Why The Name?

Hello My Name Is

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Why is it that the name of Jesus holds so much power?

Sitting in church this morning (1/15/17), I was thinking about this — that the name of Jesus itself holds so much power.  I considered: “Why?”

What is it about the name?

The name Jesus means Jehovah Saves.

No other name has or ever will be able to save anyone from their sins.  That’s the power of His name!

His name means release — freedom from all that entangles the soul and spirit and the sound of the clanking of shackles as they hit the ground…

His name means the sound of peace — peace that  transcends down into the soul and that has no contingency upon the things that surround its environment or circumstances.

His name is the sound of joy — sound that reverberates in sound waves from absolute release and ecstasy of spirit.

His name is the sound of death melting away and the explosion of “true” life!

His name is the full expression of the Father’s heart as seen in Jesus, the Son — the sound of absolute, unconditional love.

Philippians 2:9-11

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Acts 4:12

12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

When you study Jesus, you either hate Him because He is the diametric opposite of selfishness, greed, and pride (human nature) or you love Him because you see a heart of love that always seeks to give, heal, save, and restore.

What we often forget is that by knowing Jesus, we know the Father.

So often, God The Father is perceived as cold, removed, harsh, but in reality, Jesus reveals what the heart of God is like.  He is forgiving, healing, life-restoring, impartial, just, humble, truth-speaking, and willing to sacrifice His best for us!

John 14:7

The Father Revealed

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

John 14:9

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

John 8:9

Then they said to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”

John 10:38

38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe[a] that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”

John 16:3

And these things they will do to you[a] because they have not known the Father nor Me.

Luke 10:22

22 All[a] things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

Matthew 11:27

27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

As we consider the name of Jesus may we be challenged to examine what the name of Jesus means to us personally?

His name is the dividing ground because it reveals what’s in our hearts and forces us to make a choice.  It is a choice to identify with a name that never sought the popularity of public opinion nor to gratify selfish desires but who calls us to Himself.  He calls us to Himself in a way that means we need to let go of the self-motivating disguises for being religious or the self-serving reasons for turning away and following our own pursuits.

Jesus means we simply come as we are — in all of our brokenness and woundedness.  We leave it all behind — every sinful pleasure and every selfish ambition, and we enter into the life and inheritance, promised and fulfilled in Jesus!

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No Neutral!

roller coaster

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We often think we can live in neutral.  Neutral sounds safe.  It sounds free of risk and rejection.

The problem with neutral is that neutral isn’t neutral.

Neutral is coasting either uphill or downhill.  We can debate the mechanics of this and argue that if the grade is even then there is no movement.  The problem with this is that life isn’t even.

Ambivalence is my escape or pretend stance when I don’t want to make a choice — when the choices facing me are uncomfortable, and I feel trapped.  Ambivalence is a paltry excuse, but it really isn’t a legitimate explanation.  It’s the coward way.

We take the neutral stance when we want to avoid confrontation or uncomfortable decisions.

I grew up as a “people-pleaser.”  I majorly dislike confrontation.  I would rather avoid people and conversations that are going to go in an unpleasant direction.  Sometimes, that’s the wise thing to do.  If someone is contentious, there is no profit to arguing with them.

Sometimes being a “people-pleaser” means I avoid confrontation so much that I am avoiding myself — that I am avoiding being the person God wants me to be and not doing the things He wants me to do because they require risk and potential rejection. 

People-pleasers really aren’t about pleasing others; they are really about avoiding rejection.  They will avoid rejection — even if it means they avert erecting necessary boundaries in their lives.

I grew up among a group of people that stressed obedience and submission for children and women.  It was stressed so much that to assert our voices was assumed to be rebellion and an unsubmissive heart.  The truth is that view is suppression!

As a parent of five children, I am trying to find balance.  I want my kids to feel heard and valued.  I also want my kids to learn respect and honor.  It can be tough to find that middle ground.  …But I want my kids to feel valued and heard and at the same time be respectful and obedient.

Note: As a woman and wife, my opinions do matter, and my voice should be heard.  It’s a foolish husband who silences his wife and doesn’t listen to her wise cautions and insights.

In finding our voices, it is easy to fall into the trap of demanding we are heard, and that doesn’t produce positive results. 

