Growing as a Servant: Appreciate unique design

God created each soul in a design perfect for their time and place in history.  Let me say that another way:  God loves the way He made you.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made!  The servant of God learns to appreciate the unique design of God–in himself and in others.  There is no perfect human being; there is no pathway to perfection.  As children of God, we are on a journey together and together, we reveal the beauty of God.

Moses is a wonderful role model for those of us growing as servants.  The first lesson Moses learned was his inadequacy.  Choosing his own plan and timing brought disastrous consequences.  Serving God is holy ground!  When Moses grasped that concept, he was undone.  His inadequacy choked him, and he tried to excuse himself from service.  God gently helped him understand his unique design–and the power available when he placed his strengths into the hand of God.

Exodus 3:2 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”

“A staff,” he replied.

3 The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”

Releasing the rod to the Lord produced a ‘snake’ that Moses feared, yet picked up again.  Our strengths in the hand

of God may look unfamiliar; they may give us a bit of fear…but the servant picks them back up.  Our strength in our hand brings death; our strength in the hand of God sets captives free!

When we learn to value our design–stop wishing we were like others–we learn to value others as well.  Growing as a servant gives space to others to grow as well.  C.S. Lewis put it this way in his masterpiece, The Screwtape Letters:

“[God] wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. [God] wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbor’s talents–or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things.”

How has God designed you?  Do you like your design–He does!  What can you place in the hands of God for Him to use?

Heartsong provides assistance to ministries looking to improve their serve…and to individuals longing to know where they fit.

Spending time in the presence of God

The presence of God transforms!  Do you drink it in or wonder where it is?  Is the presence of God a moment-by-moment awareness for you—or an illusionary concept?  Would you be surprised to know His presence is not always in a Church…or that the Living Word can be void of vitality?  In Acts 17, Paul spoke to those who worshiped without life:

“…so that they might look for God, somehow reach for him, and find him. Of course, he is never far from any one of us. For we live, move, and exist because of him, as some of your own poets have said: ‘For we are his children, too.’” (verses 27 and 28)

It is not the heartbeat of God to have lifeless worship.  He longs for you to enjoy His presence because He wants to enjoy yours.  Are you weary of life?  If you are, spend time with LIFE and enjoy the abundance.  Without His presence, life drains the strongest. That is right and good, for God never intended that we would live this life on our own!

His Word and the Church are tools the Spirit uses to help us know what God is like…so that we can recognize His

Toni Verdú Carbó The Passage of Time

Toni Verdú Carbó
The Passage of Time

presence.  Like those in Athens, though, sometimes we mistake the tools for the Truth.  Time in the Word and time with believers are necessities in the life of a Christian…but they are not Life itself.

The echo of hearts crying, “Is this all there is?” beats at the doors of heaven.  “There is so much more!” calls the Father.  “Come, walk in the light.” And to those of us who walk in His light, the great commission still stands:  “Go, make disciples.”   Our grand purpose in life is to live in the Light of the love of the Father and help others do the same.  He longs for us to bring his light to a world covered in shadows so others may know He lives!

Those shadows conceal treasures…treasures of darkness only children of the Light can unearth.  Without the Light, the shadows terrify.  The shadows cause those in the dark to trip and fall prey to the lies of the enemy.  Jesus, the Light of the World, reveals the snares and the beauties shrouded in darkness.  When we spend time in the light, we absorb light and can be a lamp for others.  We are called to be servants!  Let’s take light into the shadows, light that exposes the pits, expels the evil and unearths precious gems!

What shadows will you illuminate today?  Can we stand with you in prayer?

 

If you struggle to enter the presence of God, some thoughts and tips can be found here.

Finding your way into the presence of God

My heart aches to understand that there are those who seldom enjoy time with God; those who feel puzzled when others speak of ‘feeling His touch’ or ‘hearing His voice.’  God is a personal God, desperately desiring to connect with us.  My greatest sadness is not for those who reject God but for those striving to “DO” something to get closer to Him.  Just as Paul said to the crowds in Rome, “He is never far from you.”  Entering into His presence is a possibility any time!

