Category: heart

Life on His Lap

There’s something extremely comforting about sitting on a trusted, loved ones lap. Sadly as adults we very rarely ever get to cuddle up on our Papa’s lap to find comfort.

Do you ever long for a place to just sit—rest, be embraced and loved?

Some of my kids, although they are teens and young adults, still find comfort on my lap, where they (awkwardly) sit—don’t say a word—just take refuge.

When my kids were young and they were constantly on my lap or in my arms, I found my refuge on God’s lap.

Psalm 84 says,

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young—even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

Pondering this scripture, I noticed God provided a place for the birds of the air to have a home and raise their young, not just any place but at His altar in His presence. Knowing my life was more valuable than the sparrow and swallow—I felt this to be an invitation to set up shop—build my nest and raise my young in His presence.

To me, God is Big Daddy—Papa, I love to sit on His lap and rest my head on His chest. Here I feel His heart beat and get my heart in rhythm with His. So it was only appropriate to picture myself—building my home—raising my kids—living my life—on His lap.

I love to imagine how huge God’s lap must be! Just think about it.

To this day even when the nest is threatening to empty, I still must live my life on His lap—in His presence—never too far, just like a child always making sure their parents are in reach—is where I find my comfort, rest and refuge.

Be encouraged, no matter your age, to except the invitation to live life on His lap.

The Message beautifully describes Psalm 84:3-7,

Birds find nooks and crannies in your house, sparrows and swallows make nests there.
They lay their eggs and raise their young, singing their songs in the place where we worship.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies! King! God! How blessed they are to live and sing there! And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel. They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain! God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!

Skillful Living 101—19 Integrity

It seems at every turn our integrity is being tested, pushed or pulled in some direction or another. It’s no wonder when the core meaning of integrity is to be complete. The devil, the world and our flesh are in full rebellion against complete, sound, whole people. With this in mind we should wholeheartedly pursue integrity.

Others words for integrity are: upright, morally sound, truthful and honest. I have found the integrity that God desires us to have is best displayed when nobody is looking—it’s integrity of the heart, found in the deepest part of who we are. As we become integrious in our inner person—our outward person will follow.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Something that will help us to live in integrity and holiness is the realization that God knows all the thoughts, intentions and motives of our heart and soul—nothing is hidden from Him. This should motivate us! And remember, God in His faithfulness never asks us to do what He won’t equip us for. God will help us be people of integrity—hence we have the book of Skillful Living—Proverbs—our integrity equipping manual!

Proverbs is inundated with advice on how to be people of integrity. Here we review a handful of verses from chapter 19.

Verse 1—“Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.”

  • A person of integrity is wealthier than any rich man

Verse 2— “Desire without knowledge is not good, and to be overhasty is to sin and miss the mark.” (AMP)

  • Integrity requires Godly knowledge and wisdom

Verse 3—People ruin their lives by their own stupidity, so why does God always get blamed? MSG

  • Acquire integrity and stop blaming God for the mistakes you make

Verse 9—“The person who tells lies gets caught; the person who spreads rumors is ruined.” (MSG)

  • The integrious are truthful and do not indulge in gossip

Verse 11—“Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense.”

  • Integrity will help us restrain from anger
  • The integrious do not embrace offence

Verse 13—“A foolish son is the ruin of his father, and the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.”

  • Train children to have integrity
  • An integrious woman makes a good wife

Verse 16—“He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die.”

  • Integrity keeps us mindful of our obedience to God

Verse 17—“Mercy to the needy is a loan to God, and God pays back those loans in full.” (MSG)

  • People of integrity are merciful

Verse 22—“What is desired in a man is kindness, and a poor man is better than a liar.”

  • The integrious are kind

Verse 26—“He who mistreats his father and chases away his mother is a son who causes shame and brings reproach.”

