Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare – Day 19

Live as an Overcomer – Dare to Get Your Head Out from under the Circumstances

John 16:33 [Jesus said,] “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Today’s Truth
John 16:33 NLT I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

Today’s Dare: Get Your Head Out from under Your Circumstances

Author: When we focus only on self and become consumed by the conflict, we begin to live under it rather than being an overcomer through faith in Christ. I can live under the fear of [the situation], or I can keep my eyes on Jesus.

Today’s truth is speaking to me…
There comes a time when I’m sick of looking inside out… sick of focusing internally on myself, my circumstances, my “whoa is me”. Yes, I need to acknowledge my pain, and sit with it, and work through it with the Lord. However… when I choose to stay there past the point of healthy introspection, then I’m choosing to live under it. I am grabbing it like a dirty but comfortable old blanket and pulling it over my head and closing myself off from God and the world. This is not where God wants me to be. I need to toss off that blanket, grab His hand to lift me up out of it, and rise above it as a Christ-empowered overcomer. Jesus has warned me that yep, there’s gonna be whole mess of trouble, but to keep looking at Him, and trust that He’s already got it beat. I agree with the author that this isn’t easy to do, but we still must choose to do it. I want to be a person that, when trouble strikes, people can look at and wonder why I’m not overcome by it all. That opens the door for me to tell them why – Jesus, plain and simple, end of story. My Jesus, HE is why, HE is my overcomer, my hero, my salvation.

God is asking me to …
- Dare to have a positive stance regarding any current negative circumstances
- Find something good I can do just for today that will overcome the negative and give me a positive to think about.
- Remember not to project into tomorrow, next week/month/year, forever!!! Remember Matthew 6:34: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

My challenge is to…
- Take courage, and even though it may be only one tiny baby step from under to over, to choose to take that step.
- Not be surprised when the trouble comes – hey, He’s warned me! But to instead be prepared in faith to look up to Him instead of down at the mountain of manure that’s just been dumped on me!
- Remember that my God is the God of resurrection power and promise and can overcome anything this world throws at me!!!
- My challenge is to live with courage, to take the risks of obedience, even though they may not come with comfy guarantees, but being confident that inside His will is always is the best place to be, no matter what.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare – Day 18

Get Out of the Funk

Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.

Today’s Truth
Hebrews 12:2-3 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Today’s Dare: Live with a New Focus

The author talks about being in a “funk” – down, depressed, bad attitude… that our focus is skewed, and instead of living above our circumstances as an overcomer, we begin to live under the mess. We get distracted, get our eyes off Jesus, and grow weary and lose heart – the negatives. She says we should focus, focus, focus on Him, not on ourselves.

Today’s truth is speaking to me…
I hear what the author is saying, and I do agree that we need to try and live our lives seeing Him and knowing He is our foundation. However, that being said, I have to say that I don’t altogether agree with her either. I know it isn’t healthy to stay stuck in the mud, but by the same token we’re not just some frozen smiley-faced people who easily rise above the circumstances and situations of our lives. There are dark valleys God asks us to walk through, trials we need to face to grow… and sometimes they stink and are painful and horrible. Frankly, if I’m having a hard time I need someone to just be with me, put their arms around me. If they started being all kinds of cheerful, I might have to slap them! And if someone is having difficulty rising above, don’t lay a guilt trip on them making them think if they just focus, focus, focus it will all be better and just pull up your big girl panties and get on with it. Oh yeah, that’s gonna help.

God is asking me to…
Not be too cynical (sorry). Be real – if I’m hurting, check it out – am I wallowing? Am I trusting as best I can and looking to Him? If so, is this something I need to sit with for awhile and learn a lesson? And maybe if so, I DO need to reach for His hand and ask Him to pull me up.

My challenge is to…
Faithfully, consistently be looking to Jesus, and to keep it real.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare – Day 17

The Mirror Image – Dare to Live in the Miracle of Who You Are

1 Corinthians 15:10 By the grace of God I am what I am.

Psalm 139: 13-16
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.

1 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Today’s Dare: Live in the Miracle of Who You Are

Author: Rather than seeing the miracle God created, we see a distorted and shame-based woman who is not perfect, who is ashamed of her imperfections, and who is chronically trying to see herself differently by changing the external. The merry-go-round of self-loathing is too common and is once again the thief who robs us of life. God looks at us and sees His purpose and the miracle of Himself in us. You can’t possibly be more loved or significant than you are at this very moment.

Today’s truth is speaking to me…
I don’t think I will ever see myself in a mirror with 100% accuracy. I look through the eyes of a woman who had an eating disorder so that will always be a body seen as if I were in a fun-house mirror. I look through the when eyes of my youth on the grey hair and laugh lines of now. I look through the what could have been child eyes of a survivor to the what I did to survive now reflection and wince. Sometimes I can’t even look, so I turn away… But God’s truth tells me I am new, and beautiful, and worthy, and wonderful, and a miracle to Him.

God is asking me to…
Remember Ephesians 2:10, where He tells me that I am His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for me to do.

