Express His Glory in Your Life

Archive for the ‘Discipleship – Building Lives’ Category

Heartsong AART

Birthing a new program feels like extended labor.  My gratitude to those who labor with me and listen as I seek to articulate the vision of my heart.  I wanted to share part of the labor with you for feedback, prayers and interest.  We have a new booklet, A.A.R.T., Animal Assisted Relationship Training, which outlines the sessions currently in development to aid in discipleship.

This piece of Heartsong will grow with other animals but the heart remains the same:  to see Christians LIVE out the calling God has placed within them.  Future endeavors include a children’s workshop of “Buddies or Bullies” that will use the characteristics of bunnies to point out bullying tactics.

Coming up in June there will be a Servant’s Fair aimed at helping more folks enjoy the opportunity of growth found in serving others.

Later this year, a Joy in the Journey workshop will help people capture their personal stories and see God in their lives.

For now, though, here is a sample of what A.A.R.T. will provide:

ABCS of Safety, Security & Significance: In the Garden of Eden, the choice to reject God’s one command cut humanity off from the Need Meeter. When we seek to meet the needs that God built into us…instead of seeking Him…we sin & become captive to that sin. Restoring connecting to the Father begins the process of healing…and fulfillment…and loving ourselves. From childhood to senior citizen, we must find how Christ is the answer we seek and understand how to apply that answer to diverse situations.

Acceptance by God restores IDENTITY for individuals; it provides strength for life in a changing world. When roles or actions give a person identity, they never learn the unique design God gave them. “Who am I” is a necessary question because the answer gives stability. AART activities help us see through our facades. Scriptures focused on identity in Christ & being treasured by God. (Psalm 139:13-14)

Belonging to God restores boundaries that provide safety and security. In the natural world, safety is an increasing concern from childhood to old age. Involvement with animals requires learning to be observant of body language and danger zones. It is easy to appreciate the value of fences, reins and lead ropes. Extending those truths to the internet, to strangers with candy or puppies and to individual choices is the goal of the coach in the follow up. (Psalm 46:1)

Calling of God restores purpose to lives. The Word tells us God has created us for good works…and for connection to Him. He treasures His children and cares for them. Using the natural needs of animals (nutrition, coat & hoof care, exercise), coaches draw parallels to caring for the body as the temple of God and caring for others. (Eph 2:10)

Who am I

I have one eye that is used a lot but I cannot see.  What am I?

You see me where I never was…and really can never be.  What am I?

If you say my name, I disappear.  What am I?

If I drink I die, if I eat I’m fine.  What am I?

Riddles are kind of fun, aren’t they?  If you want the answers, join the Six-Days to Abundance journey and let me know about it.  I’ll send the answers on! 

But did you ever consider that each of us is a bit of riddle?  We spend much of our lives trying to answer that question, who am I?  It is a critical question because it is the foundation of our lives.

Whether we know it or not, we make our decisions based on what we believe gives us worth.  We choose our actions, our friends, even life-time pursuits based on what we feel gives us ‘value.’  In fact, who we understand ourselves to be is a life & death matter.  The heartbreaking reality is that over 44,000 people commit suicide every year…and that’s the reported suicides.  Life is difficult.  Without understanding the value of this life we have, we end up assigning value to parts of life.  Those parts will not hold up to the rigors of life.  Identity rooted in the Giver of Life grows stronger as the years progress.  It is the only foundation for life.  So, how do you define yourself…do you even know?

Write an advertisement for yourself.

What would someone need to know to know you?.

What do you come up with?

Wife.  Athlete.  Or maybe disabled.  Mom.  Divorced.  German or Italian.  Teacher.  Pet owner.  Couch potato.  High School drop-out or PhD candidate.  So & So’s child…or parent.  A Christian, a Muslim.  Jewish.  Homosexual.  Prisoner.  Addict.  Pastor. Winner.  Loser.

 All of those are important but anyone of those things can change (even ethnic heritages are sometimes not what we thought).  When things change, you will still be you.  So ‘who are you?’

We are each a riddle…until we go to the One who created us.

