Not a Wind-up Toy but a Sailboat: How to Let Go and Let God

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Are You Tired of Empty Cliches?

What do we really mean when we spout off things like, “God is in control, God makes all things work together for good, or Let go and let God.”

God certainly is sovereign. He is the supreme king but to say or believe he controls all negates the fact that God gave us free will. And if God has complete control over every event, then he would have no need to alter bad situations to benefit those who follow Him. (Rom. 8:28).

So what does it mean to let go and let God?

Life isn’t easy. Many circumstances work against us to steal our peace and joy. These situations can wind us up in stress and anxiety.

Maybe you feel emotionally wound up by life circumstances. Maybe work has you overwhelmed. Maybe you are burdened by health issues. Maybe the loss of a loved one has you down.

God wants you to let go of them by bringing them to Him in prayer. This involves your whole being: body, soul and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23, Ps. 46:10).

  1. Agree with God. Confess the emotion you are struggling with. Ask God to show you the truth about the situation.
  2. Acknowledge and receive forgiveness. Jesus died not so you could behave better, but so you could receive His righteousness. See yourself from the finished work of the cross: fully restored. This is an act of gratitude.
  3. Forgive others as God has forgiven you. This is a choice not a feeling. Ask God to reveal your heart before Him. Then trust Him to show you any lies you have believed, and what, if any action you should take to reconcile.
  4. Relinquish the situation to the Lord. This is involves acknowledging His sovereignty, and trusting in His extravagant love for you. It doesn’t mean He’s giving you a free ticket to paradise

 You were not created to be a wind-up toy but a sail boat.

He is inviting you to sail with Him. Spread your sails and let God be the wind beneath you. Surrender to His grace and mercy.

Let God come to you, work in you, and flow through you. He is inviting you to partner with Him in His authority and power. It’s why He sent us His Holy Spirit.

Where is He asking you to join Him at work so He is glorified?

 

 

 

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Let Go and Flow in the Vine

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Let Go and Flow in the Vine.JPGWhat does living in the Kingdom mean to us as Christ Followers? Kingdom living is simply living out of God’s presence. We don’t have to wait until we die and get to heaven.  It’s available to us here and now. In John 15, Jesus uses the analogy of a vineyard to explain this to his disciples as they travel to the Garden of Gethsemane. Hours before his crucifixion, He says, “I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can’t produce anything without me”(v.5).

The key to fruitfulness is staying connected to Jesus, who provides life to us and through us, when we learn to rest in Him. In a nutshell, Jesus was saying don’t try to do good works in your own ability; those are weak and non-effective. Instead, draw upon me: my power to produce abundant life. Don’t strive. Relax. I will do it through you as you listen and obey.

I wish I could say I live in the Kingdom daily.  But, more often than not, I find myself depending upon my own strength. During my time dancing on a worship team, my mind was focused on me and the audience. My moves often felt stiff and contrived. I’m sure they looked that way too. But, dancing alone before God, I feel alive and free. I don’t even think about my next move; it just flows from within.

Perhaps, learning unforced rhythms of grace is about moving to the Father’s heart beat: allowing our works to flow from intimate fellowship with Jesus.

The world teaches us to work and then rest to see success. But Jesus says rest in me because it’s through me that your work naturally thrives. I am the source of all life and goodness. Dance with me. I want to be your partner. Together we can change the world. One person at a time. Will you join me?

A New Day is Coming

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A New Day is ComingA day is coming when every knee will bend, and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord and King. Life is not as it should be. Death, sickness and violence surround us. All creation groans, awaiting the day when it too, will be delivered from its bondage of death and decay.

How do we find hope in the midst of turbulent times? Choose to see a better world. Believe and confess, “Jesus is coming again!” The wolf and the lion will live peacefully with the lamb. Joy and peace on earth will be fully restored. In John 14:27, before Jesus ascends to heaven, He tells us His peace isn’t the same as the world’s. Peace isn’t the absence of conflict but the presence of God.

