Archives for category: More than Breathing

risingtoanewdayI wanted to share the Easter message broadcast this week from Jentzen Franklin. Listen to it when you get the chance. It will bless and encourage you and help you be ready to receive more of the word when we get together this Sunday, April 23rd.

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outoforderYou see this sign and what do you immediately know: something isn’t working correctly or is broken and needs to be repaired.

I was reading an article by Mike Adams on Townhall.com when I began to think of other ways we are hurt by getting things out of order. You’ve heard the old expression, ‘getting the cart before the horse’, but putting things in that order really is a funky way of moving a cart around, especially if it’s loaded.

Putting feelings before our will/our faith.  Feelings or emotions are the last things that should guide any decisions we make or conclusions we draw.  When we forsake our will and its adherence to the Truth of God’s Word to how we feel about people and things, we will always fall short of the truth. How? By focusing our aim on something that falls short to begin with. Not one of us is perfect or completely right so why would I allow my will to settle for falling short because I might feel better about it.  In the end, feelings don’t account for much. If I feel great about myself but I don’t trust Jesus, I’m still lost even though I feel good about where I am. If I feel terrible about myself but I don’t trust Jesus, I’m still lost even though I’ll be depressed when I die. Have faith in God and let your feelings follow.

Putting the praise of people ahead of the praise of God. This is a close cousin of  putting feelings ahead of our faith. Who is going to validate your life? Who tells you you’re good? If it’s people, know that you will be aiming at a moving target for what is an approved response.  If it’s God, know that the standard you seek to attain will be the same: yesterday, today, and forever, though not popular at given times, seasons, or places.

Putting convenience before our commitments. How many good things could we have accomplished if we didn’t give in to procrastination or momentary laziness?  How many times have we excused ourselves from following commitments by saying we will catch up to them later?

Making decisions and commenting on subjects before seeking the Lord in prayer.  How many complaints and conflicts can be diffused before they begin by simply asking the complainer or the conspirator, “How have you been praying about this?”  “What part of the Scripture led you to this conclusion or course of action?”

If you would like to add to this list, please do. How do things get out of order in your life or in the lives of ones you love?  Help me know where the turn-around battle needs to be fought.

Remember, being out of order is meant to be a temporary situation. There is nothing, by grace through faith, that can’t be restored or turned around.

whenGodspeaksLast night, as we concluded our time of prayer and sharing of concerns, I was led to read from Isaiah 43. By led, I mean I knew there was a scripture I was supposed to read and opened my Bible to Isaiah 43. Before I could look any further, the leader of our prayer time called on me to read, so I did.

“But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior’…” (Isaiah 43: 1 – 3a)

As I read through the first 13 verses, I thought to myself, this really is a word from the Lord. How could I tell? How do we determine if the ‘word’ which impresses us is from the Lord?

  1. When God speaks, God’s unique authority is affirmed. There is no one else like God. This is why we affirm Jesus is Lord. No one can do the things He does: heal, forgive sins, have authority over nature, rise from the dead unless He shares in the unique authority of the Almighty. Jesus is the only-begotten. If you want a good translation or paraphrase for that term think – ‘the only way this can happen’.  Thus, the only begotten of the Father becomes the only way the Father is manifest among us. This is why, if God is speaking, the resurrection of Jesus and the authority of Jesus as Lord is confessed.
  2. When God speaks we are authorized for action. We will have the witness of the Holy Scripture and the witness and power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to overcome our doubts and fears.  We will be prompted to see, touch, speak, and share in some concrete way. It may not make complete sense to us but we will hear enough to take a step.  Obey in that one step and more will be revealed and that first word confirmed through some sign of the truth being revealed and received, or through some sign of healing or deliverance occurring. Don’t come up short of this evidence by failing to act in faith.
  3. When God speaks, our attitude is appraised in a way that moves us towards humility and faith.  Be wary of those ‘words’ you think are from the Lord that are all sweetness and light or blessing and favor. Without fail, when the word from God is 100% encouragement, you should already know you face trouble and tribulation in the present and in the future and God alone will save and deliver you.

onethingWhen God first calls us, Romans 8: 28 tells us we are called to live according to His purpose. Most just want to be energetic in their love for the Lord (and that’s important) but our will has a short shelf life. To achieve the calling of being energetic and entrepreneurial in our love, we have to undergo a shift from trying to empower ourselves to being empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that teaches and discloses and provides the energy for living according to God’s purpose in our lives.

The way of grace 1) Begins in repentance, 2) Believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, then 3) Builds up that most holy faith through prayer in the Holy Spirit. (Jude 1: 20-21) Notice, to keep ourselves in the love of God, there has to be more than just our energy in play.

Think for a minute on the words of Gary Keller and Jay Papasan in their blog, 3 Commitments that Lead to Extraordinary Results. “It’s the difference in mindset between ‘get it done’ and ‘get it done effectively,’ and it’s important because the ‘E’ approach will bring us to our limits very quickly. We all have natural ceilings on our ability, time and energy, and when we try to push through relying just on our natural tendency, we end up burning out or bumping up against challenges we can’t solve.

Shifting to the ‘P’ approach helps us take a step back, prioritize and think outside of our normal boxes to find innovative, effective solutions that take us to the next level.”

The next level in the pathway of grace is the place of 4) Blessing, then 5) Bringing Life, then 6) Breakthrough. If you are to reach those levels of mature service to the Lord, your mindset needs to shift from self-empowerment to Spirit-empowered.

