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

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

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.

Hearing God in Horrors of Hurt

On the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, looking to Jesus–our INTERCESSOR–is a blessed endeavor!  May you enjoy this excerpt from my devotional, Fixing our Eyes on God.

There are some wonderful, awe-inspiring revelations of Jesus that begin with “I.”  He is the I am, the Image of the invisible God, immortal, immutable, and Immanuel, God with us!  The One who is all of those things is also our Intercessor.  Scriptures tells us He lives that He can make intercession for us!  Now that is an incredible view of our Savior!

Intercessory prayer weaves its way throughout scripture.  In the Old Testament, we see God’s people, His prophets and His priests offering prayers on behalf of others.  Isaiah prophesied that the coming Deliverer would pray for sinners.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12

The truth of that prophesy shines forth in the New Testament as we observe Jesus praying for His disciples, His enemies and us!

Intercession is a costly endeavor that God expects from each of us.  Yet God never asks us to do anything He won’t join us in doing.  Intercession is a joint endeavor…it fulfills the prayer of Jesus in John 17 which asks the Father to bring us to unity.  Intercession unites our hearts with others, with the Spirit, with Christ and with the Father.  The fact that Jesus is our Intercessor reveals the incredible privilege we have to intercede.

Our human passions and concerns often cloud our minds.   We do not always know what to ask of the Father; we would miss countless blessings without our Intercessor!  The Spirit searches our hearts for the needs we cannot express—and sometimes do not know.  The Spirit’s unity with Christ—and His with the Father—brings the very will of God into the center of our being.

Our Intercessor’s prayers are pure and perfect, aligned with God’s purposes for our lives.  Jesus asks for exactly what we would ask—if only we understood as He does.    Our minds can only glimpse the fringes of the great mystery of unity with God through Christ.  Our intercessory prayers for others allow us to join in the very work of our Savior.  May we rejoice in His work and our privilege as intercessors!

How can we look like Christ?

The plan for believers in Christ is that we be transformed into the image of our Savior.  More than two decades after surrendering to God, I realize more and more how much work God still has to do in me!  The only way to know what God is doing in my transformation is to know more about the One whom I am to become like.

We are to be a source for the world to see God…I want people to see Him more than me.  God is worthy of our total dedication to know Him more and to reveal Him more.  As we learn more of His traits and practice them in the details of our lives, His purposes are accomplished.

Below is an incomplete list of Character Traits of Christ that I want to see more of in my life.  It makes a great Perpetual Prayer guide to go through each month.  Years ago, I began using it as a guide for praying for my children but quickly realized I–and every other child of God–needs the same prayers.  May it bless you as your pray through it.

