Great Soul  0

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“He stoops to make me great…”

(2 Samuel 22:36)

 

God changes us and rearranges us as He stoops to make us great. We really are very ordinary. We are just broken vessels. As we let Him break us from sin and the negative pull of this world, more of His glory shines through. We are still in that process.

 

I tend to categorize people and size them up, but I hate it when people do that to me. I try to figure out who has more experience or has more to say or says it more creatively. Who uses their time well or better or best? Who knows more or is more insightful or more caring? I am beginning to realise that our life paths are not linear, nor is it to our advantage to act like it is a race against each other. Our lives are more like balls of string wrapped together, spiralling, twisting, curving around in many different ways toward different ends. You may have more experience or a keener insight into many different realms where I have not ventured. I may have depths and clues that have not yet come up in your life. We can always learn from each other. We get too categorized and fail to explore parts of our lives that need perhaps a fresh eye, from a different angle.

 

I want to be great! I do! I want to have something to “show” for all these years on this earth! Paul said: In Christ…I have reason to be proud of my work for God (Romans 15:17). I tend to measure by certain things in my life, and you probably do so by other things in yours. Would you say (if no one were listening) that you are great? Do you want to be? Is that wrong? Is it pride? Well, apparently not, because the One who is our example said, “If you want to be great … ,” do this. He did not say, “Get rid of that desire,” or “It is wrong to want that.” Of course, He was talking about greatness in the kingdom of God, His kind of greatness that is good in this life and the next. Our measure is very different from God’s, so if we can learn to want His kind of greatness, we are doing well. That is the kind of greatness that will last past this life and will bring something of value into the next life. It is clear there is some reward for that kind of greatness.

As the Kerner/Rettinos put it in Kid’s Praise! 4, “If you want to be great, learn to be the servant of all.”

 

Wow, that is so vague—what could it mean? Could it mean that you are aware and looking out for others, anticipating needs, being okay with being common, yet with excellence? Being extraordinary in the ordinary? We want to do big things—but sometimes the big things are in the little mundane things over a long period of time. They do not come with a lot of outward applause or pats on the back or frills, but rather in just doing and being His hands and feet and voice and arms to others that He has put in our little worlds. This is not the picture we had in mind. It is harder and takes longer, and no one notices.

Was Jesus great in His world? I mean: did many people see Him as great?

 

A few saw His greatness—mostly unimportant people.  How do I measure greatness?

 

For full article: http://thriveconnection.com/2016/08/23/stoops-make-great/

Soul Delight  0

 

 

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If your word had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” Ps. 119:92

“They are not just idle words for you, they are your life…” Deut. 32:47

“The word – living and active” in us… Heb. 4:12

I’ve started a list of descriptions in Scriptures of what a mature believer looks like. I was intrigued with the end of Hebrews 5 about being “skilled in the Word of righteousness and trained in the powers of discernment.” Then I read a good friend’s words:

Guest post; thanks to Timmy Hanauer, landscape designer, integrated farming consultant, fisherman, theologian, and best man in our wedding. : )

Hebrews 5 :11-14 “…you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles…of God, and you need milk and not solid food. For everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

He notes:

“To soak in the analogy for a moment – infants, because their digestive tract is still developing, require specific food that breaks down easily and does not need to be chewed.  Also because they lack of handling skills, they require someone to deliver that food, making them dependent. The analogy finds traction at several points.  Immature believers are still learning how to absorb, understand, and integrate the Scriptures into their lives.  Their inability to chew – to study, memorize, and meditate on the Word of God in such a way as to be self-directed by God, as opposed to dependent on other people as teachers, speaks to their spiritual “toothlessness”.   The immature believer typically gets his spiritual input from hearing the Word of God taught or preached (pre-digested food, i.e. MILK).  Studying or rightly handling the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15) is an essential skill acquired by the maturing believer.  It involves considering the context of a passage of scripture, not reading into a passage meanings that aren’t there, taking into account the interplay of culture, history, etc.

