Becoming A Daughter of God


Many years ago during my busy season as wife and mother, I would get up early before everyone else in the house so I could spend time with God in His word. I have always loved the peaceful quiet of the early morning hours, still do.

I remember a season in my walk with God when I felt the awestruck responsibility of my role as a follower of Jesus; not just the blessing, but the immense duty laid out before me. I came to the realization I was an heir of God. I am His child; His daughter. (Galatians 4:7). An heir has a great obligation to represent the family to the world. And I wanted so much to represent my God favorably and faithfully.

In my pondering one morning, I put in words my task. I described how a Daughter of God would look. I wanted to live by it as much as I could. I knew I would fail, but I also knew that with my God, I could scale a wall, overcome my weaknesses and uncover strength beyond my own. Being poetic at the time, I wrote a poem that depicts the actions of a Daughter of God:

A Daughter of God;

One might wonder what that might be;

She begins each day, each moment,

Bending upon her humble knee.

 

She carries a torch in her heart,

That lights during the day and night;

It is her devotion to God

That becomes that honorable sight.

 

She has a graceful walk,

Adorned with humility and peace;

It is the words of her Lord,

That in her enables this release.

 

She lifts her eyes up,

As she might consider her ways;

She desires to build God’s temple;

She lets Him stack each brick she lays.

 

She may wander from her Master’s steps,

And feel embittered and pierced within;

And even become a beast before Thee,

But then, and only then, she realizes her sin.

 

She will run to the feet of her Creator,

As she begs for mercy and says she’s sorry;

He responds “I’m always with you,”

He takes her right hand and leads her to glory.

 

Her walk becomes a journey,

Filled with the refinement of every limb;

Her weakness slowly becomes His strength,

As she surrenders all to Him.

 

Her beauty is no longer hers,

“It’s all about Jesus” she will say;

The nourishment of her being

Are His to provide in His own way.

I found this poem as I was packing up our belongings and preparing our house for sale. It was a sweet find, one I had forgotten about for some time. As I sat there, I grasped the necessity to look back and remember what God has taught me over the years. My current busy life has taken its hold. While busy then with young children and being a wife, I still took that time to ponder what it means to be His daughter. I’m glad I found this. It brought back sweet memories, and it also challenged me to slow my pace, ponder my weighty responsibility and choose to please my Father first and above all else; and then serve my fellow man out of that devotion to Him.

I pray this encourages you, my friend. #lookup  #reflectin  #liveout

 

 

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Some People Are Frustrating


I used to love gardening. I still do, but I don’t have much time for it. While, for the most part, I had a pretty green thumb, there is one plant that I just could not help grow. It was the Rhododendron. I have planted many and killed them all! I was determined to fix whatever I was doing wrong. I researched, asked questions, kept buying more, and I planted them in different types of soil. As it turns out, I was planting them too close to my house; therefore, the roots could not grow out the way they needed to. Their position was just as important as the soil in which they were planted.

Helping people grow spiritually can be just as frustrating. It’s no easy task. It can be wonderful and discouraging all at the same time. Jesus knew this full well. I think He wanted his disciples to understand that there was more to their determination and methods that they tried. It is true that helping a person grow close to Christ has much to do with the seed being sown and the soil it’s planted in; but even more, it is the positional perspective of a person that makes their soil fruitful or not.

On the Sabbath, Jesus taught in the synagogue where a man with a paralyzed hand was sitting. In the crowd were also the Pharisees. Jesus told the paralyzed man to stand before the congregation and He asked the people, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save a life or to kill?”

By this question, Jesus was speaking truth into the hearts of the hearers. He was illustrating that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. To use the man for the Sabbath was evil. All in the synagogue were listening to this message. From what perspective did each receive this truth? Who received it with joy, humility, and adjustment? Who did not? One walks out changed; the others walk out, even more, hardened than when they first came.

After hearing this message, the Pharisees were silent.  Their silence revealed a hardening of their heart. Jesus looked at them with anger and sorrow.

Then he told the paralyzed man to stretch out his hand. As he stretched it out, his hand was restored. This man walked out changed. He and the Pharisees heard the same truth. They both were sitting in the presence of Jesus, the Savior of the world. But this man’s hand was restored and his heart of faith was most likely increased. However, nothing could have angered the Pharisees more.

Where was their anger rooted? It was in their wrong focus. Their focus was on the law of the Sabbath, not the purpose for the Sabbath.