Our peace and joy were stolen when Adam and Eve believed a lie, and acted on it. At that moment, our connection with our heavenly Father, as the source of all truth, was severed. Satan was given what once belonged to man: dominion over earth.

God intended our physical world to reflect His spiritual world. When He created the human race, He breathed His spirit into man, and earth became a visible replica of the invisible Kingdom.

What was God’s solution to man’s problem? Jesus. He sent His precious son to destroy the works of the devil and restore all of creation. He is coming again in glory and power. With Him, he’ll bring His everlasting Kingdom. We will see a new earth and heaven.

This Christmas prepare your heart for His second coming, and celebrate the Prince of Peace who will come as the King of Kings.

Phil. 2:10-11, Rom. 8:22, Is. 65:25, Is. 11:6-9, Gen. 3, 1 Jn. 3:8, Rev 19:6, Rev 21:1-2

 

Photo design by Julie Clark

www.facebook.com/drawingneartogodcoloringbook

 

Color. Create. Pray!

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Color Create Pray

Necessity is the mother of invention. In the movie, Castaway, Tom Hanks used a bloodied volleyball to ease his loneliness on an uninhabited island. Wilson’s face literally was the handprint of his creator. The creative action taken by Hank’s character coupled with his imagination birthed companionship.

Prayer is my lifeline. It’s the time I set aside to meet with God. I’m learning to color when I pray; it keeps me focused, and unlocks an innate creative bent I believe everyone has. In the Pinterest world, this is called Bible journaling. Whatever we choose to call it, it’s liberating. I find a quiet place to be with our Creator, God. Then I pray and ask Him for a picture or a verse. I draw what I hear and see in the stillness of body, soul, and spirit.

This is intimidating to say the least because I have no art background nor do I consider myself a gifted artist. But the Spirit of God is drawing me, like a magnet, to this amazing form of prayer.

Years ago, a friend recommended the book Praying in Color by Sybil Macbeth to me. Intrigued, I began experimenting with water color pencils. I prayed for my pastor, my kids, and sick friends. I drew whatever I saw in my mind’s eye when I prayed. I also wrote any scriptures or words that came to mind. The results were less than beautiful and often resembled kindergarten pictures but were always joyfully received.

Recently, I attended a scrapbooking retreat with the same friend. She is now doing something similar on her Bible pages. Once again inspired, I took out my pencils and brush to see what God would create through prayer.

The outcome is seen in this simple water coloring. Colored Prayer 9-23-15The experience was phenomenal. God progressively spoke to me about His people and Kingdom. Like the pencil markings of various colors, sizes, and shapes, we’re each a unique and valuable part of His Kingdom. I dabbed the damp brush on the paper to blend the color, and a beautiful, solid, bright ray of color appeared; it became one unified part of a whole picture.

In the same way, when the Holy Spirit descends upon believers in Christ, we shine brightly and emit rays of love, grace, and unity. He empowers us to bring life to others and complete His Kingdom.

I felt God say, “I am Alpha (beginning), Omega (end) and everything in between” (Rev. 1:8). The Kingdom is found in Jesus; it’s past, present and future. Jesus did not say I know the way, the truth and the life. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

This kind of contemplative prayer is time-consuming, and my thoughts drifted to my schedule. But, when my focus returned to Jesus, He whispered, “Make time for me, and I will make time for you to do what needs to be done. I am time.”

Sometimes creativity springs forth when you step out of your comfort zone, and prayer becomes the handprint of God. His creative spirit breathed life into you so you can commune with Him. He has a deep, insatiable desire to meet with you. Color. Create. Pray. I’d love to hear about your experience.

Be inspired and learn more:

Names Matter

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Names MatterIt took less than a second, but it changed the way I thought about myself for years. She chanted, “Tuna Breath” as I sat quietly by myself eating the tuna sandwich my mother made for me. I was an impressionable preteen, and the new kid at school. The same girl thought it amusing to call me “Ms. Dainty”. Being petite and girlie, I was picked last for any sports teams during recess. Any healthy self-image I had was beginning to spiral down the drain.

