Why won’t he listen to me?

Jump, Scooby, Jump!

She’s four.  She’s been on a horse for about four hours in her life.  She knew what he could do.  She knew what she wanted to do.  She spoke clearly and told him so.

Scooby, who loves jumping, ignored her.   17579988_1435669199829684_1360804793_n

Her voice became more insistent until the words were a plaintive plea:  “Jump, Scooby,
Jump.”

Scooby walked on, unperturbed.

Finally, frustration flooding and tears spilling, she cried out, “Why doesn’t he listen to me?”

Kendal spoke the words every child of God has cried at some point or other.  We know what God can do.  We know what we want and we ask clearly, repeatedly…and nothing changes.  Hearts broken, frustration overflowing, we lash out at being ignored.

Like Kendal, we fail to realize God won’t do what we are not ready for.  It is not that He disagrees with our request; He just knows the time is not right.  God recognizes our weaknesses even when we don’t.  He feels that our faith muscles need strengthening to keep us balanced in the grand actions we request.

God never withholds what is best and He never gives what will harm.

Next time your heart cries out, remember Kendal and whisper a thank you!

Wounded by Friends

Caring about others makes you vulnerable in many ways.  The hurts our friends receive hurt us too.  We rise to their defense.  Those are hurts that can accomplish good.  They make us love harder and share one anothers’ burdens. We grow in strength together.

There are other shared hurts that can be deadly.  Our friends’ weaknesses can partner with our own and pull us both into deeper troubles.

But there’s an even greater vulnerability of friendship.  Sometimes friends directly hurt us…they betray us, accuse us of wrong, deceive us or abandon us.  The one we stood by leaves us high and dry.  The one we defended attacks us.

Those wounds are deep.   Does it seem odd that the wisdom of Proverbs says it is good?

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful.  Proverbs 27:6

All hurts have the potential to open our heart to new depths of Christ’s healing love.  Every wound has the possibility that Joseph declared in Genesis:  ‘You meant it for evil but God meant it for good…for the saving of many lives.’  When we take our wounds to the Healer, new legacies are born…eternal promises unfold.

One wound we all share is the grief when a loved one dies.  As I write this, my own heart aches at the loss of a precious 21 year old.  A young man with a gentle and kind heart who had a smile for everyone he met.  A young man who fell into the bondage of addiction; a young man whose life was stolen away.  He left behind many wounded, crying hearts. My hope-filled prayer is that his chains will open the way for many to experience the truth of his favorite song.

At first glance, the song is a cruel irony.  This young man loved Jesus, yet his chains were not broken.  Some might think Jesus was not a faithful friend or that the devil and drugs had more power.  Those are lies.  The devil is a defeated foe; an earthly life was taken, but seeds for eternal life were sown.  The unbroken chains of my young friend (whose own heart was broken by his own captivity) are piercing hearts that Jesus longs to heal.

Will we who know the Healer speak clearly about Jesus?

There is a desperate need in our world for loving, confident voices of hope.  In Psalm 51, David–the man after God’s own heart–cried out in sorrow over his own sin but confidence in God’s kindness, “…a broken heart you will not despise” he says to God.

David understood that the walk of faith is not based on sinless perfection or the right actions of others.  He also understood the pain of honest confession and the humility needed to receive God’s plan.  The kindness of God does not create a sugar-coated, life of ease on earth.

The kindness of God brings about purposes of eternal good–and untangling our sins often creates heartaches.  Faith does not always know ‘why’ but it understands heartache prepares ground for the good purposes of God!

God does what it takes to draw hearts to Him.  Horribly hard consequences came from the sin David wept over.  God forgave him but warned him a sword would slash through his family.  The consequences, though, didn’t wipe out the promises made to David decades before::

“…the LORD himself will establish a house for you…I will raise up your offspring…and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  I will be his father, he will be my son….My love will never be taken away from him…Your house and your kingdom will endure forever…”  2 Samuel 7:12-17

 

God is faithful to His promises; we can reap the rewards of David’s promises too.  Centuries after David died our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ entered his family.  At least a dozen times, Scriptures refers to Jesus as the Son of David.  God was faithful to His promise.  The Messiah, Immanuel – God with Us – breaks legacies of sin when broken hearts are brought to Him for healing.

Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil and give us abundant life.  He died for our sins…and the hurts caused by sin.  We are never more unfaithful to Jesus than when we fail to receive healing for our wounds.

