Be the Message

Singing the song God placed within you is another way of saying, “Be the Message” God has given you.  As believers, our lives are to ring true…the words we say are to be expressed in the way we live.  The indwelling Spirit provides the power for this to take place.  As Oswald Chambers expresses it:

“Pentecost did not teach the disciples anything; it made them the incarnation of what they preached…”

Colossians 3:9 states it as “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self…”   We are new creations when we receive Christ as our life.  To live otherwise–to live like the world or live out of our personal preferences is a lie.

But we were shaped and designed before we came to know Christ.  Living the abundant life Jesus died to provide us requires that we learn our design and seek to understand how to apply the Truth of God to our unique life.  The Holy Spirit fills and heals our hurts as we dig into the Word and find the balm we need as an individual.

Understanding and wisdom are buried in the Word of God.  Spending time in it–and making effort to apply it to the past and the present is key to living the Christian life.  Transformation in Christ is a beautiful thing!

room makeovers

We all enjoy great make-overs!  When we come to Christ, the make-over begins.  Before Christ, we live life on our terms doing the best we can with what we have.  Coming to the Father through the Son is the only way to become all we are designed to be.  God knows our design and our purpose.  We must get to know Him in order to fully realize ourselves.

photo of child reading holy bible

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God loves diversity…it is His plan that not a one of us are the same.  Although everyone of us is made in the image of God, we have been uniquely crafted for purposes only God knows.  Every life in His sovereign care….even the things we do not like about our lives have been allowed for a purpose that can be great if it is infused with the Spirit of God. The answers each of us long to have are treasures buried in the Word of God.  Seek God in His book and He will bless you and use you to help others who are seeking as well.

Treasure the work God is doing in you.  Believe He is doing the same in others.  We are all imperfect representations of the Gospel Message.  God knows we are all made out ofhands clay dirt–we make things pretty muddy sometimes.  But He is capable of working with dirt…He loves to do it.  Simply live with integrity.  Be the Message God has placed within you and refuse to be sidetracked.   You need not be perfect…don’t ask others to be either.  His power is made complete in our weakness.

Don’t fret.  Where you have hurts, seek God.  Where you have joys, seek God.  The goal of every prayer should be to know God more…the goal of every moment of life is the same.  Let your life be a prayer that keeps you in constant communion with God.

In John 17, Jesus prayed for his disciples–then and now.  His passionate plea was for unity.  His plea echoes in the hearts of Christians even today but fear, self and ignorance conspire against us.  We don’t know how to find unity; it is an elusive concept that often seems impossible.  There are a couple foreign words that help us put in words the essence of His prayer–and the longing of our hearts.

Coram Deo is a Latin phrase that means living in the presence of God, under the authority of God, for the glory of God.  Living in unity with God flows out of choosing

first of all to live in His presence, under His authority and for His glory.  The other is a Greek word, perichoresis.  This beautiful word conveys unity in diversity–it speaks of the distinct personalities of the Trinity indwelling one another…none losing its distinction but all wholly united.

Coram Deo & Perichoresis are Jesus’ desire for us.   We don’t lose our identity as we grow spiritually–we find it in greater depth and breadth.  The transformation process that began at salvation continually grows as we live and breathe in Christ–with others doing the same.

Winning in Life!

Ever fight a war with an enemy caused by an enemy you cannot see?  We all have—and do.  My current battle is a minor but aggravating one:  chigger bites.  Creatures so tiny, the head of a pin can hold two or three but their poison so vile it literally dissolves skin tissue.  At first, they aren’t too noticeable but within a day or so, the itch is impossible to ignore.  Prevention is the wisest course.

My recent encounter did not catch me unaware.  I went to the woods prepared.  Long pants, boots and my favorite non-chemical bug oil (Avon Skin-so-Soft!).  My preparations kept every bug at bay except the chigger.  Tree Oil has been my battle partner for the last couple days.  Preparations that put trust in an ineffective solution do not accomplish much.  The rest of the crew who trooped into the forest used a traditional bug spray and left the adventure without chigger bites.  Trusting in myself has brought me to more battles than I can count.  Can you relate?     

As believers in Christ, we have all of the provisions we need to live well in this world.  We have every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1); Christ came that we would have abundant lives (John 10) and He provides all we need for life & godliness (2 Peter 1).  Too often, we trust in ourselves, our plans or our perspective to produce what God has already provided. 

white sheep on farm

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Psalm 23 offers us a natural world look at how the Good Shepherd cares for us!  The entire Psalm is abeautiful picture of resting in the care of the Shepherd but one line has captivated my thoughts as I apply healing oil to my chigger battle wounds.