Where were Jesus’s anger and sorrow rooted? It was in the lack of spiritual growth in these Pharisees. They were in the presence of Jesus – the Son of God – the Messiah…and they just couldn’t understand it. They were blinded by their positional perspective.

Many who had heard Jesus speak were astonished at the authority and power with which He taught. They were also quite amazed at the many miracles He had performed. Some had faith. Some were just curious. Some were changed. But some, such as the Pharisees, were not so amazed; and they certainly didn’t want to change. They were not focused on who Jesus was. Instead, they plotted to destroy Him. They were not interested in the truth. They were only interested in their way of thinking, their pride, and their interpretation of the truth.

While many were in the presence of the Lord that day; not all were responding well to the word of truth shared. Those resisting change angered and saddened our Lord. Some people are frustrating! Amen?

Jesus understands our frustrations and sadness with those in our life who just don’t respond positively to the truth given. Jesus desires for all to know Him. But not all want to know Him the way they need to.

Jesus told His twelve disciples that many may look and look, but not perceive; many will listen and listen, but never understand. These people are in the presence of truth; the place where the seed of God’s word is sown; they hear it, they listen, but it is their response and their perspective to the truth that makes it impossible for them to grow. In this case, it is not the seed that corrupts the growth; it’s not how it was delivered; it’s the distractions within the soil.

Let’s move to a modern-day example:

The preacher is giving a sermon – a sermon rich with truth. This truth reaches every ear sitting in the congregation.  .

The response by some is distorted by sin; the temptations that have taken hold of their heart have deafened them and confused their understanding.

The word was sown. They see. They listen.

But what was sown was not received. These walk out of that service unchanged…maybe, even more, hardened than when they first arrived.

Yet in the same setting, there are those who hear the word and are very excited. They find a fresh new strength to conquer their challenges in life.

The word was sown. They see. They listen.

But their response is short-lived. Once they get into their car, the pressures of life take over. They listened without the humility to change. The truth tickled their ears but did not take root in their heart. On the way home, they justify their situation. They stumble back to their destructive ways.

Then there are those sitting in this congregation who hear the word while their worries plague them.

The word was sown. They see. They listen.

Yet, they see and listen with a strangled heart. Their worries choke the truth. The wealth of this world and their flesh suffocate their growth. They leave this service unfruitful and ineffective. These people never change because their mind is set on earthly things.

Finally, there are the people of the good ground.

The word was sown. They see. They listen.

They respond with meekness of mind, heart, and soul. These people do three things differently than the others:

  1. They hear the word with great expectation. They perceive God’s word as a calling to change. They join Him where He is rather than asking Him to join them where they are.
  2. They welcome His truth. With courage, they adjust their life to His truth. They set their minds on things above and remember that the things of this world are only temporary.
  3. They advance the Kingdom of God. From their calling to their development they produce fruit – fruit that lasts. No matter the cost, they are sold out to God’s ways. They are Jesus’ brother, sister, and mother; they are people who do the will of God.

All are sitting in the midst of our churches. All experience pressures. All are tempted by the wealth and pleasures of this world. All are born of flesh and blood. All have sinned and still sin. All hear the same message spoken. But only one kind moves from exploring Christ to being Christ-centered. Only this one will advance the Kingdom of God. Only this one will adjust their lives to the seed’s calling. Only this one will hear “’Well done, good and faithful servant… Come and share in your master’s happiness!”  

I never did plant another Rhododendron. Thankfully gardening is not my calling.  On the other hand, making disciples is my calling. I have experienced many in my life who don’t respond to the truth of God’s word the way they need to. While I gave up on planting the Rhododendron, I have not given up on those who need the Lord.

But one thing I have learned – to change my response to those who do not change vs. those who do.

Those who receive, I walk with them and help them mature in Jesus. I enjoy seeing them develop. But those on the other side of the spectrum, I don’t walk with them. I pray for them. I don’t pray for their behaviors to change. Instead, I pray for humility of heart.  I also pray that what this world offers them breaks down. I pray they see the frailty of whatever it is they are trusting that is not Jesus. That seems harsh. But in order for them to see their great need for Jesus, they need to see this world as worthless compared to a relationship with Him.

I understand frustrations with those who see and listen yet never change. It’s as if the hardness of their heart is stronger than the grace of God. While God’s grace can overcome their hardness, it’s important to remember that it is their responsibility to position themselves for growth.