1. Humility—willingness to submit.   James 4:10

2. Reverence—fear of the Lord.   Proverbs 9:10

3. Purity—desire to be clean.   Matthew 5:8

4. Purpose—wisdom to set goals.   Proverbs 4:25

5. Simplicity—an uncluttered life.   Romans 12:8

6. Commitment—dedication.   Joshua 24:15

7. Diligence—willing to work hard.   II Peter 1:5

8. Servanthood—desire to help others.   Galatians 6:9,10

9. Consistency—be faithful, reliable.   James 1:8

10. Restoration—ministry of healing.   Isaiah 61:1,2

11. Assurance—deep faith in God.   Hebrews 10:22

12. Availability—willing to go.   Isaiah 6:8

13. Loyalty—zeal for fidelity.   Ruth 1:16

14. Sensitivity—open heart.   Luke 10:30-37

15. Compassion—love in action.   Mark 8:1,2

16. Tenderness—willing to weep.   II Kings 22:19

17. Maturity—capable of growing.   Hebrews 5:12-14

18. Holiness—Christ-like actions. I Peter 1:16

19. Reliability—dependable.   I Corinthians 4:2

20. Authority—capable of commanding.    Matthew 16:19

21. Revelation—learn to listen.   Ephesians 1:15,18

22. Self-denial—willing to sacrifice.   Luke 9:23

23. Confidence—strength of the Lord.   Philippians 4:13

24. Integrity—truthful.   Romans 12:17

25. Repentance—willing to change.   Luke 3:8

26. Trust—fearless reliance. Psalm 125:1

27. Submission—choose to yield. Ephesians 5:21

28. Teachability—humble enough to learn. Titus 3:2

29. Prayerful—longing to wait.   Isaiah 40:31

30. Unity—respect for others.   1 Corinthians 1:10

31. Generosity—desire to give.   Matthew 10:8

Another great tool that aids in transformation is knowing God by Name.  My devotional book, Fixing our Eyes on God is one such tool.  The glory of God transforms!  Seek Him.

Have You Seen It?

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“Pride cannot live beneath the cross.  Let us sit there and learn our lesson, and then rise and carry it into practice…

…Stand at the foot of the cross, and count the purpose drops by which you have been cleansed…And if you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it:  if you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus, you do not know Him.”  Spurgeon

 

What is Cross-Life Coaching?

Can you really hear from God?

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

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

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

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

BEWARE:  “God told me to tell you.”

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

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

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

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

HEARING IMPAIRMENTS

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

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

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

Knowing the King

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

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

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

 

What is Cross-Life Coaching?

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

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

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

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

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

WHY would I use Cross-life Coaching?

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

Cross-Life Coaching is designed for all who:

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

WHAT kind of things will come up?

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

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

Give me a hope, M.G. Kafkas

How can I learn more?

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!

 

Spending time in the presence of God

The presence of God transforms!  Do you drink it in or wonder where it is?  Is the presence of God a moment-by-moment awareness for you—or an illusionary concept?  Would you be surprised to know His presence is not always in a Church…or that the Living Word can be void of vitality?  In Acts 17, Paul spoke to those who worshiped without life:

“…so that they might look for God, somehow reach for him, and find him. Of course, he is never far from any one of us. For we live, move, and exist because of him, as some of your own poets have said: ‘For we are his children, too.’” (verses 27 and 28)

It is not the heartbeat of God to have lifeless worship.  He longs for you to enjoy His presence because He wants to enjoy yours.  Are you weary of life?  If you are, spend time with LIFE and enjoy the abundance.  Without His presence, life drains the strongest. That is right and good, for God never intended that we would live this life on our own!

His Word and the Church are tools the Spirit uses to help us know what God is like…so that we can recognize His

Toni Verdú Carbó The Passage of Time

Toni Verdú Carbó
The Passage of Time

presence.  Like those in Athens, though, sometimes we mistake the tools for the Truth.  Time in the Word and time with believers are necessities in the life of a Christian…but they are not Life itself.

The echo of hearts crying, “Is this all there is?” beats at the doors of heaven.  “There is so much more!” calls the Father.  “Come, walk in the light.” And to those of us who walk in His light, the great commission still stands:  “Go, make disciples.”   Our grand purpose in life is to live in the Light of the love of the Father and help others do the same.  He longs for us to bring his light to a world covered in shadows so others may know He lives!

Those shadows conceal treasures…treasures of darkness only children of the Light can unearth.  Without the Light, the shadows terrify.  The shadows cause those in the dark to trip and fall prey to the lies of the enemy.  Jesus, the Light of the World, reveals the snares and the beauties shrouded in darkness.  When we spend time in the light, we absorb light and can be a lamp for others.  We are called to be servants!  Let’s take light into the shadows, light that exposes the pits, expels the evil and unearths precious gems!

What shadows will you illuminate today?  Can we stand with you in prayer?

 

If you struggle to enter the presence of God, some thoughts and tips can be found here.