  • People of integrity honor their parents

Verse 27—“Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

  • The integrious have an ear to hear God’s voice and the heart to listen

Skillful Living Tools

  • Wholeheartedly pursue integrity.
  • God desires integrity in our inner person
  • God knows the thoughts, intentions and motives of our heart and soul
  • A person of integrity is wealthier than any rich man
  • Acquire integrity and stop blaming God for the mistakes you make
  • Integrity will help us restrain from anger
  • Train children to have integrity
  • An integrious woman makes a good wife
  • People of integrity honor their parents

Please be encouraged to indulge in integrity—we can never have too much!

Read and apply all of Proverbs 19 and please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated) at the top of this page!

Our Reasonable Service

How do you give the perfect gift to someone who literally has everything? What could we humans—really give to the God who created the universe?

Romans 12:1 says,

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.

According to this passage of scripture; in light of what Christ has done for us—given us salvation, unconditional love and endless mercy, grace and blessings—let us respond appropriately. It is our reasonable service to be a living sacrifice. A living sacrifice? Okay—this is a very extreme gift—right?

I once talked to a young man, who considered himself to be a believer, who thought it was. I said “Jesus gave His life for you—died on a cross for you, He wants your heart.” He said “I’ve thought about that, Jesus knew He’d raise from the dead and be in heaven back with His Father, it wasn’t really a huge sacrifice”

Over the years I’ve pondered this mind-set. Essentially it says I don’t owe God anything—especially not to be a living sacrifice.

I think this passage of scripture is one of those that a lot of us just might want to skip. But we can’t take the bless me scriptures and ignore our reasonable service.

What would it look like if Christians actually were living sacrifices?

I’m not saying it is easy to be a living sacrifice, but either was enduring the cross.

Mainly, we need to check our response to this urging assignment from the Word. What is our heart attitude towards God when we know He wants us to live a sacrificial, totally abandoned life-style to Him? This will tell us a lot about our heart.

Our response should stem from our relationship of mutual love with God. Not from duty should we be a living sacrifice, but because of our deep love for Him.

My reasonable service as a wife and mother has to come from my heart of love for my family or else I would burn-out really quick! Why would we painfully bear children, change poopy diapers and endlessly clean, cook and serve unless we love? Why and how does a man work his whole life to provide for his family—if it’s not for love?

It’s no different with God.

Presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice is a form of true worship to God.

Deserting self and all its ambitions—is our first step in reasonable service. Be reminded God will never ask you to do anything He won’t equip you for and the only way you can fail—is to disobey.

Please be encouraged to say yes to God—give Him the gift of wholeheartedly diving into the life-style of being a living sacrifice. In light of the abundant gift of God—it is a very reasonable thing for Him to ask of us.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

Is God Narcissistic?

Have you ever wondered why God wants us to praise, glorify and worship Him? Love Him, seek and obey Him? Could it be that He is narcissistic and vain? One who barley knows Him might think so.

The truth is, God is secure in His position of creator and Lord of all. He does not need puny humans to worship Him so He can feel secure. He’s not on a power trip, rallying people to Himself so He looks all powerful and good. No, He actually is all powerful and good; in fact He’s the essence of good and the author of power.

All knowing God understands what will transpire in our heart and life when we exalt Him. He doesn’t want us to give Him all our adoration because it will benefit Him—just the opposite—it will benefit us!

God the Father, is a good parent, always looking out for and preferring His kids, making sure the best happens for them. This is why He wants us to live our life in complete surrender to Him and His ways, where His perfect will can be done in our lives. Essentially He knows what’s best and wants to bless us.

We were made to praise, worship and glorify—it’s woven into our being. We will worship something; be it sports, entertainers, food, self, or beauty. Why not worship someone who really deserves it. God is worthy to be praised, worshipped and glorified, after all He is pretty awesome and He did create the entire universe!

There are countless benefits to worshipping God, I’ll mention just one—it causes us to look up and take our eyes off ourselves, creating an atmosphere where we can draw near to God. In the nearness of God our lives are transformed and we are truly blessed. We are defined by what we worship, being defined by God sounds rather wonderful, doesn’t it?

