Friday, December 17, 2010

Conformed to Transformed:Christ-minded on Purpose

...the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. ~ John 14:26, NIV

Christ-conscious instead of self-conscious, Christ-minded instead of flesh-minded -- this has become the desire of my heart.  I am impoverished, unable to make this my reality.  Thankfully, this desire originated from God.  He has promised that the Spirit, who lives within me, will bring Christ's words to my mind.  Though I am powerless to change myself, I do have a role -- I must read, meditate on and memorize God's words.  I must make a deliberate choice to believe His thoughts over my own thoughts.

In every moment, in every situation, I have a choice: will I believe what God says or will I believe what my flesh says?

For the majority of my adult life, I have struggled with illness.  Because of this, I have often felt like my life was void of significant purpose.  These thoughts were untrue, but I believed them -- allowing them to rule my mind and crush my spirit.  Through time in God's Word and answered pleas for understanding, my outlook was adjusted; the Spirit helped me discern God's thoughts on the situation and flesh-minded was replaced with Christ-minded.

Am I still taunted by these flesh-minded thoughts?  Absolutely.  But the Spirit has shown me what is true. Each time these thoughts taunt, I can choose to believe what He has revealed to me instead of the fleshly thoughts that desire to defeat me.


Below are some of the flesh-minded thoughts that have deceived me along with the Christ-minded thoughts that have freed me:

Flesh-minded Thought:
"Some days I am too weak to even do the small things around my house, perhaps the Lord has put me on the shelf...perhaps He no longer desires to use me."

Christ-minded Thought:
...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

Flesh-minded Thought:
"Because I do not have a big life, my life lacks purpose."

Christ-minded Thoughts:
"We are meant to be...the common stuff of ordinary life exhibiting the marvel of the grace of God." ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. ~Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB)

Flesh-minded Thought:
"My day-to-day is filled with the mundane. I have such a small life; my life is lacking in value."

Christ-minded Thoughts:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." ~I Peter 2:9 (NIV)

"As we surrender every moment to our loving Lord, even the most mundane task is marked by the musical accompaniment of His pleasure." ~CDS


"Add to the Beauty", by Sara Groves, is one of my favorite songs.  The first verse and chorus of this song says:

~We come with beautiful secrets.  We come with purpose that's written on our hearts,
written on our souls.  We come to every new morning with possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold. Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces, calling out the best of who we are...and I want to add to the beauty, I want to tell a better story, shine with the light that's burning up inside~

I cannot think of a more beautiful way to honor the Lord this Christmas -- and every day -- than by surrendering to what He desires for my life, beginning with my very thoughts.  As I do, the beauty that He has in store for me will be revealed and the possibilities that only I can hold will become reality.

May your Christmas celebration be filled with His beauty~

From time to time in the next weeks and months, I will continue this Conformed to Transformed Series, sharing the Christ-minded thoughts that are little by little, moment by moment, replacing my flesh-minded thoughts.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Conformed to Transformed, Part III

The definitions of our life are manifested through our actions – this includes our reactions. The foundation of our expectations is betrayed by how we respond to the hurts and disappointments of this life. Are our expectations grounded in truth or are they motivated by a desire for our own way? Are we consistently coveting a different scenario than the one that God has allowed in our life? Though our covetous flesh will not die graciously, God’s gracious provision of truth can conquer our selfish motivations.

II Peter 1:3-4 tells us that the divine power of God, through Jesus Christ, “…has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” (NASB)

A life built upon the deception of self-gratification is a life conformed to the world, but a life built upon the true knowledge of God is a transformed life.

As we fill our minds with truth, the definitions of our life -- our very belief-structure -- will be rebuilt. To say our belief-structure is being rebuilt is another way of describing the renewal of our minds. The rebuilding of our belief-structure (renewing of our minds) is the practical process of realigning our thoughts with God’s truth.

Realigning ourselves with God’s truth is a constant process. The moment our expectations show any sign of covetousness, we must realign ourselves with the truth of God’s Word. If we are consistently in God’s Word, the Spirit will begin to bring truth to our minds, but these moments will be equally filled with the bombardment of self-gratifying and self-defending thoughts. It is right then that we need to stop and realign ourselves with God’s truth.

Proverbs 3:5-6 is a perfect outline to help with the realigning process, it says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (NASB)

I cannot tell you how much these verses have helped me.  As a child, I memorized these verses. I know them as well as my own name, but they have not always impacted me as they do now.  When the phrase in all your ways acknowledge Him really sunk into my heart, it changed everything for me.  A light bulb went off in my head:  In order to acknowledge God above my own understanding, my feelings, emotions, expectations, motivations, and intuitions need to be realigned with God's truth.

