Conviction or Opinion?

Taking the right stand for the wrong reason does not give glory to God, and it can place us in a precarious position.  We live in a very vocal world that tends to elevate opinions far above their value.  The current cultural controversies generate a tremendous amount of debate, and God’s Name is often invoked to prove a point.  It is dangerous ground to elevate one’s opinions to the level of Scripture.  Our opinions should be the same as God’s–but we don’t get to pick and choose which of His opinions we support. As Christian’s the glory of God must always be our highest priority.

When we are defending our opinions, we must take great care not to trample the prohibition of Exodus 20:7, ‘Do not take the Lord’s Name in vain.’ Taking the Lord’s name in vain is much more than uttering cuss words. The word ‘vain’ refers to the hasty, deceptive and empty use of His Name.  The ‘stamping’ of an opinion with Scripture is not a new thing.  God has been dragged into many unholy opinions and actions since the beginning of time.  In both the spiritual and earthly courts, this is treacherous ground.

The Christian Law Association provides free legal services to Christians facing legal battles because of their faith.  They stand firmly on the side of God’s righteousness in the courts of America.  They also plead for Christians to know what they believe.

“…We are coming to a day when people are being put on trial for their faith.  How much of the Bible are you living by?  The courts are gearing up like never before to put your faith on trial.  Are you ready?  do you hold Biblical convictions–unmoveable decisions based on Scripture–that live by on a daily basis?”

It is an interesting paradox that the unholy climate we live in will push us to purify our faith–and bring us into greater alignment with God.  It is a paradox revealed in Scripture and history:  persecution purifies.

CLA explains that the American Courts demand that individuals being tried for their faith must be able to verbalize their beliefs.  They must also be able to explain what they believe and not simply mouth phrases or opinions.  The  Courts do not accept a religious defense based on:  “It seems to me…” or “I think…” because thoughts change.  It also does not accept descriptive terms or pat phrases.  Defendants must be able to explain what it means to believe what they say they believe.  Convictions are required to be supportable by Scripture and evidenced in life.

One cannot go into an American Court and give empty words to defend a conviction.

One cannot go before God and give empty words either. 

America was founded on Christian principles, but maintaining integrity to the foundation is a necessity.  What is vital for our nation begins in individual lives.  As Christians, the very glory of God is ours to protect.  It is a high and holy privelege.  Developing convictions instead of opinions will help us build lives of integrity–and may deliver our nation. Perhaps the moral decline of our nation will even deliver some from the horror of Matthew 7:21:

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.”

In all things, we can give thanks to God…because giving thanks is His will for us. We are not to be troubled or dismayed as we go through this life–but we are to give God glory in all things…even American 2016.

As CLA says, “Faithful Christians might as well become accustomed to the courtroom because they are going to spend increased amounts of time there defending things that they have always taken for granted.”  May we be ready for the opportunity as Paul was when taken to Rome…may God be glorified in us, not used by us.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

For a great article on the dangers of false faith, check out this piece from John Piper, “You Can Believe the Promises of God and Still Be Lost.”

HIS – Hearts & Hands in Service

Any who know me, know I love serving.  It is a selfish love in many ways.  There is so much God does in us as we serve.  Putting together a training video to help people catch a vision of the beauty of serving has been a project I have worked on for some time.  I may develop a book from it, but in the meantime, here is my first attempt at a power-point video.

There are some choppy spots but I believe you will be challenged and blessed in the content overall.  And it has been the perfect example of service as described:  a bit frustrating, not all that I envisioned and yet surrendered to God, so I know immeasurably more will come from it than I put in it!  ENJOY!

I’d love to hear your thoughts…and your stories of service.

 

 

Can you really hear from God?

I think perhaps this is the most common question folks have.   The short answer is YES!  His Word is the place to begin, but He speaks individually as well.  You will find other pieces on this blog–and many other places–to help you explore the topic.  This is a recent compilation of tips on hearing from God.  How does He speak to you?  Share your experiences in the comments!

Hearing from God is the interpreting of life in the context of God.  It requires the Holy Spirit, so looking at the arrival of the Spirit is useful.  In Acts 2, the Spirit filled the ‘house.’  When God is all around, hearts are set on fire.  When your heart is on fire, your life speaks that God is real.  

You hear from God and you speak in a way that helps people understand GOD IS REAL.  BUT not all people will understand.  Some of the people at Pentecost thought the disciples were crazy or drunk.  The timing may not be right for another, but that does not negate what you hear.  