Made in the image of God–body, soul and spirit–seeking Him involves all aspects of us.  Frankly, we are the barrier to enjoying God.  On the physical level, busy-ness is the biggest blockade.  Even if the activities are God-oriented, busyness prevents real interaction the Father.  Vigilance that prioritizes private God-time is critical.  Fellowship with Christians, “church,” is part of the plan of God as well.  We must enjoy His presence individually and corporately.  If your church orchestrates details of every service, make it your personal ambition to enter the presence of God in those details.  He is still there; help others find Him by letting His light flood you!

Other physical world things that can keep from God are seeking pleasures from the world instead of him.  Over-eating is an easy example for many of us.  Stress and fatigue drive me to comfort foods on a regular basis.  God asks to be my Bread of Life.  Each of us will have areas of weakness the Spirit can reveal.  Ask God what in the physical world separates you from Him.  Any physical sin (any sin for that matter) will separate us from God.  They are idolatry; things we prefer to the presence of God.  Refuse to let your body keep you from the Creator!

Then there is that soul part of us:  our mind, will and emotions.  Much of the battle of life takes place in the mind.  We are to renew our minds with the Word.  That is not a dry, wearisome task—even if you never liked reading anything!  Technology gives you amazing options to listen or watch the Word.  Find a way to get Truth from the Word into your mind because that changes everything!  Emotions flow from our thoughts, and actions come out of our emotions.  Spending time in the Word is not optional, nor is it an item to check off from a ‘to do’ list.

Engage your heart and your mind with His words and you will feel His presence—and He will empower you to exercise your will and obey Him.  It is different than just ‘spending time in the Word’; it must be time with God!  For

Lawrence OP Let the Children Come We are all children!

Lawrence OP
Let the Children Come
We are all children!

me, an avid ‘student’—and self-professed geek, enjoying God through reading and writing is easy—it is my design.  Thoughts serve as propulsion jets shooting me toward the Father.  I may pause to gaze in awe at His beauty; I may ask a question for clarification from Him or dig into a word study for more thought jets.  Seek His heart as you read and even if it is not your default design, He will meet you!

Don’t stop there!  Keep seeking.  Find new ways to enter His glory, unique ways based on how He created you!  Find a mentor who can listen to your heart and help you hear the things God is speaking into your life.

Consider using music.  Scripture-based music helps me lay down the ‘soulish’ parts of self and enjoy Him.  It quiets my busy mind and lets me focus on feeling God.  On the other hand, some find their soul so engaged in music, they fail to connect with God.  Make Him the priority.  Continually seek His presence.  Be attentive for Him.  He promises to be found.  Do not give up.  God is not distant but imminently, impressively real!

I’ll leave you with one final tool that works for me when the press of life feels too weighty.  I go for a walk.  It helps me synchronize my overused mind and underused body.  The magnitude of creation, the details and activity of nature quietly working mostly unnoticed by busting humanity resets my spirit.  To my harm and shame, the stuff of life, the cares of this world, easily stifle the still, small voice of my humble, majestic God.  He is ever-present, yet I am blind to Him.  A walk—whether on a street or in the windows—engages me with a world bigger than my own.  It reminds me of my smallness and floods me with thanksgiving for His love and wisdom.

 What works for you to enter the presence of God.  Share here, share with others:  has there been a song, a book or a worship experience that stands out?

 We are to live this life of faith together.  God blesses that we can in turn bless another.

 If you struggle to find or feel God, zap a note.  Let’s talk it through.  He loves you beyond measure.  He is waiting for you to enjoy being with Him.  There is nothing more you need to do to be loved by Him…

Giving the wounds away

Romel Your Tears

Romel
Your Tears

Have you ever been wounded by the words or actions of another?  Of course, you have.  It is a part of life.  There is an old adage that is heart-breakingly true:  “Hurt people hurt people.”  Those wounds we receive from others are passed on…sometimes with intention, often without our even noticing. It does not have to be.

Every sinful action has already been paid for…my actions and those done by others to me.  I do not need to bear the cost–nor do you!  Jesus was made sin for us…that we might be His righteousness.  It is the most unfair trade in eternity and our power source.  When we give the wounds we receive to Him, He transforms them.

The wounds that slice open our soul–even our spirit–became vessels of healing for others when we hand the wound to him and receive the payment he made.  In my deepest hurts, I have needed a visual reminder.  I may meditate upon the Cross of Christ–picturing myself under it as His blood covers me.  I may write out my pain and even burn the written words as a sacrifice of thanksgiving.  Jesus paid it all…don’t pay a debt that has been paid.

For a deeper look at this subject, I invite you to visit read Is here any hope for healing? 

There is a glory story in your hurt!  Can you see it?  Will you share it that Jesus will get the glory?

When his desires are not yours…my journey to the Promised Land

It wasn’t my dream.  It wasn’t my desire.  There were sound reasons not to do it.  Yet, one Sunday morning before church began, I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

“You are not allowing God to answer your prayers.  You pray for your husband to be the leader

of your home, but you want to control his leadership.” 

I knew immediately why the Lord was rebuking me. My husband wanted a job transfer to the Carolinas.  I had resisted and refused the open doors God gave him, preferring my own plans.  I repented and within three months, we were setting up a home in the Carolinas–600 miles away from family and friends of a lifetime.  For me, it became a journey to the Promised Land because God uses obedience to transform lives.  He uses it to work in us and through us making all of life a mission field when we go forth in obedience to Him.

Throughout the heartache of saying good-bye and the challenges of selling a home in one state and buying in another, God put one special song in my heart:

 “Freely, freely, you have received.

Freely, freely give.

Go in my name

and because you believe,

others will know that I live.”

I liked the ‘Freely Give’ part of the song…the ’Freely Receive’ part was an affront to my do-it-yourself nature. I preferred to keep a tight control on the details of life to limit needs to those “I” could manage.   Raised by parents who grew up in the depression, the ethic of hard work surges through every fiber of my being.  It is a good value; hard work pleases the Lord and is necessary.  Work, though, is limited to the earthly realm.  The work of the Lord has no such limits.  God used to move to teach me about the glories of receiving His will!

Every journey to the Promised Land — to the land where Christ rules and reigns — demands faith in the goodness and power of God.  Over and over again, God proved Himself willing and able to meet earthly needs with divine precision.  Selling a home in the midst of a New York winter is about as ideal as planning to drive through the mountains in late January.  Our ‘go’ included such lovely timing!  In God’s inimitable way, our home sold within weeks at a higher price than Richburg homewe listed it.  Our moving day was sunny and the roads were dry for the entire twelve hours!  We found and purchased a home in a quaint, quiet country town outside of Charlotte for less than our sale price.  God provided exactly the people we needed to help us adjust:  a caring realtor who planned a birthday party for our teen the week we arrived, a contractor that took care of necessary repairs and a Christian family to love us.  And He did it all with exquisite timing and attention to needs we never anticipated and did not have the resources to resolve if we had known of them!

As God provided blessings I could not produce through any amount of hard work, I began to see the beauty of receiving Him!  He revealed Himself in ways that brought to life the principles I studied in His Word.  Giving is contingent on receiving.  Without an open-ness to the magnificence of God, all we can give is ourselves. The sorrow of saying good-bye to loved ones is an on-going grief.  Yet it is a grief with glorious results.  The common, eternal need we all share is receiving the knowledge that Jesus is alive!  Going through life believing that God can and will provide all we need brings the presence of God into every life.  The essence of ‘Go in my name’ requires us to receive Him, to live in Him and to share Him.   “Go in my name…” is a concept usually tied to missionary service.  Our move has taught me to live the broader reality that each life is lived on the mission field. Our obedience and faith are tools in the lives of others!  My prayer is that our story will inspire you to trust Him more, to truly receive HIM–to go in His name and show others, He is alive!

For more thoughts on moving, you may enjoy this piece:  Are you thinking of moving on?