All of this is part of our romancing the Lord with our minds and hearts – pursuing the food that fuels our pursuit of Him and His kingdom.  Cherishing the Word, meditation and hunger for it, flow from this type of study. As God is revealed in the Word through daily chewing and absorption, our attitudes and outward actions change.  When this is happening primarily apart from just “hearing” the Word of God taught and preached, then one has graduated from “milk” to “meat.”  At this point, someone is also ready to teach or parent those still dependent on milk.”

Interesting analogy! What do you do to chew on the Word?

Here’s to our maturing spiritual digestive systems!  🙂

Soul Warrior  4

I’m resonating with this post, so wanted to share.wowarrior

Beth Moore on spiritual warfare:

“The enemy comes for you. Of course, some of you aren’t calling it spiritual warfare yet because that’s what the older generation called it and you want to be cooler than that. [:)] You had sort-of become convinced that the devil was not that real. Not that specific. Not that personal. Not that aware. And surely God would not allow him to mess with your kids.

And it’s not just the enemy. Your own vulnerabilities erupt into liabilities. Life’s taking a crowbar to every crack in your armor. You are tempted to things you swore you’d never do. That you judged _____________ for doing. Your past comes calling. If you’re married, your marriage, which you’d boasted about publicly, looks like it could go humiliatingly belly-up. Your kids are going nuts. Or maybe it’s you losing your mind. Half the time, you think you are going crazy. You’re getting criticized. You’re getting a lot of opposition. You daydream sometimes that you quit and moved to a remote island with your family, wore loin cloths and drank milk out of coconuts and swam with dolphins. You night-dream that you hung in there in your calling and it slaughtered you.

You have come of age.

What you’re going through is how it goes. I don’t know why on earth we older ones are not telling you more often and with more volume. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to discourage you but it’s so ridiculous because you’re already discouraged. Or maybe it’s that you won’t listen to us anyway. [I don’t agree with her here; I have found open ears among this group.]

But this is my shot at it today. You have come of age. You have come of notice to the devil. At the same time, your very faithful God who loves you has made a covenant through the cross of Christ not only to save you but to conform you to the image of His Son. His obligation out of His wonderful grace is to grow you up. And there is suffering in growing up. Among other things, you are forced to face the deceiver and pretender in your mirror.

I’m here to say to you today that it will not always be this hellacious. Oh, trust me. It will ALWAYS be hard. It will at times be horrific. But this season of eyeball-bulging nobody-ever-said-it would-be-like-this coming of age will not last forever. Mine lasted about seven years. Yours could last one. Or ten. That’s all up to God. Well, and you. Your cooperation is required.

It’s all about whether or not you’ll quit. Or whether or not you’ll get sloppy. Whether or not you’ll hang onto the first things that so drove you in the beginning. Jesus. The Scriptures. Holy passion. Holiness. And not just hang onto them but press further and further and further into them. Or will you slip into the black hole of busy-ness and business, of name-making, marketing, position, notoriety, self-importance, celebrity and Instacrap? Now that you are no longer naïve, what will you do with all of this? Will you fight for a pure heart that the world and your own flesh have so polluted that you think you no longer have what it takes or will you just go with it and figure this is how it happens?

And, in the words of Galatians 3:3, what you’d begun in the Spirit, you’ll just do from now on mostly in the flesh. You’ll  get prayer warriors to pray for you instead of also scrapping it out yourself on the floor, fighting with everything you’ve got in the heavenlies, hacking it through, bloody and bruised, defending the ground God entrusted to you.

You’re at the most critical place in your calling. The place of slaughter. The place where either the devil’s going to all but kill you, your flesh is going to destroy you or God is going to crucify with Christ that ego and fear and, truth-told, laziness and raise you MIGHTY.

