Sunday, July 26, 2009

Perfect grace

I struggled with issues of acceptance until my early twenties; not only acceptance from others, but also accepting myself. As a result of not feeling worthy of being loved and accepted I developed issues with perfectionism and being a people pleaser. I always thought of it as name boards that people would hang around my neck; their conditions for my qualifying as ‘good enough’. Of course every person’s requirements were different. By the time I was eighteen I had no idea who I was; who Liane was, neither what I wanted. I would often hear the advice, “just be yourself”. But what do you do when you don’t know who that is?

The truth is that, no matter how hard I tried to be what each person wanted me to be, it would never be quite good enough to achieve what I was after: acceptance, and the conditions/requirements changed all the time till eventually it felt that others also didn’t know what they wanted.

I also struggled with this in my relationship with the Lord; trying my best to be perfect as to not disappoint God, to let Him down. Whenever I have sinned or made an honest mistake I couldn’t accept my failure and struggled very much to come closer to God again afterwards. “Sorry” just didn’t quite cut it for me, no matter how sincere I was. As a result I was my own worst critic, and I struggled having grace and forgiveness for myself. The same was true when I was experiencing seasons of hardship, feeling sadness, hurt and being out of control.

For me it resembled weakness and that was something that I just couldn’t accept. I struggled tremendously to work through those tough times because I had this constant war against my humanity in the midst of my crisis. I believed that, as a Christian, I was not supposed to feel these emotions because it showed that I ‘didn’t have faith’. After all, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, and I would reprimand myself to ‘get a grip!’

In saying this I am not in any way saying that God’s Word is not true or powerful, but I believe God means these words to encourage us that we can overcome, and not as a condemnation for imperfection, the latter being my experience. The enemy was using God’s Word out of context to try and bring me down, and for a long time I believed his lies. I had lived under this yoke for so long that I didn’t even realize anymore how hard it was to live this way.

God says we should love others like we love ourselves. What happens if you do not love yourself? You cannot give something that you don’t have. I started realizing that I was just as hard on others as I was on myself. For many years I didn’t have healthy relationships with people because my condition for acceptance was perfection. Needless to say I was expecting the impossible. And so the love commandment changed for me; no longer was it only something to do towards others, but something that had to start with me accepting God’s unconditional love and grace first and then responding in loving Him, myself and others in the same way.

I, however, struggled very much to accept that God really loves me unconditionally. My awareness of His knowing everything about me, including every weakness and flaw, made me feel very vulnerable before God and, at times, it made it difficult for me to just relax in His presence, enjoying Him and receiving from Him. I did not feel deserving. Whenever Holy Spirit would then confront me with something in my life that He needed to change I would feel condemned (instead of convicted) – that He was emphasizing my imperfectness – and would feel ashamed and discouraged to be with God, withdrawing from Him. The further I moved away, the worse things got for me.

God says in Rom 8:1 (Amp) Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. God loves us just as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way, so when He does point out wrong in our lives, it is because He sees us for who will become, and not who we are. He wants for us to have the best life, and to have it, we need to become more and more like Him. Satan condemns, but Holy Spirit lovingly convicts.

I started feeling that God wanted me to push through the threatening urge to withdraw from Him. I began to not just feel encouraged to deliberately spend time with God, talking with Him, but to willfully praise and worship God during these seasons; to sing for Him as I often do when all is going well. Worshiping was difficult for me. I usually take a little time to work through emotions, so when I was upset I couldn’t just be cheerful in a few seconds, let alone worshiping God.

It didn’t feel ‘right’. However, I started choosing to obey Holy Spirit’s prompting, and slowly but surely, I started climbing the mountains of guilt for ‘letting God down’; mountains that have been part of my landscape for so long. Eventually I started taking the attitude of deliberately ‘spiting’ the devil and precisely doing what he didn’t want me to: spend time with God, ignoring my bad feelings. I started realizing that close to God is where I desperately need to be all the time.

I thought of David who had a very intimate relationship with God despite of everything that he had gone through and done. David knew how to be real with God in the good times and the bad. He loved Him, danced before Him, praised Him and shared his discouragement and sadness with Him, all with great abandonment. It helped Him remember who his God really was and that he would make it through every time. And when he sinned he realized that it was vital to run TO God, and not FROM God as to not give the enemy a foothold.