There was a time (a very long time) in my life where I lived a shallow existence, thinking everything was all about me. During that extremely extended period of self-indulgence, I had the thought that God was selfish and egotistical. It made me mad that He wanted everything. And the one thing that He did give me control over—my will—He wanted me to give that to Him as well. I was upset that He’s a jealous God—jealously wanting all my love and affection.

After I finally admitted my issues to Him, which He already knew and loved me still, He began to help me shift my point of view so I could see the greatness of His love and just how preferring and patient is His character.

Listen to the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, keep in mind; God is love.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

According to this passage of scripture God is completely selfless, so there’s no way He could be narcissistic. His unselfish love sent His Son to the cross, making a path for you and I to live—really live—free from the devil’s schemes and plans for our life. Creating a way for us to have eternal life. This love frees us from fear and chaos, filling us with peace, truth and hope.

It turns out the reason God wanted my will was because He knew how self-destructive my will actually is, He wanted to save me from my own self-indulgence.

He’s jealous, not in the same manner that we humans get jealous—in His jealousy He’s selfless. It’s more about watching out for us. His love is expressed in His jealousy—He’s jealous for our heart that it not be given over to sin, pride, hatred, anger, un-forgiveness and fear, He loves us too much to let those cancers shape our life. He would rather we tuck our heart into His presence where it can be nurtured and grow in a flawless environment.

Please be encouraged to examine your heart towards God. I’m praying that you will tuck your heart into His presence, knowing Him deeper still.

Skillful Living 101—16 Choosing the Right Path

Making decisions and choosing the right paths in life, are daily concerns. If we are not sure how to get God’s direction then we can easily get overwhelmed. The skillful living advice found in Proverbs 16 is a valuable fortune to attain; it holds truth that can help guide us in the right direction, assisting us in avoiding pitfalls that occur when taking the wrong path.

Basically choosing the right paths and or direction in life is a surrender issue.

Verse 9 sums it all up for us,

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Listen to Proverbs 19:21

You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

There are two ways to go about finding God’s direction—both lead to the same ending.

  1. We can make our plans and take our own steps in pursuing those plans.
  2. A. We can ask God for His plans and direction. Patiently waiting, relying on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to guide us.
    B. We can make plans and submit them to God, asking for His will to be done. Relinquishing our desires knowing His will is best. Also patiently waiting, relying on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to guide us.

No matter which way we go about choosing, or what choice we make—the end result will be the same—God’s purpose for our life will prevail.

I’m half a century old, and believe me I have tried and retried over and over again to make the first way of choosing work—but it never has.

God loves us too much, to allow our plans for our life to supersede His.

This might be frustrating to some people, because they just want to do what they want, but truly God knows the beginning to the end of each situation. He knows how it will start and how it will end and every detail in the middle. He wants the best for us, that’s why He wants us to choose His paths.

Taking our own paths and following our own direction is not only disobedience, but painful. Sometimes after we wake up from a bad choice—be it years, months or days later, we have regret, desiring that we would have listened to God or the good counsel He put in front of us.

I’ll never forget these words; “Careful, that pitfall will cost you two years, oh watch out for that one, it’ll take five years to get out.” They were spoken by an older prophetic gentleman; he was talking about wanting to warn people before they charged through life, not inquiring of God’s direction.

Being a Mom of teens and young adults, I’m constantly reiterating the concept of these scriptures. My kids are visionaries with huge dreams and plans—I love this about them and believe these are God given qualities inherit within them, but that doesn’t mean every idea is God breathed. My advice to them is to submit their plans to God and find out which path He wants them to take. I desire my kids to be discerning of God’s voice and will—this will assist them in not wasting their life getting in and out of pitfalls.