“…You anoint my head with oil.”

I’ve always read that as blessings given from God, and while that’s not wrong, it’s not the whole story!  In the sheep field, there are flies that attack the sheep.  They enter the ears, lay their eggs and even burrow into the brain.  On their own, the sheep cannot rid themselves of the flies—nor can they heal the damage the flies do.  In fact, the flies create such discomfort, the sheep become frantic; they damage their own selves as trying to fix the problem.  Prevention is what the shepherd focuses on; shepherds ‘anoint’ their sheep with oil!

The Good Shepherd longs to do the same for us.  There are many destructive pestilences in this world—some we can see, some we are aware of, some we can manage—but only some.  Relying on ourselves is a losing proposition in the eternal economy.  We need the Good Shepherd.  He wants us to live abundant, peaceful, healthy lives.  He provides all we need to do just that.  The choice is ours. 

Will we receive what He longs to give?

beige sheep on green grass field under gray sky

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Building Relationships

“There is no beauty in domination. Control is a cheap substitute for partnership.”  

Anna Blake

 Relationships matter!  We have shared before some principles taught in an equine coaching program that offer solid wisdom for our human connections.  In a relationship:

  • If it’s not good for both, it’s not good for either.
  • A healthy relationship is a safe place…even for ignoring or resisting.
  • Asking clearly aids in building communication–and ultimately connection.
  • When you are being ignored, gently increase the pressure until you are heard.
  • When you are resisted, quietly stand your ground.

Practicing those theories is HARD WORK.  It requires self-awareness and self-restraint.  The first is our job; the latter is a fruit of the Spirit!

My horse, Gretchen is a good instructor for someone like me who doesn’t like to push people; she ignores me really well.  She’s not rebellious or even ‘resisting’–she simply does her own thing.  Allowing her to stay in her isolated state is unhealthy for her–and creates a potentially dangerous situation for both of us.  So, I have been investing time in our relationship.  Learning what to ask and how to ask with firm gentleness is part of my curriculum.  As we work, my conviction for the potential of learning relationship skills with animals grows:

Our world is full of unhealthy, broken relationships.  Failing to connect with God has eternal ramifications.  Failing to connect with family and friends robs us–and them–of the richness God intends for life.  God has given us all things that we might enjoy them…and give honor and praise to the Giver!

HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS – HORSES, HOMES & HEAVEN!

Relationship requires give and take, communication, and sharing.  Our world increasingly promotes isolation and self-gratification.  Technology simplifies the stuff of life and complicates the connections of life.  Abundant living, though, can only be found in connection:  first with God and then with others.   God created humanity because His nature is love–and love has to have expression and reciprocity. We love because He first loved us…all love that does not originate in Him finds its roots in self-satisfaction.

True relationship involves meeting the needs of both.  Before that can happen, there has to be shared communication and respect.  The horses help us see the components of healthy connection with greater clarity.  In the Lifemanship model, “Ignoring” is described as an attitude that says (in response to a request), “Not really interested, and I can take this amount of pressure all day.”  “Resisting” includes any number of behaviors…but there is no doubt that neither cooperation or ignoring are in progress.  Relationships require cooperation to reach a connection that benefits both and meets needs.

So, here’s a quick run down of how Miss Gretchen is teaching me to relate more effectively to her, to myself, to others and most importantly to God:

TIME together is a necessity.  The fact that I want to connect with her has no bearing on the reality of getting to know one another.  Thinking about her while I am busy doing something else does not build our relationship.  That same truth applies to marriage, parenting and friendships.  It applies to our relationship with God.  Relationships require investing ourselves.  Establishing priorities that honor our relationship commitments is no easy task.  We live in a busy world always calling us to do more.  Time connecting deeply–first with God, then with others allows us to enjoy life more abundantly.

AWARENESS is another critical component of relationships–and abundant living.  It is so easy to live without awareness.  Being ignored is the extreme of no awareness on the part of the one we seek to connect with.  But that is just an extreme:  a lack of awareness happens all the time!  My stress or perceptions of how we are progressing have a direct impact on how I relate to Gretchen.  Whether I am afraid, insecure or distracted by something else changes how I interact with her.  On her side of the equation, awareness about her signs of stress and confusion are also vital.  Tuning in to my part in a relationship–and diligently seeking to look through the eyes of my partner is key to connection.  God cared so much about it, He came in human flesh.  Jesus knows our struggles; He can relate to us.  In Him, our awareness of others and ourselves increases.