You (God) made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Psalm 139:13

God is the Giver of Life.  As Paul said to the Romans, in Him we live and move and exist.  The only way to know who we are is to go to Him.  God has given us life to search out the answer to the question of identity.  He calls to us throughout life and sent Jesus to open the way for us.  The choice to go to Him is ours.  What often drives us to Him are the disappointments that comes with a faulty understanding of self.

  • If I am what I achieve, what happens when I fail?  My identity…my sense of self bottoms out.
  • Or what if I achieve great things…think of the celebrities who have ended their own lives or whose lives are stolen by addictions….and still can’t find fulfillment?  The praise of others is not life-giving.
  • If I build my life on my children…or a spouse…and their quest takes them from me, what is my foundation?
  • Or if my identity has been in my job and my company closes, how do I face the rejection that comes with job-hunting?
  • What if I made one bad choice that haunts me for decades?  Is that the sum of who I am?

No!  The stuff of life is where we live out who we are…it is not supposed to make us who we are!

We find out identity by going to the maker.  We recognize that in other realms of life.  Take a look at this picture.  What is it for?  You can click the picture to find out but thepoint is we go to the creator (or one who has experience) to find out purpose.  

With the precious gift of life, why would we not do the same!?  We want to be the masters of our fate, but the ways that seem right to us often create havoc.  Jesus came that we might have abundant life!  Listen to who the Master says you are…and then live with awe for His love and the masterpiece He has wrought in you.  Give yourself to the world and to revealing Him.  You will be blessed and so will the world!

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Image result for identity in Christ verses

There are countless resources aimed to help Christians embrace the identity that comes with faith in Jesus.  This is one.

Living out this identity is a life-time challenge that requires us to stay connected to God and others.  It gives us a foundation for living.

All that we search for is found in Jesus. Let Him Love You! 

Beautiful Body

Eyes that see beauty are a gift from God!  We live in an image-crazed world longing to see beauty, to find substance.  The selfie craze cries out of hearts trying to find something.

But real beauty is a buried treasure one must dig deep to see and enjoy.   The Prophet Isaiah spoke of this Truth as he described the coming Messiah.

My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.  Isaiah 53:2

Jesus’ body suffered tremendously as He walked the ‘way of suffering’ to open the way for us to enter into eternal life and union with the Father.  Neither His beaten body nor the path He trod appeals to us in our natural mind.  It has no beauty on the surface.

Likewise, the Church, the Body of Christ on earth today often fails to draw gasps of awe as one looks at it.  We are often bruised by the ungodly attitudes we allow to mar our image but in the eyes of God, He sees something different.

The lyrics below will give you a glimpse of His view…if you click the link, the song will play as you read on.

How beautiful the radiant Bride
who waits for her Groom
with His light in her eyes.
How beautiful when humble hearts give
the fruit of pure lives
so that others may live.
How beautiful
how beautiful
how beautiful is the body of Christ.

How beautiful the feet that bring
the sound of good news
and the love of the King.
How beautiful the hands that serve
the wine and the bread
and the sons of the earth.
How beautiful
how beautiful
how beautiful is the body of Christ.

Read more: Twila Paris – How Beautiful Lyrics | MetroLyrics

water aerobicsChrist’s love for the Bride compels me to look for beauty everywhere.  He sees beauty when I cannot.  My frequent prayer is to more consistently see with His eyes.  That is a prayer He loves to answer.

God is creative in His answers and chose to let me look with Him at my aqua-cize class. Working in water with a noodle offers some unique challenges–and a fair amount of laughter.  Standing on a floating device tends to create some chaos.  Noodles pop off from under people and whack others in the side of the head.  People tip over and legs can get stuck up in the air as a noodle gives buoyancy muscles can’t counter.

Each person in the class brings a different set of strengths and weaknesses to the pool.  The uniting goal is improved health but the individual realities impact the outcome.  Physical injuries, limited muscle strength, lack of coordination, past experience with water, self-consciousness, feelings of inferiority…they all play into the experience.