My challenge is to…
It is so hard to believe the good, so much easier to believe the negative things said about you, to you. God, I want to believe Your truth, but my heart often struggles to wrap around it. I know You know all about me, my history, my past – and still You keep telling me You love me and I am cherished by You. You are still the Lover of my soul, my very Heartbeat, my very Breath. You believe in Me, You have plans for Me, You L-O-V-E me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare - Day Sixteen

A New Attitude – Dare to Choose Whom You Will Serve and the Direction You Will Take

1 Thessalonians 5:16 Be joyful always; pray continually.

Today’s Truth: Hebrews 12:1-2 – Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

The author today asks us to work through our pain, see it as something God has allowed for our good/growth. She tells us to “choose joy because God is working, and never look back because you cannot run the race while looking behind you.”

Today’s truth is speaking to me…
There have been times in my life when, in the midst of my deepest pain and heartbreak, I have been able to lift my tear-soaked face to God. And there have been times when I couldn’t even speak. I have to take a different view tonight – I think we have to approach this very carefully. I don’t think God asks us to be in fits of hysterical laughter in the middle of all the pain. I know my God allows me to scream “THIS HURTS AND I HATE IT”. I know that’s not sinful, and sometimes I think we run around gleefully quoting Romans 8:28 to other people who are hurting. It’s often trite and cruel, like putting a bandage on a full-blown heart transplant. Yes, it is sacred and true, but there is a time for it.

Sometimes we have to sit through the pain, sit with it, and just be. Not say anything, just be. Not to say that God isn’t with us in it. We need to acknowledge that there’s a reason He has allowed this, but I don’t think joy means just being some smiling zombie and stuffing what we’re feeling. I think the joy comes in a deep, quiet knowledge that you’re not alone in it, in the faith that while I hate it hate it, God is using it. It is a quietness, that words can’t really describe properly. It is washed in anguish, nights of tears and pain, but He sits with us in it. That is when it is so important to fix our eyes on Jesus.

God is asking me to…
Look at Him instead of the storm around me – like being in the middle of a twister… everything is spinning around you uncontrolled, but you must stand in the middle and just look up, where it is calm and you can see the Son.

My challenge is to…
Remember He’s doing something for me, and to be aware enough to look for His lessons, no matter how awful it seems at that moment. My challenge is to be real in it, and to allow others to see that I am suffering, but not destroyed, and to have them see that my faith in Jesus is the only thing that is keeping me together.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare – Day Fourteen

He Completes Me – Dare to Believe You are Complete in God

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Today’s Truth
2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Author: What if we believed it is Christ who completes us? Could it be that this kind of love is the very thing that makes us balanced, centered, secure, and yes… complete? Realizing we are complete in Christ makes all that He is doing in us worth… the pain – because in the end the maturity and wholeness will be the spiritual gain. We are not made perfect in ourselves but in Christ. He does not judge perfection the way we do. Perfect in a spiritual sense is one who is being completed through maturity, growth, and surrender to God.

Today’s Dare: Believe You are Complete in God

- What if you were secure because Christ is your completion and you were made more than enough in Him?
- What if Christ, making Himself real in you, completed you to the point of being valuable for His work as an ordinary woman made extraordinary by His presence and power?

Today’s truth is speaking to me…
When I was a young, hopelessly romantic young girl, I went along with the whole idea of finding someone who completed me. Now that I’m a more mature hopeless romantic, I have come to realize that I need to be complete in and of myself before I ever enter into a relationship, for both our sakes! And yet when it comes to my relationship with Christ, my independence screeches to a halt. He is the only Man (GodMan) that will utterly complete me.

One of my dearest friends gave me a clay pot in which dwells a small candle. I love this gift, because every time I look at it I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 4:7. I struggle with a lot of insecurities about my past disobediences in life to the Lord. This verse comforts me, because it reminds me He is the power source, not me. My shattered, scattered life history can only be put together and made to become something special by the loving hands of the Master. He can shine His light through me.

I am an ordinary woman. It’s not a put-down of myself, just a statement of fact. The Lover of my soul holds my heart, and completes it. He turns this clay pot into something very, very special, and I am made whole by His presence and power. My Jesus makes me everything I need to be.

God is asking me to…
Look to Jesus for my completeness, my fullness, my whole self/identity. He is asking me to believe Him, trust Him, in spite of feelings of inadequacy and in spite of myself/my past.

My challenge is to…
Stop listening to the enemy’s lies, and instead believe what God is telling me about myself.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare – Day Fourteen

Not Enough – Dare to Believe You Were Not Created to be Enough in Yourself

2 Corinthians 3:6 He has made us completent [adequate, enough sufficient].

The author speaks of two words defining her life -- "not enough". She writes, "...'not enough' is an epidemic among women. That insecurity destroys the beauty God is bringing forth within us. It can distance us from God. Some women quit trying, quit daring to be all that God has planned for them to be."

Today's Truth: 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God."

Author: “I could quit stressing over that [being enough] and instead look to Him. He would be enough in me, for all things, at all times. His Spirit, which is powerful within me, would change me, transforming me from a woman of self-focus and insecurity to a woman of God-focus and confidence” Max Lucado writes – What makes us special is… the signature of God on our lives.”

Psalm 45:11 The King is enthralled by your beauty.