II Corinthians 10:5 describes the realigning process in a powerful way.  It says that "arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God" need to be demolished and every thought needs to be taken captive that it might be obedient to Christ.

To acknowledge God above my own understanding is not a natural inclination, it is a deliberate action.

The first step toward realignment is to recognize thoughts that are not based upon God's truth.  Am I coveting a different scenario than the one God has allowed?  What is fueling my actions and reactions, fleshly expectations and motivations or God's truth?   As soon as a faulty thought process is recognized, admit that in this moment, your path, or thought, is not straight; it is filled with distraction and deception rather than being focused on truth.

The second step is to ask Christ to be your support; tell Him that you do not want your own understanding, emotions or feelings to be your source of support. Ask the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul to help you trust Him.

Finally, acknowledge God’s truth and dwell on His character. Allow yourself to praise Him, not only for who He is, but also for what He is going to do through you. Speak His Word to yourself and to Him.

For instance, when someone has done or said something hurtful, my automatic reaction is not one of love and understanding.  I want to defend myself.  Sometimes, I pull away, shrinking inside myself rather than reaching out in kindness.  Other times, I want to lash out and say something hurtful in return.  But I have come to understand that the Lord wants me to stop and allow Him to take control of my thoughts so that He can reign in my actions.  I am learning to stop and talk to Him before I render any kind of response.

I will often pray something like this: Lord, I know that your Word says that your plans for me are good, but right now this situation hurts – it feels evil – yet, I know that even when others mean something as evil, your intentions toward me are good. You are faithful. I, too, want to be faithful to you. I want your beauty and faithfulness to be on display rather than my selfishness. I trust what you have allowed. I know that this situation is an opportunity to portray truth. You are my Lord and I bow to what you desire to do in and through me. May your truth reign in me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

No matter the scenario, as soon as I surrender my thoughts to Christ, submitting to His truth over my own way, my focus is shifted and the bombardment of the moment begins to diminish. By acknowledging God’s way as the only right way, I am declaring the Lordship and authority of Christ over my heart. Self-preservation is no longer my objective; rather my aim is that Christ's truth be evidenced through my life.

Though this realigning process is constant and deliberate, it is not about perfection. Perfection is not the goal, nor is it attainable on this earth. Realignment is about Christ-mindedness which produces Christ-likeness.

When God-appointed words flow from my lips, when forgiveness is freely given, when grace is offered instead of judgment, when joy and praise fill my heart though illness overtakes my body -- this is glorious transformation.  Though I have done nothing to deserve such a priceless inheritance, in Christ, it is mine.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Conformed to Transformed, Part II

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is
sinking sand. (Edward Mote and William B. Bradbury, The Solid Rock, Public Domain).

When I began reading God's Word to understand Him, I was asking Him to define Himself to me.  Instead of coming to His Word with my own expectations and definitions, I came to His Word with nothing.  Nothing but a heart that wanted to understand, that wanted to be changed, that wanted to know Him.

Up to that point, my life had been built on an unstable foundation.  It was unstable because it was built on a belief system that was not totally based on God's truth.  I had come to my own conclusions about God, about how He should do things in my life.  Because of this, much of my life was built on misconception, thus on sinking sand.  My life needed to be built, as the song says, on "nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness".

I recognized how much I needed God, but solitary recognition of my own poverty of spirit was not enough.  My spirit wanted to be controlled by God's Spirit, my flesh did not.

The flesh, striving for control, coddles our feelings and strokes our pride.   The flesh flaunts assets, virtues and ideas, telling us that we are self-sufficient, that we are good, that we need to live for ourselves.  But God alone is good, there is nothing good within us.  Once we are in Christ, our life is not our own.  The voice of our flesh should not be our guide, but when we live for our own definitions and expectations, our flesh is our guide.  Recognition of faulty definitions and expectations is a necessary starting point, but we must go a step further: our definitions need to be replaced with God's definitions.

Romans 12:2 says: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." (NIV)   We are conformed to whatever we believe.  What we believe shapes us, defines us.

Our flesh is conformed to the pattern of the world, it is built on the foundation of sin and self-gratification.  Our fleshly instinct is service to the flesh, but because we are in Christ, we no longer have to fear or serve the flesh.  The Spirit will enable us to live in His power and deny the flesh.  Yet we must understand that the flesh will not die graciously, it does not want to surrender power.  The flesh will constantly try to raise the scepter of its power and get back its control. In order for the Spirit to rule our flesh, we must conform (align ourselves) to God's truth instead of our own fleshly definitions and instincts.  Every definition of our life must be built on "nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness."