Related Readings: Mark 3:1-6; 3:31-35; Mark 4:1-20

 

 

When a Mom’s Worry Collides with Heaven’s Perspective


God is taking me to a whole new level of faith, one that overcomes worry and anxiety. This is something that I have needed an answer to for some time. I just prayed yesterday that through the Spirit of God, God would give me wisdom and specifically revelation so that I could know Him better. I prayed for my heart to be enlightened. I prayed for the same power with the same mighty strength that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in the heavenly realms would be in my experience for today, tomorrow and forever. (Ephesians 1:17-20). And this morning, God gave me His perspective.

I’m reading a great book called by “Fire and Fragrance” Sean Feucht and Andy Byrd. Both share their testimonies about different things in their life. The one that stood out to me was the part that Andy shared. He shares that one day he was feeling a bit overwhelmed by some difficult situation in his life. He was pressing in for a breakthrough and it had not yet come. He shares that he began to ask the Lord about this breakthrough and he expressed his concern that it may never come. Then he sensed the Lord ask him a question, “Andy, do you think the angels are ever insecure about the outcomes?” Taken aback by this question, Andy pondered the ridiculousness of his own fear and insecurity of God’s ability to release His kingdom on His earth. Then the final question God impressed upon him which became the one that impressed upon me the most was, “Do you think the angels are ever insecure in My leadership?” Wow! I so needed to hear that question!

You see, I am a mom. I have loved being a mom from the beginning of motherhood. Being a mom was my one and only desire. Some wanted careers, investments, material possessions, and such. But I just wanted to be a mom. And God blessed me with four wonderful children. But God did not just bless me, He gave me a mission when my oldest, Matthew, was almost three years old. It was one of those special days I had with the Lord. He called me to raise all of my children to be warriors for His Kingdom. And His Kingdom was to be revealed here on earth using each child in some way. But it would take effort on my part. It would take sacrifice. It would take faith. This assignment seemed like an impossible task for me. I was a young believer, didn’t know the word like I do today, and was very uncertain in my ability to raise my children for the Lord with intention and sacrifice. But I trusted the Lord. I believed Him when He impressed upon me that He would walk with me, teach me, guide me and help me every step of the way. It wasn’t easy to do, but I believed the promise Jesus gave His disciples at the time of the great commissioning, “…Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

But again, I am a mom. And while I did take that calling to raise my children as warriors in His Kingdom seriously; and they all love the Lord! I praise Him for His faithfulness! I still worry. I worry about the suffering they may experience. I worry about the sacrifices they will make. I know that following Jesus is not always easy. On the other hand, I also know that His power is great, but sometimes I forget about His power and focus too much on the suffering and sacrifices that each of my children may (or will) go through.

I lose perspective in these times of worry.

I lose Heaven’s perspective. I begin to doubt God’s ability, His leadership and then I mistakenly pick up the baton and exercise my ability and my leadership. Then the worry and anxiety comes in waves (actually tsunamis’!).

I am reminded this morning from the word of God and Andy Byrd’s testimony that God’s glory does fill the earth. His power is in our reach. But often what keeps me from seeing His glory and His power so clearly is the veil of unbelief that I choose to wear. Byrd says, “Insecurity does not exist in the perspective of Heaven.” I am learning that I need to live with the continual confidence of heaven. It’s easy to look at our earth and see the suffering, trafficking, the ISIS beheadings, the rise of sexual immorality, the stripping away of our freedoms and lose that heavenly perspective. However, once we lose that perspective, the temptations to not follow through on God’s calling is at the helm. Fear drives us instead of faith moving us.

My son, Matthew, is going away for six months. He leaves this September. He’s going to Maui for training. He will be trained in the knowledge of God and missions to the people of Southeast, Asia. He will conclude his training with three months spent on mission in Asia. I know that He will learn so much, grow so much, and experience God in a way that will radically change him forever. But I also know that God will allow difficulties and challenges that will be hard. I know that God does allow us to struggle at times in our life. He does this so that we trust in Him for his glory and revelation to be revealed to us and through us. So naturally this will come about in Matt’s life.

As a mom, we never want our kids to suffer. But as a mom of God on a mission for Jesus, we must let our children go forth. For if we do not, they will never be the change maker or light in the dark that God has called them to be. We become the stumbling block instead of their stepping stone. This is not what I agreed to way back when Matt was almost three. I agreed to raise my children to be warriors for Him! I said to the Lord, “Here I am, send me. Whatever the cost, I will follow You.” Over twenty years ago, I made that commitment and I still hold true to it today; But now at this moment in time God has done something amazing for me. He has released my worry and my anxiety, because I am adopting a new perspective.

