Category: exchange

Don’t Sit on the Sidelines

Do you ever find yourself sitting on the sidelines in life? What makes people sit on the sidelines? For me it was fear—it kept me at a distance from life and from living a faith dominated lifestyle.

The opposite of fear is faith…ponder this a moment—if in any area of our life we are fearful—it’s a trust issue and the antidote is faith. The bottom line is—when we have true faith in God there is no room for fear.

As I’ve mentioned before I’ve been on a giant (wonderful and sometimes painful) journey to strengthen my faith. The amount of fear in my life was the tell-tale sign that lead me on this expedition in search of unmovable—relentless faith.

On this mission I first had to come to a major conclusion, which was God’s Faithfulness is Not On Trial  nor should it ever be. Yes, I have walked through many heart breaking adventures in my life, but God was never to blame.

Oh but the enemy of my soul was ever present to accuse God with subtle allegations, that unfortunately over time created a bed of comfort for me—a place in the midst of pain where I found a bit of shelter.

The bad news is when we agree with the devil it never turns out good! The good news is when we wander from truth, our gracious; long suffering shepherd always provides a way for us to return.

A good thing to realize about lack of faith is that it’s a heart issue—it’s a place in our heart needing to be perfected in His love. A place that simply needs to be let go of—a place where we make a beautiful exchange—our fear, pain and doubt for His unrelenting love and freedom.

Who wants to be partnered with fear anyway?

The Bible tells us,

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

I started off this blog intending to write about my big adventure this past weekend, but ended up writing about the my bigger adventure of acquiring deeper faith. The two adventures really do go hand in hand and the lesser of the two would not have been possible without the first…

One way fear effected me was that physically I was not very courageous. My husband and kids they are beyond courageous—they are borderline thrill seekers! And I normally just sit, watch (pray) and take pictures, but not this weekend!  Well…a third of this weekend—they participated in three courageous events and me—only one (maybe next year)!

I found myself fearless when on our family vacation, I decided to make the one hundred foot rock climb to a beautiful crystal clear waterfall. Yes friends I did it without hesitation!

waterfall

Each step upward was made rock by rock. And when the climb got intense my husband and sons were before and behind me, ever faithfully holding out their hands, and pointing out the best places to next set my foot. Even when a snake popped his head out of a crack in the rocks and when another slithered on top of one sons foot, I kept going—even when spider webbed rocks where unsecured and shaky, yes even when the moss was slippery and the freezing waterfall pounded on my head and shoulders as I maneuvered across a one foot  wide, one hundred foot high ledge—I, by God’s grace, simply choose not to give fear a second thought!

The climb reminded me of my journey—my life. There always has been and always will be reasons to fear, but God in His unending faithfulness is right behind me—right behind you—and He’s ahead of us, holding out His hand, pointing out the best way to go. Encouraging us to take life one step (rock) at a time, never allowing us to fall—even when our feet land on unstable ground. And when the devil (that snake) rears his ugly head threatening us, we must realize all we have to fear is fear itself. And fear is really nothing but a facade. God’s the real deal and if we allow Him to perfect us in His love we can walk in the freedom He gave His life for, we can get off the sidelines and we can experience the waterfalls of life—crystal clear and refreshing.

Please be encouraged to strengthen your faith (click here to read how: Fully Convinced)—to say no to fear and all its restrictions and yes to God’s faithfulness!

waterfall2 Simply beautiful—so glad I did’t miss out by sitting on the sidelines!

Here are some pictures of my family doing what they do…being adventurous! These are the ones I didn’t participate in!

rock       oasis
The kids climbing down huge rocks leading into a vast canyon and beautiful oasis.

mr bridge  Girls jumping off a bridge.

bridge 2
My husband and son sitting on top of this bridge before jumping off.

 

sunset
God doing what He does best…just being Himself.

 

 

Change Your Situation!

Life is full of ups and downs—some big, others small. That’s just life—no need for anxiety! The questions are—how do we manage life in the seemingly dry or difficult times? How do we turn a desert place into a spring? Make a dead place alive? How do I change my situation???

Psalm 84 has the answer,

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring.

1.      1.  We are blessed when we find our strength in God. Blessed doesn’t mean we won’t have ups and downs—no, it simply means we are never alone or left without solutions in our ups and downs.

Finding our strength in God is a trade—we give Him our weakness in exchange for His incomprehensible strength. Acknowledging our weakness—basically humbling our self—makes way for a flood of God’s grace, strengthening us to get through any situation.

