God Surprises

Why should we take the time to hear from God? There are myriad reasons but the biggest and most encompassing are that God has plans, surprising plans, and we simply can't follow them by the seat of our pants – God's thinking and his ways are exponentially higher and greater than anything we can muster! (Isaiah 55:8-9)

But we can know what God wants us to know. And he wants us to know far more than we often settle for. We can look at the latter part of Romans 11 and if we don't read on we can conclude that if the question is asked "who can know the mind of God" and "who can be his counselor" we might as well hang it up.

But the answer is in what follows. If we lay down our lives as living sacrifices (Roman 12:1), and get our mind renewed (v. 2), we will "be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:1-2). Amazing, isn't it? 

Any notion that we are fumbling our way through life is not grounded in biblical truth. God has surprises for his kids who are willing to lay it all down to hear from him. Go discern what God has in store for you today!

 

 

We're Designed to Consume...Jesus!

We can't apologize for being a consumer, but we need to focus on consuming the life of Christ. If we take Jesus' metaphor of Christians being a branch, we find that Jesus provides all the juice we need to produce the fruit of abundant life. (see John 15)

Discipleship requires resisting the marketing of a worldview that finds satisfaction apart from God and embracing God's view that the greatest satisfaction is consuming the life of God. This is simply done by loving, listening, obeying, and savoring the teaching of Jesus. 

Many Christians have ceased to consume the life of God in Christ and have opted for meaning and satisfaction in an empty promise of material consumerism. Material things in the hands of a disconnected branch are powerless, but in the hands of a disciple of Christ they become tools of grace – giving us and those around us JOY.

Check out this powerful clip that tackles consumerism of our day...

Where are you looking?

Where are you looking? Nothing can steal God's vision for our life like the nagging things right before us. Worry about the next step we take or the enemies we may face can only paralyze our forward movement.

He almost crashed the helicopter. It was one of his first lessons and he was fighting the urge to look straight down at the controls. But the only way to keep the chopper stable was to lift his eyes, trust his hands, and look to a distant horizon. Now he was beginning to fly with fresh confidence.
She couldn't keep the car swaying from the center line and back to the far right shoulder of the road. It wasn't a drinking and driving situation. She was a new driver. It was a focus crisis. With a slight lifting of her head she looked far down the road and immediately the car traveled smoothly in the center of it's lane.

The temptation is to fixate on that thing right before us. But enemies will loom too large, mountains become too daunting, our next step becomes too fearful. But God! Yes, there is no other friend like God. And when we gaze upon him the pressure of the present is lifted – God carries our emotional load and gives us courage to move ahead. Where are you looking? Meditate on this wonderful passage of scripture.

Psalm 121
   I
lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

"This is my morning quiet time! I love the creator!"

Last Saturday I was up early (2:30am Alaska time) and wrapping up some good time in the word at the Larson (good Swedish name) home. My good friend, Mark Larson, came downstairs and we said goodbye as he headed off for a flight in his Cessna 180. He was heading to his cabin and I was off to see some friends and visit with my sick mother. 

Alaska is a huge canvas where God splashed his creativity over every inch – a true masterpiece. It wasn't but a couple hours after Mark and I went our separate ways when I got a text from him. He was flying at a couple thousand feet and the text simply read, "This is my morning quiet time! I love the creator!". Triple Boom!

God's creation shouts at us every day. In flowers, clouds, storms, and breezy blue skies, God invites us to see what he has done. But more, God wants us to see what he can do in you and me – it's a masterpiece! Looking closely at God's handiwork can give us fresh perspective on life. I'll give you just a few that I found from this awesome picture.

  • Those mountains in the background represent something about your trials. Up close our challenges are enormous and can seem insurmountable. But our mountains are God's speed bumps, and he has all you need to get you through. 
  • Seasons change and each new season has it's own beauty. Enjoy the season God has you in today. It may have it's own challenges but even dying leaves are splendid in their own way.
  • Although we may feel small and insignificant, God sees us as unique and special. Look at those little lakes. There are so many, each of them reflecting what is above. You can do the very same. You're not a number, you're a image bearer – a reflection of God's power, strength, and beauty!