I have chosen to see what Isaiah saw, “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings, with two he covered with his face, with two he covered with his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His Glory’” (Isaiah 6:1-3).

I see Matt’s calling through the eyes of God’s holiness, His power, His ability, His sovereign leadership, and His intentional plan. I also see His gentle care, His hands open wide to hold Matt and carry him every step of the way. The same promise God gave me, He is giving to Matt, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

What is your perspective when you worry? How is it holding you back from being all that God wants you to be? Is it interfering with what God’s plans are for your children? I’d love to hear your feedback.

 

Getting the Most from New Adventures


Everyone is looking for an adventure.

It’s new. It’s exciting. It’s fresh.

The beginning is the best. It promises. Feelings are high.

Expectation hooks and draws us in.

rafting

But with every new adventure comes the perils of boredom, suffering, and monotony.

It’s the one who learns to navigate the dullness that finds they can climb higher, explore deeper and mature wider than when the adventure began.

However, we live in a culture where dullness and boredom are not passed through; instead, they are quickly abandoned.

A marriage becomes dry. A job is tedious. Parenting is exhausting. The new house needs repair. The new car is dented. College requires relentless study.

exhausted

And even the new vacation has its lulls.

People who lack the ability to wade the tides of monotony often seek another adventure. They quit at the onset of boredom; the excitement fades, and so do they.

For some, the promise of excitement, the rush of a new idea, or the onset of a unique experience is the goal; it’s not the lessons learned from the adventure.

Many are always seeking, yet never learning. They are flitting here and there, but never planted long enough to gain a life well taught. Lessons from flight are often shallow.

Adventures teach us. They steady us. They cultivate character. The one ingredient to making each new adventure fruitful is to stay the course and finish the race.

When we seek the highs only, we miss the roots of joy that only come from wading through the dullness.

Today, the road less traveled is not new experiences; it’s patient endurance through the new that becomes old. Each new experience does promise, but patient endurance is the key to their fulfillment.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Three Steps to Stay the Course

1. Make fulfillment the goal, not the experience.

2. Remember, finishing is the better feeling than starting.

3.  See each lull in the adventure as a stepping stone to a promise fulfilled.

“By your patient endurance you will gain your lives” – Jesus

3 Actions to Great Leadership


Character is king when it comes to leadership, but humility is king when it comes to influence. Influence promotes growth, whereas just having character can promote self. When we see our accomplishments through the eyes of “others” instead of “me” we can experience multiplication that exceeds all that we plan and seek for our family and churches.

As leaders, we lead, we make strategic plans, we create momentum and we even see fruit; these seem good, but God is clear when He outlines leadership. His definition of good is not found in our work, our to do lists, or our best effort put forward. Those are simply sacrifices and outcomes of the primary – while certainly these are profitable, they are not what God defines as the ultimate definition of leadership. His definition is found in a three simple action plan found in Micah 6:8:

  1. Act justly.
  2. Love mercy.
  3. Walk humbly with our God.

humility a clear view of God

To act justly is to do what’s right for others. To love mercy is to be loyal to others. To walk humbly is to walk thoughtfully about others. Notice that the last one is to walk with our God. For God Himself is the Ultimate Leader, but He tells us that even though He dwells on a high and holy place, He also dwells with the contrite and the lowly. (Isaiah 57:15). As leaders, we have positions, responsibilities and power, but that power is not a power trip for us to ride on. It’s a seat of service to others. As we walk with God, we partner with Him. Like Him, we will use our positions of power to elevate the brokenhearted, underdeveloped and overlooked; our roles are opportunities to shed light on the modest and simple, so they can carry the baton onward and lead for the good cause of Christ. After all, God purposed Himself to use His throne and its entire splendor to revive the spirit of the lowly and the heart of the contrite. Why would we be or do anything different as leaders? Oh how we can limit ourselves and the mission of Christ when we choose to ride on our power trips! Amen?

