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Archive for the ‘Inspirational’ Category

It’s summer. I’m not as busy so I thought I’d share some thoughts that come to me during my intimate time with God. Quite often these thoughts come as I’m chatting with God about my kids or in response to what God has highlighted for me as I read the Bible.

I have two teenagers. Teenagers. Full of hormones and subject to extreme mood swings. My desire for them is to learn how to live in peace and experience as much happiness as possible. This is the recipe God gave me for them (and for me).

Recipe for More Peace & Happiness

  • God:  Chat with God as you wake-up and continue throughout the day
  • Food:  Eat Healthy – don’t skip breakfast and don’t eat late at night
  • Rest:  Get eight hours of sleep every night
  • Fitness:  Exercise (cardio & weight bearing) regularly

Blend all ingredients to produce more peace & happiness. Prepare and consume daily for at least three weeks to increase thankfulness, confidence and inner joy.

What is God saying to you this summer?

Shalom

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I should have been born in Missouri, the Show Me state. Most of my life consists of hoping for things I can comprehend and control. According to Romans 5, this way of living is backwards.

“Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

This is another one of the scriptures that we like to take out of context and miss the real point. Romans is about the power of God and living by faith rather than living by the do’s and dont’s of the law of Moses.

The word “Therefore” at the beginning of Romans 5 implies that the meaning after “therefore” has to do with the words that come before “therefore.” We see in Romans 1 through 4 that the hope of Romans 5 is built on the foundation of being justified through faith.

Justified, made right.
Faith, our response to what God reveals.

Hope, according to Merriam-Webster, is desire with anticipation. Not just a vague belief or wishing that something might happen. But a hunger for what we expect in the future.

In Romans 1:18ff, we see the result of living by what man envisions according to his own abilities versus what God reveals and provides through his divine assistance. Where is the hope in living for the pleasure that last only in the moment?

God offers hope that delivers a reality that will last forever. All the unknowns in life – suffering, sadness, sickness – are made perfect through hope.

Made perfect – given meaning and purpose.

To get to that kind of hope we must persevere through the unknowns. When we don’t persevere we give in to the pleasure of the moment.

We have a tendency to mix up the words hope and faith. Faith is always initiated by God. Faith is when God reveals and we respond to what he has revealed. Faith is not just believing or hoping something is true. It’s not a wish or even trusting in the character of God. It is seeing what God is doing now and acting on what God has shown us.

Hope is not always initiated by God. Hope is the desire for something to become reality. Desire can be good or bad. To experience hope that does not disappoint, we must experience dependency on God – the one who is the standard for measuring good. Dependency means acting on what God is revealing even when we can’t comprehend the outcome.

It is in suffering – whether it is horrific or simple questioning of the unknown – that we are forced to either to give in to our own desires or persevere until we find God’s desires. Without perseverance, our character is weak and inconsistent. Through perseverance, we experience the love of God and find our true character – who we are meant to be in God’s story.

I want to live with hope that makes suffering tolerable. Don’t you? Let’s not give in or give up. I’m convinced that through persevering we discover that kind of hope.

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Are you making a difference in the world?

We wonder why people are starving or why a loving God would allow suffering. The truth is, God has enabled us to relieve much of the suffering of the world.

World Vision is one of several organization that restores hope in individuals by transforming communities. Watch this video and please consider sponsoring a child through my World Vision sponsorship page. If you are not able to sponsor a child or already sponsor a child through World Vision or another organization, please share this blog post to encourage others to make a difference in this world. It changes not only the receiver but also the giver because we are designed by the Creator to contribute to life for more than our own personal comfort.

Every child deserves clean water. However, more than 1,600 children under age 5 die every day from diarrhea caused by unsafe water — that’s more than AIDS and malaria combined. Clean water, basic sanitation, and hygiene education are some of the most effective ways to prevent child disease and death.

World Vision is one of the largest providers of clean water in the developing world, reaching a new person with clean water every 30 seconds. Water continues to flow after we leave because communities have ownership of the water points and can maintain and repair them. www.worldvision.org

We are all designed to contribute to this amazing world God created. We do not exist simply to survive until we die. Will you make a difference?