I want to be a woman of dignity who knows when to establish healthy boundaries, who knows when to speak up and when to stay silent, who knows which battles/hills are worth “dying on,” and who is willing stand for truth, regardless of who is for or against her.

There is never a neutral though.  If you choose silence, it shouldn’t be out of intimidation or fear.  If you choose to walk from a conflict, it should be because you are establishing healthy boundaries and avoiding unhealthy interactions — not because you are being a coward.

It’s hard to be honest and truthfully evaluate why we avoid or engage in conflict. 

I have been doing a study on the book of Mark in the Bible.  It struck me powerfully that Jesus approaches people in such a manner that you can’t remain neutral about Him.

So often, we think we can be neutral about God too.  We don’t understand or don’t like the things we don’t understand about Him so we either avoid Him or try to change Him to fit our ideals.  We pretend He doesn’t exist, or we take the coward way and think we don’t need to make any decision about Him until He performs according to our demands (jumps through our hoops).

The problem is you can’t be neutral about God.

You are either for or against Him.

To not make a decision concerning God isn’t remaining neutral, it’s making the decision to not accept Him.  You can make that decision, but do you want to live with the full ramifications of that decision?  Is that a “hill you want to die on”?

In Mark 3, we see how various people and characters interacted with Jesus.  They were either pursuing Him, running from Him, or accusing Him.

I read the following quote in my CBS study guide:

Consider each of the groups who interact with Jesus in this lesson.  The crowds of people who converge upon Jesus and His disciples are not neutral; they identify, hate, and fear the Son of God.  The 12 men who are appointed by Jesus to be apostles are not neutral; they have given up everything to respond to His call.  Those who are close to Him in a familial way are not neutral; they doubt His sanity and attempt to halt His ministry.  The religious leaders are not neutral; they accuse Him of being possessed and empowered by Satan and seek to destroy His credibility.

As you observe Jesus Christ through Mark’s narrative, personal neutrality is not an option.  …“Whoever is not with Me is against Me.”  (Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23)

We might think we are being neutral when it comes to life, but we aren’t.  Your decisions and the way you live your life is either with/for God or against God.  To not move with God is to slow down and prevent His work in your life and in the lives of others that you influence. 

“Choose you this day whom you will serve…”

Joshua 24:15

15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

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“Do You Trust Me With Your Dreams?”

dreaming of

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I was struggling…  Life was pulling me in many directions, but my real struggle was with something greater — the root of my struggle.  I was trying, pushing myself, and oh so stressed!  I was trying to force something.  That something is my dreams.

Then, God and I had a talk.  Well, it was more like He spoke conviction into my heart, and I knew it was truth.  It was this penetrating question, “Do you trust me with your dreams?”

I knew then that was the struggle.  I was trying to force my dreams in my strength, my time, and my way.

God was asking me if I trusted Him enough with my dreams.  I then realized that was the issue.

That question helped me to recognize again that all of life comes down to one penetrating question, “Do you trust God?”  And the answer is almost always a definitive “no” if you don’t really know He loves you.

God then flooded my heart with so many reminders of His love, but the greatest one was the cross.  This is what He spoke to my heart, when I asked myself, “Do I trust Him/believe He loves me enough?”:

He spoke this to my heart: “Because I was willing to give my life for you.”  If He was willing to sacrifice everything, including His relationship with His perfect Abba Father and suffer the ultimate of all suffering for me, then I know.  I know He loves me enough.  He loves me enough for anything life might send my way.

The point is, dear ones, the problem is not with our faith — our faith in His power.  The problem is with our awareness of His love.  The truth is we often don’t really believe or comprehend His love for us.  We are still measuring it by the tragedies of our life, by the false earthly representations, and by the twisted thinking of those who claim to represent God.

What God spoke to my heart this morning was this:

As the parable of the father in the Prodigal Son, so He will always pursue me — no matter what I’ve done, always desiring to bring me back to Himself.  And with that, I whisper, “God, don’t ever stop pursuing me and bringing me back within the security and fullness of your Love.”