More than anything, I want to be controlled by God's Spirit.  As I believe God over my own feelings, emotions and expectations, my mind is slowly but surely being renewed: flesh-minded is becoming Christ-minded.

Part III will soon follow...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Conformed to Transformed, Part I

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.  ~Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV)

To many, the Bible is seen as a bunch of rules and regulations and the Christian life about following those rules and regulations.  When in reality, the Bible is a description of who God is and what He desires to do for anyone who would believe Him.  The Christian life is not about rules and regulations but about relationship with a loving and just God.  God pursues man that He might give something to him which will fulfill and transform -- Himself.

I have known God since the age of 5, at which time I accepted the gift of redemption offered by Him through His Son.  I have no memory of life without God.  I memorized His Word, but did not always understand His Word.  I desired to serve the Lord, but did not always know what that meant.  I read God's Word but, when it came to meaning, I usually accepted the explanations of others.

I did have a relationship with God.  I talked to Him.  In so many ways, I trusted Him.  He was everything to me, yet I did not realize that He was everything to me on my own terms.  My life was about what I could give to Him, about doing for Him -- and then, due to illness, it came to the point that there was nothing I could do for Him.  I had nothing to offer, no strength, no ability, nothing...and I was broken.  Lonely. Scared. Confused.  Disillusioned.  I was filled with doubt, filled with questions.  Who was this God who allowed extended times of physical, emotional and material loss without any sign of relief?

Like Jacob, I struggled with God. (Genesis 32:22-31)  Though I was scared, confused and disillusioned, I kept crying out to God, kept holding on to Him.  I began reading His Word to understand Him.  Little by little, focus was shifted from my circumstances to the One who wanted me to know Him.  The eyes of my heart were opened to the unseen, to the eternal.  For the first time in my life I realized that I never had anything to offer God, there was nothing I could give to Him, nothing that He needed from me.  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3 NIV)

As I adhered to God, as I sought Him as the only Source for life and godliness, my heart was truly ready for both fulfillment and transformation.

Part II will soon follow...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Master Treasure Hunter

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ... Philippians 3:7-8 (NASB)

I love watching Antiques Roadshow. To me, it is exciting to see what people find at garage sales and flea markets. I laugh with them as they find out that their $2.00 find is actually worth $2,000. They found treasure! In one way or another, all of us are treasure hunters. It is a thrill to pay next to nothing for an item that is really worth something. But sometimes the thrill of treasure hunting taints our outlook. When we find that we can get something for almost nothing, we begin to think that greater effort or investment should bring a higher margin of reward. Pretty soon, we begin to apply this outlook to every part of our lives, even our service to Christ. We tithe - we expect God to increase what we have. We sacrifice our time - we feel that God should reward us for our sacrifice. We expect our service to reap dividends of blessing and for the most part, the blessings being sought are material and physical.

In Job 8:5, in the midst of Job's intense suffering, Bildad said these words to him: "...if you pray to God and seek the favor of the Almighty, if you are pure and live with complete integrity, he will rise up and restore your happy home."(NLT) Bildad felt that if Job was really serving God and doing what He desired then Job would not know his current suffering. In his own way, Bildad was a treasure hunter. He expected godly living to reap material benefit. How much do our expectations line up with a Bildad-view of blessing? In some ways, do we want the material and physical reward so that others will see it and say that our life is blessed? Or, do we just think that we deserve material and physical reward? Is material reward the only thing that makes service to Christ worth it?

If our focus is on external benefit -- in suffering: release, in sacrifice: reward, in ministry: praise -- then our service is to ourselves. Such a description does not define a bond-servant or true friend of Christ.

Philippians 3:7-8 shows us that Paul did not agree with Bildad's outlook. Paul had known the deepest of suffering and yet he did not see this suffering as a lack of blessing. On the contrary, he saw the suffering itself as blessing. Why? Because he entrusted his entire life to God. He knew that anything that God allowed in his life was to bring about the greatest of treasure: deeper relationship with Christ which would enable him to be made into the image of Christ. Yes, Paul was a treasure hunter, but his treasure was not financial gain, physical blessing or release from suffering, Paul's treasure was Jesus Christ -- his greatest pursuit was to know Christ more.

