Express His Glory in Your Life

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Find Peace by uniting body, mind & spirit

It astounded me to read a poster on the wall of the Lowe’s Family YMCA that stated their purpose as helping to bring unity to body, mind and spirit.  The poster had Christ’s words from His prayer in John 17.  Most non-profits began with Christian ideology…few retain those principles.  As I reflected on the ‘rightness’ of their purpose, the evidence of lives not in unity pierced my own heart.  Even secular studies confirm that as much as 90% of illness comes from wrong thinking and failure to give our physical bodies what they need.  We have authority in this world over our own minds and our own bodies.  We exercise that authority by placing ourselves under the authority of the God of the Bible.

 

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.  John 17:21

Unity.  We do want it…but we usually want it on our terms which immediately puts unity out of reach.  Unity can’t happen until we welcome Jesus into the details disrupting our 15747529_1799284616976374_5369443153573163066_npeace.  Problems aren’t our problem.  Jesus already overcame the world.  Our problem is not allowing Him to be the way to Peace.

That sounds sort of good…and sort of judgmental, doesn’t it?  I promise you, it is all good.  Jesus has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves:  open the way to abundant life.  He is the way, and if we examine His life, we realize the way is not easy.  It is ‘simple’ but incredibly difficult and requires embracing suffering.

Embracing suffering is NOT being a martyr.  Martyr’s choose where they will suffer based on their own preferences and for personal reasons:  meeting their own needs in the name of sacrifice.  Christ did not do that.  He sacrificed Himself to restore us to the Father–because that is what the Father wanted!

Unity comes when we are as passionate for the desires of the Father as Jesus is!

While Jesus willingly did what we cannot, He will not do what we can do!  We have responsibility for our earthly lives.  Our minds and our bodies are ours to surrender.  We must choose thoughts that line up with God’s…and activities in line with His laws.  When we don’t, we don’t have peace.  We don’t have health.  Our bodies will break down and our emotions run amok.  Check out this definition of amok…it astounded me in its accuracy and the fact that is in the DSM as a psychiatric disorder.

Running amok, sometimes referred to as simply amok or gone amok,[1] also spelled amuk, from the Malay language,[2] is “an episode of sudden mass assault against people or objects usually by a single individual following a period of brooding that has traditionally been regarded as occurring especially in Malay culture but is now increasingly viewed as psychopathological behavior”.[3] The syndrome of “Amok” is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV TR).[4] The phrase is often used in a less serious manner when describing something that is wildly out of control or causing a frenzy (e.g., a dog tearing up the living room furniture might be termed as “running amok”.)

God is passionate for unity.  He not only allows our lives to press us toward Him…press us toward life…He designed us to need Him.  He is unity and peace and life.  If your world feels like it has run amok, ask Him where His priorities have been set aside for your own.   Choose God’s priorities and He will do the work, you will find the rest you seek.  If you choose your own priorities, you will suffer and struggle as you try to do what you feel is right and good.

Where is your mind or body running amok?  What do you need to change:  your view, your actions?  Ask God…ask a friend for ‘truth in love’ and accountability.  Peace is possible.

Difficulties Guaranteed. Choose Outcome: Weariness or Worship.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Difficulties and disappointments are guaranteed to come to every life.  The outcome of every situation is our choice.  We can follow the path of the Overcomer, or we can choose to blaze our own way.  Following Jesus will lead us to worship and the fulfilling presence of God.  Going our own way will lead to greater devastation and paralyzing weariness.

The choice seems easy; who doesn’t want victory?!  The reality is the path to victory demands stepping out in faith.  That path demands knowing the Promises and ways of God…and walking in them even when they seem impossible.  On the other hand, the weary path seems wise at first.  We trust the knowledge we’ve accumulated; we rely on our natural abilities and intellect.  It feels safer.  It is a deception.

The passages that precede Jesus’ words above lead us toward the desire of God–intimate fellowship with Himself.  Jesus explains the necessity of abiding in the vine–living in His love.  We love the concept and in quiet times, our mental agreement feels adequate.  But the power of the passage comes when we live it out in the dusty days of life.  Living in the love of God gives strength when the people around us are unreasonable and unkind.  Staying in the vine gives us nourishment when life is draining us with failures and insurmountable problems.

As Christians, we are on a mission to take the glory of God to the hurts of the world.  We can’t idolize the quiet spots; they are to be enjoyed but we have work to do!

So, what do we do with those heartaches that come into our lives?  First, we must remember that what we see is incomplete and in part, an illusion.  We are to live the G Morel flickr.comWord in the midst of the difficulties and enjoy the presence of God through intercessory prayer.

Intercession is so much more than taking God a to do list.  He knows the burdens that weigh upon us.  What He asks of us is to bring those burdens to Him and seek His view.  God has a good purpose and plan in all things; He has the power to produce what He desires.