Whoever coined the phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” was lying. Names hurt. Words convey images to our mind. For instance; when I say chair, you form a picture in your head. Words spoken over us have the ability to bring life or death (Prov. 18:21). Names spoken over me sent a message that said, “I’m not good enough, I’m unworthy, I’m a mistake, something is wrong with me, I can’t do anything right, and I don’t fit in.”

I recently heard Beth Helton speak at a seminar about discovering our identity in Christ. Enthusiastically, she told us she asked the Lord to give her something really cool to share with us. To her surprise she heard, “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the Kings horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.” She chuckled at the childishness of it but knew there was a deep truth to it.

Names can shatter us into little pieces. Only the King, Jesus, can put us back together again. He takes all our broken pieces and make us whole again. He did it for me, and he will do it for you; you need only come. Enter his presence in stillness and listen. Is Jesus giving you a new name?

The words Jesus speaks over you heal like a liquid band aid. His words are life and they erase the lies. I felt as though I was living inside a Thomas Kinkaid painting when Jesus showed up and turned my world upside-down. He said something I will never forget, “My darling you are beautiful. I see no flaw in you. I want you to stop beating yourself up. You must learn to love yourself as I love you.” In a separate encounter but just as beautiful, I heard God whisper, “I named and made everything in this world: including you and proclaimed it all good.”

Names matter because people matter.

Made to Thrive

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Made to ThriveImagine a land full of life and beauty. Everywhere your feet trod you sense peace and joy. You lack nothing. It’s just you and your spouse living in paradise with no stress, sickness, demonic oppression or reason to work.

Your father freely gave you this garden oasis to rule over and enjoy. Daily, you stroll the garden talking to one another; sometimes holding the hand of your beloved bride. It’s an authentic, natural relationship because it’s why you were born: to fellowship. Each day, you awake and look forward to sharing your thoughts and heart with the one who gave you abundant life. You never experience loneliness.

Then one day, in a heartbeat, your utopia crumbles when an unfamiliar voice lures your wife to betray your father. It all began with a lie: Did God really say don’t eat from any tree in the garden? God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Gen 3:1-2).

Your peace and joy are stolen on the spot. Everything you had is lost because you believed a lie and acted on it. Your connection with your father as the source of all truth is severed.

Sound familiar? It should.  It’s the story and order of creation.  God, your heavenly Father created you for two purposes: relationship and dominion. He spoke creation into being by His spirit, and earth became a visible replica of the invisible Kingdom. When He created the human race, He breathed His spirit into man. You see, God intended our physical world to reflect His spiritual world.

Adam and Eve simultaneously lived in two realms: the physical and the spiritual. They didn’t separate the two until each ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Then their eyes were instantly opened, and they saw their nakedness. Both of them ran and hid from God in shame. A perpetual cycle began and the stronghold was born.

If we continue the story, we learn their Father banishes them from the garden and their intimate relationship is broken. Sin, sickness and demon oppression follow. Satan is given what once belonged to man: dominion over the earth

God’s solution to man’s problem was Jesus. He sent His precious son to destroy the works of the devil and restore all of creation (1 Jn. 3:8). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6). He restores our broken connection to the Father, so we can talk with Him in the garden of life, once again.

Events that unfold in our lives operate much like a camera; they leave pictures ingrained in our mind. Those memories can conjure up a myriad of emotions and impact the way we see ourselves, others and God. We all need help at times to break free of those things stealing the abundant life Jesus died to give us.

Choose to break strongholds in your life today. You were made to thrive. Are there events in your life which have caused you to believe lies? Have you spent time with God, your source of truth, to hear what he has to say?