God says that we, the branches, must abide in Him, the vine, in order to experience life. Apart from the Vine we can do nothing. 1 Pet 5:8 says Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. If I allowed satan to drive a wedge between God and I, I would have allowed him to separate me from my very source of life. Then when I would start withering spiritually I have become easy prey. When Holy Spirit showed me this strategy it stirred a determination up inside me to stay close to God at all cost and to banish the feelings of guilt and inadequacy that threatened to come between us. I almost felt like I had discovered that another woman was after my husband, and trying to separate us from each other. It stirred a passionate determination in me to become that much closer to him so that she couldn’t get between us. I felt a new union, a new commitment in my heart to my relationship with God, and I felt a precious reassurance that He felt the same way, that He was pleased. (James 4:8 Come close to God and He will come close to you...)

I’ve often told people that nobody’s perfect and that God already loved them as much as He ever will. They could never do anything that would make Him love them more or less. For the first time in my life I started telling myself this, and slowly, but surely started believing it more. At the time I also listened to a lot of teaching about righteousness and how we are only ‘good enough’ because of what Jesus did. We are the righteousness of God in Christ (Rom 3:22). He is in fact perfect enough for the both of us. It took so much pressure off me to realize it in this way, and it enabled me to come before Him with much greater boldness. I was able to be more relaxed now, to be myself, to be vulnerable.

More recently God started putting such an urgency in my heart about trusting and obeying Him. Initially I thought it was very precious and I really want to grow spiritually. I don’t want to do as the Israelites did complaining and refusing to trust God even after all the miracles He had done for them. After a while though, I started noticing that I was again feeling a lot of pressure at the thought of doubting even just for a moment. I started feeling that same fear that I will miss my ‘promised land’ if I dared fail. Again Holy Spirit had to remind me that I am not perfect, and that He is well aware of that, but His grace is sufficient for me. God sees our hearts. He is not looking for perfect performance, but a perfect heart; a heart that sincerely seeks God and His ways.

Joyce Meyer often says that God knew what He was getting when He got her. The same is true for every person, also for me. Despite of all of my shortcomings He can still do great things through me if only my heart is willing. He is the Potter...
Now I can just be me. I am not perfect, but I thank God that His grace is!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The little foxes...

With the release of the ‘latest and greatest’ Harry Potter offering, quite a bit is being said about it at the moment.

I’ve never seen a full movie of any of the Harry Potter productions, but I am a fervent movie lover, and I enjoy the trailers as an appetizer for what’s to come. It makes the choice of which movie to see just a little bit easier. I also use it as a filter for movies NOT to watch.

I firmly believe “garbage in, garbage out”. I believe that we have a responsibility to guard our hearts (spirits). The doors and windows are our eyes and ears. We must pay attention to what we look at and what we listen to. Anything does not go. Therefore there are certain movies that I would not watch. I often check it against my ‘Holy Spirit barometer’. God says in Col 3:15 (Amp) And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. In Rom 14 (NLT) God says But anyone who believes that something he wants to do is wrong shouldn’t do it. He sins if he does, for he thinks it is wrong, and so for him it is wrong.

Sometimes I would watch a trailer and it makes my stomach turn. I know, without a doubt, that I am not comfortable watching the movie, and I then eliminate it from my list. I have felt this feeling about all the trailers that I’ve seen about the Harry Potter movies. This does not always mean that I can tell you in detail why I believe I shouldn’t watch it. I am just convinced of ‘no peace, no go’.

What I have noticed about the Harry Potters is that it appears to have increased in intensity of what is portrayed in the movies. When I saw the trailer of “Harry Potter and the half blood prince” ONE thought came to mind: in your face. I have the impression that the earlier movies were more subtle; almost like taming the viewers, stirring curiosity and making it appear harmless entertainment on the wings of imagination. Over time, as audiences have become more use to the elements in the movies, a new intensity to them was introduced. I couldn’t help but think that that is EXACTLY the strategy of the devil. He too makes us tame with sin, convincing us that it is not that bad, and that we shouldn’t rip this ‘Christian thing’ out of proportion, and the next thing he causes you to suffer harm or loss (whether visible or invisible) and then the snow ball effect of difficult consequences just continues.