The wounds of life have purpose and beautiful potential when we place them in the loving hands of Jesus.

When we hold on the hurts, our voices are silenced.  We are like the addict, self-absorbed with meeting our own needs.  We never mean to hurt another.  We simply feel hopelessly trapped in our own hurt, clouded by our own questions.  The lies of the enemy loom so large that we can’t see Jesus.  We can’t give hope to others because we have not received it for our self!  The life Jesus died to give us is silenced.  We dishonor His work on our behalf; we are faithless friends.

Jesus shows us how to deal with unfaithful friends…with friends who use us, reject us, neglect us, abandon us.  Jesus died for friends like that.  He surrendered to the will of the Father; He lived out love to the end.  We are not separated from His love by the heartaches of life IF we give them to Him.  Then He plants His own life, and we become fields where hope blooms.

Do you have hard spots in your heart…spots that throb with anger, resentment and hurt…spots that have hurt so long numbness is all you feel?  Do you have habits you can’t break, relationships you can’t heal?  Let Jesus break your heart wide open.   He is the faithful friend who will heal every hurt.  Then receive the Living Word, let it take root and share it with the hurting world around you.  

Choosing to Change

The Christian life is all about transformation…redemption that frees captive souls.  The Cross is the dividing line.  Jesus completed the Work and says, “It is finished.”  Our choice is this:

Do we live on the earthly side..choosing to take responsibility for making ‘it’ happen

OR

Do we live on the eternal side…choosing to live in Christ knowing it is done?

The steps will often look the same.  We walk out faith in the earthly realm…but the substance of life is actually unseen.  The experience will be amazingly different…and the results worlds apart.  That sounds like you are about to read a simple 1,2,3 process, doesn’t it.  I wish.

Do you know the old saying:  Those who can do and those who can’t, teach?

Folks often tell me that God designed me to be a teacher…and in light of the above phrase, I agree.  I’d rather teach this than live it.  I believe it is Truth straight from the Word of God…and I will show you that.  The earthly Truth is that taking this from Head to Feet involves struggle, muscle building–possibly some muscle tears and real tears.  The choices that lead to change are hard work.  I don’t do it perfectly; knowing it is easier than living it.  Faith is what pleases our awesome God, so let’s press in!

BUT FIRST:  This is much longer than I typically post. If there is too much as you begin to read through and you would like to receive this in PDF, comment below before you leave the page :).

GOALS & OBJECTIVES

Unless you are grant writer, you probably think goals and objectives are synonymous.  Let’s split them up, though.  Think of Goals as the BIG THINGS and Objectives as the map to arrive at the goal.  As a Christian, the GOALS our lives are orchestrated to accomplish are the GOALS GOD sets.  We often set objectives and confuse them with goals.  That is one source of great unrest and clouds of confusion.  God’s goals aim at connecting us to Him and giving us abundant life.  When we live amiss from His goals, He lets the consequences of our choices drive us back to Him.

CHOOSING CHRIST

When we accept Christ as our Redeemer, we also accept Him as Lord–even though we don’t understand all that that means.  God knows and guides us through life to achieve understanding and know Him more.  He will design our circumstances to accomplish His will (often in spite of us).  God has designed each of us in a unique way and prepared good works for us to do in Christ (Ephesians 2:10), and those purposes will be accomplished wherever we are and whatever we do as WE CHOOSE to do them in Christ.  When we don’t choose well, He will hem us in with the consequences until we do.

A myriad of books exist that guide us on how to live in Christ.  We know many of the verses that point us to this goal.

‘The old is passed, the new is come…’

 ‘Such were some of you…but I say live by the Spirit…’  

My church uses a saying that pierces my heart:  “Dead men don’t feel the knife.”  I still feel the knife sometimes…there are places in my life that I still live in the flesh.  Praise God, He will not leave me there.  He will bring me to a point of choice…and He will love me through to making the right choice.

Recently, God led me to an old-fashioned filter for my choices that I will share with you.  You already know it:  the 10 Commandments.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law.  He is the pure, living embodiment of the commandments.  To live IN CHRIST, I must make choices based on the Law.  So here’s what that looks like in my mind.

Worship God.  Seek to see and slay all competitors.  Honor the character of God:  His loving authority & power.  THEN, in the earthly realm:  Honor life and the family heritage you received and build AND the heritage of others.  Speak truth (with words & actions).  Contentedly rejoice in His presence.