Left to our own energy, it is almost inevitable that we will fall back into the way of sin. We will 1) Betray and fall short of our calling. We will get locked into a blind, 2) Biased way of doing things. When that doesn’t hold up we will move to 3) Blame and when our energy runs out short of fulfilling our purpose we will become 4) Bitter and get stuck replicating our own limitations.

• Are there any indicators in your life right now that you need to move from “E” to “P”, from self-energizing yourself to being empowered by the Holy Spirit?

• Have you put in a child-like request to the Father to give you a fresh experience of being soaked by the Spirit?

• Can you imagine yourself having received the Gatorade® shower of grace and being carried across the field as the winner and victor God wants you to be?

• Have you committed yourself to keeping God’s call and purpose being what continues to move you forward rather than the level of energy you have available at the moment?

masteryAs I grew up on the farm, we learned many things. The number one lesson we learned was if you want to develop a skill, follow someone who has already mastered that skill. The second point of that lesson is follow someone who believes you can master that skill. In other words, don’t take piano lessons from someone who can only play chopsticks. But, equally as important, don’t take lessons from someone who believes that your greatest level of performance will be chopsticks.

How were we taught this lesson? In countless ways. We were taught to master ourselves in simple games of Mother May I and Red Light, Green Light. We had a game we played with a ball on the front porch that went from simple coordination to performing a complex set of movements involving twisting and jumping off the porch, while catching the ball as it bounced back off the wall, while still ending up upright and in a ready position when you landed on the ground (with the ball in your hand, of course).

I don’t know who came up with these things to do. All I know is, if you learned to do something, whatever it was, you were expected to improve and speed up over time.

When we were young and went to the country store in the evening, we were expected to watch the card games and observe how each person played. Eventually, we would get to play at home and sharpen our skill.

All the while, whatever we were learning or making choices about, we heard our parents say, “whatever you decide will be good.” This basic belief was repeated and affirmed over and over again.

This is the way God calls us to follow Him. In the beginning of our disciple’s journey we are commanded to repent, to align ourselves with the Master of Life. We are also called to believe and trust in the God who is for us, who believes we can become holy as He is Holy.

The Apostle asks, “What shall we say in response to this?…  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.”(Romans 8: 32 – 33)

Have you committed yourself to the One who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life?” Have you confidence the Lord has confidence in you?

Have you committed yourself to mastery? In The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, they list committing yourself to mastery as the first of the Three Commitments that Lead to Extraordinary Results. In this blog post, they are echoing the pathway of grace and I’ll share in the next couple of days how the other two commitments reflect the path, too.

Until then, ask yourself a One Thing kind of question, ‘What’s the ONE Thing for which I can commit myself to mastery that by pursuing, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?’

P. S. I highly recommend you read the book, The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

prayinghands“This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” (Hebrews 8: 10 – 11)

Touch me directly. Set your hand upon me. I am not content with lessons shared by the preacher or teacher. I am not content with holding the hand of one who holds yours. I am not content to know that a deep and abiding relationship is possible.

When will I come alive? When Your whisper is upon my ear. When will I be awakened? When Your Word touches my lips. When will I be energized? When Your breath, the breath of Your Spirit, alights upon me – when I will feel the rush and fire of Your Presence for myself.

Call to me and my heart will answer. The Day is approaching but I have no fear for it. I only fear moving from Your side. So, hold me close. Speak the Word that draws me closer still. You alone captivate my will, restore my soul, and lead me forward.

Lead me, Jesus: not just in the quiet stillness of the morning or in the fresh hope of each day but in all the routines where I may have shut you out and not even been aware of it.  Lead me most within the mundane repetitions of my work or waiting for I desire nothing to be mundane anymore. I want all things to be made new. I want all things infused with Your Presence. I want all things to be overshadowed with Your Goodness and Mercy. I want all things to be made Holy.

 

morningsThere is a version of meditation that is adapted from the Lord’s Prayer for those of us who need help ordering the first few moments of our day. I call it Seven.

  1. Stand: It begins with the focusing of your will upon the day and asks three questions from Ephesians, chapter 6. How will I stand apart unto God, today? How will I stand against the schemes of the devil? How will I stand alert to the opportunities of this particular day? These focusing questions can take place while you are still in the bed, or while you are in the shower, or when you are sitting with your coffee, or while driving to work. I usually try to set this down in a journal because I’m kind of ADD and if I don’t spell it out, I tend to go to the next thing instead of taking my stand.
  2. Scripture: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10: 17) Every morning should start with some word from the Lord, some clarifying revelation or expectation for your work or your relationships. I like to follow the Life Journal Bible Reading and use their acrostic, SOAP: Scripture, Observation, Application, & Prayer.
  3. Singing: The way I encourage myself and build up my faith is through singing. You can use songs you already know: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs or make up one of your own.
  4. Supplications: This is where I intercede for others and pray specifically for the Lord to bless people in my life or within my sphere of influence.
  5. Stations: This is the time for visualization, putting myself in the particular settings and situations I know I will occupy during the day and asking God to help something significant to come out of those blocks of time or those particular conversations.
  6. Silence: This can be very brief or an extended time where you wait upon the Lord’s whisper giving you direction, assurance, or a peace-filled resolve to get going. This is also the time I usually do my morning stretches.
  7. Sending Steps: What is the first thing you need to do now that you have been before the Lord?  Ask yourself the One Thing Question: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Don’t grab your phone and check your messages first thing. Don’t go sit at the computer and see what’s breaking in the world. There is always something breaking and falling apart in the world. Find out first how Jesus will hold things together for you, today!

Maybe for you, you need to try just one or two of the Seven until they are familiar. You start where you can start.