Sometimes he’ll try to make the bad thing seem like a harmless thing, and other times he just persists until one gets tired of resisting it, and you convince yourself that it is no big deal.

From the bible I think of Eve – the snake persistently kept at it, convincing her that there was no harm in taking a bite of the fruit, and they were kicked out of the garden (with far reaching consequences – right into 2009 and beyond). I think of Samson who couldn’t resist a beautiful lady and Delilah left him bound, blind and defeated. I think of Saul who thought that, because he was the king, he could do anything and his range of half obediences caused him to loose his kingship. I think of the Israelites who finally conquered the land that God had promised Abraham, but God’s instruction was that they destroy the nations that lived there at the time. Instead, they made treaties and intermarried with the heathen nations. God warned them because He knew that, if they lived with these nations who didn’t worship God, they would succumb to the same wrong ways of living and idol worshiping. They ended up in slavery and oppression for four hundred years.

From 2009 I think of the man who has a difficult time in his relationship with his wife. There’s a really nice colleague at the office who tells him how wonderful he is, brings him coffee during a rough day and smile sweetly. Over time (if the man doesn’t take a stand for his marriage) he ends up having a marriage destroying affair and he thinks he ‘couldn’t help it’. I think of a girl who has a low self esteem. She is convinced that she is fat and she starts to throw up minutes after being excused from the table. She starts seeing how she is loosing weight as a result, and the next thing she knows she is anorexic. I think of the gambler, smoker satanist, or drug addict who succumb to peer pressure and actually think that ‘just one time’ won’t do harm, and before they know it the consequences are horrendous.

Prov 6:27 says Can a man hold fire against his chest and not be burned? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet?

I believe that it is the small jackal that destroys the vineyards; those things that you think seem harmless, but then.... Don't be deceived: light and darkness cannot co-exist.

The same goes for modern day living. Times have changed for sure. Human rights have become the replacement for the truth of God’s Word, and anyone can do whatever they want, or so it often seems. Sometimes it would even appear as if there’s more of a fight for the rights of the person who did the crime, and the rights of the victim has been forgotten, because, after all, he/she is dead... It sometimes seem as if there’s so many loopholes in the law that right and wrong is not important anymore, but rather who knows best how the use which loopholes to his advantage. You can simply loose a docket or evidence carelessly gets tampered with and off you go... There is a great lack of accountability. Has our society become tamed with sin? In many ways my opinion is ‘yes’.

I always see the picture of a fisherman waiting for a bite. Satan bates his hooks of destruction with all kinds of attractions to the fleshly (human) nature. If you become curious or reckless enough to get close and have a nibble – after all “it’s harmless” – you might just be the ‘bite’ that he is waiting for. Once you bite the hook, you realize in seconds that the attractive bate was just that: bate, and as the hook rips through your lip and the taste of blood fills your mouth, you regretfully realize that you’ve made a mistake. Sometimes fisherman will take out the catch, take a picture and set it free again, and sometimes you’re not that lucky and you end up on someone’s dinner plate. The ‘catch’ (excuse the pun) is that you don’t know which one will be your fate...

For me the fact of the matter is this: Just because society has changed their minds about what is right and wrong, it does not mean that God has changed His, and His Word never becomes outdated!

What is the solution? I think it is crucial in this day that we make it a priority to get in a closer relationship with God. That we get close enough to hear when Holy Spirit whisper wisdom and instruction and to be in love with Jesus enough to be determined to obey, and that God (and His Word) will be the highest authority in our lives. I think we need to grow more backbone for God’s glory, and be less afraid of the disapproval of people. We need to educate ourselves with what God’s word says about matters, so that we can recognize what is happening around us and be able to choose wisely. May we influence others with our passion for God and living for His glory, rather than be infected by the world, and when society says “what’s wrong with it?”, that we consider more what God thinks/says in His Word, and in our spirit, and then decide with God as your audience.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Believing the Truth that sets you free

Monday, a new week, a new start. Today could be the greatest day and the best start to a great week, or it could be blue. The power of choice is in our hands. So, what's it going to be..? (....shouldn't take you too long to decide...)