Today’s truth is speaking to me…
As I read this today my heart broke for all my sisters who, like me at one point or another in our lives have felt:
- not smart enough
- not accomplished enough
- not pretty enough
- not sexy enough
- not thin enough
- not holy enough
- not young enough
- just plain not enough… pick a category

My heart and soul and spirit long to be that woman who dares to be all God has planned for me. I want to be a warrior and run up that hill and grab that flag of freedom, and breathe as I stand confident that in Christ I AM ENOUGH. I want to be a woman of God-focus, God-confidence. Suddenly I don’t have to do it in my own power – the burden rolls away, and My Savior holds my face in His gentle hands and whispers YOU ARE ENOUGH.

It makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

God is asking me to…
- let go of not enough and find my enough in His strength, in His eyes, in His power.

My challenge is to…
Hold fast to this taste of God-enough, and run with it, cling to it, to use Christ as my mirror. I need to seek that which He has called me to be, through His word and in prayer, and then to pursue it hard with all my might, no longer insecure but finding everything I need in Him. I’m not really sure to begin, so Jesus, please take my hand and lead me to Your enough.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare – Day Thirteen

Bringing Beauty to Life – Dare to Surrender to the Process of Change

Psalm 34:5 Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

Isaiah 61:1-3
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners… to comfort all who mourn… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.

Author: God…takes broken hearts and heals them, messy lives and mends them, tears and dries them. He dresses me in something new and beautiful… from within, but its beauty is seen without. It’s always been His plan to renew me, revive me, restore me, and give me courage to… live in Him and the beauty of His holiness. It is time to believe that the shame that has covered us or the insecurity that has surrounded us can be changed by looking to Christ. It is with this upward gaze that we are changed and no longer ashamed.

Today’s truth is speaking to me…

It’s one thing to want change – and a whole ‘nuther thing to do something towards the goal of change. Surrender to the process of change – surrender isn’t one of my strongest attributes, but it’s a process, and something critical to get to change. Surrendering to Him isn’t so much a giving up as a letting go. Its opening my grubby little hands and letting Him take out what I’ve been holding onto for so long and hard. Then He will replace it with His beauty.

I’m always amazed at what a Gentleman God is – He waits until I’m willing to open my hand to Him, instead of zapping me with a lightning bolt or just removing my hand altogether. His love is patient, and His warmth coaxes me instead of using a crow bar force. All my life, whenever I’ve held tightly to something, not willing to give it up, it’s never really satisfied. Oh, there’s been a time of pleasure, but it’s never lasted, and like the verse says, it’s turned to ashes. You’d think I would have learned that lesson by now. Change – it’s a process…

God is asking me to…
Open my heart to the changes He wants to make in me
Not be afraid, but to trust and obey
Just be the clay and let the Potter work

My challenge is to…
Focus on Jesus and let Him be my Everything

Lord, in the last few weeks, as I’ve tried to walk closer with You and focus on You, I’ve seen a whole lotta distractions crop up in my life. Maybe distractions isn’t the best word, more like temptations that would be enough of a change that they would take me off course to Your plan for me. As much as I know this, I admit with shame that I’ve glanced and pondered the what ifs of the possibilities. Like I said, you’d think I would have learned that lesson by now. Oh God, in the deepest part of myself all I want is to live inside Your will, but sometimes the pull of these diversions is like a magnet, and my will just gets pulled, and it’s such a battle to stay on course. May my surrender only be to YOU, that I wouldn't do anything that would hurt You or cause me to be ashamed before You.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare – Day Twelve

Woman of Worth – Dare to Believe You are God’s Treasure and of Great Value to God

Deuteronomy 7:6 (Message) God, your God, chose you out of all the people on Earth for Himself as a cherished, personal treasure.

Today’s Truth: Isaiah 46:4 – Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you.

Today’s Dare: Believe You are God’s Treasure and of Great Value to God

W wonderful worth
O ordained for God’s purposes
M managing life by faith
A attitude of thanks and praise
N nearer to God each day

The enemy wants you to think you are worthless. It’s a lie. The truth stands: you are precious, loved and valued.

Today’s Truth is speaking to me…

Ohhhhhhhkay… scalpel time again, isn’t it? Let’s cut through another layer to get to the truth. And I wanted to do this blog so that my transparency might help someone else? Hmmm… maybe this wasn’t such a great idea; maybe walking around in my underwear at the mall might be easier…

When I was younger, I traded on my looks. I was a model at one point, and most of my under 40 years were spent identifying myself and finding my worth in my appearance. Desperate to be perfect, it led me into some pretty dark and scary places, including a ten year affair with an eating disorder. I’d be lying if I said it’s hard to sometimes look in the mirror now, with the “laugh lines” and the blonde-but-roots-are-all-grey hair. Nowadays I can be fairly invisible in a crowd.

Oh, I’m not saying I hate the way I look, but just recently I had someone ask me for the first time if I was a grandmother, and my vanity was squarely kicked in the booty as I ran off to the phone book to look up the nearest plastic surgeon… Botox, neck lifts, what is that under???? I looked at my bottle of Downy Wrinkle Release and thought, “Gee, will this work on my face?” We are, after all, close to Thanksgiving, and I’m giving the turkey a run for his money with this neckline I’ve been developing. This whole beautiful on the inside is highly over-rated in this youthful world of ours. And yet, when I look at so many once beautiful 40+ women who have turned to plastic surgery and now just look like they shouldn’t stand too close to the fireplace or their faces will melt, well, it gives pause to any temptation to “get freshened up”!

