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.

 

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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.

Be a warrior

Woman warriorMy sister Christi really scared me a few months ago. She went to the hospital thinking she had a bad case of the flu and narrowly avoided the intensive care unit by about two points on the blood pressure cuff. A large kidney stone had produced a massive infection that spread throughout her body and threatened her life.

Of course, I love my sister. I love her dearly… even when she makes me nuts. But when faced with the fragility of her life, and the pain and fear that came in waves, I found myself somewhere new.

When she was weak, I had to be strong. I’m a fairly strong woman but I had to go to another level; there was absolutely no choice.

That’s what you do for people you love. When they are in the fight of their life, you don armor and pick up your sword. You pray God’s Word over them. The doctors and nurses used the weapons of their warfare, and I used mine. It was war.

Christi is the healed of the Lord. (Psalm 103:3)

She is His beloved child and He gives her rest. (Psalm 127:2)

Greater is He Who is in her than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

Christi is more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:37)

And then you open the valve of Holy Spirit peace and let it flow… drowning out beeps and needle pokes and scary numbers. That’s how we win. No matter the battle, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit make us win.

Christi is well and whole, and my faith is stronger for it.

Pump up the volume

listeningHearing from God is not as hard as it sounds but it’s harder than it looks.

What the?

It’s easy because He’s always speaking. It’s hard because we have to be quiet.

Why do we have such trouble with this? I mean, people have been telling us to be quiet and listen since kindergarten, right?

I believe part of our problem is that we are warring with our true selves… our earthly minds are fighting against our spirits. The mind says look it up in a book, read up on it, ask our friends. The spirit says, get quiet, look to His Word and listen to The Father.

So many times, I already know the answer in my heart, but my head gives me a hundred reasons to question it. Other times, I feel totally buried under confusion and frustration and I want to throw the whole situation away rather than trying to find out the answer.

What is the solution?

Matthew 7:7-8 says, Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Have we asked God for the answer we need? Do we try every possible route before it dawns on us to ask God? The Answer Giver is waiting for us to make our request. He is waiting on us, not the other way around.

God, help me to ask You first. I know You have the answers I need. Help me quiet down my mind and pump up the volume on Your Spirit within me. I know that’s the only way to flourish in this crazy life.

I don’t know all the answers, but I know the Answer Giver, and that’s the best place to start.

Let it marinate

Let it marinateLindsay Roberts is an awesome teacher of the Word. She always serves up a thought-provoking message with a side order of pull your head out. I love her. She’s just my style.

Years ago she preached a sermon called, “Go to the throne before you go to the phone.” It’s so simple and yet so profound. We rush off and tell someone our troubles when we’re still all riled up in the heat of the moment and it gets us nowhere… or even makes it worse.

Sometimes you really need to let it marinate for a while before you dive in. Let the Holy Spirit have a chance to soften hearts and bring understanding to an otherwise difficult situation. He is infinitely smarter than us. We may contemplate a thousand scenarios to neutralize the problem, but still He has a better solution. He always does… if we’ll invite Him into the situation and then wait. That’s the hard part.

Marinades take time to do their work, but they can turn the toughest cut of meat into a tender lump of love if we give it time. The Holy Spirit is the most powerful marinade there is.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27 NIV)

Whatever tough cut has you tied up in knots, I encourage you to let it marinate. See what wonderful things God can do.

Jesus hacks

Jesus hacksLife hacks seem to be all the rage nowadays… you know, little shortcuts and “aha” tidbits that make life easier. These ingenious things always make me go, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Someone needs to make a website of Jesus hacks, because sometimes being a believer in this crazy, messed up world is just too dang complicated. And I’m a preacher’s kid… you know we have all the answers… ha ha ha ha ha. (To infinity)

Thankfully, I’ve had some help along the way.

Something Jackie Mize taught me that has really stuck with me over the years is, “God will meet me where my faith level is.” That’s one of the best hacks I’ve ever heard. Faith.

Terry Mize taught me that the Word of God is a book of laws and principles that work when you work them and don’t work when you don’t work them. Word.

Oral Roberts taught me to expect a miracle. Believe.

Richard Roberts taught me the love of a father. And knowing the pure, unchanging love of my earthly father leaves me in awe of the love of my Heavenly Father, which can only be infinitely more. Love.

Faith, Word, Believe, and Love. Those hacks will take you far.

I’ve been very blessed to grow and learn under the wisdom of men and women of God. But before you think I’ve had it so easy, I think you’ll agree that those men and women of God were not always with me in the dark moments. They couldn’t possibly be. We alone have the choice to follow the Spirit of God… that still, small voice on the inside of us. We choose. We are not robots; we are free moral agents with minds, wills, and emotions. And those entities make us or break us.

We all have been given the same stuff. And we have God’s Word… the biggest and most life-changing hack in the universe. It’s up to us to decide if we’re going to let it change our lives or not.

Fruit check

Fruit checkI’ve been thinking a lot about fruit lately. And no, not just because I’m on a diet. I’ve been on a diet since I was 20 so that’s not new. I’m talking about the fruit of my life, the fruit I see in others’ lives. I think for many of us, it’s time for a fruit check.

Do you leave a situation better than you found it? Might be time for a fruit check.

Do you encourage people or dishearten them? Might be time for a fruit check.

Are people glad to see you coming or do they run? Might be time for a fruit check.

If I am known by my fruit, then I want it fresh and lovely. Healthy fruit is a blessing, rotting fruit is a curse. I want to bless people and not hurt them. I want to create a sweet atmosphere wherever I go. I want to attract kindness instead of flies. And I want to spread kindness instead of hurt. There is enough hurt in the world without me adding to it.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

If this is God’s kind of fruit, then that’s what I want to fill my world.

In all your ways?

In all your ways?God got me again. For real. I was struggling with something… imagine that, me struggling. Anyway, my spirit settled on Proverbs 3:6: In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Sounds easy enough, right? But have you ever thought about what it really means to acknowledge Him in all your ways? All my ways? Everything I do? Everything I contemplate? Everything I struggle or succeed with? Everything?

All my ways is a lot. I don’t know how to do that. I acknowledge God a lot, even every day, but I know I’m not doing it in all my ways. Here’s where I have to make an adjustment.

I have to ask the Holy Spirit to remind me to acknowledge God in all my ways. I know I’m not smart enough to remember that on my own. It has to become second nature… something I do in all things and without thinking.

How can He work everything together for my good if He’s not part of everything I do?

In order to walk the path that He’s chosen for me, His perfect path, then He’s got to be part of the equation. I know if I can get that deeply rooted in my heart and my corresponding actions, things will turn out much better. And I will spend much less time struggling.

Woe to me?

Woe to meHave you ever read something in the Bible that made you think, “Oh, crap. That’s harsh?” Have you ever slammed the Book shut and just said, “I cannot even handle that right now?” Well, I just did.

Matthew 18:7 says, Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!

Woe to that man by whom the offense comes? Woe to the person who does the offending? Do you even know what that word means? Some synonyms for woe are: Misery, sorrow, distress, wretchedness, sadness, unhappiness, heartache, heartbreak, despondency, despair, depression, regret, gloom, and melancholy.

This scripture does not make me feel good! I have zero warm fuzzies!

I have learned a lot about getting over being offended, but being the one who caused the offense? I have to admit, I’ve not given that much thought. Have I caused someone to be offended? Then the Bible says woe to me. Wretchedness, unhappiness, despair? No thank you! Even from a purely selfish standpoint, I don’t want to cause someone to be offended because I don’t want the woe to me!

So, what now?

Oh, Holy Spirit, search my heart. Search down deep in the dark corners where I’ve swept away my secrets and show me when I’ve been the offender. I repent of sin and ask You to forgive me. I ask You to show me when I’m causing offense in someone’s life, when I’m doing something that hurts them, whether it’s intentional or not. And I ask You to help me be more sensitive to what You may be trying to accomplish in someone else’s life.

I know I don’t have it all together and I’m a work in progress, but each time I get these little course corrections from my Father God, I’m getting better. If I weren’t growing, and if I didn’t have things to accomplish for Him, why would He waste His time?

Peace in transit

Peace in transitThe other day I opened the door to Jackie’s linen closet, and the fragrance of Tide, and Bounce, and Downy enveloped me in a cloud. The woman’s laundry smelled amazing. Sometimes I could smell her fabric softener out in the driveway on big laundry days. I made a mental note to check out what flavors she used and to duplicate them. I want my laundry to smell like Jackie’s.

Since she passed away, I’ve been wearing Hypnose, a perfume by Lancome. She wore it for years and it makes me feel close to her. Smell is such a powerful sense. The memories it evokes can stop me dead in my tracks.

Transitions like these can be brutal. Moving, divorce, death, job changes… all these things can feel like a slow drowning. But they don’t have to. God can help us during these times. And He wants to. We have only to ask.

Psalm 46:1 says He is our ever-present help in time of need. And if we seek Him, He will envelop us in His presence, like Jackie’s cloud of Tide and Downy. If we seek Him, He will whisper our names into the ears of those He can count on to listen and pray. If we seek Him, He will give us peace in transit.