Finding your way into the presence of God

My heart aches to understand that there are those who seldom enjoy time with God; those who feel puzzled when others speak of ‘feeling His touch’ or ‘hearing His voice.’  God is a personal God, desperately desiring to connect with us.  My greatest sadness is not for those who reject God but for those striving to “DO” something to get closer to Him.  Just as Paul said to the crowds in Rome, “He is never far from you.”  Entering into His presence is a possibility any time!

Made in the image of God–body, soul and spirit–seeking Him involves all aspects of us.  Frankly, we are the barrier to enjoying God.  On the physical level, busy-ness is the biggest blockade.  Even if the activities are God-oriented, busyness prevents real interaction the Father.  Vigilance that prioritizes private God-time is critical.  Fellowship with Christians, “church,” is part of the plan of God as well.  We must enjoy His presence individually and corporately.  If your church orchestrates details of every service, make it your personal ambition to enter the presence of God in those details.  He is still there; help others find Him by letting His light flood you!

Other physical world things that can keep from God are seeking pleasures from the world instead of him.  Over-eating is an easy example for many of us.  Stress and fatigue drive me to comfort foods on a regular basis.  God asks to be my Bread of Life.  Each of us will have areas of weakness the Spirit can reveal.  Ask God what in the physical world separates you from Him.  Any physical sin (any sin for that matter) will separate us from God.  They are idolatry; things we prefer to the presence of God.  Refuse to let your body keep you from the Creator!

Then there is that soul part of us:  our mind, will and emotions.  Much of the battle of life takes place in the mind.  We are to renew our minds with the Word.  That is not a dry, wearisome task—even if you never liked reading anything!  Technology gives you amazing options to listen or watch the Word.  Find a way to get Truth from the Word into your mind because that changes everything!  Emotions flow from our thoughts, and actions come out of our emotions.  Spending time in the Word is not optional, nor is it an item to check off from a ‘to do’ list.

Engage your heart and your mind with His words and you will feel His presence—and He will empower you to exercise your will and obey Him.  It is different than just ‘spending time in the Word’; it must be time with God!  For

Lawrence OP Let the Children Come We are all children!

Lawrence OP
Let the Children Come
We are all children!

me, an avid ‘student’—and self-professed geek, enjoying God through reading and writing is easy—it is my design.  Thoughts serve as propulsion jets shooting me toward the Father.  I may pause to gaze in awe at His beauty; I may ask a question for clarification from Him or dig into a word study for more thought jets.  Seek His heart as you read and even if it is not your default design, He will meet you!

Don’t stop there!  Keep seeking.  Find new ways to enter His glory, unique ways based on how He created you!  Find a mentor who can listen to your heart and help you hear the things God is speaking into your life.

Consider using music.  Scripture-based music helps me lay down the ‘soulish’ parts of self and enjoy Him.  It quiets my busy mind and lets me focus on feeling God.  On the other hand, some find their soul so engaged in music, they fail to connect with God.  Make Him the priority.  Continually seek His presence.  Be attentive for Him.  He promises to be found.  Do not give up.  God is not distant but imminently, impressively real!

I’ll leave you with one final tool that works for me when the press of life feels too weighty.  I go for a walk.  It helps me synchronize my overused mind and underused body.  The magnitude of creation, the details and activity of nature quietly working mostly unnoticed by busting humanity resets my spirit.  To my harm and shame, the stuff of life, the cares of this world, easily stifle the still, small voice of my humble, majestic God.  He is ever-present, yet I am blind to Him.  A walk—whether on a street or in the windows—engages me with a world bigger than my own.  It reminds me of my smallness and floods me with thanksgiving for His love and wisdom.

 What works for you to enter the presence of God.  Share here, share with others:  has there been a song, a book or a worship experience that stands out?

 We are to live this life of faith together.  God blesses that we can in turn bless another.

 If you struggle to find or feel God, zap a note.  Let’s talk it through.  He loves you beyond measure.  He is waiting for you to enjoy being with Him.  There is nothing more you need to do to be loved by Him…