Most every woman I meet wants to look attractive, to be her personal best and desirable, regardless if she’s nineteen or ninety. We want to be loved and treasured at any age. That’s why today’s chapter was so important, even though it tackles a really sensitive issue for me – looks/personal value.

When I raise my face up towards Heaven, my Savior calls me beautiful. I am cherished, loved and treasured by my Lord – to Him, I am everything. He adores me and sings over me and can’t get enough of me. Sigh… and how often can any woman say that at any age?

It has taken me many years to begin to see my worth through His eyes. Obviously, if you’ve read any of the other journey entries, it’s easy to see I’m still struggling with the whole worthiness identity. However, some days are better than others, and when I put my focus and trust on Christ, my Mirror, I see the most beautiful me there has ever been, because I’m reflecting Him.

God is asking me to…
Forget the identity my mirror and the world tell me I am, and realize my worth and beauty and value are all in Him, and He is just crazy about me.

My challenge is to…
Believe that consistently, especially on the days everything else screams the opposite.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare – Day Eleven

A Different Life – Dare to Live No Longer for Self

Galatians 2:20 – I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Author: "When we try to protect ourselves, we often put up walls that keep even God’s voice out. What if we laid ourselves aside? What if we believed, really believed, that God’s love is powerful enough to protect us, keep us, and guide us into everything we will never need in our lifetime? What if, because of this love, we began to live differently than anything we ever imagined? Faith is like breaking out of our own little world of experience and living in abandoned devotion to Him."

Today’s Dare: Live No Longer for Self

Today’s truth is speaking to me…
I am a stubborn, self-reliant, fiercely independent woman with a rebel heart. Through much of my life my motto has been “Ain’t nobody gonna be the boss of me.” I have been kicked around enough to learn that the only person I can trust and depend on is me – and the older I grow, the more boundaries I build to protect what is left of my shattered, tattered and scarred self. This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy people – I’m not some hermit who lives in a dark little room peeking out from behind the blinds – no, most people don’t see the invisible room from which I peer that is built with mistrust, suspicion, and disappointment. I am a survivor, that is what I allow you to see, and my life is my own.

But that’s a lie. My life isn’t my own. My life belongs to Christ. I’m supposed to lay it down at His feet each day, lift up my will as a sacrifice of praise to Him. That’s a hard one – to unclench these fists and let it all go, like sand, so that my hands will be open to His will, His blessings. It sounds good, but it’s soooo much harder to do. As the author writes, “What if I believed God’s love was enough? Enough for me to live differently than ever before, ever imagined???" How would that look? How would that sound? How would that feel?

God is asking me to…
- Believe His love, His promises
- Remember that God wants the best life for me
- Remember that the enemy doesn’t love me, but masquerades as a lover (ain’t THAT the truth!)

My challenge is to…
- Live bigger than the smallness of myself
- Trust Him for strength in the areas that tempt me to live in ways that aren’t God’s best for me

Father, my heart does want to live in abandoned devotion to you. I want a rebel wild faith that is tamed only by You, corralled by Your Holy Spirit, laughing with You, running with You, being still before You and knowing You are God. Take the rest away; I give it freely, because it’s all nothing but dung without you. My dreams and hopes and ambitions will only be fully realized when they are in Your hands, along with my heart. I will only be completely me when I am lost in You.

My Thirty Day Faith Dare – Day Ten

Mind Management – Dare to Guard Your Thoughts and Fill Your Mind with Good

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ.

Today’s Truth: Philippians 4:8 Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, - think on these things.

Today’s Dare: Guard Your Thoughts and Fill Your Mind with Good

From The 4:8 Principle, Tommy Newberry says, “The battle you wage against in your human nature is an invisible one that will be won or lost in the mind. Minute by minute, hour by hour, in the hidden workshop of your mind you are constructing thoughts of good or evil, depression or joy, success or failure. You are writing your own life story as a human being with each subtle and soundless thought you think.”

Today’s truth is speaking to me…
In a recent Bible study one of the women said that in order to control her thoughts, she immediately had to replace one rejected negative thought with a positive one. It’s like pulling a weed in your garden and immediately replacing it with a favorite flower.

We are bombarded by an internal critic that loves to tell us negative things all day long. It is up to use to CHOOSE to guard your thoughts and fill your mind with the Lord. Oh, it’s true, it takes practice and a LOT of prayer and falling on God’s assistance, but be of good faith – it can be done!

In Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book “Who Switched Off My Brain?”, she tells us that every thought can become toxic, and physically/ emotionally/ spiritually dangerous. She calls it “toxic thinking”, and it can actually change our brain – amazing. But think about it (no pun intended), how often do you feel happy/sad/stressed, all because of a thought, or a past memory, or when thinking about something that is going to occur? Not only that, but every action we take begins with a thought. So we must be very intentional and focused on what we think each moment. And what better way than to focus on Christ? Hebrews 12:2 – “…fixing our eyes on Jesus…” Here the word for fixing is aphorao, and it means to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something. Our choice, our job, our responsibility is to actively turn our eyes/thoughts away from other things and onto Christ, and on what He has called us to think about (Philippians 4:8).