Wrote this to friends this morning:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgGUKWiw7Wk — And then I finally found Love — Love so perfect, so infinite, and I am reduced to an unashamed curtain of tears … to this overflowing, overwhelming awareness that I am “found,” “seen,” “heard,” and complete within Love. We all yearn for perfect, infinite Love… we want someone or something to truly know us and to truly love us within that vulnerability and transparency, allowing us to blossom within the security of unfathomable, immeasurable Love! Within the embrace of lavish love, my heart unfurls, and the fragrance, vibrancy, and life blooms!

My heart is coming unfurled.

I may be accused of being more emotional, but the truth is my heart is learning that it can be more vulnerable.  My heart is being allowed to feel more because I have found a “Safe Haven.”  I can “risk” my heart when I know there is truly no risk with God. 

How about you?

Do you trust God with your dreams? 

Do you trust Him with your heart?

This. Is. It!

Ray Of Light

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I love it when God removes the “blinders” and reveals truth to me!  The interesting thing is that often it’s truth I have known in my head but somehow didn’t really understand and/or believe it, meaning live it.

Remember, what you believe is what you live.

It’s interesting how “old truth” suddenly becomes “new truth” when you finally really “see” it!

That’s how it was for me when I realized anew the truth of the following insights God was revealing to me — truths I had “known” before but not really knew.

For example, I blogged previously how God showed me that faith isn’t something God quantifies; it’s something we simply need to have, and that it’s the Object of our faith — God Himself — that is the Source of our faith.  We can’t produce authentic, powerful faith through our own ability to muster up faith.  We have faith as a result of knowing our God — Who He is.

Secondly, I have come to treasure prayer and to view it as the amazing privilege it is — the opportunity to partner with God in His work in another person’s life and the incredible privilege it is to communicate with God.

I used to think prayer was me, naming off a bunch of requests to God and hoping He would choose to answer some of them the way I wanted or thought they should be answered.

I grew to understand that prayer involved some worship of God.  I remember trying to “tack on” a few worshipful-sounding words in order to meet a higher level of spirituality, or so I hoped.  Sounds really shallow, doesn’t it?!!  To be honest though, my prayer life was often exactly that — shallow.

My prayer life was shallow though because my understanding and therefore relationship with God was more shallow. 

It’s hard to pray to One that you don’t know that intimately, don’t really grasp that His love is unconditional and not affected by performance, and don’t really trust. 

The power of prayer is the One to Whom we are praying.

The problem is we so often don’t really understand God, or our thoughts about Him are based upon misconceptions, twisted truths, and harmful misrepresentations.

I recently read the following quote in the book, Wonder Struck:

The wonder of prayer is rediscovered in Who we are speaking to.

— Margeret Feinberg

Reminds me what God showed me about faith.  Once again, it’s the recipient of our prayers and His interaction with me because of Who He is that makes prayer so vital and so incredible!  It’s not the words, in themselves, that make prayer so powerful.

Prayer is so incredible because it is the opportunity to speak to God or as the following quote says:

“Prayer is the opportunity to bend the ear of God.” — Margaret Feinberg

It’s a big deal because of Who God is!  He isn’t some conniving, selfish, evil, uncaring God.  He is a God who longs to hear our voices, especially when they are lifted in awareness of Him.

Have you ever sat with someone and experienced their inattention or complacency?  It’s not exactly pleasant or satisfying.

A lot of prayer life consists of mumbled phrases thrown out to appease a false view of a vindictive God.

A prayer life is transformed though when we begin to see the amazing and incredible gift it is — an opportunity to commune with an ever-present, ever-loving, ever-powerful God!!!  It is an opportunity to be heard by God but also to hear from God.

This brings me to a third truth.  I read the following quote recently and loved it:

“Hope is confident expectation.”  (Not sure in which devotional I read it.)

Do you see that?!!!  Hope is confident expectation in Who?  The power of hope is in Who the expectation is!  Hope isn’t lasting or “powerful” because it’s something we just randomly possess or stir up in ourselves.  Hope is a powerful emotion that comes from a powerful Source. 

It’s the Source of the hope — what we are expecting or looking to — that determines the resilience and strength of our hope.

As I was pondering the above truths, I was thinking how all kinds of other emotions I can think of owe their power and passion to their source.  If it’s a good source, it can be a good emotion.  If it’s a negative source — a reaction, fear, or bitterness — it can be an emotion that wreaks great destruction.