  • Hearing from God is receiving a Personal Word.  If you hear someone speak of a ‘rhema’ word, this is what they mean.  Christ is the ‘logos’ come to life.  God never speaks in a way that contradicts the written Word, the logos, the life of Christ.  He brings the WORD to bear on your unique circumstances.
  • Hearing from God requires humility…a willingness to fail, a willingness to be judged by others.  Humanity is prone to error.  It is possible to misunderstand and/or be misunderstood when you listen and speak of God’s word to you.
  • Hearing from God requires courage. God doesn’t speak just so you can sail through life without struggle.  Paul got on a boat that went down; was bit by a viper; blocked from some ministries; imprisoned; beaten and ultimately killed.  Danger is part of the package:  faith is fearless.
  • Hearing from God requires confidence in God.  If you get it wrong, if the results are not what you wanted…it is okay.  It is not about us anyway…it is all about God.  He is greater than the mistakes you (or another) will make.
  • Hearing from God requires living in freedom…living in the presence of God.  
  • Hearing from God requires the grace of God…for yourself and others.  
  • Hearing from God requires faith in God.  Getting it wrong or getting into situations you never intended opens the door for seeing His power and provision.
  • Hearing from God is Holy Ground.  Don’t take Him for granted.  Don’t ignore what He tells you.  Sin separates us from God.  It can block our hearing Him…and His listening to us.

BEWARE:  “God told me to tell you.”

God is all about relationship.  He prefers to speak directly to us, but sometimes God will ask one person to deliver a message to another.  Be cautious as the speaker or the hearer when you hear, “God told me…” Remember, humanity is prone to error.  “God told me” can border on a manipulative tactic.

The advice I like best about the idea that God is telling you to speak to someone:  if you want to do it, it probably is not God nudging you.  If it is a message you don’t want to deliver—that’s probably God.  (Think Samuel or Moses).

If someone is telling you “God said…”, go talk to God.  What is the reaction of your spirit—your gut response?  Do you know it is right but you don’t want to do it?  That’s God.  However, when in doubt, don’t.  If their message doesn’t resonate in you–follow your peace.  Don’t let someone put their burden on you.  Listen to God.  

Don’t automatically negate another’s word for you…God has been known to speak through donkeys.  At the same time, refuse to negate their burden.  God, indeed, may have given it to them.  Just because it is not yours does not mean it is not valid.

HEARING IMPAIRMENTS

Know that the devil does not want you to hear.   God’s goal of speaking is always relationship & unity.  He calls us closer to Him so we will know Him more.  “How shall they know unless they hear?”  There are any number of things that can interfere with hearing from God: stuff of life, busyness, worries, fear, resentments, unforgiveness, sin…  The very things that block our hearing are the things God stands ready to use to transform us.

The things you struggle with are the places God is speaking to you.  Don’t run away.  Don’t throw out accusations at others (or God).  Don’t fall into despair.  Seek His face in the darkness; He is there.

God speaks all the time.  He is the great I AM who is always present.  He is LIFE itself.  The pure in heart see God…and when you see Him, you will speak LIFE and others will hear.  You will know He is present as you share in worshipping Him with others.

You matter

Know your identity

Here are some verse vitamins for every day that reminds you WHO YOU ARE in CHRIST!

You are accepted in Christ. You are secure in Christ. You are significant in Christ.
Ephesians 1:5 Romans 8:28-39 John 15:16
1 Corinthians 12:27 Philippians 1:6 Acts 1:8
John 1:12 2 Timothy 1:7 2 Corinthians 6:1
Colossians 1:14 1 John 5:18 Ephesians 2:10
Romans 5:1 2 Corinthians 1:21,22 Matthew 5:13,14
Colossians 2:10 Hebrews 4:16 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

 

You are enough

Do you ever struggle with the idea that you must ‘be more’ and ‘do more?’  I sure do.  Nothing seems quite enough sometimes.  The longing to be of value is innate in every human being.  It is a longing that only God can fill.  One of my favorite devotions is Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest.

The content of the devotion for today from My Utmost reminds me to enjoy just being.  Just as the lilies standing in the field give glory to God by BEING, so do we.  Know that YOU bring beauty to the world today.  Enjoy the beauty that is around you.  Living in that way gives glory to God and transforms the world.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are enough because HE IS!  Enjoy Jesus today!

 

 

 

Led By a Child

Feeling ‘stuck’ is a common human experience.

Most everyone knows the definition of insanity that says, “You just keep doing the same thing but expect different results.”  Our God-seeking group has been using the Jennie Allen, Stuck Study to break free of those things that mire us down.