Take some time and just look at this image. What do you see? Share it with me if you'd like, or just take the time to thank God for his creative hand in your life. God speaks in the quiet times of life. 

Keep Dreamin'

No matter what we may think at any given moment, God's truth trumps our thoughts. It's never too late, we're never too old. We're never too worn out, or too worn down. We're never too lost, or too far gone. We're never too battered, never too shattered, for God to pull it all together. God can do more through our frailty than we can ever pull-off through our efforts of sheer humanity.  If we can take a breath we have a life that needs to be fully lived. Don't let the dream die!

God can do more in the eleventh hour than we can do in the ten prior. There's a debilitating lie that roams around board rooms, whispered in small groups, and wages a private war against our minds. This lie pushes God-given potential and endless possibility further into a dark hole of discouragement and defeat. And here is the subtle killer..."Past performance is the best predictor of future success", or "your current situation will never change". This is a grand lie! It denies that we were all made "in the image of God". It overlooks endless the biblical stories of redemption, often built on multiple layers of perceived failures. It ignores the passion of God to change a life and His power to do it. It reduces the "good news" to a myth and leaves Jesus dead in a grave. We can't let the dream die, because God is alive!

God loves to give vision to His kids. He loves to show himself faithful when we feel frail. Any notion that God paints a general picture of a richer future and then abandons us to stumble along is flatly untrue. This is certain: Nothing gives God more joy than moving you from where you stand today, taking courageous and bold steps tomorrow, and ultimately realizing the vision and dreams that God gave you!

Genesis 15:1-6

Don't Count - Count On God

Why did King David get in hot water with God for doing a head-count of his army? Simply this: Anything good in David’s life came from the hand of God. All the wars were won with God’s strength. Any big decisions that went in the win-column were led by God’s wisdom. And even when David should have been killed in a cave, God kept him safe. God wanted David – and US – to get this: The greatest life to live is all-in with God and trusting God alone – all the time!

God’s power is like a hockey horn for our soul – it should signal a huge spiritual score in at least two ways: It means 1. We are not alone. 2. We are not on our own. God’s grace broke through our spiritual isolation and offered friendship. And God’s power gives us strength to go beyond our personal ability.

So how do we honor God’s friendship and power? Don’t count how many people are on our side – God can win battles when massively outnumbered. Never list the good things we’ve done as a way to give us worth – we needed the righteousness of Christ to save us AND to carry us. Resist measuring our personal abilities when looking at God-given dreams – God gets more joy out of using humble submission, than great skills, to do great exploits. Stop looking at our circumstances when God is simply calling us to walk by faith – the good stuff isn’t from God unless it causes us to swallow hard and step into the unknown. If we’re gonna count anything…count on God!

II Sam. 24

You See That?

God is always up to something in and around our lives. And whether big or small - it's always dynamic. The only real question is why do some people see it and live with hand rubbing expectation while others are oblivious?

It should be said that spiritual pride is the most blinding to the works and ways of God. We can all grow in awareness of God's moves - No person can see it all. But there is a common thread with spiritual visionaries who see below and/or beyond the surface of any situation - and this is not for an exclusive group.

First, if we humble ourselves under the Father's hand, he will lift us up (I Peter 5:6). Implied in the context is a new vantage point to see the battlefield and immanent attacks more clearly.

Second, Jesus came to give sight to the blind - that's you and me (John 9:39). This verse indicates that self-will is blinding, but the closer we cling to Jesus, the more the fog will lift before us.

Third, the primary function of the Holy Spirit is to guide us into ALL truth (John 16:13). There is an aspect of the HS that is beyond the natural senses. This is why giving our mind to the truth of God's word helps us listen to the HS and navigate around our own flesh, foolish people, and constant temptation.

God is at work...I pray we see it today!

Hidden Doors...Passcodes...And God

I had a childhood friend who became as close as a brother to me. Jeff was a confidant and a comrade. On several occasions things got heated between us. But after a few punches landed and throwing rocks at each other from about ten paces, cooler heads would prevail and we'd be best buddies again. The greatest part about our friendship was the secrets we shared. Not the sick stuff you hear a lot about today, it was the secret stuff like crushes we had on girls, how much we made on our paper routes, the trick to get into our super high tree house, and the craziest dreams kids could imagine. There's something healthy about the secrets you share with only your closest friend.