I think of what God says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, where we are called to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” The word captive is aichmalotizo, which means to lead away captive, or capture one’s mind, captivate”. We must lead our thoughts away from the paths of unrighteousness, to our captivating Savior.

God is asking me to…
Turn my brain over to Him, and allow Him to help me keep my thoughts on Him.

Lord and Savior, true and kind, be the Master of my mind;
Bless and guide and strengthen still
All my powers of thought and will.
While I ply the scholar’s task,
Jesus Christ be near, I ask;
Help the memory, clear the brain,
Knowledge still to seek and gain.
Bishop H.G. C. Moule – Church of England Bishop

My challenge is to…

Each day I am given multiple opportunities to think unhealthy, unedifying, unholy, just plain old “un” thoughts. I can let my mind drift into areas where it should not go: fantasy, acts of revenge, thoughts of what I coulda/shoulda said to someone else, thoughts of what could have been, thoughts wrapped up in me-me-me. My challenge is to corral those renegade thoughts by the power of the Holy Spirit, and to present them to God and ask Him to change them to thoughts of His will, for His glory. Just my everyday thoughts can turn towards Him as I speak to him continually throughout the day. I need to set my mind on Him.

Think about it!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare – Day Nine

Asking and Not Receiving – Dare to Remember that God Gives good Gifts to His Children

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

Today’s Truth: Matthew 7:7-11 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!

Today’s truth is speaking to me…

In today’s chapter the author speaks about long-unanswered prayers concerning one of her children. She writes, “God has something good for my child and will answer my prayers on His behalf. The answer will come in God’s time because everything is about a bigger picture. But surely in God’s time the answer will come in the form of a good gift. Whether it is the answer I wanted or expected is not important; the important thing is that God will give the right gift and answer to prayer at the right time. I am still waiting…seeking…knocking… praising… even though I don’t see the answer today, I know it’s coming.

My heart aches so desperately writing this tonight that I can barely breathe. I have been praying for my daughter for years, and I am still praying. My head and heart know and believe God’s promises… but sometimes, when I read something like this, it hits so close to home, like a pain-seeking missile zeroing in on its target. I confess there are times I want to give up, to drop in a tired heap and whisper “Why bother?”

From another viewpoint, I find it hard to see myself as the child/receiver of God’s gifts/answered prayer. Often my prayers are meager because I don’t believe myself worthy to either pray for something, or worthy of receiving. Why me? After all the trouble I’ve been/am, why me? I guess some of this comes from the whole not growing up with a father thing. I have no frame of reference.

Then again, in retrospect, there have been times when I have had answered prayers – and to tell you the truth, sometimes I must caution, be careful what you prayer for, because sometimes God will give you over to your heart’s desire. And that can be a VERY BAD thing indeed. This, of course, is not to say that I have not witnessed amazing, awesome, miraculous answered prayers in my life. I have, and it brings tears and praise and goosebumps.

I was sitting with a friend tonight talking about God answering our prayers, and sometimes when He does begin to answer our prayers, we almost don’t believe it. We do say why me? Sigh… Oh, Lord, You are SO patient with us… we ask/seek/knock, You answer, and then we struggle to believe it!!! You must shake Your head, sigh, and just smile…

Today’s Dare: Remember that God Gives Good Gifts to His Children

God is asking me to…
Believe He has heard my prayer and is working in His timing.
Turn my thinking around and learn to trust in God’s time.

Forgive my impatience, unbelief, and lack of faithfulness, Father. My heart is weary, and my faith is weak.

My challenge is to…
Rest and rejoice in His timing
Believe He will do what He says He will do
Be still and know that He is God

I will continue to ask, seek, and knock. I will believe You are working in my life and the life of my daughter to bring about Your glory, and I will believe what You say.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare - Day Eight

The Power Connection – Dare to Plug into the Power Source

2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

Today’s Truth
John 15:4-5, 7-8, 11
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing… If you remain in me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourself to be my disciples… I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Today’s Dare: Plug into the Power Source

Author: Dare to step out of your comfort zone today. Dare to try something you would not ordinarily feel you could do. Experience the power of God enabling you to live above yourself.

Well, yesterday was my whole “power source, plug” reference… and today I overslept and didn’t read this chapter until after work tonight. To tell you the truth, I don’t feel much plugged in tonight. I’ve been on the go ever since my feet hit the ground this morning, and I feel not empowered but just really, really tired...

Today’s truth is speaking to me…
But… I did just have a thought. When I go to sleep at night I plug in my cell phone and it charges all night, ready to rock ‘n roll in the morning. Fruit on the vine doesn’t just show up one morning, it begins often with a tiny blossom, then blooms, the petals fall away, and the fruit grows little by little. It stays “plugged in” to the branch.

Tonight I can think of myself as resting in God, remaining in Him, and being plugged in overnight as I recharge. To plug in before I go to sleep, I can end my crazy hectic day with a few quiet moments talking with Him, spend my last waking moments focused on God and His Word, and committing my sleep and dreams to His glory and care.

God is asking me to… Remain. Abide. Stay. Rest. Recharge.