External reward will deteriorate, but true friendship with Christ is an eternal treasure which will never depreciate. Paul, like any good treasure hunter, knew that consistent appreciation is the most coveted characteristic in treasure. Actually, Paul was not just a good treasure hunter, he was a Master treasure hunter. He sought the lasting treasure of his Master, Jesus Christ.

~Lord, you know I love a good bargain. I want to be a good steward of all that you have given me, but I do not want to look for external treasures at the expense of eternal treasures. May lasting treasure be the focus of my life. I want to be a Master treasure hunter. In Jesus' Name, Amen~

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Words Fitly Spoken

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
~Proverbs 25:11 (KJV)

In the third testament, Malcolm Muggeridge says of Saint Augustine: "Augustine was so aware of the universality of God's love and presence that he could easily communicate with all sorts and conditions of men."

This statement gives hope, for I desire to easily communicate with all sorts and conditions of men. I realize that my faith in God's love, His working out His will in me and my yielding to it, is the vehicle by which this becomes a reality. Faith in God's love - a love that has no evil in it, a love that will go to any length to make me like His Son - is the prompt of His leading in both word and deed.

Such faith in God's love produces an abundance that fulfills and stimulates a thirst for more of everything that God desires to bestow. This thirst (seeking) for more of God's abundance is what Mark 9:50 refers to when it says, "Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other." Salt in yourselves is a constant desire for righteousness, a consistent thirst for more of Christ.

This thirst for more of Christ will have an impact on every moment, word and deed of your life, for yielded lives are Christ-empowered lives. Your saltiness, or thirst for Christ, will impact others. To some, it will be a source of thirst, leading them to thirst for Christ (or thirst more for Christ). For others, such saltiness will repel, yet seeds of salt will be planted.

Words fitly spoken -- words suited for every occasion (for all sorts and conditions of men) -- result from yielded, salty, lives. Christ knows the words which need to be spoken. As we trust Him and surrender mind and heart to His full command, we become salt-dispensers and His salty words of life are spoken through us.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


...it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ... ~I Peter 1: 18

I have been redeemed by the incorruptible blood of Christ to an incorruptible inheritance which makes possible an incorruptible faith so that I may serve an incorruptible King. One day, I will have an incorruptible body and lay an incorruptible crown at my King's feet. This is glorious and incorruptible truth, all revealed and activated through the incorruptible, eternal Word of God.
(I Peter 1:4-7, 23; I Timothy 1:17; I Corinthians 15:53;
I Corinthians 9:25)

Today, I cannot get away from the wonder of the incorruptible. Because I was born with a corruptible body and live in a corruptible world, it is hard to fathom the incorruptible...yet because of God's grace, I can know and live for the incorruptible!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sandpaper Situations

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. ~Hebrews 12:13-14 (NIV)

The admonishment from these verses reverberates within me. God gently says to me, "Crysta, child whom I love and desire to transform, get over yourself so that My grace can be expressed through you."

I have always had a strong sense of justice. I do not want others to be hurt or mistreated. I empathize with the pain of others and deeply grieve when I have been the cause of pain. But all too often, my sense of justice has been spent on myself: A threat is perceived, hurtful words are hurled, disrespectful treatment catches me by surprise and every nerve in my body cries for justice. Thoughts of defense and protection come to my mind, my feelings and emotions demand that I take up the fight against flesh and blood. Ephesians 6:12 tells me that my fight is not against flesh and blood, so why does my flesh cry out for a roll-in-the-mud, let's-settle-this-now, flesh-and-blood fight?

James 4:1-3 asks this same question and gives a very powerful answer: What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn't it the whole army of evil desires that war within you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have and you can't possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. (NLT)

Basically, when my flesh rises to take on a fight with flesh and blood, it is because I didn't get what I wanted. I coveted something different than what I was given. I wanted a different scenario. I was offered unkindness, I coveted kindness. I was ignored, I coveted attention. I was interrupted, I coveted respect. I looked at the situation, the hurt, the insult and said, "This is not just treatment." At this point, whether I recognized it or not, I took my eyes off of God's truth and God's way and wanted my own way. My heart, which a moment before was yielded to God, stood up in rebellion against this slight of injustice which God had allowed.

Is God unable to work for good in me or in this situation? Is God too weak to enable me to respond in service and kindness? Is this person too difficult for God to show mercy? To all three, the answer is No. Flesh and blood may have meant that hurt or insult for evil, but God, in His foreknowledge, meant it for good.

The hurts and insults that come into my days are sandpaper situations. In order to buff out the rough edges of self, these sandpaper situations are lovingly used by God so that Christ's beauty may smoothly flow from my life. When the pain of the sandpaper is at its greatest, the rough edges of self are the most predominant. When self has found its proper place of anonymity, the sandpaper slides smoothly across my soul producing greater reliance on the Giver of all good things.