God made us for friendship, even secret friendship. Our friendship with God has extraordinary potential to go as deep as a childhood buddy and even deeper. It's common to refer to ourselves as Christ followers or even talk of our love for God. But when we finally realize that God loves to share secrets with us...in secret...look out! Everything changes when God becomes our secret friend.

This is no joke and if we take Jesus at his word it could radically alter the quality of our life. Yes, Jesus spoke of the need for us to be salt and light. And going public with our faith is a common call for every person who's truly been touched by God. But what can't be overlooked is that God invites us into a place of secrecy - a secret place, with a hidden door, and a passcode that only you and God will know. And when we go to this secret place we find the our friendship is forged with God like it could never be when everyone else is around. But what comes of this friendship is something no friend on earth can provide. And God invites us into the secret place to see that he has something special for us...a promised reward. I don't know what the reward will be for you and I can't tell you what he's given me...it's a secret. But let's take God at his word as we listen to the words of Jesus, "But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your father who is in secret. And your father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:6). What a friend we have in Jesus!

Temptation

The day will come when Satan will be “tormented day and night forever and ever.” Until that day, Satan will pull out all the stops to take down as many people as possible until his fate is sealed. Satan has several voices and he uses them with precision.

Temptation is the voice of Satan that baits us into getting ahead of God, or worse, playing god. The goal is rather simple but the effects are devastating. Satan sets a trap to convince us that radical independence is a good option. The bait on the trap is hand selected to match our current needs. Jesus was hammered by evil after a Spirit led fast (Matthew 5:1-11). Note: Some of our toughest battles come on the heels of deep spiritual adventures with God.

Jesus was hungry so Satan hung out the bait of instant bread. Satan also tempted Jesus to test God’s will to protect him. Then Satan came at Jesus with the bait of power. Each temptation of Jesus was an attempt to get our Lord to take a bite at something before it was time. Provision, protection and power are all ironclad promises, yes, even for you and me. But timing is everything in the Kingdom of God. Satan will often tempt us with the wrong things, but more often he tempts us with the good things, even God things, but it’s just the wrong time. 

Sex is a good thing in God’s plan at the proper time. The business you’re passionate to launch may just require a little God delay before it's time to go. That move across the city might be a month away or possibly it’s another state or country away. It's all about God and his good timing.

Satan doesn’t usually hold a gun to our head, he baits us into jumping the gun. Wait, wait, wait on God and soon you’ll experience the fruit of deliverance...“behold, angels came and were ministering”.

Revelation 20:10, Matthew 5:1-11

Truth Matters

Satan can be seen every single day and yet he looks nothing like we'd expect. Satan can be heard as well, but there is no spitting and snarling as we've imagined. Satan is too cunning and crafty to come straight at us as we might have thought him to be, that's what makes Satan so scary to so many.

This is one of the most critical and defining truths for understanding the work of God and the work of Satan. The Spirit of God is seen/heard in people who humbly surrender their lives to Jesus and keep in step with the Spirit. In fact, Jesus said that God the Father could be seen clearly in himself. Jesus said, "you do know him, and have seen him." If you want a picture of God, just watch the life of Jesus.

On the other hand, the spirit of Satan can can be seen/heard in people who run counter to the Spirit of God. Even well meaning people, who carry a personal agenda that may not be God's, can fall under the influence of Satan. 

Jesus said, "get behind me, Satan" when Peter had a different agenda for the Christ's work than that of God the Father. Now this in no way paves the way for us to ascribe to anyone the name of Satan. But it does raise an important point. Not all counsel is godly, not all words are holy and not all gestures are from above. 

Some of our words/actions are just flesh and reveal the residual effects of our fallenness. But some words/actions can fly in the face of God's glory and his will. This should lead us to do at least two things: 1. Watch what we say. Don't be paranoid but when asked for advice make certain it comports with scriptural truth. 2. Check the counsel/advice/direction you receive against the word of God and gather wise counsel around you to keep life sorted out. Opinions are a dime a dozen. People can get on bandwagons that are going nowhere. Truth Matters!

John 14:7, Matt. 16:23

Fear Drives Us To God (or it can)

Some people use fear as a way of measuring courage or emotional strength. The more fear, the lesser the person, or so some believe. But this leaves out huge variants, like the size of the battle or the nature of what's striking fear into a person. Also, we can't know from where a person began and what they've overcome. But most importantly, scripture is clear that we don't have to be slaves to fear but God never implies we'll become fearless. This "fearless" pursuit is timeless. It has never gone out of style to try and overcome fears by believing they don't exist. But fearlessness ignores reality and is inherently man-centered. It actually seems to driven by the fear of fear.

Fearlessness leaves faith on the shelf and renders the mystery of trusting God as wimpy. But the essence of faith in God isn't the absence of fear in life. Faith stares fear in the eyes and crosses over by a power outside of ourselves but deposited within us. What God can do for us is amazing. And yes, he can address our fear in any form it may take, as it attempts to crush us. 

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ""Abba," Father."

This is real straight forward. Fear helps us connect with God! When God removed our slavery to fear it didn't eradicate fear, he ushered in a new Spirit to deal with that fear and direct us to God in our darkest days. Trying to shake fear is like running from our shadow. It's exhausting and we'll never get away. The running must stop. The craziness of "fearlessness" must end. Stop measuring your worth by the amount of your fear. God's not that small and the fears we face can confirm that we're on the right path - fears don't have to stop us dead in our tracks, they can drive us to God.

Romans 8:15

God Factor

When you factor God into any equation, it always changes the outcome. Now that will either freak us out or cause us to shout. Either way it should make us stop and consider...how is God with what I'm doing? And one of the most important measures is how we're talking about other people.

We get this! The accident at the corner had only witnesses that were in the other car or bystanders who didn't see it but made assumptions. A version of the story was told but the whole truth was left out. We not only get this...we've done it. We've given a slant on a person or an issue for our own sake. And we've had things said of us or told about us that just weren't true. That hurts. But add God to the equation of life and in time it will all get sorted out. We don't like delayed anything, but delayed truth makes those snap judgements, broad brushings, and repeated falsities, that we've all been on the receiving end of, completely tolerable...even peaceful at a soul level.

So here's the goal. There's enough real trouble in this world and leaning into truth, and avoiding stretching anything, is good for our soul. We can't let our own insecurities twist the truth for our perceived benefit, the cost is too high in the end. We can't dish up dirt or we'll inevitably be throwing around some truth but also some shovels full of lies, and we'll wind up standing in the pit we dig.

We've all done all this, but we're not slaves to it. So we put our hands to the plow of hope. We gossip the good news of life in Christ, speak the truth in love, and let praise be continually in our mouth.

Proverbs 19:5 ESV 
A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape.

Don't Let Shame Steal Another Minute Of Your Life

Nothing much seems to crush our spirit like shame. While shame is universally experienced it is rarely discussed. And then it slowly eats away at our very life. Shame steals our vision, clouds our perspective, and turns out the lights on our fellowship with God. And the goal of shame is to stay hidden.

But shame has a voice and it uses that voice to manipulate us. The voice of shame says, "don't talk about me, because the pain will get stronger and the weight will just get heavier". Shame talks us into doing anything and everything, as long as we don't do the most important thing. Shame compels us to rationalize or project, explain or blame but never does shame want us to get near to the most important thing. 

There is only one thing to do...period. Confess! Confession is the action that most renders shame powerless. Shame wants us to shut it up, God invites us to speak it out. But confession must be done thoroughly-biblically. Touch all the needed bases and soon we'll walk free. 

Confess to:

GOD - When we confess to God we're off-loading all our sin. Our sin is the host from which shame grows. Confession of sin results in forgiveness and forgiveness starves shame. The greatest gift of confession is that it's cleansing. Confession is like a shower for our soul. Please see I John 1:9. 

RIGHTEOUS FRIENDS - One of the greatest break-throughs we can gain, happens when we confess our failings to righteous friends. These aren't self-righteous people, but rather friends who have tasted God's grace, are unwilling to gossip, are quick to pray, and eager to watch us taste freedom ourselves. We need to take God at his word...confession promotes healing! Please see James 5:16.

Don't let shame steal another minute of your life...confess!