My challenge is to…
Stay away when I pray – hey, maybe that’s not a typical holy devo moment, but it’s the truth. Spend my last waking moments thinking about God instead of my task list, memories, or a million and one other things that seem to swirl around in my head when I try to sleep. I like the idea of recharging myself in Him as I sleep – it gives me a safe, warm and comforting sense of the Lord’s presence.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare - Day Seven

The Power of God – Dare to Believe in God’s Power in All Circumstances

Romans 1:20 – For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Today’s Truth

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Today’s Dare – Dare to Believe in God’s Power in All Circumstances

Today’s truth is speaking to me…
Author: “Dare to walk in the truth of being appointed by God in your everyday, average ordinary life. We do this by listening for His gentle nudges throughout the day.”

I don’t have a problem believing in God’s power – He is majestic, and I see His power in the sunrise, in the storm, in miracles, in His Word. But… it’s hard for me to see His power in me. Oh, I know that it’s His power in me when I am able to say no to a temptation, or able to obey Him. But when I think of me being appointed by God to do those good works... whew, me? Um, God, me… Linda… remember? The one who always tumbles down that slippery slope and falls on her face in the sin mud? The one who can’t seem to get out of her own way sometimes? And You can use me?

What an easy arrow for the enemy to use – shoot me down with reminders of who I think I am, when what I need to do is remember Who’s I am, and then maybe I’ll stop focusing on myself long enough to see the Power Source, and believe He can do what He says He can do.

God is asking me to…
Focus on Him, and believe Him, and not the lies that paralyze me.

My challenge is to…
Plug in to the Power Source – It’s like I’m standing here with an electric cord, right next to the wall socket, and complaining that I have no power. Du-uh! Plug in – read His promises over and over, remember my Father is Who He says He is, and will do what He says He can do. Whisper yes in my prayers to the belief that in Christ I can do ANYthing, and that God can and will use me, and has had plans to use me from the beginning of time! I choose this truth today.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare - Day Six

Transformed Lives – Dare to Renew Your Mind in God’s Word

Romans 10:17 Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Today’s Truth

Psalm 119:9-11 How can a young [woman] keep [her] way pure? By living according to Your word. I seek You with all my heart; do net let me stray from your commands. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.

Joshua 24:15 “… choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.”

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Today’s Dare – Renew Your Mind in God’s Word

Today’s truth is speaking to me…
Am I different where it counts – my mind? Yes, I can scrub up the outside fairly well, but what about my brain, is that transformed? What do I choose each day? And what do those choices say about me? My true values?

The author asks another disturbing question – “Do I think biblically about myself?” She writes, “The true route to freedom and healing of a damaged self-esteem is … letting God build you up in the truth about who you are in Christ and the truth about His involvement in your life.”

So here I have to define my values, and how I value myself. I have just been going over values in my studies as a life coach – values like love, integrity, truth. How am I choosing to live them out in my mundane, everyday life? And how do those values translate into valuing even myself? Hard questions to define/answer/live.

God is asking me to…
Not be a cookie-cutter anything in this world, but to come out and be fresh and new, radically His. God is asking everything of me, so I may be transformed into the image of Christ. But in losing myself in Him, I again find my truest self.

My challenge is to…
Sit down quietly and think hard about my values – are they worth living for, dying for? Are they in fact mine or just what I think they should be? And once defined, in what daily ways can I play them out? I don't want to be like everyone else, I want to be fully me. I generally feel that I don't fit in anywhere, so maybe I can use that viewpoint to see how I can be transformed instead.

Many questions spinning in my head tonight…

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare - Day Five

Not Conformed to This World – Dare to Believe You Are No Longer of This World

John 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.’

Today’s Truth

Romans 12:1 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Today’s Dare: Believe you are no longer of this world.

Today’s truth is speaking to me…

I’ve had a lifelong battle giving up my self, especially my physical self, fully and wholly to the Lord. This chapter resonates with that struggle… it’s all about giving up my needs/rights and giving myself over to God and trusting Him to take care of me, to know what’s best for me.

Often in the Christian world these verses are associated frequently with our sexual selves (oops, did she use the “S” word?!??). Yep, sure did! But I loved that the author also highlights that this means the physical care of ourselves as well – the eating, the drinking, the sleeping, the exercise. Hey, let’s remember that the next time we have a pot luck dinner or ice cream social, hmmm??? How about we let THAT sin out of the closet, shall we? Absolutely, yes, we need to give God our sexual selves, but we also need to give over the temptation/desires/passions that poor eating can bring, or workaholism can bring, etc. Listen to the way the Message offers up Romans 12:1: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.”

God is asking me to…
Look at my bed, look at my checkbook, look at my calendar, look at my meals, my time, my dreams, my attitude, my words/thoughts/deeds, my everything… and lift it up to Him as a spiritual sacrifice, giving up the control of it all. Like the author says, “no more my way with a little Jesus on top.”

My challenge is to…
Let go, walk away from my so-called “rights”… and let God into every single little nook and cranny of any/every thing, and have full 100% control. My challenge is to let Jesus BE the Lord of my life, not just say it, but really truly LIVE it – flat out, radical, and unconditional surrender. Yeah, it sounds real good… but can I do it?