The beauty is that progress is made simply by staying the course.  Falling off the noodle and getting back on gives as much benefit to the weaker participant as completing the exercise gives the stronger participant.  In the aqua-cize class, encouragement to one another is frequent.  The success of one is hope for another.

Do you see the parallels for the Church?  We share a common purpose:  that the world may know our great and glorious God.  We share the very gift of God dwelling within us and the power of the Holy Spirit compelling us.  Like the individuals in the class, though, we have weaknesses and self-absorption that sometimes hinders us.  We tip over; sometimes we ‘slap’ others (figuratively only one hopes); and at times, we feel like failures.  But as we press on for the joy set before us, God accomplishes His purpose…in us and in the world!

We can only begin where we are…whether in an aqua-cize class or as a disciple of Christ.  Fixing our eyes on the goal brings forth beauty otherwise hidden.  Hebrews 12:2 tells us that for the joy set before Him, Christ endured the Cross.  As Jesus prayed for you and I before He went to the Cross, His plea was for the unity of believers.  That unity does not come by fixing our eyes on differences, pointing out failures and critically assessing one another (or even ourselves).  Beautiful unity comes as we fix our eyes on Christ and determine to know only Him.

Do you need a word of encouragement?  Be humble, let someone know!

Do you see someone struggling?  Look for the beauty of effort and speak life!

Philippians3_14

Spring!

Spring-time brings out the hidden gardener in most everyone.  The tender green buds on trees and the first flowers make our hearts sing–and anticipate the joys of summer.  The visions–and memories–of long summer evenings, splashing water and fun with friends.  There is a longing in our heart for simple connection with others.

Spring reminds us of summer’s possibilities.  God made our hearts to long for what is right and good.  Connection with others is one of those good things that often goes wrong.  God created humanity because He craved relationship.  The challenge is that in this fallen world most everything conspires against honest, loving relationship.

With Christ, the challenges of relationships become spring-time possibilities!  Improving our relationships with others propels us deeper into relationship with the Father.

We love because He first loved us. 

Trying to do relationship without the love of God creates sickly, broken connections.  A relationship can only be as healthy as the sickest person in it.  We can’t bring health to others; that is an individual choice.  But we can show the way.

The only way to a healthy life with healthy relationships is tending the Garden of our own souls…and thereby making disciples of others as we go!   

garden

In Genesis 2:15, we see God’s plan for humanity:  tilling and protecting the garden.  Partnering that with Jesus’ teachings in Luke 8:4-15 instructs me in pursuing healthy relationships.

The parable of the sower in Luke is used typically in a salvation context.  Considering it as transformational  truth helps us fulfill our purpose of caring for the world God has placed each of us within.  God has placed each of us in a unique garden, with individuals He loves and longs to have in relationship with Himself.

Christ, the Sower, came into the world to seek and save the lost—and destroy the work of the devil.  He tells us, “So send I you.”  As the Sower, Christ said some seed falls on hard, dry ground; some falls on rocky places, some on weeds and others on good soil.  In the parable, the Word was heard in every case.  The results varied.

As the keeper of my heart, the gardener of my soul, I must ask myself:

  • Where am I hard and dry?
  • Are there rocks – hurts or sins blocking my fruit?
  • What weeds of treasure, pleasure and worry are crowding out the Word?

The people in my life will reveal the answers to every one of those questions.

Look around at the people God places in your path.  Listen to the reactions of your heart to the folks you want to love—and be loved by.

Where do you feel hardness?  Is it in response to a mother’s words that feel like criticism or perhaps a spouse’s disregard for you?  Will you let the shield of Jesus absorb the hurt and His love flow from the wound?  Or will you give place to the enemy and respond in the same spirit of unkindness that wounded you?

What rocks become visible?  Are you throwing stones or feeling the blows of accusation?  There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.  Unconditional love is the beautiful, unique attribute of Jesus Christ.  He alone can heal 3920658201_f1654af939_zhurts.  Relationship with Him will align those who walk contrary to the Law.  Feel His love, show His love and watch how He connects hearts.