2.       2. We set our heart on eternity—ever looking forward. As long as we focus on this world and all the fulfillment it can bring—we will come up empty. We must set our focus on Jesus, knowing we are on pilgrimage—a journey—always moving forward—constantly drawing nearer.

3.     (Next is the answer to the big question…”How do I change my situation?”)

3. When we pass through a desert place, we determine—resolve in our self to make it a spring.

You can change your situation. How? By calling God into it. As God’s presence fills our heart, soul and life even the driest of times are refreshed.The dead places are made alive by His very life in ours.

I love how verse 6 of Psalm 84 says “they” make it a spring. It’s a choice. We can wallow in the dust of our hard place, whining to God or worse accusing Him of unfaithfulness, or we can choose to make it a spring. Yes it’s hard. But worth it! Remember; the purest gold is wrought from the hottest fire!

Please be encouraged—to determine—to make every dry, dead place in your life a spring.

 

Character Matters

A solid foundation for life is established by our character. Ponder that a moment. If you really think about it—many of life’s issues are weighed and measured by our character—it determines the paths we take and the choices we make. Consequently, it also determines the choices and opinions of other people in regard to us and our life.

Character defined as:  A combination of traits and qualities distinguishing the individual nature of a person or thing. Distinguishing quality and characteristic; moral force, ethical quality and integrity of a person.

Excellent character sustains the blessings in our life. I have this concept I call the “sieve theory.” It unfolds as this—God in His goodness continually pours blessings on us—His children. If our character is weak then our ability to possess, preserve and sustain these blessing is inept. A character of poor quality resembles a sieve. Unfortunately, questionable character rots the bottom out of our life and sadly, blessings fall straight through.

How many times has God blessed us with a relationship, a job, money or an opportunity where unstable character ruined all our probabilities?

The sieve theory has operated in my life more times than I choose to count or remember!

A great way to excel in good character is to notice the word nature in the definition of the word character. The definition says “A combination of traits and qualities distinguishing the individual nature of a person.” Our nature is who we are fundamentally—at our core. Have you ever heard someone say “That’s just the way I am” this statement is in reference to the nature of a person.

One of the things I love about knowing God is the exchange He has made available to us at the cross. Exchanging our nature with Jesus’ nature is one of the first and most ongoing actions we as disciples of Christ partake in.

No matter who we are, where we come from or what we have been through—our nature does not have to stay the same. We have the amazing privilege to shed off our old nature and take on the nature of Christ. This is the essence of true Christianity—you have got to love this—how fortunate we are!

Having a house full of young adults is very interesting—we are at the stage where some are interested in finding a spouse. When it comes to my children finding a spouse, I never thought it would be such a huge process! But being on this end—where I’m a concerned parent whose been married for 31 years—knowing the intricate workings of marriage—and the sieve theory—it’s a big deal! Why? Because what we want from our kids before they marry is excellent and solid character. And the character we are looking for in a mate is nothing less than blameless and unwavering.

Fortunately, God has set my heart at ease. He’s done this by showing me that the most important character trait that we are expecting in our children and in a mate for them—is not necessarily a virtue—but what we are looking for is—how much they know and love God.

For a heart truly relinquished and sold out to God, His will and His purposes, will possess all the godly and moral character traits one could ever ask for. A person with this conviction will continually exchange their nature for God’s nature.

Thank God—all the world’s problems are solved—all we have to do is be Christ Like!

Please be encouraged to know and love God with all your heart and soul, in doing so you can’t help but to throw off your old sinful nature and take on the character of Christ.

Ephesians 4:21-23

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.  Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.

1 Peter 1:3-8

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.  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Passion

If someone invited you to a party using these words; “The party will be dull, pretty much boring and very stale—you should come”—would you go? I think not.

How about relationship? What if a young man has interest in a young lady and when asking her to date him uses this line, “I really like you and want to date you, but first you must know—it will be a very dreary and lifeless relationship.” What girl, in her right mind, would date a guy with that personality and perspective?

What would be missing from such a relationship? Passion.

There are a couple of meanings to the word passion—the passion I’m referring to is the zest in life.

The opposite of passion is—mundane, routine, common, boring.

Passion causes people to go beyond normal—in life, relationships, work and play.

All my kids love and play extreme sports. Why play chess for a hobby when you have rock climbing or MMA? Hockey, dirt bike riding, white water rafting, kayaking, snowboarding, skateboarding and skydiving? They are passionate people and could never be satisfied with anything dull or commonplace.