Every member of the group sees their quicksand differently.  One feels stuck in the area of relationships, another in the past, another in weak disciplines…  All recognize that God has the answer; getting to Him and hearing clearly creates a continuing challenge.  Pressing on with our study brought us to a drawing exercise.   Each member of the group was to create a picture of what ‘being stuck’ was like.

Again, God’s amazing creativity poured forth as each adult shared their perceptions of being stuck.  Hanging off a cliff, crushed under a boulder with only grasping hands reaching out, carrying a ball and chain, on a treadmill going nowhere, isolated, lonely…

Stuck is the antithesis of how Christ desires us to live.  Jesus told us that the Truth sets us free.  The Apostle Paul, in the book of Romans, eloquently describes the battle of moving into the freedom Christ provides.  The weariness of life emanated from the adult pictures of stuck.  Then, our youngest member spoke up:

Stuck feels like being a room that has puzzles you need to solve so you can get the keys to get out of the room.

Now, THAT is being led by a child.  He is absolutely right!  A stuck place is not a punishment or a death threat.  It is an opportunity to dig more deeply into our faith and uncover the treasures of darkness God has placed around us!

In the Book of Revelation, we read that Jesus promises overcomers ‘hidden manna’ and a ‘new name (character) that no one else understands.’  While that is future fulfillment Scripture, there is an aspect that applies today.  The struggles you have are different than the struggles I have…you receive the spiritual food appropriate for you–and I for me.  We are both to share it.  Our identities remain unique but we fit together to create a beautiful picture of our Lord and Savior.

Every choice we make launches ripples of consequences.  Much of life remains hidden. 13199062_10206566229454049_400945209_oFaith is the substance of things hoped for, things not seen.  When we make choices based  on faith in Jesus Christ and His promises, our ripples move toward eternal good.  When we make choices (and failing to choose IS a choice), an inevitable process begins that drags us toward captivity.  That which overcomes us is our master.  Be overcome by the Lord of Love…be excited about those challenges, so you can know Him more.  Get in the game with Sawyer!

 

Knowing the King

Soaking in the presence of God restores my strength.  It is such a joy.  Sometimes the weights of the world deceive me into thinking I must carry them.  It breaks my heart to see and hear the ways the devil steals, kills and destroys.  This morning, this quote blessed me as I sought His face this morning, and I wanted to share it with others:

“He has subdued my stubborn will, melted a heart of adamant, opened gates of brass, and snapped bars of iron.  He hath turned for me my mourning into laughter, and my desolation into joy; He hath led my captivity captive and made my heart rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”  Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

Do you know Him?  If you know Him, you will surely enjoy Him!

 

What is Cross-Life Coaching?

Growing up spiritually does not just ‘happen.’  The Apostle Paul said we must ‘work out what God has put in us.’  When I accepted Christ as Lord–as opposed to a ticket out of hell–I had trouble finding folks who could articulate the Way to do that.  They told me ‘read the Bible,’ ‘do this’ and ‘do that.’  They were not wrong, but I needed more. Living the ‘Cross-Life’ involves changing habits and attitudes.

I would have loved a Cross-Life Coach to move me forward in my journey in those early days.  And that is why I now offer Cross-Life Coaching to those who feel the same way.

I believe with all my heart that JESUS is the answer to every problem we face in life.  I also know that many good Christians struggle to figure out HOW He is the answer.

We get stuck on our own; we need more than words and insights.  We need another person to come along side us. Church fellowships, friends who share our faith beliefs and pastors are valuable resources.  Sometimes, though, those resources do not extend to the depth desired.

It is my personal joy to walk alongside many in the capacity of sister-in-Christ.  Coaching is more deliberate and intensive.  It establishes goals and digs deeply into the heart to enlarge the capacity for Christ-likeness.   Coaching involves ‘homework’ and ‘heartwork.’ It is a labor intensive prospect.

WHY would I use Cross-life Coaching?

Cross-life Coaching is all about achieving potential…about being all that God created you to be.    It is for the person who wants more from life!  It is for the person who sees what they do with life as their thank-you gift to God!

Cross-Life Coaching is designed for all who:

  • feel ‘stuck’ in a certain behavior pattern or situation.
  • believe there is more to living the Christian life than they currently enjoy.
  • want to identify and remove barriers to abundant living.
  • seek clarity on expectations, goals and life purpose.
  • long to live with their eyes focused on eternal impact.

WHAT kind of things will come up?

Cross-Life Coaching is personal.  The life of faith is lived out individually but abundant living involves some common areas:

  • Knowing God More
  • Developing as His Disciple
  • Healing from Hurts
  • Giving God Glory by Sharing Your Hope
Give me a hope, M.G. Kafkas
Give me a hope, M.G. Kafkas

How can I learn more?