Understandably the desert of some pitfalls are places God allows us to go through, where we can find Him in a new way as we learn life’s lessons, but I don’t necessarily believe they are all God ordained stops in life. We can learn just as much, if not more, by first submitting to the obedience of God’s will. There are huge blessings in seeking, finding and following God’s will.

I had an interesting conversation with a young friend, who told me a story about his relationship with a random girl—now in his life forever. The gist of the story was this; he was reflecting on what he called the ripple effect. He met a girl, knew her only a week or two and had sex with her. He said he didn’t love her, she was not really his type but it had been awhile—so he indulged himself. The relationship, loaded with issues, became one of convenience for both of them—until she got pregnant.

The ripple effect started first by living a casual lifestyle of ignoring God, second by fulfilling the lust of the flesh and having sex outside of marriage. Then pregnancy, it continued with an unwanted dysfunctional relationship, sharing a child, who will no doubt reap the consequences. He sadly said “One bad choice has caused a lifelong ripple in my life.”

Opening one door of self-will, can lead to many other doors that inevitably open more doors— leading to hardship, heartache and wasted time.

Proverbs 16 gives generous advice on this concept, it would significantly benefit us and those we influence, to listen and follow its guidance.

Verse 1—“Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word.” (MSG)
Verse 2—“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits (the thoughts and intents of the heart).” (AMP)
Verse 3—“Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” (NLT)
Verse 5—“The Lord detests the proud; they will surely be punished.” (NLT)
Verse 7—“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (NKJ)
Verse 9—“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (NLT)
Verse 16—“How much better it is to get skillful and godly Wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” (AMP)
Verse 17—“The road of right living bypasses evil; watch your step and save your life.” (MSG)
Verse 18—“First pride, then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” (MSG)
Verse 20—“It pays to take life seriously; things work out when you trust in God.” (MSG)
Verse 25—“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (NKJ)
Verse 33—“Make your motions and cast your votes, but God has the final say.” (MSG)

The heart breaking ripple effect can be avoided by tucking our self into relationship with God, where we hear His voice, know His will and delight in obedience.

Skillful Living Tools

  • A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps
  • You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail
  • Choosing the right paths and or direction in life is a surrender issue
  • Submit plans, ideas and dreams to God, asking for His will to be done
  • Patiently wait on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to guide you
  • Remember the ripple effect: choices have consequences
  • The road of right living bypasses evil
  • Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed
  • Pride comes before a fall
  • God always has the final say

Please be encouraged—skillful living comes by patiently submitting our plans to God before we proceed.

Please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated weekly) at the top of this page!

Disappointment

Disappointment is an irritating nag that suffocates joy in our life. Learning the liberating secret that frees us from its heaviness—is vital. If we don’t get out from under disappointments thumb, we end up cynical and distrustful in life.

If disappointment is your constant companion as it used to be mine, I’ve got good news for you—disappointment is not a way of life.

Disappointment is a spirit that settles on you. It’s the opposite of wearing rose-colored glasses, you’re wearing glasses alright, but they are tinted with disappointment—everything you see, hear and do, comes and goes through their filter.

Disappointment established its residence in my life when I was young. I grew up without my father, seeing him maybe twice a month. He constantly promised big things and I believe he really wanted to deliver them, but because of his own dysfunction—he lacked the ability to see his word through. I always wanted to believe he would keep his word, even though my mom consistently warned me that he wouldn’t. Mostly he would show up late, or not at all and very seldom keep his grandiose promises.

As I grew up I continuously expected to be disappointed, that way when things didn’t work out, the pain of being let down would be softened.

I lived with the expectation that people would not keep their word and that they would eventually disappoint me. The problem with that mindset is that it’s judgmental. Wearing the glasses of disappointment causes us to weigh and measure others unjustly. These glasses also cause us to get into the mode of self-protection, where we mistrust and doubt love, becoming prone to offense.