God Sees

Perception is a gift from God, but limited perception could just as easily be a gift wrapped lie from Satan. Perception has layers and those first layers can betray what lies beneath. Below the initial surface-level perceptions is a wide world. The correct perception is often the one that we have after looking at someone over the course of time or maybe from a unique angle. Taking the time to look past the first-blush is critical. Building a belief system about anyone requires that we go deeper than first impressions. Perception can be a gift from God, if we take the time to see people as God sees them.

This is well illustrated in the story of Samuel. Samuel's on a mission from God to find Israel's next King. It's at a critical point that we find how God helped Samuel get the eyes of God - godly perception. Although Samuel thought he was staring the next King in the face, God intervened and said "Do not look on his appearance...For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Right there, God gave wisdom for perception to Samuel. This lesson is rock solid and transferable to everyone. First, we can draw zero hard and fast conclusions about someone based on first impressions or quick perceptions. Below the layers is a wide world. Someone who comes off great right out of the chute, may not have the character for the long haul. And conversely, someone who comes out stumbling, may well have such inner strength and fortitude that you'd be a fool to bet against em'. 

But maybe you need this truth yourself. You feel like you don't "show" well. Well guess what, neither did most of the champions of grace that we find through the pages of history. Yes, put your best foot forward but don't worry if your best foot doesn't look so hot. God's been overcoming bad first impressions and peoples flawed perceptions for thousands of years. Here's what you can do. Focus the bulk of your attention on your heart. Yes, it can feel risky but God is the ultimate and final judge. And he always finds a way to reward the heart that is tended to. How will the reward appear? We don't know how or even when, but we do know that even if you're overlooked by flawed perception now, it's what God perceives that wins in the end. 

I Samuel 16:7

Man In The Mirror

It’s a tragedy that men have settled for so little when God offers us so much. The goal is not some brutish bravado, it’s to take hold of a biblical manhood that is humble, teachable and yet untamable–yes, all three must co-exist. But men have been tamed and this modern taming isn’t for the better. We’ve traded in masculine tenderness for softness. We’ve walked away from wonder and adventure and opted for what’s safe and predictable. And too many men have stopped being bold initiators–we’ve settled for being timid responders. Greatness is still calling out for men who will dare to believe that God can turn us from ordinary to extraordinary. And the first turn we must make it to the one who can show us what we’ve become. 

So let’s get honest about manhood, love and marriage. Real men, I’m talking about chivalrous men, have the courage to see themselves as they truly are. They give all praise to God for the good that comes out of them, and beg God for the grace and power to change what is needed. The best way for a man to see himself is in the mirror of God’s truth. Natural man flinches at the point of reflection, but real men belly up to the bar of truth and say, “okay, let me see what’s really going on here”. Finger pointing, a victim mentality, and even the busyness of being a rescuer are all put on hold when we look intently into who we are and not forgetting what we have seen. The promise is amazing, “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” Now that's promise with some punch.

The tendency for most of us is to veer clear of anything that could threaten our manhood. But God never reveals anything to us out of retribution; rather, it’s compassion and the prospect of real life change that compels God to show us the truth. This is where winners are born (or reborn). It’s at this place of brutal honesty that we have a chance to become the man God always destined us to be. Men who can’t look into a mirror of truth are doomed to live a lie. But the great escape from status quo can begin to happen as we muster the courage to see things as they really are. And courage to face the truth is always rewarded by the favor of God. The greatest gifts from God slip in from the shadows when we courageously stand in the light. The invitation by God to face up to the truth is always followed by a vision–in this case, a vision for great manhood.

James 1:25

Listen...

If we can live and bask in God's direction and wisdom, we'll be tasting a life that is out of this world. To take in a breath and have God's peace grip our heart is a dynamite reality, and it can happen frequently. The potential for us to rise above the noise of a twisted and tangled world is real. The hand wringing, white knuckles and shortness of breath will never be fully eradicated but they can be radically reduced. This isn't "super saint" stuff. And I'm sure not proposing a false spirituality that looks down our nose at others. I'm championing humble dependence on God. This is child of God stuff. So put this in the spiritual bank: When we desire to be blown away by the voice of God...we're in the will of God.