Likewise we should press the limits on our Christianity. Always moving forward—insistent on loving and knowing God more—adamant in service—courageously sharing our faith—undaunted by culture and boldly exhibiting godly character.  We are to be people who go beyond normal in everyday life—faith filled people who represent God—people consumed with passion!

When God created us He set passion inside of us. Just look at the young—who live with child-like wonder, excitement, and enthusiasm about everything they encounter.

Our relationship with God should be one of passion, where we crave His Holy Spirit, and His presence. A relationship packed with zeal and fervor—not mundane—birthed out of obligation.

Matthew 22:37 boldly states what is most important in life,

To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (NKJ)

Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. (MSG)

It takes passion to love God in this manner.

Many things steal passion—heartache, sickness, offense, doubt, disobedience, selfishness and busyness. Mainly the devil—he loves to usurp our passion, along with it he steals our faith. He is master at causing situations to arise where we question and doubt God’s goodness. It’s what he lives for.

Along with passion for God we must have passion for His Word. God’s Word amongst many things, is where we read about the greatest love story ever! Not only that—but in His Word is the secret to living life skillfully.

John 1:1 says,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

If you love God and are in a relationship with Him—filled with His Spirit, then you also love His Word and are in relationship with it as well. We must diligently guard our passion for the Bible—the sneaky devil is expert at making the Word seem uninteresting and irrelevant.

Last but not least—another area where passion gets evaporated by the enemy is where church is concerned.

Psalm 69:9 says,

Passion for your house has consumed me

We should be passionate for our church—if we belong to God, then church is our house and we should passionately—with all our heart—not just out of duty—love to be there, serve there and be a part of what God is doing in our local church.

The reason the devil loves to steal passion for God’s house is the isolation factor—he isolates the weak and picks them off. He initiates grumbling, offense and disunity—which make church seem routine and pointless. Fact is—passionless church goers weaken the church.

We have to be intentional in protecting our passion. Making sure not to waste our affections on trivial things of this world.

What’s your passion level? Has the enemy seized your passion for God, His Word and His house?

An incredible attribute of God is his loving-kindness. He will never be content with allowing the devil to steal from His people! He has made a way for each of us, by His grace, to take back what the puny devil steals. It will take an act of our strong self-will, but after that it’s a cake-walk.

We must simply use our will, to turn to God—access grace, confess our passionlessness and lean into His great and awesome love. With an open embrace He welcomes us—here we exchange our dryness for a greater thirst.

Please be encouraged to ask God for more passion—and it will be yours!

Grace is a Force

Star Wars anyone?

This current season of digging deeper into God’s grace and its true meaning, is changing not only my everyday life, but my embedded opinions of the power of grace.

For a few weeks now God has been speaking to me about grace being a force. Consider that statement for a moment. Grace is a force.

Force defined as:  Strength, energy, power; intensity, influence and effect.

Until now, I have never thought of grace as a force—but it makes perfect sense. (Remember in a previous blog I said I lived in sloppy grace—using grace as an excuse not to do things I should. See blog titled Grace.)

When I woke the other morning, I had thoughts of Star Wars—weird—because although I like Star Wars and have seen all the movies, multiple times—I’m not a huge enthusiast. But I was pondering Star Wars in light of those who struggle to overcome sin.

I was reminded of grace as a force, and the words “May the force be with you,” came to mind. I began to ponder all that the “Force” does and is for the characters of Star Wars.

I’m putting my disclaimer out there—I do not believe in the force from Star Wars and merely view it as something in a movie—I am not into cult practice or magic! Don’t get all religious on me and not read this because I’m using the force to relate to grace! Relax and just go with it!

The force gives the people in Star Wars supernatural ability. God is supernatural and gives us supernatural abilities. One of these supernatural abilities is grace to overcome—grace to live holy—grace to do the things God asks of us—grace to obey—grace to move forward—grace to love and forgive—grace to find God in impossible situations—grace to heal.

As I’m diving deeper into accessing grace and applying it to daily life, I’m finding that I’m able to do things I did not think I had ability, heart capacity, time or money to do. It’s the simple everyday things—such as getting things done, restored relationship, giving, meeting needs, praying more, living healthy, feeding people and  meeting writing goals. What’s interesting is that God is not increasing my natural resources, but there’s this dynamic taking place where I have the ability to do more and press further. It’s the force of grace working in my life. I do believe it has always been at work, but since I’m seeking more knowledge about grace—I have a new deeper revelation and I’m able to, by faith and the Holy Spirit, step into the fullness of grace.