You might say, “But I’m not a leader.” Oh but yes you are! Do you have children? Then you are their leader. They are certainly a modest, simple, and underdeveloped and in many cases an overlooked group of people who have such potential to grow and become. You have the great honor to cultivate and advance them! Do you teach a small group of adults? Many in your group come brokenhearted, filled with life’s painful burdens. You can walk with them, teach them, partner with them and get them to a place of freedom. Are you a Christian? Being a Christian makes you an influence of God’s gospel. You can lead the lost to salvation in Christ and help them grow step by step in a closer relationship with Him. We are all leading someone, but the question is, “What action plan are we following?”

Becoming a “leader” is not the goal in life; being a servant is. When we use our roles to elevate others, make them shine, and help them get where God wants them, then we have learned the secret of great leadership. But it takes humility to get there. And humility in many cases is what culminates and propels the ability to act justly and love mercy. For without humility we will demand judgment not justice; and without humility we will make others dependent upon us vs. dependent on God’s power for their advancement.  As a parent, it has been my dream to advance each child way beyond where I have been in leadership. To do this, I have needed to not view my leadership role in their life as significant in its own right, but to see it as a launching pad for them to go far and beyond! Now that’s multiplication! 

How do we follow this action plan set by our God? How can we prepare our hearts and minds for such a leadership? First, we don’t love our position and power – instead we love the people we lead. And second we don’t use the people, instead we use our position to shape them. Thirdly, no one following us wants to look up at us, they want to see us by their side. So we choose to dwell with them not above them; just as Jesus chose to dwell with us, we will do life with those we lead.

“For thus says the High and exalted One Who lives forever, Whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place (leadership), and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit (humility), in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.'” (Isaiah 57:15).

Overcoming the Daily Demand Crisis


The daily demands of the day are constant. They are ever ready to control our day, control our direction and even our destiny. The challenge is this, the demands in our day do not have the ability to sort, weed, or produce what is best. These demands serve one purpose in our life – distraction. And distraction serves one end – destruction. Yet, we follow them anyway!

The answer to this problem of “the daily demand” crisis is found in Mark 1:35-39:

“Early in the morning Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’

Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come. So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.’

Observing this short, yet profound passage we see that Jesus rose early in the morning and set His day in the direction of God’s plans. How? By abiding in God’s presence first before the day of duties even began. When the demands of the day arrived in the form of Simon and his companions, Jesus was ready to meet them with His Father’s purpose.

“Everyone is looking for you!” is often the reason we fall so short of doing what God wants us to do. “People pleasing” is usually at the core of redirecting the mission God has for us. Yet, Paul instructs us by his own example of living from 1 Thessalonians 2:4, “We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.” Our solitary place each morning is a time where God tests our hearts and takes all that is busy and demanding in our life and brings to the surface THE ONE THING that matters – His will! And know this, you will not make people happy, you may even make some mad, but the mission is to please our Heavenly Father and pray for those who feel disappointed by our mission.

Jesus replies with a focused and intentional response. Regardless of all the people who were looking for Him, He simply said, “Let’s go somewhere else.” Imagine that! He has all these people looking for Him. He could have fruitful work here. He could accomplish much, but accomplishment was not His goal – doing God’s will was! He continued by stating clearly – we are to go to  the nearby villages, so I can preach, for THAT IS WHY I HAVE COME.

Go to that solitary place today. Ask God to weed out the busy and raise up His mission for your day. Then pray for the courage to confront the demands when they come. Know your God, know His mission and live His will. Intimacy with the Father in Heaven and Impact on the world is the end!   ID-10021450

 

 

 

 

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Honesty is Intimacy


Honesty is intimacy.

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Honesty deepens the bond between husband and wife, and becomes great examples for our children to follow. Nothing else seems to really matter as much in this life if the marriage bond is broken. The homes we build are more than brick and mortar. Homes are crafted by the integrity of our communication and closeness. It all starts with husband and wife.

You can live in a hut and it feels like a palace, if the marriage is strong, happy and close. A date night with pizza and candlelight is as romantic as dinner at the Ritz. Why? A faithful friendship gives precedence to the people involved and not the surroundings and things people use to make a marriage beautiful and good. Things break, money runs out, bodies age, and times change, but if there is a friendship with honesty, it doesn’t matter what’s amiss around us.

Too many marriages fail today, because they become dishonest and filled with secrecy. Illusions and irrational expectations fill the minds of some. They put more faith in what’s false than what’s real. They allow deceit to distance them and eventually destroy them.

However, when honesty is the root, it bonds a deep relationship where all else can be built upon it. The rest is secure, because the marriage knows intimacy.

“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house” (Proverbs 24:26-27).

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net