Soul cramps

runnerYou know those awful leg cramps we used to have when we were little? Do you have those going on in your soul? Is there a pulling between the quiet words from Heaven versus the angry words of our flesh? Is there an ache as we struggle to take steps toward real growth in the things of God?

Matthew 26:41 says the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Our hearts yearn for God, but it is our flesh and this dirty, ungodly world that pull us away from Him.

Growing up in our faith is a lifetime process marked by victories and failures in equal measure. But this morning I read Psalm 18 and I did a victory dance. It is the shout of an overcomer. It is my anthem.

The Word of God quiets the angry world and amplifies our instruction from Heaven.

God wants us to grow up and become warriors.

Time is short and we have things to do. We have godly sons and daughters to raise. There are people that need what we have… whether it’s preached from the pulpit or across the cubicle.

We have something to say, to do, and to give. YOU have something to say, to do, and to give. Let God make you a trustworthy vessel by listening to His voice, keeping your heart pure before Him, and refusing to be overcome by the darkness of this world.

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Stormy weather

stormy-weatherIf you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you know I write a lot about the storms of life. I have moments when my heart hurts and I think that surely my life has been stormier than most, but I know that it has not. Most of us keep our storms hidden… or at least we find a way to mitigate their appearance.

But however well we hide them, the storms come to us all. Some of us cry in public, others in private. Some of us rage while others medicate. But the common denominator in each of these responses is pain.

The storms of life are painful, even devastating, but every phase is covered in God’s Word. For every moment, there is a promise that He made to us that we can stand on and believe in and draw strength from.

He bore our griefs. (Isaiah 53:4) He healed our broken hearts. (Psalm 147:3) He brings new life and joy. (Psalm 30:11) He fights our battles. (2 Chronicles 20:17) He closes the mouths of the lions. (Daniel 6:22) He restores our souls. (Psalm 23:2)

Whatever we’re facing, we serve a God who is faithful in the storm if we humble ourselves and run to Him. His salvation does not come to those who stand with arms folded. His salvation comes to the heart that is flayed open before Him, the heart that says, “Oh God, please help me. I need you. I cannot do this in my own strength. Save me.” God responds to the softened heart that comes to Him in humility. He responds to the prayer of faith and expectancy. He responds to His children who run to Him, not from Him.

Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me. Psalm 23:4 AMP

Run to Him. Drop your baggage and run to Him. He is waiting for you.

Change your spots

leopardAre you a leopard who desperately needs to change your spots? Is your life in the toilet? Do you need a miracle?

In this day and age, you’d be hard pressed to find any believer who doesn’t need a miracle in one way or another.

How do you get what you need from God? ASK HIM. He is ready to help but most times we are so goofed up in our heads that we don’t even know we need it. Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG

Take the mercy, accept the help!

Leopards CAN change their spots with the help of the Word of God. Renewing your mind daily with His Word changes your spots. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

Get out of the toilet. Go to God and ask for help. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. James 1:5 NLT If we ever needed wisdom from God, it’s now.

Jailbreak

img_0710Isaiah 45:2 says, I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron.

Some of us are in a cage and we need to break out. What is holding you back? What is stealing your life from you? God wants you free. God sent Jesus to the cross to accomplish this end. The devil is a liar, a thief, a tyrant, and a killer.

God brings life, peace, fulfillment, purpose, and joy. Even during the dark times.

Seek Him out; find Him. He can rescue you, cut your bars of iron, and set you free. His Word is life to those who find it and health to all their flesh. (Proverbs 4:22)

Go find it.

Don’t sit and quit

dogtreatsDon’t sit and quit. Stay engaged. Stay in the game. Stay in the fight. Press on toward the mark. Philippians 3:14 says in a lofty and strangely religious way, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

It’s a mouthful. But it just means we’re trying, we’re not quitting, we’re staying engaged in the fight to make this life of faith work and serve God with our whole heart.

The Message translation says it this way: I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. 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.

As for me, I’m not turning back. I’ve come way too far to ditch it all now.

The state of your union

Hot and coldWhat’s the state of your union? I’m not talking about your relationships, I mean what’s the state of your insides? Is there peace? War? Personally, mine have recently been engaged in a skirmish. On one side there is faith… on the other, fear. Only one of them can win.

The Bible says a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25), so there has to be a winner. There will be a winner; whether I like it or not.

So, how do I tip the scale in favor of faith?

The Word of God in my mouth is the only way. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

The Message translation says it this way: “We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.”

Every loose thought and emotion and impulse… How many of those do I have in a day?

The power lies in recognizing them when they come, and then forcing them to align with a life shaped by Christ. In other words, forcing my thoughts, emotions, and impulses to line up with the Word of God… the Word of God that is hidden in my heart so that I might not sin against Him. (Psalm 119:11)

It’s a battle, make no mistake. The very fact that I’m human and I was born on planet Earth, a sin-filled, fallen world means that there are forces working against me, against my peace, against my fulfillment and my destiny. But I know how to overcome them. God’s Word and His Holy Spirit have given me the power and the tools to calm the state of my union, and declare a winner.