Lord, I’ve tried and failed so many times, but more than ever my heart cries out to You. Would you help me live wholly for You? I surrender all… I surrender all… all to Thee, my precious Savior… I surrender all.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Thirty Day Faith Dare - Day Four

Dedicated to Living as His – Dare to Live Like You Belong to God

Acts 17:28 “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” As some of your own poets have said, “We are His offspring.”

Today’s Truth – 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

Colossians 1:27 “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Today’s Dare – Live like you belong to God

Today’s truth is speaking to me…
Do I live on purpose? Do I live in the truth of who I am in Christ? I can’t say I get up each morning thinking, “Okay I belong to the Lord, now how will I plan my day around that and make it the foundation of everything else?” Yet this single truth defines everything about me, has changed my life, and makes all the difference in the world in who I am and how I live. I’ve misplaced that truth under the piles of daily living, and I need to dig it out, polish it up, and put it center stage. Maybe I should place one of those “Hi, my name is” name tags on my bathroom mirror and every morning have it greet me with “Hi, my name is Linda, and I belong to God!” There’s some brain floss to get your day going!

God is asking me to…
Live intentionally, mindfully, and fully in/for Him. That truth must color every moment, and be the most influential factor in any/every decision. But how do I put feet to that?

My challenge is to…
Live on purpose for Him. But what does that mean in reality? Well for one thing, taking that with 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 means I need to make some changes in how I treat my body. I am blessed to be involved in some wonderful coaching with Janet Daughtry and tonight we were chatting about values, and she asked me about my own values. Something important to me is living authentically/intentionally with integrity. She asked me what integrity looked like to me, and in our discussion I discovered that I needed to listen to my own voice and live with more integrity for myself – by taking care of myself as I encourage other women to do for themselves. I’ve been so wrapped up in so many different things that I have been slamming into the wall constantly. You know when you’re so tired that you feel like you’ve hit the wall? Well, that’s the point to which I’ve been pushing, pushing myself day after day after day. I need to take time for me, to recoup, restore and renew, and I’ve not been allowing myself to do that – thereby draining all my energy and running myself into the ground. I must take care of this body better because it does belong to Him, I belong to Him, and that’s really important! As a personal trainer, I should know better!!!

So, to that end, I will get to bed on time and not survive on five hours of sleep a night, and I will plan my meals better, and spend time with Him in quiet time together. Specifically, I commit to make time to walk with Him in the park this weekend. I will make a “date” to go to the park with my Father and enjoy His company, as I restore the body/soul. I will honor God with my body in this way.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My 30 Day Faith Dare - Day Three

Living Loved – Dare to Live Differently by Living Like You Are Loved

Jeremiah 31:3-4 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt.”

Today’s Truth – How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

Today’s Dare – Make a list of the “other” things you have been called – give them to God one by one, then take a black marker and blot those labels off your list!

Today’s truth is speaking to me…

Oh no you didn’t… you did not hit me on Day Three with a gut-wrenching, heart bomb like this!

The author admits she had “… a chronic belief that I would never be enough…the not-enough girl.” We are told we need to “pour God’s love into our learning center – our mind – so it can make its way into our hearts. It is not natural to live feeling loved by God… we learn to live loved by taking His Word of truth by faith.” We are told that God has lavished His love on us. I have always been drawn to that word – LAVISH… it sounds so rich and smooth and bountiful.

God is asking me to…
Face things I don’t want to face! The author writes: “When we live as one who is loved… life is no longer a set of unfortunate circumstances but instead a journey with the Father.” Okay, that's all well and good, but what if you don’t know what it’s like to have a father? How do I wrap my brain and faith around that one? Where is my frame of reference? All day this whole “live like you are loved” has poked and prodded at my soul, pouring salt and vinegar into the wounds of ancient places I’ve worked years to push down.

My challenge is to…
Write those other things I’ve been called (or called myself)? I can’t even look at them. I know what it means to live as the “not enough girl”. I wince with the memories of what the old country song says…”lookin’ for love in ALL the WRONG places…” Again, I’m faced with the dare of digging up things I don’t want to remember, to see, and most importantly feel.

So here I am with black ink on a page, formed into a word I have said, have read, and often wondered if I ever really knew what it felt like or meant, and surely not from a father. God, I can tell You I’ve read the Love Letters, verse after verse, where You tell me You love me, and I intellectually believe it, really, I do. I know I shouldn’t depend on feelings, but oh, how I wish I could literally feel Your arms around me in a big old daddy bear hug, so I could begin to understand what Your love tangibly feels like… forgive me, I know Christ gave everything to love me, and I don’t mean to ask for more. I just want to know what it feels like to climb into Your lap and cuddle up.

I acknowledge, Father, that I need repair. I admit only You can fix me. I will utter Your name as Abba, Father, and invite Your Holy Spirit to pour Your love into my brain, to teach me what it means to be loved, to be lovable, to be the “enough girl”, for You. As You wrote in Jeremiah, I will believe Your promise that You will rebuild me. Lavish away, Abba, lavish away… I choose to believe You.

And as I write this, the web station I’m listening to just began playing “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us” – one of my favorite hymns as a little girl in Sunday School… and it brings back memories of feeling happy and safe and loved and belonging… and I begin to weep with this immediate gift of affirmation and love from my Abba…

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My 30 Day Faith Dare - Day Two

Follow the Leader – Dare to Pay Attention to God’s Lead

John 8:12 – Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

Today’s Truth:
Coming to God fresh each morning, and following Him is “a daily call of surrender”.