In Genesis 4:3-5, Cain faced a sandpaper situation. Both Cain and Abel brought offerings to the Lord. Cain offered some of the fruits of his garden. Abel offered the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked on Abel's offering with favor, but He did not look on Cain's offering with this same favor. So enters the sandpaper. Cain wanted his own way AND recognition for his offering. He coveted the favor given to Abel. Instead of seeking to do what was right, he became angry because he did not receive what he coveted.

The Lord talked with Cain and admonished him, saying: "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:6, NIV)

Cain did not listen to the Lord's admonishment, instead he allowed sin to master him. As a result, he killed Abel - his own brother. Cain could not have two masters. He chose the master of sin over the Master of love.

The warning given to Cain rings in my own ears, yet God's mercy and offered grace beckons even louder. God will give me the grace and strength to stand against my own selfishness and covetousness, but I must submit to Him and resist Satan, the master of sin. God must be my only Master. (II Corinthians 10:3-5, II Corinthians 12:9-10, Hebrews 4:14-16, James 4:6-8)

The temptation to fight against flesh and blood is crouching at my door. Wanting the comfort of my own way, my soul will attempt to resist the sandpaper of submission and transformation, but grace...Grace reminds me that I have been bought with a price and my life is not my own.

I am graced to grace others. I am set apart to be a vessel of grace. The question is, will I get over myself and submit to the Sander and Lover of my soul that His grace can be expressed through me?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kingdom Postcards

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments...are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. ~Deuternonomy 6:5-7

Jesus told His disciples, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field..." (Matthew 13:31) A mustard seed. Small. Not eye-catching or newsworthy. Yet place a mustard seed in the hands of Jesus Christ and it became an opportunity to share Truth. Jesus saw everything in multiple dimensions: He viewed the seen and the unseen. A mustard seed not only had interesting physical properties, it also had spiritual applications. That little mustard seed could be used to teach the disciples about faith or to shed light on characteristics of the Kingdom of Heaven. That little mustard seed contained snapshots of Truth.

In the designs of the universe and the laws of nature, in our day-to-day occurrences, in the seemingly mundane, there are unlimited instances to view snapshots of Truth. Buried all around us, illustrations of the eternal and unseen are waiting to be unearthed by discerning hearts.

Psalm 51:6 says that God, who desires Truth in my inner parts, will teach me wisdom in my inmost places. When God's Truth seizes my heart, when it envelopes my hidden places, that same Truth will overflow from my life. God's Truth will transform my thoughts and grace my words. God's Truth will also enhance my vision, causing everyday circumstances and surroundings to metamorphose into Kingdom Postcards: pictures that increase understanding of and longing for God and His Kingdom, pictures that help me communicate His Truth to others.

The Truth that I put into my heart will affect everything that I see and everyone which I encounter -- When I sit at home or walk along the road, when I lie down and when I get up, this world that is not my home will give me glimpses, postcards, of the World for which I was made, and the One for whom my heart beats will incite occasions for me to share these Kingdom Postcards with each soul that He places into my life.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thirst-Provoking Provision

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. ~Psalm 42:1-2a

The Lord has begun to widen my imaginations. The inception of this widening was sparked as I pondered on Matthew 6:33 and all the implications involved when considering the truth and precision of God's daily provision. I began to think about the days when I feel so wiped out, when my energy is truly depleted: in the past, I have just accepted these days. A true level of contentment has been mine because I trust God's goodness and I believe that He would not bring a time of pain or struggle unless there was purpose, a goodness that would blossom from such pain or struggle.

Yet, somewhere in my mind, I think I still considered these days of depleted energy to be days that contained a lack of something that was needed. I understand that God is always going to provide my greatest need and I believe that He is my greatest need...I want the provision of Him, but somehow my mentality was to still see illness and weakness as lack. Is it possible that illness is part of the provision? Could it be that what this perceived lack will bring about in and through me is exactly what I need, thus making the illness or weakness part of the provision?

I have come to believe that though I can rest in exactly what is provided for each day, there are times when I will not understand what God has provided, times when His provision will not be clearly seen. It is in those times that He wants me to seek Him more, seek to understand the provision, and trust that even when I do not come to a complete understanding of what is provided, I can rest in the knowledge that He is true to His promise and has provided precisely what is needed.