I couldn’t help but ponder that the authentic reality of truth, love, peace, joy, grace, wisdom, life, hope, faith, and prayer all owe their power to the object or source of their existence: God Himself.

It really is that simple!

This is why I have experienced the pure, authentic fullness of these characteristics only in the Presence of God Himself.

You can pursue peace, purpose, and joy outside of God, but I can personally tell you, it won’t last, and it is only a shallow representation of the authentic reality of knowing the Divine Source!

The secret therefore to the full life is knowing the God of life.  The secret to the above three characteristics is knowing God — truly knowing God.  In order to do that, it may mean laying aside all the false ideas and harmful representations of God so you can finally meet the reality of God Himself.

Additional Notes: 

As I was contemplating these truths further while washing my dishes, it “struck me.”  We often think that people who don’t believe in God don’t believe in God because they are lacking faith or because they are rebellious.  What shattered that pre-conceived idea for me is that just as I need to understand God is my Source of the abundant life so it is with the “unbeliever.”  Perhaps, the person who doesn’t believe in God isn’t about his/her lack of faith at all but more about his/her lack of understanding or false understanding of God.

In other words, how can you believe in One that you think is angry, harsh, uncaring, vindictive, and selfish?  It’s easier to pretend He doesn’t exist than that He does but could be those things.

It is a wrong view of God that is the biggest hindrance to a person’s ability to trust in God.  How can you trust in One you don’t believe loves you unconditionally, perfectly, and eternally?

Rather than telling people they need to have faith, maybe we need to be telling them and showing them more what our God is truly like — not a man-made version of a god but God Himself.  That may mean, we first need to get to know Him more intimately ourselves.

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Faith… I Am Finally Getting It!

Leap of faith

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This year, the prevailing theme God has been teaching me is that of faith.  I often see how understanding (“sight”) seems to come in “layers.”  God shows me something; then, He shows me another “layer” to the truth of that thing.

God had showed me some profound truths in regards to faith a few months ago.  I wrote about it in these blog posts: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/what-we-view-as-faith-in-god-is-often-not-about-god-at-all/ and https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/.

Each of those blog posts was another “layer” to what God was showing me concerning faith.  He was showing me that faith was resting in God.  He was also showing me that God doesn’t quantify our faith; because it’s not about how much faith we have but that we have faith, period.

In my devotionals, I was reading that faith is confidence. In fact, I recently heard that the root for confidence is confideo, which means in faith.  They are directly related to each other.  Makes perfect sense when we think about the usages of both.

Yet, this amazing and profound truth just “nailed” me this morning!  It is this:

Faith is confidence in God.

So simple, right?  Yet so profound and life-changing!

I used to view faith as something that I had to do or stir up in myself.  I always wondered if I would have enough faith to get me through certain types of trials.

Now that I am finally getting it, the profound truth about faith is completely “revolutionary” to me!

Faith is confidence in God!

It’s not about me.  It’s about Him — the Object of my faith.  It’s because of Who He is that I can have complete confidence in Him — no matter my circumstances.

Wow!  Doesn’t that take the pressure off!

God has been leading me into a much deeper walk with Him, and as He does, my love for Him and personal understanding of Him has grown.  That is also why at the same time, my faith is also growing.

Faith grows parallel with a personal and accurate understanding of God.

As I am growing in my love and an accurate understanding of God personally, my faith is also growing.

How incredibly encouraging it is to know that I don’t have to worry about my ability to trust in God.  I need to look at my God and why He is so worthy of all my confidence/trust!

I just need to have confidence in Him.

That, I can do, because I know my God!

A Full Life

Sailing

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SKI

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I sense this restlessness, this hunger for something more…  I am seeing this among Christians too…  This hunger for something more — a recognition that something is lacking in their spiritual walk, and they aren’t quite sure what it is.  They know a lot about God, are doing all the right things, but so many times, it feels as if they are going through the motions.  They go to church.  They come home.  Life goes on…  Predictable to an extent, somewhat “safe,” fairly comfortable, but there is this sense of “shallowness.”