Fight it out. Do not quit. If you’ve gotten sloppy, stop it. If you’re messing around in sin, repent. Go back to your face. Get that Bible open and plant your nose in it. Memorize Scripture. Learn how to fast and pray. Quit talking about Jesus more than you actually talk to Him. Quit letting your mouth overshoot your character. Become that person you’ve made fun of for taking it too seriously and being so dramatic about it.

You have what it takes. Do it. And I’m going to tell you something. What it will get you is Jesus. JESUS HIMSELF. Pre-eminent in all things. He is the joy. He is the prize in the fight. He is what makes getting hit by the debris in the hurricane worth it. Jesus Himself. He is everything.

I’m writing you today because I’m so proud of you. You’re out there doing the thing. And I don’t want you to quit. Pay the price.”

What is your next step in training your soul to be a warrior?

 

Talking Soul  2

Talk to yourself

English heart surgeon Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,

“Most unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself.”

“What kind of voices do you hear? When you meet people do you tell yourself they’ll let you down? When you face new experiences does a voice in your head say you’re going to fail?” The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, John Maxwell p. 93

Sometimes we don’t even realize the tape playing inside, but that critic within keeps rearing its head and we have to deal with it. The subtle negative voices can be overbearing and discouraging, but there is Truth, hope, care and comfort that can wipe out the negative self-talk and help us decipher what is false and what needs attention.

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God is a Blessed Intruder. As we usher him into our “committee of selves” within, he sets things straight and gives a reference point to wade through the accusations, the downcast eyes and hands that hang down. He is the

  • Lifter of our heads when our sight is on ourselves Ps. 27:6
  • Holder of our hands when we are out of alignment. Is. 41:13
  • Keeper of our path when we’re unsure of our way Prov. 3:5,6

“For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble…and now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies around me…”  Ps. 27:5.6

Take notice today: Are you

  • talking to yourself (directing your heart to truth) or
  • listening to yourself (the inner critic, the doubter, the pessimist)?

#talktoyourself

Disconnected Soul  2

 

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We’re meant for community, shared lives, regularity, rhythm. For us, in our travels we have managed to keep good routine and rhythm, but the consistent shared lives with others, we miss.  I’ve described the feeling to friends as

“nomadic disconnectedness.”  🙂

There’s sweet connectedness sporadically, and a semblance of connection through social media and skype, which are great helps, but there is a sadness and weariness that can set in with much travel and movement.

Of course there’s the exhilarating side, the new, the invitation into lives that regulars may not get, the new perspective we see or can bring, the incredible people, energizing challenges, intriguing places and colorful cultures. All of that I love.

I wonder though, if a disconnected soul is part of life, everyone’s life…? I know people who have been in the same geographical place all their lives and feel pretty disconnected. I can only imagine the disconnected ache of the masses of refugees now being ripped from the fabric of their beloved lives and homes with little hope for their future. That kind of despairing disconnection I don’t know.

Maybe some kinds of disconnectedness can be a mercy that shakes us into the realization that we so need connection with our Maker first. That empty feeling can push us there – to realize that our disconnection is primarily from Him. We are His, first and foremost. That’s where real connection and wholeness is, that can then flow freely into the connection with the others that we’re made for.

I think there are times and seasons where the disconnect is a wooing He uses to call to us. A place to which God brings us to have conversations, new appreciation, fresh perspective, or a deeper sense of our need. I guess I should take advantage of that! I need to share life with others, but any distance in my relationship with Him hinders my connection with the rest of the Body.

 

“Abide in me, and I in you.. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him,

he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…Abide in my love.”

(Stay connected to Love.) John 15:4-9

 

“…so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. “

Romans 12:5

 

An African brother (FD) said it so well, “How inadequate I am without my brothers and sisters.”

 

Do you sense any disconnectedness in your soul?

 

Could it be Him calling to you to reconnect with His Love?

 

 

 

Soul Expectations  2

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I kind of expect that when very competent and capable people give up their lives and loves for the sake of the gospel, take their young family and painstakingly spend years and make a home in an obscure and difficult place, there will be open doors, much fruit. Sometimes there are. Other times there are heartaches and hard questions. (I am reeling with the numbing news from a family in our organization whose 3-year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer, taking them from the field.)

 

We all have underlying expectations we don’t know about, nestled deep in the recesses of our hearts. I think that’s why there were so many varying reactions to Jesus when he was on earth – ranging from awe, appreciation and buy-in, to anger, jealousy and contempt. Underlying these reactions is something… some assumption or belief that they spring from. For example, under the anger could be a fierce disappointment that Jesus was not what I expected him to be or didn’t do what I expected him to do.   So my reaction comes to the surface and we take issue with Him today, just like people did back then. It’s good to wrestle it through – and think about what we think about.

 

“the ruling passion conquers reason still….” Shakespeare

 

His ways are far beyond us because He is so FOR us. It takes seemingly unseemly measures at times for Him to get to our hidden parts or just to show His glory – for our good.

(From the DS journal):

“I’ve been in Ecclesiastes a bit lately – such a weird little poetry book – but bottomless insight into life. It can’t be just trivial cynicism right? – it’s inspired! One theme that’s been standing out is that: humanity and this world are cursed – that means there’s a lot of evil… and life to a large degree is TOILSOME – we can fight it, and resent it… or we can accept it (direct revelation about the Fall, God’s sovereignty, eternal hope ahead of us, etc. in the Word helps a ton!) – and if we accept it, it takes a lot of pressure off of life to deliver. We are free to just start the day by choosing the Joy of the Lord and to enjoy the little glimmers of God’s image that do shine through depraved people… and the Creator’s beauty that irrepressibly shines through the fallen-ness of His created world.  We’re free to enjoy the simple pleasures – to enjoy our food and drink and the woman we love… and to go “all in” on whatever we do, knowing life is short… and not load it up with too many expectations.”

 

So where do our expectations come from?

If there’s disappointment or discouragement?  Then there was an expectation.

Can you name one?

Does that naming unearth a ruling passion in you?

If so…does it need to be reigned in and put in its place, or repented of as something you’re putting your hope in more than Him?

Soul Rainbow  0

(Thoughts after PS, teaching elder at Sojo’s church, led us into Noah’s life in Genesis 8 & 9)

600 years strong, Nepic4oah was.

His “right” heart before God kept God from wiping out the whole race in his fury. (Gen. 6:7,8) Noah was a rock! He diligently obeyed for many years while withstanding ridicule & opposition, then weathered the terror of the flood.

Fast forward to the rainbow (Oh the bliss of this glorious thought!) depicting the unconditionally loving, utterly merciful, personal, 2nd chance-giving God of ours! Even when He knew those on earth would blow it again, His faithful love dictated that he make a way to really be right (eventually through the only Right One – Jesus).

But the insight we discovered together was the contrast in Noah’s stance before and after the rainbow. His fear of the Almighty One kept him from swaying as he built the ark and preached apocalypse to his jeering contemporaries. The fear of the catastrophic power of the God who brought the flood could have paralyzed him as he again stepped down onto dry ground. So the rainbow’s promise must have brought astounding relief for him and his family.

But, things were not all rosy after the rainbow. God’s word doesn’t hide the sin of the man whom God had called “righteous and blameless”. He’s found shamefully drunken… resulting in ruinous impact on his family for generations…

Did Noah lose his sense of purpose after the flood… and his alertness when there were no opponents hounding him? Could the fledgling remnant of humanity have fallen prey to more subtle, inner temptations of “self, home and the menial”? The confusing scene after the rainbow seems to scream a warning about the fragile human condition where inner temptations may actually outweigh outer ones.

The rainbow points to the Right One who walks alongside us in our sin, and kindly brings us to repentance again and again to make our hearts right. And we need that as much “at home” as “on the job” – maybe more! – When our guard is down and there’s not a big accomplishment we’re reaching for… when it’s down to the menial things of life.

What would our house say about us?” …The place where we’re off duty and not on display building our arks?

That’s where we need the fear of God in us even more – for our good and protection! The inner temptations are more subtle and insidious, so our vigilance and our open ears to the Right One need to be alerted and strengthened.

As Brennan Manning puts it: [Accepting the gospel of grace]

“…means hanging in there with God, learning our mind tricks by experiencing how they defeat us, recognizing our avoidances, acknowledging our lapses, learning completely that we cannot handle it ourselves. This steady self-confrontation requires strength and courage. We cannot use failure as an excuse to quit trying.”  The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 86

There’s a rainbow for your soul today – pointing to the promise of Jesus who saves us from ourselves, from the wrath of God….and from giving in to defeat.

What part of your heart needs that rainbow today?

 

Soul Peace  2

The stunning promise of peace was penned approximately 700 years before the Prince of Peace arrived; and penned in the midst of a battered, disappointed, dysfunctional, sorrow-filled world. Two of the prophets that foretold the coming of this Prince lamented similar problems of their day.

  • Isaiah – the degraded political condition of Israel
  • Micah – the social ills that sound like things we see on the news today

Micah predicted the fall of the capital of Israel with messages of doom, but then of hope. Reading his Old Testament writings you see the extent to which his nation had fallen, and the lies they lived by despite warnings and pleadings.

 

“Listen to me, you leaders of Israel!

You hate justice and twist all that is right.

You are building Jerusalem

on a foundation of murder and corruption.

You rulers make decisions based on bribes;

you priests teach God’s laws only for a price;

you prophets won’t prophesy unless you are paid.

Yet all of you claim to depend on the LORD.

“No harm can come to us,” you say,

“for the LORD is here among us.”

Because of you, Mount Zion will be plowed like an open field;

Jerusalem will be reduced to ruins!” Micah 3:9-12

And we thought today’s world was bad….

Micah goes on to warn that their enemy would eventually come to destroy Jerusalem, but in the next breath he promises that a ruler would come from the little town of Bethlehem.

Bethlehem

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days…
to be their source of peace”. Micah 5:2,5

In the mire of violence and abandonment, a whisper of peace, like a mirage, gives hints of hope.

“He will be called… the Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6

 

As prophesied, that Prince born in Bethlehem, came to buy our peace and later said,

 

“My peace I give to you not as the world gives…” John 14:27

 

It’s beyond this world, it’s incomprehensible!

 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

(DS) Peace is not sleepy, lethargic passivity. Peace is freedom from anxiety – often in the midst of intensity and pressure. Peace is not the avoidance of risk, stress and tension – that’s just boring life! Peace is the choice to turn from self-reliance, which leads to destructive anxiety, to God-reliance, right in the middle of the high-stakes challenges. That’s where the gusto is – not in avoiding the risks, but in enjoying them with God. What happens when I turn from self-reliance to God under stress?

 

“Do not be anxious…let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6

 

By taking hold of his precious and magnificent promises, I partake of the divine nature – PEACE. Right in the midst of the battle and intensity …yes peace, beyond comprehension because I just tapped into the divine nature!

* * *

Where in your life do you need to tap into His promise of peace today?

Soul Time  4

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 

J.R.R. Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring

 

Facing our world and our lives can be daunting.  Here are some beginning tips on how to go for it.

 

 

Check out the pdf for reflection in my last post.  reflect2106

Wisdom to your soul  0

How do we get wisdom into our soul?

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In our busy-ness we’re in danger of mismanaging ourselves.  “Your toughest management challenge is always yourself” Bill Hybels says.  Make it a priority to find time to set aside for your own reflection and planning for the year ahead.  It will make a big difference in your sanity!

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7

“Teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” Ps. 90:12

 “Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the LORD his God…”  2 Chron 27:6

 

“Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise. ”  Ephe 5:15

 

 “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.”  Psalm 50:23

 “The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way, But the foolishness of fools is deceit.” Prov. 14:8

For a pdf download on some steps to ordering your days before God click here.  reflect2106