The Lord is rearranging my perspective, showing me that where He reigns supreme there is no lack -- there may be an expected comfort that is not present in my life, but this does not constitute lack. Whatever the Lord provides, this is truly what is needed. True lack is to cease seeking after God.

Oswald Chambers says, "If you ask for things from life instead of from God, you ask amiss, you ask from a desire for self-realization. The more you realize yourself the less you will seek God." Basically Chambers is saying, the one interest that should mark my life is a hard seeking after God. Whatever will cause me to know God more, whatever enhances my desire for Him, this is what I need. That is the essence of Matthew 5:6- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled. Whatever causes me to thirst more for God - be it illness, weakness, struggle, bounty, grace, beauty, love - is part of the blessing and is the grandest form of provision for it will result in sweet satisfaction of the soul.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Load Off My Mind

Your heavenly Father knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. ~Matthew 6:32b-33~ (NLT)

I am a compiler of lists: to-do lists, grocery lists, lists of needs, lists of dreams -- and to my husband's chagrin, I have also been known to assemble very detailed honey-do lists.

In the last month, my to-do list has been quite long. There have been moments when a glimpse of the list would cause tears to well up in my eyes; the demands seemed to be more than I could wrap my mind around. Overwhelmed, wondering if my body would physically hold up under these growing demands, I poured out my burden and concern to the Lord. He first quieted my heart, and then He encouraged me with the truth of Matthew 6:33: Seek Me first and all that you need from day to day will be provided.

As my heart undividedly focuses on the Lord and His desires, not only will He provide the food and clothes needed for each day, He will also provide the strength and wisdom needed for each day. Though He will use today to prepare me for what will arise tomorrow, He will not provide tomorrow's strength today. Today, He will provide precisely what is needed for this day. He gives exactly what is needed exactly when it is needed. Tomorrow will have new cares and demands. The strength and wisdom needed for tomorrow's cares will be given tomorrow.

Seek Him first and everything needed from day to day will be provided -- this is a promise. I can rest in what is provided for today (knowing that it will be no more and no less than what is needed -- it will be exactly right), and I can rest knowing that, beautifully, tomorrow will also be marked by this same provision.

Even when my lists feel insurmountable, they are never bigger than my God. When my lists do feel insurmountable, I have come to realize that this is either because I am expecting provision that is not necessary for today or I am not surrendering my day, and my list, to the Lord.

When my list is surrendered to the Lord, when I am trusting Him to decide what really needs to be checked off of today's list, then I can rest assured that any and everything that truly needs to be accomplished will be accomplished -- and that is definitely a load off my mind (and heart!).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Vast Is His Love

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son...He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed...It was about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last...Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices so that they might go to annoint Jesus' body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?" But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen. He is not here."...God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him...And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever...For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him...Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. (Isaiah 53:3-5, Luke 23:44-46, Mark 16:1-8, Acts 2:24, Isaiah 9:6b-7, John 3:16-17, Isaiah 12:5)

How vast the depth and richness of this Love! This Love went to the edge, to the very extreme, that I could know Him. To save me, Love was willing to pay the ultimate price. What alteration Love experienced that I might know true change; what loss He endured that I might become a partaker of His inheritance! Words are insufficient, none are lovely or worthy enough to describe such a Love. I am enraptured by this Love. O, Love, that will not let me go, my cup runneth over~

Monday, March 8, 2010


You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being. ~ Revelation 4:11~

Praise is not only the song of rejoicing, it is also the song of surrender. Today, this thought filled my heart and mind as I read the words of Revelation 4:11. Praise is recognition of who God is and what He has done. My Lord is always deserving of praise. Though my circumstances may change, He never changes. He is ever worthy to receive glory and honor.

My words of praise are too easily depleted by unexpected circumstances and uncertain outcomes. Yet praise should not be determined by my circumstances, rather praise should be an overflow of my unwavering conviction that God is everything that He says He is and does all things exactly as they should be done.

In the midst of disappointment and distraction, if I will take a moment to recognize the character, attributes and promises of God, my focus will be shifted toward praise. With that moment of proper recognition, my attention is also put in the proper place: dwelling on my situation is transformed into meditating on the One who is in control of that situation.

There are so many things vying for my attention, wanting to rule and guide in my thought processes, but only God can bring order and organization to my thoughts. My mood and outlook can be radically changed by taking only a minute to acknowledge the Lord; that minute will affect the next minute, and thus the foundation is laid for a cycle of praise.