Accordingly, we unhealthily guard our heart from love—forming walls. Every disappointing offense is brick and mortar—building for ourselves a nice little fortress around our heart—making it difficult for loved ones to penetrate, let alone God. The interesting fact about self-protection is that it breeds selfishness and sets us up to live in a world dictated by self.

The secret I’ve learned, is that my trust was misdirected. Granted parents, spouses and family should be trust worthy, but because we live in such a fallen selfish world, where sin abounds, some people are dysfunctional and do not know how to properly love each other. I now have grace for such people, since I myself used to be one!

What I mean by misdirected, is that we are trusting in all the wrong things and in the wrong people.

This may sound harsh, but God really is the only one who is completely trust worthy. Why? Because God is not human. Human nature at its best is not flawless, but God is.

This is a hard shift to make but completely doable, mainly we take a huge leap of faith and decide that yes, God’s Word—the Bible, is true and I am going to believe it! God is worthy of my trust and I am going to give it to Him!

Numbers 23:19 says,

God is not man, one given to lies, and not a son of man changing his mind. Does he speak and not do what he says? Does he promise and not come through?

At first it’s an issue of the will, we will ourselves to trust and believe in Gods faithfulness—He provides grace for such a task. With the issue of trust settled, it becomes a heart issue. We learn to allow God to heal our heart and soul, thus possess it.

Now, all our trust is in God and His will for our life. We no longer trust in our job for money—no, God’s the one who supplies all our needs and the job is just the tool He is using.

We no longer trust people or situations to rescue us, but we trust God—He’s the rescue. He will use people and situations, but they are not our hope—He is.

A lot of the time we say “If I just had that job (or that house or that spouse or that situation) then my life would be easier or better. The truth is, with that mindset our trust is misdirected.

Instead we ought to live our life knowing—Yes, God does bring opportunities that better our life and make it abundant, but those opportunities are not what we place our hope in.

Our Hope is Christ. Everything else is extra!

Proverbs 13:12 says,

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.

Please be encouraged to place all your trust in God, where your hope will not be deferred!

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. Jeremiah 17:7

Skillful Living 101—15 Taming the Tongue

Though the tongue may be small it carries tremendous weight, having the power to bring either life or death. A perpetual topic throughout scripture is on the use of this petite, but very influential member of our body.

Controlling the words that roll off our tongue are of utmost importance to the Lord. One passage of scripture goes so far as to say, that if we cannot control our tongue than our belief is useless.

James 1:26,

If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion [faith, belief] is worthless.

This is critical. If we are not cognizant of this fact, we could live our whole life in deceit—gossiping and slandering people under the guise of Christian concern. I do not want to live my life unaware of how important an unbridled tongue is to God!

Truthfully, the use of the tongue is one of those matters that most of us know about and suffer from (in some degree or another) but choose to disregard or let slide as not really a sin. Why? Basically, our flesh loves to gossip—grosser still—it feeds on it. Not to mention the devil’s plan to deceive us with the lie that it’s okay and not really gossip or slander. Worse yet, we can be deceived to the point of not even thinking gossip and slander are sin. Read 2 Timothy 3:2-5, Titus 1:15-16, Psalm 101:5 and I Peter 4:15, to see if it’s a sin or not.

As the beautiful bride of Christ this is an area we constantly have to guard and purposely keep in check.

Another important point to make about the tongue is found in Matthew 12:34,

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

If our words are foul, we need not look any further than our heart for the answer as to why. Our speech is a heart issue. Our heart is to be God’s home, a place where He alone can reside. It’s our wellspring and it needs to be kept pure.

Words that give life come from a blameless heart—such words refresh the soul of those on whom they fall. Let’s make it our passion to keep a pure heart that overflows with words of life.

Proverbs 15 holds many truths about a controlled tongue and a pure heart:

Verse 1—“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Verse 2—“The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”

Verse 4—“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”

Verse 7—“The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the heart of the fool does not do so.”

Verse 14—“The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.”

Verse 23—“A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!”