World Vision Sponsorship

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David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

Praise be to you, Lord,
the God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.

Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.

Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.

In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.

Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.

1 Chronicles 29:10-13

These words were written in response to all that was given – gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, precious stones – for the future building of the temple. It was a huge collection. Even more amazing is that everyone gave willingly and with integrity. A few verses after this we read:

O Lord our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you…. O Lord, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. 1 Chronicles 29:16,18

After the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we find similar words by Paul.

Oh, the depth of the riches of wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

Here, Paul suggests something other than gold, silver and precious stones. In the next verse we read:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is true worship. Romans 12:1

Not only do possessions come from God, our existence is a gift from God.

For many, existence does not seem like a very nice gift. But if we get a glimpse of the existence God has planned, we will see with great joy the gift that our existence is. And there is more than existence even now. There is life.

In the first passage above, the presence of God was limited. Only designated people could be in God’s presence. Even after the elaborate temple was built, people had to GO to God and no one other than the priests could go into the holy of holies where the presence of God was so great that they tied a rope around their waist so they could be pulled out if they were struck dead in God’s presence.

In Christ Jesus, God has COME to man. His Spirit – His Life – has been given to us. It was poured out at Pentecost (Acts 2).  This Life includes His power and love. This allows our existence to be more than eating and breathing; more than just surviving until we die. His Spirit in us gives us true life that will last forever and ever. At some point there will no longer be evil and sadness. There will only be true life. And that is the gift God has given and why Paul urges us to offer not only our possessions but also our bodies – everything we are – back to God. This is true worship with willingness and integrity.

This Thanksgiving, will you choose to genuinely thank the giver of life? Regardless of your circumstances. Regardless of the strained relationships. Regardless of how great or how little possessions you have been given. Will you give your existence back to God and receive eternal true life? Let Him show you real Life. Life that was banned in the Garden of Eden. Life that has come in Christ. Life that will one day be without a curse of any kind.

I suggest you read 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 or Romans 11:33-36 as your prayer before your Thanksgiving meal. A brief silence after you read will allow you to sense God’s response to your praise.

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If you are giving your existence to God, find a spirit-filled, Bible-teaching church this weekend. Can’t do Sunday morning? Many churches gather on Saturday night and are casual dress. The Life God has given is meant to be experienced in community with others who have exchanged their existence for true Life. Otherwise, like a stick pulled from a fire, life will lose it’s glow.

Life: Genesis 3:22-24; John 14:6; Revelation 22:1-3

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When I was a little girl
Grown-ups taught me how to pray
No one taught me how to listen
Only words to say

Are you there, Lord?

I’ve grown and life is tough
My heart is broken
My words are few
Rhymes no longer seem right for you

Are you speaking, Lord?

Your word, not mine,
Is a lamp unto my feet
Your word, not mine,
Is a light unto my path

I’m ready Lord…

Teach me now
How to pray
As I listen
To the words you say

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In a Vineyard Columbus weekend message titled “Walking Away From Faith,” Rich Nathan challenged listeners to write out why we continue to believe – why I profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ. A portion of my journal entry in response to this challenge is below. I recommend you take the challenge also. And, if you do not believe Jesus Christ is the ultimate meaning and purpose to living, write down why you don’t believe that.

Before answering why I believe, I had to ask what do I believe.

  • I believe Jesus is God in human form.
    • This is the foundation of all I believe. Without Jesus, I remain separated from the life God provides.
  • I believe the life God provides is His Spirit.
    • Somehow, His Spirit is infused into our created being when we choose to acknowledge Jesus as God and his ways as the only good way to live.
    • His Spirit is eternal. Without His Spirit, we are not eternal beings.
    • His Spirit in us allows us to communicate with him.