The challenge with that filter is that we can easily rationalize our choices to fit…but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.  Rationalizations are in the head.  Faith is evidenced in our feet and in our heart.  If the sweet fruit of the Spirit is not filling our heart, the journey from head to heart is still underway.  Do you remember the fruit?

fruit-of-spirit-tree

CHOOSING GOD’S GOALS

When I allow the LAW — or Jesus Christ — to filter my choices, I move toward God’s GOALS.  1 Peter Chapter 1 outlines the awesome inheritance we have received but 2 Peter Chapter 1 helps us grow into that inheritance:

Fruitful Growth in the Faith

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

The fruitful growth of our faith IS God’s goal.  Digging into this passage unveils the journey our right choices take us upon.  Diligence is doing.  Faith is a free gift but there is work to be done on earth.  We must act upon our faith.  Understanding does not come until we act in faith.  Do you recall the priests who carried the Ark into the Promised Land?  They had to cross the river Jordan when it was at flood stage.  Fruitful faith requires us to step into the waters that exceed our ability–and threaten what we love.

That type of active faith requires that our mind be under the control of the Holy Spirit.  Scripture tells us we have the Mind of Christ…but we must surrender to it.  Our ‘self’ must be under control and not driving our life.  That takes us back to the ‘dead men don’t feel the knife’ truth.  We often believe we have given God control…life reveals where we have been deceived!

Allowing the Spirit to control our lives demands patience.  The definition of the Greek Word for patience reveals why we all struggle with it:  willingness to suffer long.  The demand for immediate gratification is the hallmark of immaturity.  Patience is a fruit of the spirit; we don’t drum it up or push out the fruit from our natural self.  It is a by-product of God’s nature within us.

And then we reach the beautiful awareness of God Himself.  God is the goal of our lives…knowing Him IS life.  Only then do we move onto phileo love–caring about the concerns of others.  We often think we care about others naturally…but our love is impure until it flows from the love of God Himself.  The pinnacle of our faith is true unity with the Father in agape love.  It is not an easy journey.  Jesus opens the door but walking out faith in the dusty roads of life isn’t reclining on a beach or having everything go your way.  The life of Christ readily reveals that view was not His reality…and it is not ours.

This beautiful progression of fruitful growth has a distorted mirror image.  There is a chilling truth spoken by those who worship Satan.  The phrase ‘As above, so below’ is part of their belief.  Romans 1 shows the horrific reflection created by choosing against Christ.

 

CHOICES FOR GOD (2 Peter 1) CHOICES AGAINST GOD (Romans 1)
Doing – God’s way w/diligence that leads to freedom Doing – my way w/diligence that leads to captivity
Understanding what God is aiming to achieve Refusing to think on what God wants
Self under control Self-controlled
Patience – willing to endure suffering Prideful darkened heart pushing for self
Life giving knowledge of God Life sucking demands of idols
Phileo love – concern for others Consumed by lust of flesh
Agape love – union with God Wrath of God – separation from life; death

 

Satan is a deceptive angel.  He is powerful.  Each step away from Choosing God creates greater captivity.  The work of walking in faith increases…but Jesus overcame the world.  He offers victory.  No one is separated from the love of God without hope.  Change is possible.

Beth Canupp Butterfly

…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Romans 12:2

TOOLS FOR CHANGE

The opening verses of the 2 Peter passage give the hope that is needed:

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3

Jesus provides all we need but we have to work out what He has put within.  Part of being designed by God as a teacher is being designed as a learner.  I love to learn and have identified some things I need to truly grab hold of new concepts and allow them to become part of my very being.  Before I share these with you, one of the most powerful truths I know about transformational change comes from Romans 13:14:  “…make no provision for the flesh…”  Knowing our weaknesses and acting accordingly is wise.  Beyond that some of the things I need for change are:

I need a reason, a motivation to move beyond where I am at.

I need a vision of where God is going or what He is desiring to accomplish.

I need role models who show me what that vision looks like in this world.

I need focus that exceeds the distractions sure to come and that requires discipline.

I need time … to see, understand and practice.

I need lots of practice!

I need encouragement and tools to help me until my strength develops into the change.

I need to share with others because that is the greatest tool for growing stronger.

So, what do you need to change?  How can we pray with you through to transformation?