’ll write about one of the key “shifters” that got us on to the J-wave!

 

Phillipians 3:12-16 (The Message translation)

I’m not saying I have this all together, that I have made it.  But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.  So let’s keep focused on the goal, those of us who want everything God has for us.  If any of you have something else in mind, something less than 100% commitment, God will clear your blurred vision.  Now that we’re on track – let’s stay with it.

Spiritual Growth

Remembering who you are

LionMirror4

I’m not sure about you, but I have days when I am confident, hopeful and rocking and rolling in a groove and then I have days where, well, I am not confident, hopeful or rocking and rolling yet alone in a groove.  I find on the not so good days I have forgotten who I am!  See, I am a Child of the Most High God.  I am blessed and highly favored and my God is with me, empowering me, guiding me and protecting me.  That is the truth, so I’m working on more consistently operating from this truth.  I was combing through my “God” articles file and I found the writing below from 2009.  I cleaned it up a bit and I’m posting it now to help myself and you remember our true identity in Jesus Christ!

The apostle Paul wrote a huge portion of the New Testament. In nearly every single book that he wrote Paul’s opening verses state with clarity and authority who he is.  Check out a few verses from a book he wrote called Galatians.

 Galatians1:1 This letter is from Paul, an apostle.  I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

 Galatians 1:10 Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.  If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

 Galatians 1:15 But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace.  Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good news about Jesus to the Gentiles.

 Do you hear Paul’s clarity?  Paul is clear about who he is and why.  He is clear about who God is and who his Son is.  Nothing grey here.  Paul has amazing clarity of who he is despite his own dark past. Paul really knew how to be a good Jew! He was a Priest and very highly educated. Perhaps because of his knowledge, Paul knew only too well how difficult following the law was and how easy sin is! Paul, prior to God divinely showing him that Jesus was the messiah was a persecutor of Christians. He was one of the prime influences for the stoning of Stephen. Paul says this about himself:

 Galatians 1:13…I violently persecuted God’s church.  I did my best to destroy it.

Paul sees both who he was and who he now is! Recently I read the following statement:“We see ourselves through our past and God sees us through our future”.  Does Paul seem guilt ridden or hindered by his past?  Does he sound like he’s nervous about how people will see him or accept him in his new role as an apostle because of his past? Absolutely not.  Does Paul place his identity in his past or in his present and future? Paul has clarity and knows he has a past but he sees himself as God sees him – through his future!!  Why? Because Paul lives in the truth of who he is and whose he is.  He is a child of the one true God, saved by Jesus, his sins are forgiven, eternal life guaranteed, Holy Spirit received.

 Gods’ word is full of promises for us, and statements about who we are because of Jesus.  God’s word is our truth and our reality. God’s word tells us our future. If we would just begin to ask God to help us comprehend this we could begin to know who we are with the same kind of clarity that Paul demonstrates in the verses mentioned above!

“Now with God’s help, I shall become myself.”  Soren Kierkegaard

 My prayer is that God will keep showing us through His word, who He is, and who we are in Him. I pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us and teach us God’s word so we can know whose we are and who we are at all times! Not just intellectually, but into the very DNA of our being. I pray that we can let go of our past identity and fully embrace the new identity that Jesus purchased on the cross for us.  I pray that in each moment of our life, we will have the same confidence and clarity that Paul expresses in Galatians as we move ever forward into the marvelous future God has planned for us since before we were born.

Spiritual Growth, Triathlon Training

Swimming in chop and peaceful decisions

As a triathlete, at some point, you’ll have to deal with swimming in choppy waters. Be that lake, river or ocean. Swimming in chop used to be scarey to me and it took me time to learn to adapt and adjust but not to fear. One day, while in training, the lake had a lot of chop, plus it had the swells of boats nearby. It was kind of stressing me out and I started to swim pretty hard, with a lot of effort. As I tired, I thought, “how can I do this and not have it wear me out?” That’s when I realized that the chop was on the surface of the water. If I just rolled my body more to breathe I could get air and not water and if I lifted my arm high and very relaxed I didn’t get it stuck in the chop. But the coolest part was realizing that there wasn’t chop beneath the surface. So, my pull underneath the water didn’t require any addiitonal effort. Relax more and lift gently on top, and pull in smooth water below. That’s the trick to swimming in chop.

But, how does this relate to decision making…let me connect the two!

Often, as a disciple of Jesus I begin to pray and wonder and ask what Jesus wants me to do. I worry that I’ll make the wrong decision or somehow I won’t hear Him or worse yet I’ll hear Him wrong! But, that’s just worry. It’s not decision making. Recently, in the middle of the night I awoke for about two hours and was thinking through a decision and praying. I came to the answer of no. No I wouldn’t. And I honestly, couldn’t tell you my “reasons” or my “logic”. Oh sure, I had some of those, but truly not enough to support the confidence with which I was going to say no to something.  Even though I wanted to say no, it was a joint decision with Robert and I. We would need to agree. So, my deep peace, I took as the Holy Spirit confirming that no was indeed right. How would I explain this to Robert?

In the morning, over coffee, I told him I thought we shouldn’t. He looked at me, didn’t ask why, and said, “I totally agree. We shouldn’t.” Wow. That was easy. We didn’t discuss our reasons. We just agreed. Then, after agreeing, we began to review the situation and we had exactly the same reasons but the biggest “reason”  was the feeling of peace. Peace that didn’t doubt or question.

Really, if we wait until we have this solid peace about a decision. If we don’t rush it. If we just wait for the Holy Spirit to confirm it, through peace, isn’t that pretty easy? I say, “Lord, here’s the circumstance. I’m not sure what to do. I think we shouldn’t. But, I await for your answer to me.” I’m probably not going to get an email or a facebook post or a text. But, I will get peace.

This decision came with some fears, some doubts and that’s the chop at the surface. That’s the stuff we start to focus on that we think is the issue. It is not the issue. The issue is do I or don’t I and which answer brings me peace. Perhaps the answer comes nearly instantly, perhaps it comes in a week or 6 months. I ask the Lord to confirm whether I should or shouldn’t and I stay in limbo awaiting the peace to come.

Good decisions bring peace even if the decision involves some uncertainty, fear , doubt or risk. But, those things are just chop on the surface water of life! Focus on the peace below the surface.