When we view grace as a force it changes not only our perspective on grace, but or natural abilities.

God’s Word says in 2 Corinthians 12:9,
“My grace is sufficient for you for, My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

In regards to overcoming, this scripture informs us that His grace is what we need—it’s enough. If we feel too weak to overcome—it’s okay—His strength is made perfect in us—in our weakness.

When we are weak and become too scared or apathetic to overcome, is when we most definitely have to lean on grace as a force to help us. We access grace by faith. (Romans 5:2) But what if our faith is weak? This supernatural force will help even when our faith is lacking. Just muster up enough faith to call out to God—by His grace, He will strengthen us and our faith.

In areas where we lack maturity, God’s grace will carry us to maturity.

When I was a new Christian I thought I could linger in an immoral relationship and use the reasoning that God’s grace covers me. Well, it sort of did cover me—but really it carried me to maturity where I found and learned to believe God’s truth about sin.

Another time when I was not so new of a Christian, (that’s an understatement! I had been a Christian for twenty-five years!) Anyways, after following Christ for a quarter-century, God pulled the plug on a very serious issue that I struggled to overcome and foolishly lived with—fear.

That’s right, fear was my biggest road block; it debilitated me spiritually, because its root cause was unbelief—unbelief in God’s trustworthiness. I had been so hurt and disappointed in life—trusting did not come easy, if at all.

The Lord very boldly told me one morning that the grace to live in fear was over.  If I wanted to be in a relationship with Him, I would have to abandon fear and the lifestyle of mistrust I lived in because of it.

At first I was shocked that I had grace to live in fear, but the way God explained grace to me in this situation, is that it carried me to maturity. It was as if grace was the training wheels in my life—not God’s best for me—that’s for sure. Have you ever seen a twenty-five-year-old ride a bike with training wheels? Gross, right? That was a natural picture of my spiritual condition. Obviously, I was not accessing grace as a force during that time in my life. No wonder God in His mercy pulled the plug!

Devastated, I had to overcome fear. This is where grace as a force took over. Remember force defined as:  Strength, energy, power; intensity, influence and effect.

I knew I could not live without God—so I had to relinquish fear as my safety net in life. It was agonizing, no doubt. But the exchange was priceless. I traded fear for faith and trust. I did it by God’s love and grace (a force) moving me—undergirding me to heal and mature and believe in His faithfulness.

Can you see how weak we become when we live in sloppy grace? And when we don’t  use grace as a resource to overcome, but as an excuse to live a half-hearted life

Surely a half-hearted lifestyle cannot be God’s best for us. God’s best is that we overcome—live victorious—live holy—press forward—heal—exchange our weakness for His strength. This comes by knowing God’s grace as a force and believing in His love to change us through and through.

Please be encouraged to find this force, life is too short to settle for good enough—we should live in God’s best! May His force be with you!

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10

The Prayer of Relinquishment

Letting go is rarely easy or desirable. However life is made up of numerous “letting go” sessions. I use the word sessions because the act of letting go usually requires more than just a simple release. The release typically comes at the end of a wrestling session.

Similarly, the prayer of relinquishment can be likened to a wrestling match. A match of the will, God’s will vs. our will.

Sometimes when we pray and ask God for something, we will give Him all the reasons why He should answer our prayer in the manner we want Him to. This is a sort of genie mentality. I rub the lamp and He gives me my heart’s desire—no questions asked. Prayer should be birthed out of relationship with God; if it’s not then we are in genie status.

In the blog post prior to this, titled The Power of Relinquishment, surrendering self-will is said to be the first step in relinquishment. Self-will has to be exchanged; our will for God’s will (for more on the subject read the post). Surrendering requires trust, therefore it moves us into relationship status with God.

Grasp the truth of Galatians 2:20,

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

At the cross we relinquish our rights—exchange our will, just as Jesus did. The words “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live” translate to “my life is no longer identified as mine—I give up my rights.” That’s the premise to the Christian life and to living in relationship status; the promise is “Christ lives in me.” Remember we can’t have the promise without the premise.

This brings us to the wrestling match, otherwise known as the prayer of relinquishment.

The foundation for the prayer of relinquishment is trust and love. We give up our hold, no matter the reason for our prayer. This is where the wrestling takes place, we wrestle to give up what we want or what we think is best. Human reasoning grapples with our faith in God and His Word. Then we relinquish.