COMMUNICATION is individual, and clarity necessary.  Gretchen and I are learning one another’s language and misunderstandings happen.  Sometimes I am not always certain what I want…and when I am unclear, she will share my confusion.  The first guiding principle of Lifemanship helps me here: ‘Whatever I ask must be good for both of us.’  That principle gives me a goal and courage.  I’m not as timid about asking for what I believe is best for all.  The same is true in our relationship with God and others.  Every instruction of God is for our good and His glory.  It is a beautiful model for relationships!  Learning to speak with consistent clarity is a challenge to aspire toward.

GOALS are a destination to move toward, not a requirement to demand.  Building relationship is a journey toward shared goals.  What I ask of Gretchen, I ask for the purpose of growing our relationship.  The length of time it takes to get where I want to go is part of the journey.  In our connections with God and others, the same is true.  I want to spend time with the Lord not to gain some new insight that I can share–but to know Him more fully.  I want to spend time with my husband…my children…my friends, so I will know more of what is on their heart.

COURAGEOUS HUMILITY is a powerful concept Gretchen teaches me over and over again.  I don’t like to be wrong–or ask for what is unreasonable–or do things poorly.  But I’m learning right alongside her.  I don’t know her well yet; there’s tons I don’t know about horsemanship.  BUT relationships don’t require perfection; they do require courageous humility.  Being willing to be wrong…willing to be a fool for the purpose of growing your relationship is RIGHT!  Forgiving mistakes is part of bonding.

To learn more about how horses can help you sing the song God has put in your heart more clearly, check out:  Heartsong AART!

What one aspect of this can you apply today to your connection with God…with another?

 

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! 

Six Days to Abundance!

What a joy it was to share the Six-Day Journey to Abundant Living with so many of you through Glory Glimpse News.  The material included in each daily missive is timeless.

I have gathered together the links for that Journey for those who wish to explore again, share with loved ones–or adventure through them for the first time.  I’d love to hear your journey stories.

Day One   Day Two   Day Three  Day Four   Day Five   Day Six

Enjoy the abundance of the life Christ provides:

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

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!

 

 

 

The Heart of God

One of my favorite song choruses leads us in these words:

“Just to know You and to make You known”

Being known in all of His fullness is the heart of God.  Jesus tells those who listen that knowing the Father and Himself is eternal life.  We cannot know God without the Holy Spirit.  Our natural minds are simply not able to grasp His greatness.  Humbly accepting that opens the door to the help of the Helper.  The Father, Son and Spirit always work together to give life to God’s favorite creation:  humanity!

The Word of God reveals the heart of God.  There is no way to know God without digging into it.  This morning I watched God seeking to reveal Himself to Moses, the people of Israel and Pharaoh.  All through the passages of the Exodus, God says “that you will know that I am God.”  It wasn’t that the Israelites didn’t know of God–they didn’t know Him in His fullness.  Pharaoh did not know God, but he saw God work in the lives of those God pulled into relationship with Himself.  The life of faith is about getting to know God intimately AND fully–and in so doing making Him known to others.

Abundant life is knowing God as He is revealed in the Word.  Jesus Christ ‘became the Word’ – meaning He walked the earth to reveal what God in human flesh looks like.  We can be changed into His likeness only by the work of God.  The Spirit dwells in us to teach us of God and strengthen us in our walk.  Together as believers, we reveal God to a world that does not know Him.  Just like Moses and the Israelites, that walk of faith involves doubts, deafness and amazing deliverance.  Jesus also said that believing His Words walks hand-in-hand with believing the words of the prophets (the Old Testament).

Don’t settle for a one-dimensional God…press in to know Him in His fullness.  

One way to do that is to search out the Names of God and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you more of who God is.  If you would like a list to get you started, click here.

For a beautiful look at Jesus Christ, visit the Desiring God site and enjoy their insights!

By the way, the picture you clicked to come to this page…it is a picture of a molecule within your own body.  The ‘cell adhesion molecule’ – the molecule that holds you us together.  God reveals Himself in the most amazing ways.  LOOK FOR HIM!