Now, why I believe…

  • After doubting God’s existence for about six years, all doubt vanished without any human explanation and without my determination in the midst of a very simple prayer “God if you are real, take away my doubts.”
  • God speaks to me. When I follow what I hear from God, it works. Even the things that go against human reasoning or have no external prompting through circumstances.
  • Teachings of Jesus in the Bible give meaning to all of life
  • I have experienced unexplainable sense of love, compassion, awe, and power in both good and bad times.
  • I have experienced physical manifestations of the gift of healing and word of knowledge.
  • If Jesus is just a person, life is about me being good enough. I am not good enough to be of significant value to life.
  • If God does not exist, I have no reason to exist and no reason to get excited at the sight of a newborn child coming into a world full of cruelty and heartache.
  • If God does not have a perfect infallible plan for all creation, it is cruel to have children and continue the human race.
  • There is an indescribable sense of unity when I am around others who have the Spirit of God in them. And this is not just at church – I’ve experienced it most with cashiers at the grocery store and nothing of Jesus has to be said for this sense to be present. I have confirmed it many times.
  • I have witnessed demonic deliverance.
  • I have felt the darkness and oppression of the demonic.
  • I have felt the love of God for the world that goes beyond my ability to stir up.
  • I have felt the joy of hope in God’s ultimate plan of redemption and life without evil
  • I felt God’s compassion when our son was stillborn
  • I had a conversation with God as the words of scripture were coming out of my mouth
  • I have felt God’s pleasure when I have completely depended on him to work through me – most significantly when I speak to an audience. This is not the same as a sense of accomplishment or pride. It is a very humble feeling.
  • I have been used by God to encourage and teach about him when I was in the midst of depression
  • I have seen bad situations work out for good
  • I look back and see where God protected me and guided me even when I was not seeking or listening to him
  • I know the sense of emptiness when I attempt to live with purpose apart from seeking God’s will.

Your turn! Write your list. Feel free to share one or two of your reasons to continue to believe in comments. May your list lead to worship and a greater love for Jesus.

If you blog your list, put a link to your blog in the comments and if you add a link to my blog in your blog then more can see who Jesus is. 🙂

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This week, I watched online the Exponential 2013 Conference for Church Planters. Outstanding stuff in many ways. For me personally, it was God revealing that the ideas and desires I have been wrestling with are from him.

This conference along with other recent encounters has moved me from wanting to “plant a church” back to my original passion of encountering those who don’t yet know of the really good news of Jesus Christ and showing that HE and HE alone is what makes life worth living.

I want to watch Jesus build his church as I just let him overflow through me – the good, the bad and the ugly. My life is not always full of joy and peace and love but when I return my focus to Jesus, even the ugly stuff eventually has purpose.

The conference was called DiscipleShift. Here are the Shifts addressed:

Shift 1 – From Reaching to Making
DiscipleShift occurs when church leaders move away from only reaching people and toward relational disciple making that apprentices people in the ways of Jesus.

Shift 2 – From Teaching to Modeling (from Leading to being Led)
DiscipleShift occurs when church leaders move away from leading and toward being led by Jesus. Because leaders reproduce who they are, if we want to make strong, mature disciples, then we as leaders must first be strong, mature disciples.

Shift 3 – From Attending to Participating
DiscipleShift occurs when church leaders shift their role from teaching to modeling, making disciples like Jesus did. Jesus strategy for influencing the world was apprenticing and equipping 12 disciples as He modeled faith, service and leadership and then commission these disciples to do the same with their lives.

Shift 4 – From Connecting to Transforming
DiscipleShift occurs when we as leaders move away from assimilating people into programs and move toward creating missional communities. Communities created around a cause foster environments of encouragement, accountability and risk taking where disciple making happens best.

Shift 5 – From Attracting to Deploying
DiscipleShift occurs when leaders shift their focus from drawing in masses of people to leading churches who send equipped Christ followers to the masses. Our scorecards must change from simply counting the number of people we attract to counting the number of people we deploy.

Amen and amen!

Digital Access Pass – Exponential 2013 – Advance Purchase

  • $49 ($69 after April 30)

Digital Access Pass gives you access to download the content from all 10 main webcast sessions at Exponential 2013. This includes the talks by 25 different speakers, creative videos used in the sessions, and special backstage interviews.

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