From the earthly perspective,3241925633_310c42121a_z our problems loom large and feel impossible.  We often beg God to take them away.  In those times, we are carrying loads here that He wants us to bring into His presence.

Intercessory prayer becomes worship as we see inside the Father’s heart and feel His powerful presence reassuring us.  From the eternal perspective, problems relate to aweseom purposes we rejoice in when we seek His understanding.

The Truth of the Word is to be transformational–not tiresome.  Just as intercessory prayer is not a ‘to do list’ for God, neither is obedience to God.  Obedience is doing the will of God with a heart that trusts in His goodness in every situation.  A heart that trusts in Him enjoys His presence so much, lists of sin are unnecessary–because sin separates from Him.  Living Truth in the dust and difficulties of our days is not about getting everything right.  It is about being transformed by the Truth of Love so we can rise victorious over every circumstance.

Weariness comes when our list of ‘do and do nots’ consumes us more than His beauty.  “Love your enemy” is a burden until I see my enemy from God’s view.  “Do not covet” is impossible unless I see the generosity of God who meets my every need.  External measures of life tire us out; a heart resting in Him exceeds any ‘list’ and fills us with energizing life.

When we are growing weary, we are to take that as a reminder to WORSHIP!

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?

Seeing God’s Glory in Parkinson’s Disease

Reprint of a column from the Baptist Voice in honor of the birthday of this saint who shows us the way of Christ!  It was our joy to see Dave & Terri on our NY trip this year.  They both press on in the face of Parkinsons–bringing great glory to God.  Love to you both, my friends!  Thank you for helping me grow in grace & knowledge simply by being yourselves!

Parkinson’s disease is relentless and destructive. It attacks the body in a myriad of ways: hand tremors, walking impairments, speech, and even involuntary movements such as blinking. Seldom is Parkinson’s linked to the concept of a blessing. Our victory report today, though, is somehow who sees eternal victories in this earthly curse.   God’s glory is present even in Parkinson’s…

Perhaps you have unknowingly enjoyed some of the victory yourself through attendance at one of the Southern Gospel concerts at First Baptist Church of Port Crane. Dave Samson, the concert organizer, is God’s victorious soldier of today’s column. His victory report is not without the reality of damage inflicted through Parkinson’s. The loss of his job and its income; increased difficulties with basic and necessary daily tasks: speaking, writing, typing, buttoning a shirt, driving, walking; impairment of his carpentry hobby; and greater burdens on his wife and family are all part of Dave’s battlefield losses. Nevertheless, Dave also sees a field of sowing and harvesting created by the Parkinson’s because it narrowed his options and increased his focus!

Dave had long enjoyed listening to Southern Gospel Concerts. He and his wife, Terri traveled to area performances as their schedules permitted, but never dreamed of organizing local events. As Dave’s disease progressed, his sales career in Christian resources became difficult to the point of danger. His driving ability impacted by the disease, Dave accepted the need to apply for disability. The debilitation to Dave’s overall motor function sped the disability process along and financial worries were somewhat eased. However, Dave officially became ‘disabled’ rather rapidly, and he felt at loose ends. Though all of his movements had slowed, he still wanted to live fully!

Much to his frustration, the diagnosis generated such sympathy from those who cared that others often restrained him from doing even what he could. In fact, the kind intentions began to make him feel not like an invalid but as if he were simply in-valid—of no apparent use anymore. Fortunately, Dave believed (and believes) that when God allows one door to close, it is so He can clear the path to a better doorway. Such was the case in this situation.

It began when Dave agreed to the simple task of making a phone call to find out about the availability of a gospel group. It has grown to a Southern Gospel concert ministry with hundreds who attend at a tiny country church in rural New York. Every concert touches hearts for Jesus; many times, there are professions of salvation or rededication.

Dave willingly pays the physical costs for this labor of love. He says his illness has given him time; the ministry provides him purpose. He sees victories that are eternal because he accepts the disease as filtered through by the loving hand of the Sovereign Father. Is there something in your life that needs a new perspective? Ask God to show you how He can transform your roadblock into a doorway to blessing!

Jeremiah 29:11

Joy in the Journey

God is always present.  He is the Great I AM.  Sometimes we struggle to see His fingerprints on our lives.  Joy in the Journey comes as we seek to recognize the work of God in our lives–and in the lives of those around us.

Joy in the Journey is a tool box for those wanting to know more of the presence of God.  This book is useful for individual or group study.  Workshops for small group leaders or multi-week studies can be arranged for groups wishing to dig deeper into the topic.  The books are available for individual purchase at Amazon and CreateSpaceMore information on Workshops is available here.

Joy in the JourneyJoy in the Journey Back

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?

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