Verse 26—“The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but the words of the pure are pleasant.”

Verse 28—“The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.”

Living skillfully requires an undefiled heart and a bridled tongue.

So maybe this all sounds great and the Holy Spirit is nudging (convicting) you to guard your heart and tongue, but it seems a hard task. If so, please remember He gives grace to the humble. Simply repent and turn to God asking him for the grace to purify your heart and cleanse your speech. (Read and apply James 4:6-10) God loves it when we come to Him asking for help to be more like Him!

Two, really good scriptures to pray daily are, Psalm 141:3 and Psalm 51:6;

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts [heart], and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Please be encouraged to keep your heart pure and your speech above reproach, you will live skillfully if you do!

Skillful Living Tools:

  • The power of death and life are in the tongue, (Proverbs 18:21)
  • Controlling our tongue is important to God
  • Don’t be deceived—Gossip and slander are sin, (2 Timothy 3:2-5)
  • Don’t feed your flesh with Gossip (Galatians 5:16)
  • Our speech is a heart issue, (Matthew 12:34)
  • Keep a pure heart that overflows with words of life
  • A soft answer turns away wrath
  • A wholesome tongue is a tree of life
  • A perverse tongue breaks the spirit
  • The words of the pure are pleasant
  • The heart of the righteous studies how to answer

Please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated weekly) at the top of this page!

True Repentance

A lifestyle of repentance is a vital spiritual discipline for the thriving Christian. Without it, our flesh remains prideful. It is what we do with our sin that makes all the difference. If we hide our sin and defend ourselves, making excuses for our behavior, God cannot help us. Hidden sin has to be exposed—preferably by the one sinning.

Exposed sin needs to lead us to godly sorrow, which opens the door to true repentance. Godly sorrow is the grief we experience when we realize we have sinned against God Himself, this truth is illustrated in 2 Corinthians 7:8-10

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

The sorrow the world has to offer leads to death because it has nothing to do with true repentance; therefore, no changes are made. Worldly sorrow cheaply spits the words “I’m sorry” out of its mouth, desperately trying to relieve its own conscience. It is all about self, with no real regard for God or those it has hurt and wounded, which is why it leads to death.

Oswald Chambers says it in this manner,

Repentance always brings a person to the point of saying, “I have sinned.” The surest sign that God is at work in his life is when he says that and means it. Anything less is simply sorrow for having made foolish mistakes—a reflex action caused by self-disgust.

True repentance is a lethal weapon to be exercised daily. It births us into a healthy lifelong change. Repentance is not just acknowledging and confessing our sin, but the starting point of turning away from sin, as indicated in Acts 3:19.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

Casual Christians treat repentance as if it were the cold ocean where they just tiptoe at the shore. If we seriously want to be healed and live in a deeper relationship with God, than we cannot afford to be casual or to dabble. True repentance has to become our lifestyle.

It has to become our lifestyle because sin happens daily. When we ask Christ to be our savior He wipes away all our past sins. It would be great if at that point we stopped sinning all together, but that’s not the way it is.

There are sins of omission and sins of commission. There are heart attitudes that have to be dealt with daily, as well as issues that we are in the process of overcoming. We never arrive to perfection but are a work in progress.

A lifestyle of repentance is not meant to make us feel like losers, but to assist us in moving forward—in the way of sanctification.

One aspect of true repentance is that it can change our pallet for sin. Sin becomes distasteful when true repentance is taken in and savored—mainly because we recognize how our sin has separated us from God.

Another truth about repentance is that it kills pride in us. Isaiah 57:15 says,

I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.

God dwells with those who are contrite and humble. Pride is a major enemy to a lifestyle of true repentance.

It’s also important to realize that the grace of God is what leads us to repentance and it comes by way of the Holy Spirit’s conviction, as stated in Romans 2:4

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness [grace] of God leads you to repentance?

When we repent and ask for forgiveness, God takes our sin and remembers it no more, as clearly specified  in Psalm 103:12

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.