Remember this though, even if there might have been a hick-up or two already, you can still change the course of your day by deciding right now to do the right thing. You've heard this many times before: your attitude will determine your altitude. Our attitude is like glasses. Through them we see our world and our circumstances and the size of our God. Sometimes that is the only thing that we can change, and yet that changes EVERYTHING else.

I gave a lot of thought to a sermon that I've heard and a picture came to mind. People go to fortune tellers because they curiously desire to know the future or looking for answers/solutions, trying to be prepared for an unknown future. Often the things that they heard come to pass and they are convinced that the fortune teller must have told the truth, because, see, it happened. They say the proof is in the pudding.

The fact is that the fortune teller didn't really know, but the person that went there believed it so much that they made it happen. They make decisions with it in mind, they act with it in mind. Our thinking determines our choices, which determine our actions and our actions always have consequences. In the end everything is perfectly orchestrated to make the picture in their mind become reality.

Isn't that exactly what faith is: believing in those things that are not, just as though they were..... Can you for one moment stop to imagine what could happen if we were to take the word of God, which is the only truth, and embrace it; believe it so much that it happens? That is exactly what the Pastor said: agree with it, believe it and confess it.

I desire the things God has for my future (and even my very present moment): victory, healing, signs and wonders, love, joy, peace, destiny and purpose. Nothing can change the fact that God wants this for each and every person, the question is just whether we want it bad enough to be ours.

Nothing in live catches God off guard or by surprise. He even knew, before the beginning of time, every wrong decision we would make, every mistake and every sin. And yet, despite of that He remains in control and still loves us with an unchanging love. So today, keep your focus on Jesus, the big picture. The detail will fall into place.

May you experience his love, his presence, his peace and his joy. Be victorious!
Philippians 4:6 "Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.

I leave you with this thought for today: God's peace is different from the world's peace. It is not found in positive thinking, in absence of conflict, or in good feelings. Real peace comes from knowing that because God is in control, our citizenship in Christ's Kingdom is sure, our destiny is set, and our victory over sin is certain.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

...uh, one more thing...

I want to add to the blog about giving...

In my transition I am spending a lot more time with God than what I've done in a long time. It is precious, and He is most certainly busy doing something on the inside of me right now. I already stand back, have a look at myself, and I realize that I cannot go back to living the life I had before I stepped into this journey with God. Trusting God is crucial to me right now. I am determined to obey whatever God leads me to do, but I've also realized that trusting in itself is also obedience that is absolutely crucial right now.

Another friend of mine is currently on quite of journey of her own with God. She is much more new to the whole principle of walking in faith. We all crawl before we walk, before we run, and we all start out on spiritual milk. So some days she is more challenged than others and she tells me some of what she experiences. Then I try to tell her what I feel lead in my heart Holy Spirit wants to tell her. And she often mentions how she appreciates my making time to encourage her, whilst I must have enough challenges of my own.

However, I know that I'm safe in God's hands. He has a very secure hold on me, and I focus on this very deliberately, but I am not immune to the enemy trying to distract me. The difference for each person is just determined by what you choose to do when it happens. I also know the secret of giving, and that it is planting seed for blessings. Usually the time of the harvest is so perfect, that you can't deny that it had to be God! I do not feel it a burden.

Last night I was having conversation with God and I mentioned this to Him. I just realized again: The Bible says that faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Whenever I reply to her mails I try to base it on Scripture, so that it is not merely my ideas. Contrary to human ideas, God-ideas are guaranteed to work for anyone who will believe, and apply them. So I make a point of showing her where to find it. I realized that as I'm passionately encouraging her – and having to look up every verse that I quote for her – I am reading, hearing, typing, saying and sending the very Word by which faith cometh. Before I know it, I am as excited about it as what I hope she is when she receives my e-mail. The result is that, whilst I'm busy encouraging her – giving to her – I am receiving something equally precious for my own journey.