Why relinquish? Because we understand and know that God will answer our prayer from His all-knowing, all-loving stance of wisdom and care for us. Principally we trust Him to do His best for us.

Another very crucial point to the prayer of relinquishment is—do we want the answer to the prayer more than we want God? If so then we are in danger of idolatry.

The essence of the relinquishment prayer, must be that we want God more than anything else. If it’s healing we are praying for, do we want the healing more than we want God? If it’s a wayward child, is our desire for our child more than our desire for God? If it’s for a broken heart, do want to be pain free more than go through the process of finding God for our relief? If it’s for financial breakthrough, relationships, peace or a myriad of other reasons—what is our real heart’s desire? God? Or whatever will make us feel whole? The truth is, God is the only one who can complete us, so we must start there. If we don’t, even when the prayer is answered, we will be left wanting.

Following is a very simple example of a recent prayer of relinquishment. Here’s the scenario, I was praying about going on a trip. I kept feeling as if maybe it was the wrong timing, but not quite certain—something felt out of alignment. After weeks of not being sure, I get my answer, yes I can go. But I still have a slight problem; I don’t have the finances for the plane ticket and no matter how hard I try they just are not materializing.

Finally, I relinquished the trip. (I believe what felt out of alignment earlier was my desire, I was asking out of wanting my will.) My relinquishment prayer went something to the effect of— “Lord I really want to go to California for my birthday, but I’m done trying to make it happen. I want this trip way too much, I let it go. If it happens it happens, I give my will up, I trust your will; do what’s best for me.” And I basically walked away from the whole idea.

The next day my husband calls me and says “Are you ready to book your flight” I answer “Yes, but how?” When he walked into work that day, he found an unexpected bonus check waiting for him. I let go and God made a way—that’s how!

My illustration is on a matter of small importance, but I have heard of bed ridden people praying for healing, years upon years, that finally relinquish. Changing their prayer to, “God I want you more than I want healing and I’m tired of the wrestle, what’s your will? Healing came after they gave up their will. In essence getting their way was held in higher esteem than God.

A huge component to the prayer of relinquishment is that when we relinquish our will to God, we settle and live in peace, allowing the outcome of our circumstance to be well with our soul.

Please be encouraged to learn the life-style and prayer of relinquishment. In doing so, the peace and rest of God will be your portion!

Skillful Living 101—8 Wisdom’s Excellence

The Excellence of Wisdom

Wisdom, insight and understanding sound their request. Let all who have a heart to hear—pay attention to the excellence of wisdom.

What is the excellence of wisdom? Nothing less than Christ.

As we read Proverbs 8, it’s as Christ Himself is calling to the very core of our being, saying listen—my words are plain, give ear to understanding, use good judgment, do not be foolish, but embrace Me—behold wisdom and live.

Wisdom’s value is priceless, of more worth than gold, silver and precious jewels.

What do you desire most? Proverbs 8:11 shamelessly states, nothing we desire can compare with wisdom. That’s a huge declaration, one to ponder.

Take that which is of greatest desire to you, feel its worth—and know that the scripture says wisdom is of greater value.

Be stirred to make an exchange with God—that which you desire, for that which God desires for you—Christ the excellence of wisdom and the fruit of His righteousness.

Proverbs 8:17-18 coincides with Matthew 6:33, they pronounce;

“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me. Riches and honor are with me, enduring riches and righteousness.”

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

It really is simple, but most difficult for our flesh; seek Him first and He adds all things, according to His will, to you. Our human mind wants to reason how can this simple daily choice of seeking God first help me?

Listen…wisdom is calling…instructing us to choose to seek Him first.
Hear with faith…tune your spiritual ears.

Proverbs 8:19 articulates that the profit of choosing Him first is superior over any other choice.

“My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver.”

Verse 34 offers a nugget of truth on seeking Him—that will change your life.  It says, watch daily at His gates and wait at His door post.

Watch for the Lord—wait for Him, He will come. Jesus is the wisdom of God, He fills every need—every day!

If you want blessings, favor and life from the Lord, simply keep His ways, hear His instruction and make your heart His home.

Proverbs 8:33-36 “Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.”

Be encouraged to read Proverbs 8 with the perspective of wisdom being Christ—it will bless you!

Check out the skillful Living Tool Box (updated weekly) at the top of this page.

Skillful Living Tools:

  • Ask for the revelation of Christ as the wisdom of God
  • Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness
  • Keep His ways
  • Listen to instruction and be wise
  • Watch and wait for the Lord