And then there are those weeds…those things we love that are so much lesser than Him.  People get in the way of getting what we want and relationships die.  Sometimes the weeds show up as good things we desperately desire—and will do whatever we must to have them.  They drag us from His presence.  Sometimes they appear as problems we cannot solve…but we kill ourselves with worry trying to do the impossible.

Relationships are God’s idea because they partner with Him to transform us into the likeness of Christ!  Embrace the spring-time possibilities.

Are there ways we can pray with you for His glory

to be seen in your life this year?

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!

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?

Life Change Lessons from a Play Station

A new calendar always inspires thoughts of change.  The desire for good, for fulfilling lives beats in every heart.  It feels like life gets in the way blocking our progress.  The wisdom book of Proverbs explains why:

There is a way that seems right to man…but it is the way of death.  (14:12 and 16:25)

Our new video game offers a light-hearted look at this reality.  It’s been decades since I played video games…think Atari Ping Pong.  Madden 15 on a Playstation is another world!

Our earthly lives are in a vastly different world than God’s Truths…but His ways work in this world and are a necessity for full, abundant living!  Here’s some things I’ve learned from our PS3:

  • I can be totally oblivious to the obvious.  The signals the kids readily see and feel (like a vibrating remote) give them information on what to do next.  I often don’t see it…and if I do, I don’t what it means.  I’m lost in the PS3 world.
  • Not knowing stuff is a hindrance and a frustration.  Success depends on knowing what things mean and what you are supposed to do about it.
  • Thinking I know what I’m doing doesn’t mean I am doing it right.  The game isn’t broke or rigged against me just because I’m not winning.
  • Instructions that don’t understand what I don’t know don’t help me…they just confuse (or irritate) me!
  • Failing repeatedly is discouraging and makes me want to quit.
  • Practice helps.  Perseverance pays!

Those little glimpses offer great truth for real life.  The plan of God provides answers for each of those problems.  The Word and the Spirit give direction for a winning life!  Many great resources exist to find Bible answers but faithful, consistent, determined digging on your own can never be beat. My life forever changed the year I made the decision to read the Bible all the way through for the first time…sporadic reading was useful but disciplined reading was transformational.

Whatever goals you set for the New Year…and goals are good…aim for integrity.  Blend the natural and the spiritual–don’t try to separate what God designed to be in union.  Jesus came to this earth for purpose–and He lived with intention.  God has plans and purposes for each of us.  We must seek to know His will and live with intention.  As you plan your steps for the coming days, give thought to why Jesus came.  Let God reveal the specific steps you need to take.  Then commit those steps to God, and He will produce in a greater way than you can even think!

Understand that walking out those steps will take discipline and sacrifice.  We cannot ‘go with God’ and continue on our own path.  There must be integrity between our words and our actions.  That does not mean we aim to be perfect; it means we seek to know what God would have us to do…and then we walk toward His goals rejoicing in His mercy, patience and love!

We cannot enjoy the glories of God on Sunday and lock Him away Monday through Saturday.  His glory must flow in the workplace, in our recreation and even in our private activities.  He is worthy of our honor 24-7.  His presence in every moment of our days is both our privilege and our responsibility.  Oswald Chambers states a hard truth with great clarity:

“God is not actively involved with our natural life as long as we continue to pamper and gratify it.”

In the center of the Bible, the Psalmist offers this powerful plea:

Keep my steps steady by your word; don’t let any sin rule me. Psalm 119:133

When sin rules in our lives, our lives become a commodity…an object to trade.  It devalues us and robs us of the inheritance Christ delivers to all who will believe!  The natural world is what God gave to Adam & Eve.  He intended us to enjoy it all by walking according to His Word.  As long as Adam & Eve did that, they had the beauty of the natural and the spiritual.  They enjoyed the very presence of God.  One choice to walk in their own wisdom, separated them from the source of life.  Jesus restores the choice of life, of God connection.  Unity between the natural and spiritual is the essence of abundant living, and an awesome life is possible in Christ!  Choose HIM!

What choices will you make for your the new year?

There are foundational disciplines of faith that must be in place to walk in His ways.  Join me for Fit Faith to build strength in your faith walk!

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