Then they meet someone — someone that has a “fire” in them.  There’s this undeniable passion and fervency in this person or people.  Their eyes and countenance have a glow, and when they talk about the Lord, their entire countenance “lights up.”  Suddenly, they sense that they are lacking a fervency and love for the Lord.  They feel like they have to force a feeling of love.  They know in their heads they should love God. “Afterall, Jesus died on the cross for their sins.”  Yet, the feelings of true adoration and heart-felt love seem missing.  They may attempt to “stir” up in themselves this feeling of love, but it feels forced because it is.

How do we as Christians/people experience the fullness of life?  What does “fullness” of life look like?  What does it mean to really “live” life?

When I was reading through the names of God, the name Jehovah stood out to me.  It is taken from the Hebrew word chavah, which means life.  This name of God literally means the All-existing One.  In other words, He is the Source, Essence, and Continuation of life.

As Genesis 1 tells us, God created life.  Life came from Him.  Every atom, every molecule, every means of energy and matter came from God.  Because God “breathes” life into the very structure of life, He is also its very means of continuation.

It also makes sense that because God created life and sustains life, He also defines life for us.  Within Him is the very essence of life itself.

I have lived life for 30+ years, and I have experienced what we normally define as living life: eating, breathing, working, enjoying some pleasures, doing, learning, growing, developing, procreating, and becoming a mother, etc..

I have also experienced the difference of what it means to truly live life.  Within true life is a sense of absolute wholeness, completeness, fullness.  Until you experience it, it cannot be totally understood.  This kind of fullness of life does not require any thing, any circumstance, or any emotion to sustain it.

I have experienced this kind of life when I am in close fellowship with the Lord.  This fellowship is not produced by more programs, more preaching, more acts of service, more doing, more knowledge.  It is a result of simply being in the Presence of God.  Sure, attending church services and spending time in God’s Word are some of the very things that can bring us into direct fellowship with the Lord, and they are “needful.”

BUT…!  Nothing can substitute for actual time spent, listening, worshiping, and abiding in His Presence.  Words that come to mind are: observe, absorb, reflect, and ponder.

The problem is so much of the time, as Christians, we think that knowing about God or doing for God is the same as knowing God, and it isn’t!  You can know a lot about God, without really knowing God personally and intimately.

Don’t tell us what you know about God.  Tell us Who He is to you?  What does it mean that God is loving and loves you?  How does that change who you are?

This morning as I was reflecting on the Parable of the Good Samaritan, I wrote the following notes:

We try to keep everything “safe” and predictable and then wonder why life sometimes seems so “shallow.”  Why?  Because faith requires taking risks.  It involves personal involvement, which means vulnerability, humility, and sacrifice.

If we want to experience the fullness of the life God has for us, we have to be willing to be “all in” for Him — that means surrendering ourselves, laying down our fears, our pride, our goals, and letting God use us in ways that will challenge us, grow us, and cause us to “risk” (take a risk).  What we risk is far surpassed by what we gain: His fullness — the fullness of the All Existing-One!

In a devotional I am reading, Wonder Struck, it says the following:

Sometimes we have to take risks, …to be wonder-struck by the love of God.

If we are honest, one of the main reasons why we hesitate to surrender or give ourselves fully to the will and “life purpose” God has for us is because of fear.  Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of death, and fear of suffering will cause us to erect barriers around our hearts, souls, and very lives.  We think we are protecting ourselves by not fully investing ourselves or being willing to be “raw” and vulnerable, but the reality is we are hurting ourselves by not.  Our “barriers” keep people at a distance, and then we wonder why we don’t have close friends or no one wants to include us.  We will miss out on the blessings God intends for us.  We will miss out on experiencing the full life God has planned for us.

If you want to experience the fullness of life — the life God has planned for you — you need to be “all in.”  You need to trust God fully with your life, and that may mean facing some lies you have believed about God.  You need to be willing to be transparent, vulnerable, “sacrificial,” and humble.

I recently heard it said, “Humility is trusting in God.”  I wrote a past blog about the connection between pride and fear, and I must fully agree with the quote I just mentioned.  Humility requires letting go of our own desire to control the people and circumstances around us, to keep everything predictable.  It requires surrendering our wills, our lives, our futures to God.  How do we do this?

We do this by knowing Who God is.  When I finally experienced God’s love personally for me, I was able to surrender myself to God.