Thirsting for Truth

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Thirsting for TruthThe sun turned variegated shades of orange as it set deep behind the clouds. She took a deep breath and wiped the last tear from her eye. I must be strong for my son, she thought. Just hours ago, she laid her sixth husband, Seth, to rest. Loss had become her constant companion. In fifteen years, she had endured the heartache of losing not one, but six husbands.   Seth was special. She believed the Lord had sent him to fulfill her deep desire to be a wife, and mother. She no longer felt like an outcast, but blessed to love and be loved. Jesus knew the depth of grief, shame and reproach she once felt for not being able to keep a husband and bear children. He mended her broken heart and filled her emptiness with His extravagant love.

The memory of that encounter still burned in her mind much like the sun scorched her skin on that hot summer day. Sweat dripped from her forehead as she made the journey to Jacob’s well. She chose the middle of the day to avoid being around other women since she was still mourning the loss of her fifth husband.

As a woman, she believed her identity and success rested in getting married and having children to carry on the family lineage. Now, having gone through five husbands and still childless, she was beginning to feel like a failure. Under Levirate law, Seth was the next brother in line to marry her, and had welcomed her into his home. But her mind began to wander. Maybe I’m cursed. What if he doesn’t want to marry me? What glimmer of hope remained slowly began to fade. Am I pretty enough? I’m certainly not as young as I used to be, will I be able to bear children?

Gathering her jug and bucket, she set off for the well to perform her daily chore. Would Seth still be there when she returned? Or would she be a widow destined to a life of loneliness and poverty? Little did she know, she was about to have an encounter with Jesus that would change her life. She would return full of exuberant joy. Her face would radiate beautiful confidence and her heart would be forever changed.

Now she knew her identity came from her Messiah, not other men, her gender, her role or her race. That fateful day, Jesus boldly and lovingly reached out to her. He crossed racial, religious and gender lines to bring healing and wholeness to her heart. In excitement, she left her water jug and raced back to town to tell everybody about the Messiah who turned her mourning into dancing.

All the people including Seth heard her testimony and believed. He let go of his doubts and his heart was changed too. He knew this was the woman God would have him wed and honor as his lovely bride.

It happened just as Jesus had said it would; the following year they welcomed a precious baby boy into this world.

She heard a faint cry in the background that brought her back to her hard reality. Seth was gone now and their young son needed her. She calmly walked over to her son’s bedside, with a warm heart, she quietly leaned over him to gently kiss his cheek. “Good night my dear son, tomorrow is a new day. Jesus will once again turn our mourning to dancing.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free to Soar

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Free to SoarHe gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those that trust in the Lord will renew strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31

The American flag, Bald Eagle, fireworks, baseball, hot dogs, The Statue of Liberty and white picket fences saturate our ideas of American culture and freedom.

Earlier this month, our nation celebrated her 239th  birthday. The next day, I turned 50. Milestones cause us to reflect upon our lives. More than half of my life has passed by, and I still find myself wondering where my path will lead. Will I have the energy and resolve to carry on?

A legend about the eagles’ rebirth states around the age of 40, their feathers become so heavy and burdensome, they actually impede their flight. Their talons and beak also age, making it hard for them to clutch their prey. Survival becomes increasingly difficult unless they make a deliberate choice: renewal or death.

This painful renewal process takes patience. The eagle flies to an isolated mountain, and slams his aging, bent beak against the rock so he can pull it out. He waits for a new beak to grow. Then he takes his new beak and pulls out his long, stiff talons, and waits for new ones to appear. With his strength renewed, he plucks out his thick, cumbersome feathers and waits some more, until new feathers emerge.

With his youth now restored, this magnificent creature is able to soar to new heights for another 30 years. I love this picture. It reminds me of God’s process of renewal and encourages me as I wade through muddy water that weighs me down.

Recently, I’ve struggled with seeing others as a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). When facing a challenging situation, I’ve been too quick to judge people based upon my past experiences with them. When unhealthy thoughts based on lies enter my head, I must choose to renew my mind by seeking God’s voice through daily, quiet meditation of His word.