 

The Key to a GREAT LIFE!

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  One thing that assures a life of security, bounty and fruitfulness.  I believe it is true, and I am in good company.  Look at what Solomon–the wisest man who ever lived said after his various attempts at figuring out life:

Let us hear the conclusion of the matter.  Fear God and keep his commandments:  for this is the whole duty of man.  Ecclesiastes 12:13

It is often said that Scripture says ‘fear not’ 365 times–once for every day of the year.  I can’t document that for you, but I can tell you–thanks to my precious E-Sword–that the KJV of the Bible has the word fear in 385 verses.  The bulk of the usage is in the Old Testament but 84 verses mention fear in the New Testament.

The gist of all that is this:  we have two choices in life:  fear God or fear everything else.  I’m not even going to bother with talking about the other fears, I want to share some of the awesome things I found about FEARING GOD!

By the way, the roots of the word for fear in the Bible

speak of reverence, awe and trembling.  

That helps us understand how in Scripture FEAR OF GOD is all of these things:

  • Governing force for actions.
  • Foundation for life and leadership.
  • Purpose of testing.
  • Source of deliverance and power. Man in awe
  • Command of God.
  • Desire of God.
  • For our good.
  • Purpose of ordinances, studying of law, obedience, rebuke.
  • To be taught, learned and lived.
  • Response to seeing God.
  • Aspect of worship.
  • Counter to fear.
  • Source of life, knowledge, wisdom, provision, protection, courage, identity, mercy and worship.
  • Foundation for serving and pursuing holiness.
  • Equivalent to hating evil.
  • Basis for unity.
  • Impacts others.
  • Strong force in the early Church.

Fear of God is reverence for who God is–it is thankfulness for all He does and how He loves us.  Fear of God cancels out all other fears and comes from a right relationship with the Father.  Fear of God is the key that produces an awesome life!

There are only two paths in life…choose the one that leads to all goodness:  

Fear of God!

 

 

 

Making Room for ABUNDANT LIFE

There is a classic object lesson that many of us have seen.  I have watched and used this concept for years–but I can do it better.  I bet you can as well!

Stephen Covey offers masterful truths in his “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”  We all have the same amount of time.  Jesus came to live in this world, and even He experienced the constraints of time.  The will of the Father governed all Jesus did…and when we live that way, we enjoy what Jesus came to provide:

The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.  John 10:10

Learning to use our time to well allows us to use this precious gift of life–given by God–in the abundance that Jesus intends.  May this bless you and yours abundantly.

Life shows what we believe

Just sharing the morning challenge God gave me:

“What do you really believe?”

Jesus told Nicodemeus that we have to be born of earth and heaven to see the Kingdom of God.  This earthly life has great purpose and value.  Jesus came that we would have abundant life.  I cannot live abundantly by hiding from the tough stuff.  I cannot live abundantly if I isolate my faith from my footsteps.

So, I jotted down some of the things my head knows–and believes–about my faith to see if my feet (and even my heart agrees).

I say I believe…. God is enough.    

…but sometimes I resent what I don’t have.  I doubt that He is better than my longing.

I say I believe….God is at work doing greater things than I can think of.

but sometimes despair settles in and frustration erupts.

I say I believe….I am loved and protected by the King of Kings.

…but sometimes I don’t even feel noticed and I fight for myself.

I say I believe….my righteousness is nothing more than filthy rags and we all have sin muddying our souls and our steps.

…but sometimes I think I know best and anyone not doing things my way is wrong.

I say I believe….God owns it all and will provide for me.

…but sometimes I plan and strive for how I can have what I want, forgetting my life is for Him and He has my needs in view.

I say I believe….the very power of God lives in me.

…but sometimes I feel weak and hopeless and curl into a self-protective ball.

I say I believe…. God’s ways are superior to mine.

…but sometimes I stomp off in my own direction.

Those ‘sometimes’ are doorways for mercy.  May we each take time today to consider what our steps reveal about our beliefs.  God is worth the time…enjoying heaven requires humble awareness.

Understanding is the foundation of heaven–we have to seek His view or we will never understand the beauty of His presence.  Seeing and hearing comes through walking out our lives on this earth with a desire for wisdom and understanding.

What do you believe that stops at your head?  

Where do you listen to your heart instead of the King?  

Where are you feet not walking out faith?  

Receive His mercy and watch His glory fill your world!