David Jeremiah says, "The best way to be fluent in the language of praise in heaven is to begin practicing here on earth". Praise is a language which needs no translator, it transcends nation, tribe and tongue. I want to be fluent in this language. I want to bring pure praise to the One who has given me true life. So, right now, in this minute, I will begin practicing this song of rejoicing and surrender. May the jingle of its tune take such a hold that I will not be able to get it out of my thoughts.

~Lord, you are worthy of all my praise; may every breath I breathe be a breath of surrender, a breath of acknowledgement that you alone reign, you alone perform good work. There is no other like you -- You are I AM, the First and the Last, Creator, Provider, Savior, Redeemer -- You alone do all things well. I praise you~

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nothing Wasted, Part II

As I see loss through the lens of God's love, I realize that not only does God want to transform me through loss, He also wants to comfort me in loss. II Corinthians 1:3-4a says, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles. In loss and pain, the Lord longs to comfort and strengthen us. Beautifully, the comfort that He brings to us in our loss and the lessons which He teaches us through loss can also be recycled so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (II Corinthians 1:4b-5)

Yes, the sufferings of Christ will touch our lives, for on the cross He took upon Himself every sin that had or would touch this world; along with that sin came all the accompanying loss and pain. Words are inadequate to describe the burden that He willingly undertook that we might know a lighter burden. Christ allowed Himself to be yoked to sin that we could know a yoke of love.

Though Christ took on this yoke of sin, the yoke of love and truth which He and the Father shared was stronger than that yoke of sin. This yoke of love and truth was Christ's comfort, and this is the same comfort that He offers to us. As we trust His love, we are comforted in our loss -- and the comfort that we experience is recycled through us to bring comfort to others.

Just as in the physical realm, where a flower must die to bring about new life, so it is in the spiritual realm. In John 12:24-25 Jesus tells us: ...unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Where there is loss, there are manifold purposes for that loss to be recycled into abundant fruit. In order for this recycling process to take place, we must surrender our own way. We must die to the familiar and expected that new life may spring forth. With new life comes a new song: a song from which comfort and encouragement will overflow into the lives of others.

Any loss surrendered to the Lord will bring about transformation that will last for eternity. So until Christ returns, and the ultimate recycling of body and soul is known: trust the Lord's love, surrender to be recycled through loss, because you know that nothing He allows, nothing He does in or through you is ever wasted.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. ~Psalm 40:1-3~

Monday, February 15, 2010

Nothing Wasted, Part I

Walk as children of light: (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness, and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord...walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil. ~Ephesians 5: 8b-10, 15, 16~

Our world is filled with ideas and designs, yet there is not a single idea or design which originated with man. God created. Man, inspired by His creation, imitates. This is seen not only in things that are designed, built or produced, but also in the way that man views this world. The farther man strays from God's truth, the more his worldview becomes distorted; nevertheless, every idea originated with God.

Take for example the idea of recycling. We see the concept of recycling throughout creation: a flower dies but its seeds fall to the ground and another flower springs up from those seeds. But it is not only in nature that such recycling is seen, the pattern of recycling is a spiritual concept as well as a physical. In the language of Scripture, the idea of recycling is termed redemption -- the Lord redeems broken hearts, lives and bodies. He restores by transforming loss into life.

God never wastes anything. What He allows to touch my life in this moment is to prepare, re-shape and provide for what will arise in the next moment. There is depth and design to all that God has created as well as to what He permits His creation to encounter. He is not bound by time, but He ordained the laws of time. While outside of time, He prepares us for what will come in time, and all who surrender to be shaped within the realm of time are redeeming that time for eternity.

In other words, as I surrender to God's will being done in this realm (of time) as it is done in Heaven, time is being redeemed. With such knowledge, my understanding of loss is transformed. I can face any loss with an assurance that it is wrought with multi-faceted purposes of redemption. Some fruits of the Lord's recycling handiwork will not be seen on this side of eternity, but others will be clearly seen. In fact, there are specific recycling promises throughout God's Word.

With any form of suffering or trial there is some sort of loss. The thought of rejoicing in the midst of our losses is foreign to our desires, but Romans 5:3-5 explains tht the Lord's promise of recycling is a good reason to rejoice: because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given to us.

As I surrender to the losses which God allows, each loss will be recycled to enable the Spirit's fruit to blossom from my life...specific loss producing specific fruit; fruit that is essential for tomorrow, fruit that will endure when the pain of loss has faded and fruit which evokes hope, causing me to see loss through the lens of God's love.