God has been working on my heart to surrender more to Him.  He is calling me into a deeper walk with Him.  He has stirred up a “hunger” to know Him more personally, to be more aware of His Presence, and yes, to be “wonder struck” with the reality of Who God is.  I want every second of my day to be lived in the fullest measure of life — this incredible abundant, overflowing awareness of God and His goodness!  I have never known life to be sweeter than it is when lived within this full “awakening” or awareness of God!

Yes, Lord!  I want You!

Captivated!

waterfalls

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sunny mountain

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Mountains & Valley

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Monument Valley

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Snowy valley

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Grand Canyon Point Royal

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Antelope Canyon 4

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Flower

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insect

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sleeping baby

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Beauty surrounds us everywhere!  There is beauty in the creation we see — from the tiniest insect, to vibrant flowers, to rainbows, to mountains, to valleys, and to the innocence of a baby.  So often, I go through life unaware of the beauty that surrounds me and to the greater purpose of what that beauty reveals.

This morning I read the following quote from the new study I am beginning, called Wonderstruck:

God extends uncounted invitations to encounter Him; yet, too often I sleep straight through.  Unconscious of the life God desires for me, I slumber in the presence of the sacred and snore in the company of the divine.

Wow!  In the study I am reading it is all about being aware and in awe of God’s Presence.  This study reminds me that you and I have been created to worship God.  That is our purpose.

To a selfish culture, the idea of being created just to worship God can sound very boring, or worse, we fear it.  We fear that we will lose ourselves and that we have no significance in such a purpose; so, we strive for autonomy at the cost of our own highest fulfillment.

An object that is created for a purpose will only function best when it fulfills its intended purpose.  You can try to use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail and may achieve limited success, but the screwdriver will suffer from greater wear than for which it was designed.  The user will suffer greater frustration for forcing an object to be something it wasn’t intended to be.

The same is true with us.

We fear that in surrendering control to the superior Being of God that we will lose ourselves – our uniqueness and our significance.  The truth is the opposite.

Matthew 16:25

25 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Matthew 16:25 is saying that when we surrender control of our lives and yield to our greater purpose, we actually then “find our life.”  That is when we truly live life to the fullest.

We actually don’t reach our full potential and find our greatest fulfillment and satisfaction until we become who we were created to be.

So if we were created to worship God, why does it often seem so elusive and challenging to be in a constant or even regular state of worship?  Shouldn’t it be easy to worship God?!!!

I was studying what it means to worship or wonder.

Three words came to mind when I considered the word wonder.  They are awe, inspiring, and captivating.

The thought came to me that in order to be in awe of something, we have to be aware of it.  Two people can be driving by a beautiful scenic mountain.  The one person is dozing and misses the entire view.  The other person is awake and is mesmerized by the scene.  Two people in the same location have two very different experiences.

The same can be true with our spiritual lives.

Some of us are too busy trying to “win” our way to God in order to experience Him.  The problem with that is that God’s love for us was never based upon our ability to be “worthy” of it.  We can’t experience God by trying to work our way to Him.

God, as the Giver, gave us, as the receivers, our worth.

Heaven paid its highest price in order for us to be reconciled to God!  We have inherent worth because God was willing to pay the ultimate price for us.  He wants our fellowship and a relationship with us that much!

Some of us are too distracted by inconsequential things to focus on the more important.  We miss the “vistas” because we don’t want to get out of the comforts of our cars or leave the predictability of our homes.

To experience the presence of God does not require we have to necessarily leave our normal routines.  It does require us to be in a place of receptivity and awareness.  We can’t receive from God if we are unwilling through pride and/or fear to be vulnerable and receptive.

In order to be aware means we need to be less self-aware and more God-aware.  We can be so caught up in ourselves that we miss the greater wonder surrounding us.

I wrote a list this morning of a few wonders that I take for granted:

  1. His Word — bored or read it from a sense of duty rather than desire sometimes.
  2. Prayer — instead of being amazed at the opportunity to partner with God, I am distracted and/or doubtful at times.
  3. His creation!  I often don’t stop and savor the magnificence of creation.
  4. His Presence and communication with me.  I can be distracted, lazy, anxious, or selfish — instead of resting, “entering” into His rest, abiding in His Presence, and listening and waiting on Him.