Here's a danger: We can let the power of time with God slip through our hands. Asking, sharing, praising, singing and a bunch of other "ings" are great, but without listening we're going to miss something that could well be mind-blowing. 

Here's the great news: When humble people take time with God, God speaks. The earliest Jesus followers received the biggest breakthroughs from God while opening their hearts and ears to God. While they were worshiping and forgoing some food, "the Holy Spirit said...". This "word" resulted in a massive movement of the gospel around the world. What a beautiful thing. No strategy sessions, no polling and no consultants (by the way, these have their place and are great gifts from God). But this time was just time with God - willing and ready to hear his voice.

Now the payoff! Listening is within the reach of everyone. We don't need a PhD in hearing. All that's required is a humble heart and willing feet to go the direction God points. We can do this. My only advice is simple but a touch painful. Get a sharp spiritual knife and carve some time to hear from God. Keep a bible open in front of you and confirm what you hear with some wise counsel. But make no mistake: We set aside time with God...and we'll be blown away by what we hear.  

Acts 13:2-3

Life On THE Rock...

When a love for God boils inside us…we’ve begun a strong upward trajectory. But when our starting point for love is anything other than God…the return on our investment is dismal. Place our love in any God substitute and our spirit will be crushed. People will ultimately fail us, money can’t satisfy and status is fickle. Adventure has its limits, all new ventures have an end and sports makes a great hobby but a poor god. And we can’t try to sanitize or disguise the emptiness of misplaced love. Living through our children, medicating our pain or even worshiping our worship are all futile endeavors.

Attempting to reignite love for something that has failed us is common…and many have lived long lives on this cycle…and died trying but failing. The truth is that each of us have tasted the bitterness of misplaced love. So this is why the gospel is such good news. We can get off the sinking sand of misplaced love and stand on the rock. From the rock of Jesus Christ all manner of things now seem to have a great fit. There’s a healthy purpose and plan for any person, place or thing. In fact, the stronger that our love for God burns, the more clearly we will see how to handle specific people, places and things.

The time is now. This is a moment to direct or redirect our love. The rock is never far away. Jesus is most easily found on our knees…and no one will be rejected. The view from the rock is amazing. Those things once so deeply compelling now look rather shallow. Those places that were so captivating are now quite small. Those people who we tried to derive life from are now in focus. They aren’t the rock we once thought…but they need to find their way to the place we now stand.

So clamor to the rock or fall in love with him again. It’s an unshakable position, the view is amazing and the future looks rather strong.

II Samuel 22:32

God Conversation...Beyond Personal Limits

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Satan and his demons have done a good job diminishing the value of prayer. But prayer holds the very answers for helping us live beyond our limitations. Prayer can blow the lid off of small living and survival mentality.

The grand invitation from God is never withdrawn. Salvation isn't just an event, it's a journey, an experience - but mostly it's a conversation. The door is always open in the kingdom of God, the lights are always on - God has all the time we need.

In conversation with God we discover the secret to getting unbound from our personal deficiencies. In ongoing "God chats" we pour out our hearts. We get honest enough that we soon learn we can trust him - he loves us, personal limits and all. God in turn takes the time to tell a story of his master plan - the stained glass masterpiece he's putting together from shards of brokenness. And then it happens, God describes our piece in the master's work. Some walk away not able to let the promises sink into their soul. Others set out to discover the promise of abundant life, but they go alone. The wise do something different, something counter-intuitive, and it's the secret to busting through personal limits. But we have to listen to wisdom that's "calling in the streets". 

Wisdom whispers to us to "stay put, don't move, God's got everything you need". Then wisdom bends low, looks us in the eye and says "never leave the conversation". We can't skirt the truth and live the dream. Abundant life can only be lived "with" God. We must lean into God. Bust open and share our dreams and even confess our limits. The more authentic and raw the conversation, the more we sense the staying power of God's love. It's in conversation with God that we receive the endless supplies of fuel, the grace of breakthrough and increasing clarity for tomorrow.

There are limits to where our efforts can take us. We are bound by humanness. Praying is not a cold tool we grasp to get what we want. Prayer is a conversation. Conversation with God is a spiritual dumping ground for pain, a flame that warms our soul, a confirmation around God's revelation, a strategy session for victory - and here's the kicker, it's all rolled into one. Get into a God conversation today...live beyond your personal limits.