Please do not keep reminding Him of it, simply shut the mouth of the devil and be led by the Holy Spirit.

In Romans 8:1, Paul writes,

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

If we live in the Spirit and not the flesh there is no condemnation or guilt. One way to know if we are operating in true repentance is to check our condemnation and guilt level. True repentance sets us free with no regret. True repentance also wipes out our sin and lifts our burden, allowing God’s refreshing to come to us. The enemy of our soul will try to convince us we’re not forgiven, set free, healed or delivered. He will attempt to heap shame on us, but we have to remember; if we sincerely repent, turn and operate in Godly sorrow, God forgives us. End of story. Our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west.

Essentially true repentance is priceless—it brings times of refreshing (Acts 3:19) that allow us to draw closer to God—who wouldn’t want that?

Please be encouraged to welcome godly conviction in your life and to live a lifestyle of true repentance. You won’t regret it.

The contents of this blog was taken from my book Thirsty Heart.

Longsuffering

All of God’s attributes are basically jaw droppers and worthy of our praise, but the one I feel compelled to mention in this blog is longsuffering.

Longsuffering is not really a word that we use very much these days and might better be known in today’s culture as patience.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 gives us a very graphic narrative of love. When reading this portion of scripture, keep in mind that God is love; therefore each expression used in depicting love—is an attribute of God.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

(It’s tempting to get distracted and write about love, but I’ll save that for another day!)

God is described as being longsuffering. He is very willing and patient to wait on us to love Him wholeheartedly. He provides volumes of opportunity for our heart to completely fall in love with Him.

Why? Why would God who created the whole universe, not just demand that we love Him?

The truth is, He gave us free will. We are free to love or not love God and we are free to love Him halfheartedly.

God didn’t want to create robots, programed to love Him. He wants people made of flesh and blood—created in His image—to choose to love Him.

When we think of patience we think of waiting, but genuine patience is not exactly about waiting—it’s put to the test in the way one waits.

The Lord is not impatient; He does not wait intolerantly for His creation to get their heart aligned with His. No, instead He offers favor, grace and mercy, that we may see and experience His love.

God is also extremely longsuffering with those that don’t or won’t make Him their Lord. I’ve watched Him over and over again extend His unconditional love to those who disregard Him.

Why is He so longsuffering with people who could care less about Him or His love? The answer is—salvation. He is not willing for anyone to spend eternity in hell—He gives countless opportunities for life change and repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

He’s longsuffering because of love. He desires to spend eternity with all His children.

I’m most longsuffering with my children. Why? Because I love and believe in them, I know them, I’ve seen their heart from the very beginning. I know their value and potential—I believe in God’s plan for them. I am not willing to just write my kids off when they portray immaturity or stupidity.

I’m by no means saying I’m as patient as God! I’m just trying to paint a picture for you of how loving, tender and longsuffering God is with His Children—with you and me.

As any good parent He does require obedience, but truly—obedience is birthed out of love—if we love God we will obey Him. (John 14:15) If we love Him we will surrender our whole heart and life to Him.

Let’s take this a step further—God calls us to be longsuffering. To suffer long with those He loves—to patiently see them to wholeheartedness in God and to salvation.

In order to do this we must disregard our own feelings and time frame. I’m preaching to the choir here. When people disregard my God, or trample my love and efforts to help them, my flesh wants to write them off and say “Oh well, I tried but it wasn’t received.” I want to protect myself from their rejection. This is where I push past the struggle and align my heart to God’s.

We have to realize it is not about us or about our comfort, but about God’s purposes and eternity. We must believe in God’s plan and purpose for people. We need to see God’s children as we see our own children and extend grace and mercy just as we do to our own.

I want to be a person of longsuffering (and not just with my own kids). What about you? In what ways can you be more longsuffering?