This morning, I was challenged to pause, consider, savor, absorb, and be inspired by the God of the Universe.

The more I consider the magnificence of God, the more humbled I am by the significance He gave me by desiring a relationship with me!  It is overwhelming and amazing to consider that He cherishes and desires my worship!

One simple refrain repeats itself upon my lips: “Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, Jesus! Jesus.”

What We View As Faith In God Is Often Not About God At All

Faith

(FreeImages.com/CatherineReymond)

As my sleepy body was awaking this morning, I began to contemplate faith again…

This topic is weighing heavily on my mind and probably because it is something that I, myself, have still much in which to grow.

As I was pondering faith, the thought came, “What we think is faith is often not about God at all but about us.”  Let me explain…

Often when we think about faith, we think in terms of how much faith we have or in our ability to trust.  In other words, we look at ourselves — our ability to trust or have faith.

The truth is faith isn’t about you or about me.  It’s about God.

Faith is recognizing God for who He is, and it’s staking your mind on the promises of God — regardless of your present circumstances or feelings of “faith.” 

Faith is deciding to live the truth of God’s Word.  It’s anchoring your soul to its truth — no matter what is going on around you.

Faith is what keeps the enemy’s lies from “hitting their mark” and causing us great harm.  (See: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/putting-on-our-primary-defense-weapons/)

We are often so unprepared for the battle because we revert back to looking to ourselves — our abilities to fight the battle.  We forget that the battle is the Lord’s, and that it can only be fought in His strength and by using His “weapons.” 

Yes, we have our part to play in the battle.  We have to resist the enemy, and we have to put on our armor.  In doing so, let’s not become confused and think it’s a matter of our own faith that will keep us. 

In looking at our own abilities to have faith, we begin to take our eyes off Jesus, and we will begin to “sink,” as Peter did.  Instead, we need to keep our eyes on our God — on His greatness, His power, His victory, His forgiveness, His grace, His righteousness, His love, His truth.  It is then not difficult at all to trust in so great a God!

What We Fear Reveals Truth About Ourselves

Sunset

(FreeImages.com/Tatyana Khramtsova)

As I was studying God’s Word today, spending time in prayer, and journaling what God was teaching me, God began once again to convict me and to show me some truths concerning a present battle I am facing.

I am facing the battle of fear concerning a particular situation.  Without relaying more details, let’s just say that this situation has been discouraging.  In fact, in referring to the situation, I have used hopeless terms to describe it.

This morning, God began to speak to me concerning this battle.  He began to reveal to me that the battle I am called to fight requires a long-term commitment and perseverance.  It’s not a battle that is going to be won with a few “skirmishes.”  Another way of putting it is that it’s not a “sprint” that I am called to run but a “marathon.”

God was reminding me that so often when God’s timing differs from mine, I begin to look to others, try to “help” God out by “fixing” the problem by my own methods or means, or begin to accept failure and mentally “check” the situation off as being a losing one and then try to find something else that appears to possibly be more successful.

God was speaking to my heart that the reason why I am not having victory is because I have written “failure” across the situation.  I have assumed the battle is lost or losing so I begin to “back pedal,” compromising my belief in God and His promises and as a result, compromising my actions.  Before long, what I fear comes to pass.

I believe God was prompting me to look at the significance of what I fear.

The question is, “What are we fearing today?”

What you and I fear will reveal the true condition of our heart and beliefs.  They will also be a good indicator of where we are headed.

If our faith in God is solid, we will be able to see past the temporary discouraging distractions of our present situations to the eternal or “bigger picture” of God’s purposes and plans.

Faith is the “key” that unlocks our “spiritual eyes.” 

We can know the truth, but until we believe/embrace it, we’ll never recognize or experience the reality of it personally.

Our relationship with God consists not in what we know about God but in Who He is to us.  What is He to you?

You may say and know that God is gracious, just, righteous, compassionate, etc…, but is He your grace, your righteousness, your compassion today?

Who is He to you?