Part II will soon follow...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Unshakeable; Indelible, Part II

In Matthew 7:26-27, Jesus relays an example of a kingdom that is shaken: ...everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house, and it fell with a great crash. Thankfully, Jesus also gives an example of a kingdom that cannot be shaken: ...everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-25)

When I build my belief structure on anything other than truth, my very foundation will crumble and I will be shaken...but if I am believing truth, I will be able to solidly stand in the midst of any storm.

This sounds pretty simple, but in actuality it is a process which requires a willingness to submit to the truth of God in every moment of every day. In every thought I must acknowledge the Lord...I must press on to acknowledge the Lord in all my thoughts. As I build my life, thought by thought, on truth, as truth is invested into every part of my imaginations, the rains of pain and struggle will not be able to shake me...the winds of doubt and speculation will not be able to shake me.

To believe God's truth over my own feelings, emotions and imaginations, to trust God's Word and character, even when what He allows brings pain, loss or disappointment, this is to be single-minded. To be single-minded is to be unshakeable.

In Psalm 26:1b-3 David says, I have trusted the Lord without wavering. Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I will walk continually in your truth.

If I am continually walking in truth, building every part of my life on truth, my focus becomes Jesus, the Author and Perfector of faith. As I am grounded in His truth, His love is ever before me, captivating me. As a result, spiritual thoughts are combined with spiritual words, and the mind of Christ is expressed through me. (Hosea 6:3; Colossians 2:6-7; I Corinthians 2:10-16) What could be more significant than having the mind of the very Word of God expressed through my life? Only Truth reaps eternal rewards...Truth alone can produce an unshakeable kingdom, an indelible mark...and I am convinced that nothing has greater significance or value.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Unshakeable; Indelible, Part I

Hebrews 12:28...since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe...

As I have grown in my understanding of God and His Word, one thing has become a real certainty in my mind: anything that is of God cannot be shaken, what is born of Him will remain.

Psalm 15: 1-2, 5b says:
Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart...he who does these things will never be shaken.

It is only through Christ that one may dwell in the sanctuary of God...and it is only through Christ that a blameless and righteous life can be known by any man or woman. Because of Christ, the great High Priest, Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may find grace to help us in our time of need. As those in Christ approach the throne of grace, they will find grace to help in time of need...as they trust the Grace that is provided, they will not be shaken.

Kingdom power and Kingdom priorities cannot be shaken, for they proceed out of the solid foundation of the Rock of Truth, Jesus Christ. Luke 17:21 says that, "...the kingdom of God is within us." The moment Jesus Christ takes residence in a heart, the very kingdom of God is within that heart. Within every follower of Christ there is a kingdom that cannot be shaken...but only as we build every part of our lives on this Foundation will we know an implacable stance in the midst of any and every storm.

What amazing grace has been given...that we can come into the very presence of God with confidence...that He has granted a Way for us to be sure-footed despite the terrain...and yet how much time is wasted on crumbling foundations, on things that will not remain?

Deep within every man there is a longing to live a life of significance, but so often insignificant means are used to try to gain such significance -- this is a crumbling foundation, it is an attempt to make a mark on this world with a dry-erase marker.

Only Christ can make an indelible mark...He has made this indelible mark on my life...with His mark upon me, I cannot help but make a mark...but I have realized that any mark which my life makes is of little importance -- that His mark is seen, this is what truly matters, only this will make a difference.

I long for His mark to be projected through my life...I do not want my thoughts, my opinions, my speculations to be projected...I want His truth to be on display...but I must recognize that the mark which is projected through my life will be determined by the foundational ideas which are input into my mind/heart and which have become the structure of everything that I believe. The question is: does my belief structure enable Christ's mark to be clearly seen?

Part II will soon follow...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Will Hope Continually

~But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and of Your salvation all day long; for I do not know the sum of them. I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord God; I will make mention of your righteousness, Yours alone. ~Psalm 71:14-16~

As I write today, my mom is in a South African hospital with a fractured skull...I will hope continually in the Lord. My brother and his wife are giving great care to the needs of my mom, but they are exhausted from a whole host of demands which are vying for their energy and attention...I will hope continually in the Lord. I pray and support from a distance...I will hope continually in the Lord. Such an unexpected occurrence, so much is unknown...I will hope continually in the Lord...for this One that I know, He is enough. He is righteous. He is mighty to save. His grace and love has touched every part of this circumstance...there is no way to measure His acts of salvation, they reach beyond what my eyes can see, but they are perfect in their prescription and redemption. The hands of the Lord are loving, righteous, good and gracious; those I love are in His hands...He knows the number of hairs on their head, keeps their tears in a bottle...He would not allow this time of struggle and pain unless a greater good was on the other side...I will hope continually in the Lord.