How do we become longsuffering? Patience and love are a fruit of the Spirit—to have this kind of fruit in our life we must continually be filled with the Spirit of God.

Please be encouraged to be more like Jesus and  love with longsuffering just as He loves you!

No Modifications

I have a love hate relationship with my workout DVD. It’s appropriately named the 30 Day Shred.
I love it because it’s just 20 minutes a day, I hate it because…well I don’t love exercise, not at all! The workout is circuit training, so you indulge in torturing yourself with a well-rounded mix of ab exercises, cardio and weights.

Every time I use it, I think I am going to preach a message using quotes from this DVD. So here it goes…

First, I have to say the reason I dislike exercise, is because it opposes my flesh. My flesh is happy to eat whatever it wants and never do a push up! My health, on the other hand is not!

The whole time I’m working out, my flesh is thinking of reasons why I should stop and never start again! This is where my will comes in. I have to will myself to exercise. Why bother? Because it’s good for me!

This analogy is very similar to our relationship with God. It would be so easy to just love God, accept Him as savior, live however we want and when life is over, see Him in heaven. Well sorry, that’s not the Bible’s interpretation of relationship with Christ or of salvation.

One statement my personal DVD trainer makes is, “You have to push—you do not get results for free!” Basically salvation is free, but costs you everything—kind of like exercise.

The one quote that continually rings in my ears is this, “There are no modifications for a jumping jack” In my world, I can and I do think of many modifications for jumping jacks—there’s the stand in one place and just move your feet…first your right, then your left and so on. Then there’s the one that keeps my cardio going, where I move side to side, one foot behind the other, but never jump off the ground as with a real jumping jack.

Believe me—I can come up with modifications! But isn’t that the way it is with our flesh? Always trying to modify Christianity, or doing what’s right? We need to remind ourselves—there are no modifications!

Next this beautiful, slender women on my DVD says, “So often people think they’re not strong enough, you’re told to just take the stairs, this gives you a false sense of lethargy—you can change!”

Isn’t this true in life as well? Following God wholeheartedly seems too hard, so we make excuses for half-heartedness—this absolutely gives us a false sense of lethargy! We can change, we can make heart, soul and lifestyle changes. By the power of God’s grace—we can follow God wholeheartedly!

The last motivational phrase is about quitting. She says, “I know you want to quit, you feel that knot in the middle of your stomach, that’s fear leaving your body!”

One very real opposition to living sold out for Christ—is fear.

Fear of change, fear of failure—of success—fear of pain.

Following is a quote from my book Thirsty Heart. It’s taken from the chapter, Sexual Healing for the Heart and Soul. In context, I’m talking about how sexual healing frees you to know and love God wholeheartedly. The following is a list of reasons given for not getting free, it was compiled after talking to a person steeped in fear of freedom.

Study the list below. Fear is the common thread. Fear immobilizes and disarms us, paralyzing our faith.

  • Fear of the unknown: I know how to live like this and I am afraid to live differently.
  • Fear of facing who I really am.
  • Fear of facing the root cause.
  • Fear of rejection and not being accepted; once people know who I really am they will reject me.
  • Fear of pain.
  • Fear of pain for others: I’ve caused enough pain to those I love already.
  • Fear of the process to get free: Getting free is too time consuming and embarrassing.
  • Fear of the cost to get free: What will be lost in the process?
  • Fear of truth—Denial: If I ignore it, it will go away.

I love what 2 Timothy 1:7 says,

 God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

For a lot of people, change would mean—freedom. Healthy change that draws us near to God is priceless. Sometimes we just have to take a leap of faith, trusting and knowing that God loves us and He will help us!

The last phrase I want to leave you with is “Time and pressure.”

A planted seed breaks forth into a root bearing plant with time, pressure and the right environment. A piece of coal turns into a diamond with time and pressure.

Sometimes the pressure of life and its circumstances are the best environment for change—could it be that your time to change has come?

Please be encouraged to stand strong, with no modifications to your Christianity.