I Thessalonians 5:17

Touched By God...Never The Same

The right touch can change everything. It's those final touches that makes something extraordinary, and sets it apart from what's common. There's never been a masterpiece that didn't have a masters touch that crafted it. This is a timeless principle that is founded in creation and confirmed in mans struggle to overcome. The desire we have to count for something - to conquer common - is a worthy aspiration and birthed in us by the master himself. But there is something to be learned from the mantra of the true masterpieces. Those who are mature, possess a secret and they hold it with great care. It's a truth that's available to all but cherished by few. Those who are wise and see what is unseen can be heard to repeat something like this: "We are shaped, changed and refined ONLY by the touch of God." When God touches our lives and we allow him to sustain his hold on us, it will change everything.

Changing ourselves is as futile as trying to keep the Law of God. All of our effort can only increase our frustration and peak our awareness of our impotence to truly change. Trying to shape our own life must be exchanged for the touch of God. God calls his touch, "The law of the Spirit". It's his touch of the Spirit that sets us free from, "The law of sin and death". And when the Spirit gets its hands on our life, a masterpiece begins to unfold. What was once a lump of lostness, is now taking shape into something that will steal a breath from us. But the rarity of this experience is not a reflection of its lack of accessibility. This is available to anyone who would dare to humble themselves and stay under the hand of God. What God's Spirit touches, is a masterpiece in the making.

The right touch can change everything. Here's several great evidences of how God's Spirit shapes us, from Romans 8:

  • We are freed from soul-scarring condemnation. 
  • Our minds are filled with deep and refreshing thoughts that brings peace.
  • There will be a sense of being fully alive, even in bodies that are deteriorating.
  • We see God differently and recognize him as our "dad".
  • The touch of God strengths us in our weakness.
  • When we just can't put words to a prayer, the Spirit jumps in and prays for us.

This can begin to happen now. Don't grieve too long over wasted years. Ignore the noise of resistance. Bow low and watch what God's touch can do to you! 

Romans 8

The Mad Scramble Is Over...Replaced By The Joy Of God

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The mad scramble is over. Racing to find something that satisfies can be replaced by resting into God. But most of us battle to truly believe that. Some of us can barely muster the courage to admit that Christian faith has seemed to leave us wanting. I believe that's true for all of us at some point. Tradition alone can leave us empty and quite afraid. But we can't fall for the temptation to diminish God just because of our diminished life experiences. If we have the courage to admit that we're not experiencing God's promises, we're positioned for breakthrough. Satan loves to recast God as a drag. But this colossal lie needs to be flushed. Yes, flushed as into the sewer system below us, where it can't be recycled. The day is over to question God's promises, we can only question why we're not tasting, digesting and living them out.

We don't need the Greek word for abundant. We know what abundance of cash looks like, what abundant rain feels like and what abundant kids sound like. Therefore, abundant life is a really good God thing. God's goal is to unleash us into the best version of what he designed us to be. The rush of life isn't lost in Christ, it's redefined and recharged. The diminishing returns of buying fun or purchasing pleasure pale in comparison to the plan of God. God's energy doesn't flame out. The stuff of God actually builds on itself. The joy gets ever deeper as we become ever stronger in him. All those attempts to fill the void of our soul is finally replaced by soul penetrating joy. The mad scramble is over.

Here's the quick application: We're born on a treadmill. The treadmill is called satisfaction. And "we can't get no...no satisfaction". But the treadmill can be fully replaced by taking a trip with God. This isn't a pipe-dream. It's a living reality for hearts aligned with God - aligned with God. If we go the way that "seems right to a man", it's a dead end. "Even in laughter the heart may ache", "and the end of joy may be grief". We can't hit the pleasure button fast enough or hard enough to fulfill us. But God! A life aligned with God is poised for riches. The sweet spot spiritually can be painted with a bit of a picture. Imagine standing smack dab on the righteousness of Jesus alone. Not our works or hard work. Now imagine looking up and seeing God. We're not above him, we're under him. It's here that the Holy Spirit can blow fresh wind into our lives. Bottom line: The mad scramble is over...replaced by the joy of God.

Proverbs 14: 12-13