Dear Atheist

Religious Atheist or Agnostic on checkmark royalty-free stock photo

(http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/religious-atheist-or-agnostic-on-checkmark-gm178100803-24725510?resource=AFF_IS_Linkconn_SP_www.freeimages.com_141052&asid=308966&cid=5418&lid=13)

Dear Atheist,

We had a discussion this week that I found to be an incredible experience.  I loved how it gave me the opportunity to dialogue with you and to get to know you on a more personal level.

First of all, I want to say that I respect the intelligence you have and also the tone of our discussion.  Your respectful consideration was noted and appreciated.

At the closure of our discussion, you challenged me to be open to other view-points.  You felt I had limited my thinking.

I respectfully must respond to you by asking you a question, “If you have seen the sun, which I assume you have, but someone else has never seen it and denies its existence, would you change your view to satisfy their denials?”  What if that person lives in Alaska too and rarely ever feels the warmth of the sun so they deny the existence of the heat of the sun?  What if you try to tell them that there are those who live who do see the sun, such as yourself?  What if you tell them that when it gets warmer in the “summer” and “spring” months that it’s because of the sun?  What if they then tell you that the warmth could be explained away by other means of energy?  If that person is unwilling to consider the possibility that there might be a sun, then it does not matter how many times you try to tell them the proofs (heat, seasons, gravity, etc…).  They’ll come up with another reason or theory to support the lack of its existence.

What if you tried to tell them that the reason why they are alive is because the sun gives warmth?  What if they then replied that it could be explained by some other means of energy and so they come up with theories and mathematical equations to equal their “expected” result?  To that person, you might appear as very irrational, with a “Lack of Imagination,” and with great “bias.”

The point, my dear friend, that I am trying to make is that it is impossible for me to prove God’s existence to you because you are unable or unwilling to consider its plausibility.

I have experienced and seen the God of the Bible, and I cannot deny His existence just because you do.  You can accuse me of being psychotic and imagining all of this in my head, but that does not concern me.  I am willing to base my life on the undeniable reality that there is a God who created life, who holds the universe together, and who loves me personally and unconditionally.

You challenged me to see other viewpoints, and I recognize that there are challenges to proving God’s existence.  It is a challenge to prove His existence and Biblical record to those who have excluded the factor of His force (influence) upon all mathematical equations in the scientific realm.

Perhaps, I should challenge you instead to see a different viewpoint.  What if instead of looking at the world with the assumption that God doesn’t exist, that instead you view the world with the assumption that He does?  Assume there was a huge flood that covered the entire world.  Assume that the earth is “young,” but that the trees, rocks, mountains, etc… were created in a mature state with an unknown amount of carbon.  Assume that God divided the continents for His purposes, as He states in the Bible, and that it wasn’t a Continental Drift but a God-division.  Assume that the stars were created the way they were — whether as a Supernova or a “new” star.  Assume that God created the species just as He said He did.  The list goes on…  Assume the Bible is correct.  Look for archeological evidence to support many Biblical records.  Consider how fossils are formed — not over millions of years — but over a catastrophic event like a flood.  Consider how we see floods that do cut away at cliffs and plunge houses into ravines as a result.  (See California floods.)  Consider why there are fossilized wave patterns that are visible in Colorado.

Perhaps, the scientific community is not as open-minded as they think.  They base all of their findings on their assumptions that there is no God; thus, their equations have much room for error.

Perhaps, I should ask how many times you have personally experienced or seen the Big Bang Theory?  Maybe, then I could accept your rationale.

There are many renowned scientists that believed the inerrancy of the Word of God and His Biblical record for mankind.  (See Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, Kelvin, Boyle, Dalton, Ramsay, Ray, Linnaeus, Mendel, Pasteur, Virchow, Agassiz, Steno, Woodward, Brewster, Buckland, Cuvier, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Herschel, Maunder, Pascal, Leibnitz, and Euler. These men were renowned in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, geology, astronomy, and mathematics.)

With all due respect, I cannot deny the reality of the God of the universe because I have “encountered” Him.  I see evidence of Him in my daily life, the world around me, in the very existence of life, and in the God-initiated Christian “Law of love.”  Call me “narrow-minded,” but I am unapologetic for what I know to be true.

You see, my belief in God isn’t only based on the historical record of the Bible but also in the confirmation of my own personal experiences with the God of the Bible.