 

What to do when God won’t tell you what to do

SOSWhat do you do when God won’t tell you what to do? I mean, if you’re not getting answers from God, what then?

Do what you know to do.

The Bible says in Ephesians 6:13, “… having done all, stand.” Have you done all? Have you really and truly done all? What does all entail?

More than I’d like to accept.

At the risk of making myself look a fool, which really isn’t that new for me, I have to admit that sometimes I find myself a little mad at God. I mean, why has He left me in this mess? Where is He? Why are things so difficult sometimes? And then I remember that He never said living a life of faith would be easy. He tells us more than once that in this life there will be storms, but He also assures us of our deliverance.

But sometimes deliverance takes a while.

We have to remember that we’re not the center of the universe. There are other factors in play, there are other people involved. And God is busy “Working all things together for my good.” Right?

So I ask myself, ‘Have I done all?” I’ve prayed and asked God to move in my situation. I’ve spoken His Word over my situation. I’ve applied the Blood of Jesus. I’ve prayed in the Spirit. And then I have to get down and dirty and ask God, “Is there something in my life that is keeping me from getting an answer? Am I doing something wrong? Is there a hidden, or maybe a not so hidden pocket of unforgiveness lurking in the dark recesses of my heart?” Am I holding on to something that God wants me to let go of?

These are painful but necessary questions. We have to be willing to lay our hearts open before the Lord if we want His answers. If we need His presence, His protection, and the miracle that only He can perform,  we have to be willing to do what it takes. And then we have to be willing to trust God to work in His way and in His timing, which is perfect and never ever not exactly what we need.

Open your Holly Bibble

The holly bibbleHow easy is it to scroll through social media for hours, binge on Netflix, or watch a mindless reality TV marathon? It’s so easy it’s scary. Why is that so easy, but making time for the Word of God is so hard?

The Bible. The Word. The Book. The Scriptures. The Holly Bibble. Whatever you call it, for Pete’s sake, open it! It’s life and health and peace and joy to those who find it (Proverbs 4). It cannot help you just sitting on the night stand or occupying space on your home screen. What good is medicine if you don’t take it? What good is food if you don’t eat it?

The Word of God is alive. It is sharp and powerful. It pierces the darkness. It opens your eyes. It fills the emptiness. It clears the cobwebs. It sparks the heart.

Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the whole armor of God so that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. What exactly is a wile? It’s trickery! It’s the nasty, evil, backwards, underhanded, sneaky, hateful way of Satan. He doesn’t play nice and he doesn’t play fair. And there’s only one way to beat him… with God’s Word. Jesus demonstrated that repeatedly by telling Satan, “It is written, ” over and over again.

Read it on paper, read it on your phone or tablet, journal through it with markers and colored pencils, devo through it with Joyce Meyer. I don’t care how you do it, just do it.

Take it with you

imageIt’s easy to find peace sitting on a balcony in Maui overlooking the ocean and hearing the soft waves and humming doves. Anyone can do that. But I go home tomorrow. I go home to bills and decisions and stressors… I go home to real life. What do I do?

I take this peace with me.

Jesus gave this peace to me. He tells me so in John 14:27. And He didn’t say I’d only have it on Maui. He gave it to me wholesale… no caveats. He gave it to you just the same.

Here it is four different ways. Pick one.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (NKJV)

Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] (AMP)

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (NLT)

That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught. (MSG)

They all say Jesus gave me peace and no matter where my feet step, I’m taking it with me.

Open your eyes

Open your eyesSo, Jaxon and I were flying to South Carolina to meet up with Lynn who had been preaching there for two weeks. We were on a regional jet, one of those smaller planes which bounce you around and vibrate you a bit, but safely convey you to your destination. I had paid the extra money to get a “preferred” seat and yet still found myself wedged between the aisle and a very devoted and heavyset religious woman who vigorously crossed herself the entire flight.

It was warm and stuffy and a bit odorous in my little area. My tailbone was numb and my knees ached. I got up to visit the lavatory and turned around to face the back of the plane for the first time since boarding. IT  WAS VIRTUALLY EMPTY.

I could have gone back there any time I wanted and had a whole row to myself! It was cooler, more spacious, more inviting and more wonderful in every way possible and I missed it! All because I thought I had scored myself a “preferred” seat near the front of the cabin, thus just knowing I must be in the most accommodating place in the airplane.

Wow, was I mistaken.

People, we perish for lack of knowledge. Had I opened my eyes, I would have had a much more enjoyable flight.

Don’t miss out on what God has for you by being sure you’ve got it all figured out. Don’t be like me. Open your eyes to all the possibilities, and never settle for what someone tells you is best. God’s plan might not be the most obvious option in front of you, and more times than not it is obscured by our over-active, problem-solving brains, but His plan is ALWAYS better. And if we get out of our own way and seek Him, He will show it to us.