Today’s Dare: Pay Attention to God’s Lead

Today was a wicked crazy day from the moment I opened my eyes. When I read this chapter the first thing that hit me was the sentence: “But no matter what is in front of us, there is a deeper purpose to the day: to follow after Christ and pay attention to how He wants us to live in the mundane moments of real life.” It brought to mind Mother Teresa’s quote: “Do small things with great love.”

How could I go about paying attention to God’s lead running full throttle on today's hamster wheel? One little thing – I tried to keep my sense of humor and not let the day steal my joy. I tried to be more appreciative to those around me, and to do the best job I could all day, ignoring the mundane nature of many of my tasks. I made the time to call a friend. As I’m writing this I realize none of these things will win me the Nobel Prize for loving, but its baby steps toward paying attention to God’s leads – those little moments that nudge our hearts, but if we ignore them, they’ll pass us by in an instant, never to return. I mean, I didn't mutter "What would Jesus do? What would Jesus do?" wearing a plastered happy face while I scurried down the hallway, I just made an effort to pay attention to Him instead of my circumstances.

God is asking me to… Another passage of the book read: “It’s easy to do the things that come naturally to us. But it’s not so easy to lay down our will and follow God into the areas that are difficult or unnatural to our reasoning, feelings or habitual ways of living.” Here I felt God was calling me to two separate invitations involving what I believe He has gifted me to do, but it felt difficult because it involved my time/calendar, which is already overloaded. So what is He calling me to give up in order to make time for these new responsibilities? That I’m not sure about yet… I’m a bit apprehensive… which I guess doesn’t sound too holy, does it? But it’s true; I’m wondering what He has around the corner for me that I can’t yet see.

I have to think of it like dancing, where I must trust my partner to show me the signals to follow his steps, to allow him to lead me when I can’t see the whole floor, and to believe he will watch out for me. It is a small act of submission with each step, but if I try to take the lead, the dance is clumsy.

My prayer – Lord of the dance, Lord of the hamster wheel, Lord of my life –today's efforts seem like such meager crumbs of obedience to You, nothing major or meaningful. No bells or whistles for the Kingdom. Just a few clumsy and mundane moments... but they were Yours to have. I hope I made You smile.

My 30 Day Faith Dare - Day 1

Based on the book "The Faith Dare" by Debbie Alsdorf

I decided to do the faith dare because I needed a kick start in my faith. The question on the back cover of the book reads “What would happen if you lived out your faith every day, in every situation?” I want a wild faith, a faith that Debbie Alsdorf, the author, says is “walked out with intention, conviction, and humble surrender.” I want to be authentic, warts, blunders, and all. I’m tired of a manicured, perfect hair and makeup soft-spoken white-washed Christianity. I want an earthy, real faith that impacts every hour and shakes me to the core so that my Jesus becomes as real as every breath I take. It's all come to this -- the ultimate goal -- that I will hear "Well done, good and faithful servant" when He calls me home.

Why here in so public a forum? To be transparent and vulnerable, and to be accountable, so I will stick to this and follow-through all 30 days. So here I go…

What is faith to me? Giving Jesus Christ control of my life and believing His Word even when I can’t understand it or see/feel Him. Putting everything I am, everything I have, and all my meaning for living in His hands and looking to Him for my validation, my direction, and my meaning.

There is a question in this chapter that reads: (pg 28) “How can a woman learn to live in God’s love when her natural bent is to protect herself from further rejection?” That struck a chord with me. I need God to heal my expectations and fill my spirit – I can only look to Him for that, not to anyone else on earth, as much as I love my family and friends.

DAY ONE – The Miracle of a New Heart – Dare to Ask God for a New Heart.

Proverbs 27:19 “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”

Psalm 86 talks of asking God for an undivided heart, and Ezekiel 36:26-28 speak of God’s promise to give me a new heart and put a new spirit in me, of removing my heart of stone and giving me a heart of flesh (Message – a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed”).

Today my verse will be Psalm 86:11 – “Give me an undivided heart…”

Today’s truth – I am so fragmented. My heart/life is like a BodyWorks display I saw at the Franklin Institute this summer, where one body was ‘exploded’ into hundreds of pieces, each hanging precariously in space. My heart does belong to Christ, but it’s just all over the place. I have so many commitments, so many interests and passions, that I wind up doing many things “half-heartedly”, including my walk with God. I see myself as a “heart hoarder” – cluttered and piled up and unable to move for all the excess.

God is asking me to – become focused – allow Him to clean up my messy heart and give Him 100%. He wants to reorder and restore and renew this old, tired, shattered thing called my heart. He wants to remove the adhesions, scars, cobwebs and junk, and make it shiny and new, centered around Him.

My challenge is to – obey and release control. What does He want me to love best, to give my focus and attention to each day? First and foremost, I must give Him the time, attention, focus and priority – and then take my marching orders from there.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (Living Bible) Trust in the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct your and crown your efforts with success.

James 1:5 (Living Bible) If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him and He will gladly tell you, for He is always ready to give bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him.