I thank God for sending a woman on my path that has problems. Not that I'm glad she has it, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to sow seeds of faith, encouragement and strength, for the more I convince her how AWESOME God is, the more I stand in awe myself! When we uplift Him, it is impossible for our own heads to not be lifted too.

Bless the Lord; He's the Lifter of my countenance. Bless the Lord; He's the Lifter of my head!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A tender anything on a bed of crisp endless possibilities

I believe God said that He was going to lead me by a way that I do not know...

For someone who likes (and prefers) to be in control, that is quite something. I've often said if you don't know what you're looking for, how will you recognize it? So last night I was telling God the same thing. "Lord, please show me what I'm looking for, or otherwise, how would I recognize it?" I feel like I'm looking over a sea of faces and I'm supposed to recognize someone that I don't know.

A dear friend of mine has just recently joined the world of Skype. In the chat facility it has, what is known in cyber world as, 'emoticons'. For those of you who don't know what that is, it is the little face pictures (and sometimes other kinds of pictures too), that expresses all kinds of moods and emotions. So when you write, you can make it more visual in order to express yourself more vividly. This feature is a new discovery for my friend, and this morning I indicated to him where he can find it to explore it a little, and next time he would know how to use it, should he choose to. I make use of it very often, because I think in pictures, and this provide me with quite a bit of entertainment from time to time, as I attempt to express myself very theatrically in writing.

He did venture there and then send me a message, using one of the pics. He added that he wasn't quite sure what the particular image was, but that I should see what I could make of it. I recognized it and replied, explaining it to him. He replied telling me all the possibilities of what he thought it was, while he didn't have a clue. I realized that, while he did not know what it was supposed to be, his imagination ran wild and the possibilities were endless. Some was rather entertaining.

I also realized then that, very often, as soon as your mind has made a decision on what something is supposed to be, it almost 'robs' you of the imaginary possibilities. His mind was not pre-conditioned. To him the picture could be whatever he wanted to. His possibilities were endless.

Here I was, asking God to show me something that my mind would recognize, but not realizing, that while I'm in the state of not knowing any details, it could take on any shape or size; the possibilities are endless, and my mind is open to anything God wants to do. I can't limit Him to the familiarity of my mind, even if I wanted to. But now God is free to do something new, dynamic and exciting. Isn't that precisely what I'm trusting God for?

I think my mind becomes confused at times. On the one hand I'm asking God for something fresh and different, yet, on the other hand my mind searches for familiarity. I sigh with relief, smiling to myself. At least God is not confused.

I would never in my wildest dreams have imagined myself in this place. All the time that I was crying out to God for something new, a way out, I don't think I realized what I was crying out for.

I remind myself of all the people who have done, and are doing great things for God. Could they imagine the life that they now live and the things they are doing? Surely there was a time in their lives when they also made courageous choices, having had no idea what was awaiting them on the other side of their faith step.

It makes me think of Peter who asked Jesus to let him walk on the water to meet Him. What he asked Jesus is a very far fetched idea to my mind. He basically defied gravity by stepping over the side in faith. He decided to let it take on any shape it could be; to not limit the possibilities with the familiar way of thinking. He stepped out in faith, not knowing the detail of how it would work out. I think often in life we are challenged to choose between staying in the safety of the boat - the familiar - or stepping out onto the water and walking towards Greater Things.

I heard someone say once that they would rather be a wet water walker than a dry boat sitter. Peter's mentality was "go big, or go home", and this willingness to open his mind to the extraordinary is what made him a powerful instrument for God's kingdom. Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter (meaning "rock") and said that His church would be built on it. I want to have a heart like Peter.

Not knowing the detail sometimes make me nervous, but maybe that is God's idea of adventure; when you don't have everything planned to the last detail; unpredictable. When you say, "God, where are we going?" and He says, "Wait, you'll see; it's a surprise!"

When I think back on the work experience that I've had for the past two years, my mouth becomes dry and my stomach turn. I have no desire for another experience like it. I am hungry for something new; something that I have not seen or experienced before. Right now it is unpredictable, the possibilities endless. I don't want to limit God with the possibilities that my mind/imagination can conjure. I don't want some 'second hand' adventure.

Peter stepped out of the boat by faith and asked questions later. By that I don't mean that we should be reckless and think that God will see to it, but if we never step out, we may never know what it is like to 'walk on the water'.

A few steps later, his mind started realizing the reality of what he'd done. In those moments his fear was fueled by looking everywhere but at Jesus, and it was when he took His eyes off the goal, that he started sinking. God said that He stirs up the hearts of His chosen ones for a purpose, and I too have stepped out of the boat. What is important now is to keep my eyes on the Goal. It is not a time to look around in fear. What is encouraging about Peter, though, is that he did not attempt to go back to the boat when he started sinking. He called out to Jesus, who reached out and saved him. I think Peter put that in his bag of 'things to remember for next time': do not look around. You'll sink!

Even though Peter did doubt Jesus there for a bit, the experience still made him stronger for that which he was going to do for God later on. It makes me think that is all worth the while, even if you do get a little wet sometimes. It still beats sitting in the boat.

By wanting to know everything - not having to trust God - we might just stand in our own way for having the greatest adventure ever with Him. One thing should make us rest assured: God says that the plans He has for us (for me) are good ones to give us a hope and a future (Jer 29:11).

So Lord, I'll have some of your special recipe 'anything' after all...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Straight from the heart

Some things only come with time. Getting to know God and growing up in Him as a Christian is most certainly one of them. It is very important to remember that God knows exactly where you're at; where e-a-c-h person is. He knows how strong you are at any point and what you can handle extra so that you can grow beyond. He knows your desire, or lack thereof, to grow in Him, and He knows you in your and His personal relationship. He knows your weaknesses, and He knows what needs work, and when you are ready to deal with it.

He knows the pace you can handle, and He keeps up with you, and at the same time knowing when you have to arrive where. How amazingly is He aware of us; each individual in his own? NO PRESSURE.

We are forever on this journey. We will only arrive the day Jesus comes back. Each person's race is unique, and most of us are in different places at any given time. But He doesn't grab the guy who's behind by the neck and demand why he is not further forward at any particular time. He has the patience for us to progress as is best for us. Joyce always said: I'm not yet where I should be, but, thank God, I'm not where I used to be. This has often encouraged her, and me, to keep going gradually. The walk with God is not a sprint. It's an endurance race.

I think some important principles that apply to everyone, is:

• sincerely loving God with all your heart.
• getting over your 'sweet little self' (as Joyce puts it.... her book: I was always on my mind), and realizing that it's about God, not any ONE of us.
• God honors obedience, no matter who says what! It will not always be at the time we want/demand, but it is His choice.
• You can NEVER out give God.
• His Word is TRUE, and will work for anyone who believes and applies it!
• The righteous shall live by faith. Without it, it is impossible to please God. (Heb 11:6 But without faith is it impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists, and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].
• He knows you inside out. You can't hide or pretend, so you might as well be real, and let Him clean up and make you who He knows you can be.
• Submit to His authority. You can only have one ruler in a kingdom.
• God is a God of grace, but that does not give us the right to do as we please, thinking that we'll be exempt from consequences. God is gracious, not a wizard, and He knows the heart of man better than we know ourselves. If you're not sincere, He is not fooled, and He doesn't let Himself be taken for a ride, no matter how much He loves us.
• He is the Creator and we are the creation. Know your place in the food chain.
• Worship wins the war; lifting Him up, lifts you up. (A very precious weapon in difficult times, when wars rage in your head.)
• He NEVER lets anyone down who puts their trust in Him.
• When you've done wrong, run back to Him as fast as you can! That is the best (and fastest) way back to a strong place. Own up and take responsibility for yourself, your actions and your choices. This is what made David a man after God's own heart: running back, repenting, and owning up.

I think this matter, no matter who you are, or what your personality is - so being 'unique' makes no difference.

Never compare yourself with other people, or Christians. You are not running a race against anyone, but yourself. Make sure that YOU are committed to move with, obey, and grow with God.

I believe that, submitting to God's authority in your life, is a key secret to living victoriously. Contrary to the way some appear to believe, we do not call the shots. And when God speak, we can speak to Him, but ultimately what He says, goes. Often, obeying God will be painful. That is the process of 'dying to self', as Jesus describes for someone who chooses to follow Him. It will not be easy. It takes a 'MAN' to serve God, not a mouse. This does not mean that we'll have a hard time all the time, but if you're serious about God, you will feel it.

One of the secrets to enjoying much of God's great promises, is p-e-r-s-e-v-e-r-a-n-c-e. He is not an instant God, and He is more concerned for our character before Him, than stopping us from feeling any upset or discomfort. Sometimes you move, and sometimes (it could feel like a lifetime) you feel still, while you travel in a less visible way. I often think of it like a child of 5 growing up, and when he's 18 he is going to drive a Ferrari. Even though the promise is there, he is not going to grow up from 5 to 18 any faster than he would have anyway: Ferrari, or no Ferrari. It could be hard, and frustrating a lot of the time, but you might as well focus on the things that are relevant to the journey at 5,6,7,8......13,14,15,16.... Certainly you don't want to choose to not mature along the way. You want to meet the requirement for driving the Ferrari at 18, don't you? Certainly you don't want to miss out? Realize that God will never bless you with things that are too big for you to handle. It won't bless you, it will destroy you. That is not what a loving God does. We have to be willing to travel and grow up into being ready for our inheritance that God has dreamt for us. Faithful in little, trusted in much. No one gets it any different. It just depend on your commitment to God, to achieve what needs to be achieved, that determines how fast or slow you will get there, and whether you'll get there at all.

Sometimes we wait a long time because we don't want to co-operate with the painful process of character building that needs to happen. We want to find the easy way, or the shortcut, or to see if we can achieve the end result by avoiding the process all together. Spending time on this, is extending the waiting period to receive what's on the other end. Sometimes you must close your eyes tightly and do 'Nike'..... just do it!!

I heard a preacher say once that when a parent dies, and the children are under age, they cannot receive their inheritance of millions. It would go to a trust, or a guardian, and when you come of age, you can receive your inheritance. That is when the law deem you mature enough. The prodigal son demanded his inheritance too early; he didn't have the character to support it, so he wasted it away, and soon, he was in trouble. (Prodigal means somebody who, after leaving home, behaves wastefully and disgracefully, but repents and is forgiven and warmly welcomed on returning.) God doesn't want us to first waste, and then recover. He loves us too much.

Part of having faith is not just for what God can do for us and give us, but also believing that He knows best, and that He knows it all. He knows better than we do. Realize that, and accept it when He does it differently to what we want or think. We always see/realize the benefits of His involvement in hindsight. We should always remember, in the first instance, to seek His FACE, and NOT his HAND.

God is not a back-up plan, a first aid kit, a time pass when we have nothing else going on. He is a person. If He's made us in His image, then He must also feel used when this happens. He deserves only our very best in every way!

The weird thing is that this sounds like a whole long list of do's and don'ts, and it could easily feel overwhelming, but in essence it is loving God in action, and not just doing lip service. I mean, if you love someone, why would you want to hurt them, or make them sad, or disappoint them, or not spend time with them, or be dishonest with them, or not involve them in everything that concerns you, or do something that would upset them, or be to their disadvantage, or to the disadvantage of your relationship, think they lie when they tell you things or make promises, not keep your side of a commitment, take something of theirs that does not belong to you, tell lies about them, etc. etc. etc. The way we are and live is really an expression (to Him) of our love for Him. It really shows us our own hearts. And all God wants is that we love Him with all our hearts! He gives us everything we need for the journey the moment we accept Him as Lord and Saviour. We must just pull on it by f-a-i-t-h.

And then we're right back where we started... faith...

I guess, what I'm trying to say, is to encourage you to take this time that you have - not knowing what God has in store - to get to know Him. When you read your bible, learn about who God is, and how He ticks. (We will never fully understand Him, but we can learn what is in His character to do, and what He wouldn't do. That way, at least we can recognize Him.) When you seek GOD, it warms His heart. It makes Him want to come even closer to meet with you, and when He delights in you, then He becomes more willing to give more to you. Just like an earthly father wants to give more to a child who behaves, loves him, says thank you and show gratefulness and do his chores. A child who acts like a spoiled brat, misbehaving, screaming, being disrespectful, making demands, etc. does not exactly make a dad's heart warm and fuzzy, stirring up a desire to pour more great things out to them. No, it makes him want to close his hand instead.
However, when we're too busy spending time with God, He becomes our focus, and what He gives us become a by product - a 'by-the-way'... And then we sometimes don't even realize how long we waited for it, because weren't watching the clock.

Also, getting to know God makes it easier to believe Him. When He says, "I love you, and only have your best interest at heart. Trust me! I've gotcha!" it makes it easier to believe, because that is how you know Him. He will do what He said, because that is how I know Him to be. Then, when the devil try to lie to you, telling you that God's going to let you down, you'll tell him to push off, because you and God have talked it over, and He said He's got me! And if God said it, HE SAID IT! That's just who He is! (and no one will convince you otherwise.) And so you become stronger and stronger. It is only when you don't know for real how much He loves you and who He is, that you are afraid that He will let you down. It is only natural that one would feel that way about a stranger. So be determined that that would not be what God is to you: a stranger. 1 John 4:18 says (Amp) there is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment and [so] he who is afraid had not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love's complete perfection]. And in the NLT is says Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

So what is the answer: make it your mission to really get to know Him, and His love for you. And while you're seeking the kingdom, all these other things will be taken care of. Matthew 6:33 in the Message says it very well for me: If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers - most of which are never even seen - don't you think He'll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

I don't think I can say it any better than that! I think I should stop writing, and just quote the Bible (ha-ha).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

NO problem!!

I don't have a problem because my God has a plan!!

Never before have I met a person who knows all the answers, but countless times I've met people who have many questions, difficult situations and no answers.

If we don't put a leash on our mind, it can so easily run wild. We can so easily be consumed by the difficulties that we encounter in our lives that everything else is simply forced to fade into the background. This sometimes even includes the loved ones around us. This doesn't mean that we necessarily neglect them in the physical, for example the father who is consumed by his financial difficulty and therefore works long hours to provide for his family. He comes home one day and notices that the family drawing of his little girl on the fridge includes everyone, from the baby sitter to the dog, but not him. In his search for a solution to his financial problem he's become a stranger to a family who just needs him to be around to love him and to be loved by him.

Have you ever heard that you can have the man, but not his heart? We can be there physically, but in our minds we exist on planet Solution, miles away from civilization and forever searching for answers to our problems and questions. For example the father who is so lost in his reasoning that he don't realize the tug on his hand of a little boy who wants him to anticipate the moment of excitement and exploration with him.

Why do we find ourselves spending so much time trying to solve our problems if God already have all the answers? Not once were the Pharisees able to trick Jesus with their questions. Not one question was asked for which He did not know the answer and no problem situation was too big for Him to solve. Even Lazarus whose corps had started to smell bad was raised from the dead. No situation was hopeless for Jesus and in this day, no matter what your circumstance, it too is not hopeless.

The Bible encourages us not to worry about anything, but to pray about everything instead; To tell God our needs, and to remember to thank Him for His answers. If we do this we will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep our thoughts and our hearts quiet and at rest as we trust in Christ. (Philippians 4:6)

I know a friend who helped me once by giving me advice that made the difference that I needed in the circumstance that I was experiencing. She told me to ask myself the following: "Can I make a change?" If the answer is yes, then make the change. Sometimes, however, we can't make a change. In those times our attitude towards the situation is all that we can change. Everything could seem different with the change of attitude even though nothing has really changed. Our attitude is the glasses through which we see the world around us. Are you, maybe, due for a new pair – ones that will enable you to see clearly that you don't have a problem because in this day God has a plan!

"Come to Me and I will give you rest – all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear My yoke – for it fits perfectly – and let Me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls, for I give you only light burdens." (Matthew 11: 28)

Let Him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you. (1 Peter 5:7)

May you find and experience His peace that surpasses all understanding as you allow Him to reveal His plan to you today!