Through the renewal process, I’m finding supernatural strength. I depend less on doing things in my own effort and more on God. 50 is but a number and my days are numbered by Almighty God not by man or circumstance.

Sarah laughed when she heard God say she would bear a child in her ripe-old age. But Abraham believed God, and as promised, a nation was born through Isaac. Like Abraham, I believe God. Though, I’m 15 years from retirement, I progressively walk out my calling: one day at a time.

There is some truth to the myth of the eagles’ rebirth. Physical, emotional, mental or spiritual renewal can lengthen our earthly lives. Gradually, God reveals Himself to us as we wait on and yield to Him. He continually renews our mind and heart, allowing us to soar into new levels of freedom (Rom. 12:2).

Take a moment to reflect on your life. Where do you need renewal today? What thoughts seem to plague you or steal your joy? What is God revealing to you about Himself today?

He Whispers

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She yearns for joy, love and tranquility;

Like she feels when she’s near the sea.

In the sugary-fine white sand, her feet sink.

He whispers, “I want to change the way you think.”

Light dances across the deep-blue expanse of glass.

He whispers, “My love is endless,

My presence is joy, forget the past.”

Powerful waves relentlessly crash on to the beach,

Captivating her body and soul.

He whispers, “I will make you whole.”

A gentle cool breeze softly caresses her cheek.

He whispers, “Blessed are the meek.”

Seaweed and shells wash ashore.

She feels there is something more to face:

Her Father’s embrace.

Why Wonder?

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The Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Wonder Woman, and Wonderland all conjure up our innate sense of curiosity and excitement.

Dictionary.com defines the verb wonder as being filled with admiration, amazement, or awe.

I was completely awe-stricken when my daughter was born. My eyes were opened to Him as Creator of heaven and earth, perhaps for the first time. A myriad of emotions and thoughts tossed about in my heart and head. Would I be a good mom? Who would she grow up to look like, and what dreams and aspirations would she pursue?

As children grow, so does their sense of wonder. They see the world through fresh, inquisitive eyes. Not yet tainted by the evil in the world, they see endless possibilities.

In the opening scene of the 2015 release of Cinderella, young Ella’s imagination is captured by the clouds. The narrator describes Ella as one who saw the world not always as it was, but as it could be. From a young age, she is taught by her mother to believe in the goodness of others.

Everybody believes in something or someone that stimulates their sense of wonder. The magic of Christmas leaves children “wide-eyed and mystified” Christmas morning. Legends and tales of elusive creatures lurking in the recesses of earth capture our imagination and inspire a sense of awe.

It’s child-like faith that connects us to the wonder of God. The writer of Hebrews says it’s this confident trust in the Lord that brings us a great reward (Heb. 10:35). St. Augustine says it this way, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”

We can think of faith as a muscle. If we’re to grow in our faith, we must exercise it. Every day, we’re faced with situations that allow us to practice what we believe. For example, when we sit down to eat, we have faith the chair will hold us. When we cross a busy street, we have faith in the crosswalk signal as it illuminates walk.

Then, there are circumstances we face that challenge our faith more. Not long ago, I was talking to my sister who has already sentenced herself to a future with Alzheimer’s. Why? Because science has proven it’s hereditary. I believe God is bigger than any disease and Jesus died for our infirmities (Is. 53:3-4, 1 Ptr. 2:24). Therefore, I can’t think or speak that way.

Am I in denial? No. I don’t think so. I’m simply exercising child-like faith and trusting in the character of the Father I come to know and love. My hope is in Him alone. NOT man.

God is seen and known through our sense of wonder. If you are struggling, take courage, have faith and never lose your wonder of God. All things are possible with Him (Lk. 18:27). Don’t take my word for it but God’s. You can read about it in the greatest non-fiction book ever written and all-time best seller: the Bible. Take time to ponder and pray as you read. You might encounter Jesus in a new and wonderful way.

A song for reflection: