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Walking in the High Places

 

 

 

We sit at the table together, books scattered and colors all around. Little brother “helps” as the girls and I do school.

“Find four mice and one cat. Then color them green.” I give the instructions and hand out the sheets. Then I repeat and wait.

“Can we color the grass?” Little Bit asks.

To answer her, I repeat the instructions.

Both girls find the animals and color them green. Then Little Bit reaches over to grab a blue crayon. She starts coloring the grass.

“Are you supposed to color the grass?” I ask her.

She puts the crayon down and looks at me hard. No, the instructions don’t include coloring the grass but she isn’t satisfied with those rules. She wants the grass colored. She looks at me like I’m depriving her of her rights, I’m the reason for her un-happiness, I’m a terrible mom that won’t lighten up.

Surely parenting this girl has brought out insecurity in me like never before. In a split second, I wonder….

“Is it really that important? Are following the instructions really a big deal? I mean, we’re supposed to be having fun…right? What if I’m teaching her to hate learning? Should she be treated differently because of her emotional hang ups? Am I being too hard? Should I really lighten up? What is the right thing?”

But I know that following directions is the foundation for learning and until we “get” this, we can’t truly receive anything worth having. We can’t learn how to read…we can’t learn math…we can’t learn how to build a lego ship or put a dollhouse together or follow a recipe to its delicious end.

Following directions carefully and closely is the key that unlocks the treasure chests of life.

Isn’t this why God tells us to obey?

 

Where did we get the notion that we obey because He is mean and wants our robot-like performance and will strike us dead if we don’t? He asks our obedience not because He’s tired of a messy world and wants somebody to help keep things orderly. It isn’t because His name and reputation are at stake so we. better. behave. Pronto!

No, it is because careful and close adherence to His instruction is the path to life. Joy. Fullness. It’s because He’s jealous for us to have that life.

As Little Bit glares at me, I long for her to understand this. As it is, she thinks I’m a mean mommy. She completely misunderstands my intentions whenever I give her instructions. She still doesn’t know my character. She doesn’t trust my intentions.

The Whisper fills my inner places and I know it’s true, how His children do the same. We want to color in the grass because we think our lives look prettier that way, and really, what’s the big deal? Or so we think. We don’t understand that life’s greatest things come through carefully following His plan, His ways that are in such contrast with ours.

Things like forgiveness. Like humility. Like generosity.

Like service and sacrifice and hidden-ness.

We would never color our own lives like that. And we will never learn advanced spiritual mathematics and practices without first learning to follow little, seemingly meaningless, instructions. “Don’t color the grass.” “Use a yellow crayon.” “Find the cat without a tail.”

How long will we continue believing that when He tells us “no” He’s just a big “never-satisfied” meany who wants to keep good things from us?

Isn’t the opposite true? He tells us “no” because He wants us to learn to listen to His voice, trust His character, and move on to walking by faith through the spiritual realms. He wants us to live in the high places, a place we will never be able to understand, fathom, or live in apart from simple trust and obedience.

He wants us to stop our spiritual scribbling and start walking in the heavenlies.

He wants us out of Kindergarten.

We get there through following simple instructions.

I watch two daughters…one daughter is following instructions, learning letters, putting sounds together to make words; she will be reading soon. I see the other daughter glare at me every time I give the slightest command. She lags behind, mimicking sister but never really getting things for herself.

Which daughter am I, I wonder?

 

**coming back to this post, written last year, as I work with little girls again. We are all getting better at listening!! We are walking higher this year than last~~

 

“He will make me walk upon my high places.” Habakkuk 3:19

Signature Sins {and how to stop them}

 

 

chipotle shrimp tacos

 

They say we each have a signature sin.

You know, like a chef’s specialty dish, the one that sort of defines you and makes you. The one you turn to again and again, the one you’ve developed to perfection.

My signature sin is unbelief. Distrust. Doubt.

It was Eve’s too. That little seed of doubt was all the the serpent needed to trip her up and cause all of mankind to fall. I have a suspicion it is one of those sins common to {wo}men.

This particular temptation is a favorite weapon of our enemy because it is so effective. It mocks God and it keeps His children from entering their promised land. It keeps us from loving others, sharing Christ, taking risks, giving ourselves away, praying God’s truth…oh, how it marginalizes us!

This one sin has shipwrecked people in every generation and culture since the beginning of time. It has ruined homes, shut doors, and hindered moves of God.

And one day, youngest son is watching Bob the Builder. Bob, the expert builder, is retelling the story of how he started as a builder. He is telling how he went from a completely inexperienced, incapable “helper” to an experienced pro.

Practice.

Bob learned the same way we do: by getting our hands dirty. Through showing up and practicing and doing it again five minutes later and again and again. and again.

And there is something to be learned here, how to flex our faith muscles through practice. And what if we, through practicing together, built into our lives the habit of trust? 

Thus the Themed Thursdays~ Simply Trusting. I write not from a position of strength but of weakness. I write because I know my signature sin and I do not want to be handicapped by unbelief.

I write as an exercise of faith, as a way to combat distrust in my own life. I write to switch my life lens to one focused on our Great God and who He describes Himself to be. And I choose to trust.

This month we have read through the Gospel of John, the book “written so that you might believe.”  There is so much here! So many times this month I have been filled with trust and faith as I’ve read the words in this book. I’ve learned how to better pray about some soul-hard circumstances. And I’ve prayed these Jesus prayers for you, my blogosphere friends.

Today I would like to invite you to share with us in the comments a favorite verse from the book of John. Let’s bless each other as we share these passages (And Dianne, I bet I know which one you will share~smile~ It’s one of my favorites, too)

 

Simply Trusting Thursdays

How do you know it’s God speaking?

 

Hi. We’re so glad to have you along on this 6-week posting journey about hearing from the Lord! Jennifer is here today on how to know it is God speaking (and not our own emotions or the enemy.) I especially appreciate Jennifer’s personal example at the end of the post.

Just as a recap, on week one, we talked about the uniqueness and joy of an relationship with Jesus where He speaks, and His children listen.

Week two held information on how God speaks to those who belong to Him.

Week three’s topic was about what keeps us from hearing God’s voice. I’ve thought a lot about that bird this week!

Today, I want to pick back up on week two’s subject and share some thoughts on how we can know it is the Lord’s voice, and not our own or that of our enemy who is trying to sidetrack us. {This is a big subject, and one of which I claim to be no expert. I’m asking the Holy Spirit to lead me this very moment as I research and type!}

In Scripture, we consistently see two ways to grow in discerning the voice of the Lord – as opposed to listening to our own personal thoughts/wishes or those sly suggestions of our enemy. It is through familiarity with the Lord’s Word and obedience to what He has revealed through His Word that His voice can be discerned.

We must Know God’s Word.

We can not know His voice if we do not know His Word. God’s Word is God’s voice. We must spend time each day soaking in the Word of God. When Jesus was praying for us in John 17, one of the things He asked of our Father is that God would purify and separate us for Himself and make us Holy by the Truth (which is Jesus, Himself. John 14:6). Then Jesus proclaims, “Your Word is Truth.” (John 17:17)

God’s Word is everything! It is the foundation upon which we build every single detail of our lives. If we don’t invest time in knowing His Word, we surely won’t be able to distinguish the sounds of His voice over our own loud and often selfish thoughts.

(Need a way to dig into God’s Word? This post sets out a simple plan for opening God’s Word and listening for Him to speak.)

We must Know God’s Word.

We must also Obey God’s Word.

When we read God’s Word and choose to obey it, a beautiful intimacy is formed between God and His seeking child. A budding friendship forms and grows. In John 15:14-15 Jesus said, “You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do. …I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father…”

Jesus tells us in John 15:10, “If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on His love.”

As we keep His commandments {obeying what we have learned in the Scriptures}, we will have the pleasure of living in and on His love. As we live in and on the love of Jesus, we will grow to know Him and the Father more intimately. As we become more intimate, we are drawn to the Word. As we obey what we learned in the Word, the circle of intimate friendship draws tighter and we become more familiar with the voice of the Lord. It is a beautiful cycle that will keep growing us closer to the Lord until we meet Him face to face in glory!

How can we tell if it is God, ourselves, or the enemy speaking?

In my own personal experience, when I “hear” the Lord speaking to me, what He is saying or the direction in which He is leading often fits into one or more of these three categories:

1. It doesn’t often make human sense. When that happens, I KNOW it is not my own idea. I like comfort and ease. God prefers growth, trust, and obedience. When I tend to “argue” back with God over some of these instructions because they go against my fleshly nature, OR when I start to wonder what others watching my life are going to think about this “odd” idea…I begin to assume it is God.

2. It doesn’t go against God’s Written Word. God will never contradict Himself and His written Word. So when our “feelings” make us want to lash out at someone, we can’t blame it on the Lord. That would be like saying, “I felt the Lord lead me to be mean to you…” That is not God’s nature.

And, my friends, this is one I feel the Lord leading me to type this very moment: God will NEVER lead you to have an affair, no matter how horrible your marriage or your spouse is. It goes against His Word. The human flesh and the enemy who “seeks to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10), they are the ones who would tell you that God is leading you to go on and have that affair. God will NEVER tell you to do something that His Word promises will lead to destruction. He loves you way too much for that!

3. It brings with it God’s Peace (“that passes all understanding” – Phil.4:7).
To me, there are two kinds of peace:
a) That deep-deep-down-abiding kind that is from the Lord,and
b) The kind of peace I try to construct as I try to fool myself in thinking it will all turn out O.K.

I have noticed that if God really speaking to me about something, and though it doesn’t make any human sense to me or to anyone watching my life, AND if I have a God-given-deep-down peace, AND if it doesn’t contradict His Word, … Then I pretty much assume it is of the Lord.

Once I’m pretty sure it is the Lord and not me or the enemy speaking, I’ll go back to God and ask Him to clarify what I sense He is saying. Then as I pray, continue in my daily quiet times, and keep my eyes and ears open to the Lord’s activity in and around my life, the Lord will bring confirmation of what He said. Accompanying that confirmation will be an abundance of peace. Sometimes it might also bring a little sadness – if the answer is a “no” to something I think I want – but along with that sadness remains God’s abiding peace.

That’s when Faith wins the battle over sight and I feel God’s pleasure and His smile. That’s when, though the answer or direction may not be the way I want, I fall more in love with Jesus and we grow closer. That primes me to hear Him even more distinctly the next time He speaks to me.

For example…

As James and I were seeking the Lord’s direction for our lives, ministry, and family several years ago, we met with a team from an incredible church. A world-famous church known for it’s television ministry, it’s preaching of God’s Word, and it’s reaching multitudes with the Gospel of salvation. We were without a job and would soon be out of an income, and this church offered us everything a ministry family could dream of in a church position. But instead of coming away from that meeting excited and encouraged about what could be ahead, neither James nor I had God’s peace over the matter. We tried to feel peaceful and hopeful about the situation, but when we stopped trying, both of us knew a “sick” feeling in the pits of our stomachs. As we prayed and continued seeking God through His Word, individually we began to sense that this place {as great as it would have been to be part of its ministry} was not the best place for us. In fact, the Lord put it on both of our hearts that this place was not “God’s best for our family.” Both of us sensed that same thing from the Lord.

Because turning down this position made absolutely NO human sense… we knew that it was not just an idea cooked up from our own minds. And because saying “no” to this meant we would have to cling even more closely to the Lord in fellowship and dependence upon Him, we knew that this was not the voice of the enemy. We continued to pray, wait, and stayed in God’s Word. When we were sure of what God was saying to us and we gave them the shocking “thank you, but this is not what God has for us,” the most amazing peace of God settled over our minds and hearts. We were without a job and income, and we just turned down a job and an income… yet we were at complete peace that we had obeyed what God had told us to do. It was exhilarating and overwhelming at the same time.

However, after that test of obedience came the hardest test of all… God’s silence. For four months, we didn’t sense God saying anything else to us except, “Obey Me for today and trust Me for tomorrow.” That’s what both of us continued to get from our quiet times, books we were reading, the sermons at our church, the songs on Christian radio… everywhere we turned. No leads, no further promises, no further instruction… nothing but “Obey Me and Trust Me.”

That was hard.

And I have to admit that even though I knew we had obeyed the Lord, many times during that period of silence I would go back to the Lord and ask Him if we had heard Him correctly concerning that incredible church opportunity. His only answer to me was His Peace as we put one foot in front of the other in obedience and trust.

Of course, all the while and unbeknownst to us, God was preparing His BEST place for us… and He was preparing us for this present place. It is God’s best for our lives, ministry, and family…and I can’t praise Him enough for His directions to us during the “wait!”

If you need a “check-list of sorts’ to help you tell if it is God speaking or not, this list is from Is that Really You God? By Loren Cunningham and Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere

The scriptures provide ways to discern or test things so we can know they are from God.

For Starters:

1. Submit to God’s Lordship. Ask Him to silence your thoughts, desires, and opinions (2 Corinthians 10:5; Proverbs 3: 5 – 6).

2. Resist the devil by asking Jesus to silence the enemy’s voice and distractions in your mind (James 4:7; Ephesians 6:10 – 18).

3. Expect an answer from God. Ask the Father to help you hear Him and He will (John 10:27; Psalm 69:13; Exodus 33:11).

Then ask these questions:

Does it exalt Christ? (John 14:26; 16:13 – 14)
It’s got to be all about Christ, not you! He must be at the center of the leading.

Is it Scriptural? (Proverbs 30: 5 – 6; 2 Timothy 3: 14 – 17)
It has to line up with what God reveals to us in His Word. If not, it’s not from God.

Do other Christians confirm it? (Proverbs 15:22; 1 Corinthians 14:29)
It’s about “we” not “me”. The body of Christ is important! Learn to trust other believers who are mature in their faith. Ask them to pray with you.

Does it produce good fruit? (Deuteronomy 18:21 – 22; John 15:1 – 16)
If what you’re hearing weighs you down or make you feel guilty, it’s probably not from the Lord. However, God will convict us at times. The different between guilt and conviction is that conviction comes with hope and forgiveness. Guilt comes with a dead end and mocking. Test it!

Does God bring it to pass? (Isaiah 55:10 – 11)
God means what He says and says what He means. If God tells you something or shows you something, He will make it happen.

 

God is faithful, my friends. Practice getting to know the sound of His voice by studying and obeying His Words. Then trust Him to confirm His leading as you put one foot in front of the other in obedience and trust.

Arabah Joy and I will be back next week with more in this series. You can subscribe to Arabah and Smelling Coffee to make sure you get upcoming posts in this series.

 

Are You Ready for a Challenge?

 

 

Want more energy? Then I’ve got the perfect challenge for you!

Announcing the Official Fall Energy Explosion 7 Day Challenge! I am excited about this because after all the meals on the run I’ve been consuming, the jet-lag, the transitions… I need Challenge Week!

Challenge Week will begin Monday, September 17 and run through the 23rd.

Like our Spring Challenge, we will have an awesome giveaway and daily check-ins, encouragement, and accountability on Facebook. This time I will also be offering a free download and supplementary resources throughout the week.

Several people have mentioned doing the Challenge on their blogs or with a small group of friends. You are welcome to form your own Challenge group~ if you do, please let me know and I will provide you with a free copy of the ebook to giveaway :)

Here is more info on the book Energy Explosion: A 7 Day Guide to Jump Start Your Energy:

 

One step at a time, this strategic plan will help you:

~ implement proven strategies for increasing energy

~ address low grade energy sappers like anger, stress, and anxiety

~ identify your personal pitfalls that drain you mentally and spiritually

~ gain a biblical vision for what God is doing in your life circumstances

~ understand top energy foods and incorporate them into your meals {includes a section of delicious recipes}

~ renew your mind with scripture using the MIND Method of meditating

~ chart your progress with printables

And much more!

I believe God wants you and me to perform at our personal best. My prayer is that this eBook will provide practical, realistic tools for fulfilling Romans 12:11 in their lives.

“Keep yourselves fueled and aflame…” Romans 12:11

 

 You can instantly purchase Energy Explosion for $2.99 by clicking here. Look it over, print off your charts, tell your friends, and we’ll see you for Challenge Week!

What to do with the Dead

“Don’t worry about me, son. The Man Upstairs and I have an understanding.” Pops tells Jackson this before we leave on the jet plane. He’s got a bad heart and we all know it but no one wants to say it… that we may never see each other again.

I ask Jackson, “What do you think is standing in the way between your dad and Jesus?”

Jackson looks thoughtful. “I really think he believes it’s too late for him. He’s denied Him his whole life, lived life his way. Figures he’s already made his choice and run out of chances with God. Plus, he knows he’s not a good person.

So when Pastor flys from Tennessee to Florida and needs a ride from the airport, we ask Pops to pick him up. And yes, we have motives.

Pastor tells Jackson that Pops was tough as nails. Shushed him and told him he don’t need any of that and knowing Pops, threw in some foul language to boot. “Now don’t you go telling Jackson about our conversation,” he tells Pastor. “I don’t want my boy a-worryin’.”

And as they get ready to part, Pastor asks him if he’s ever heard the story of the workers. The one where the laborer who worked only one hour gets the same wages as the one who worked all day.

Pops told Pastor he’d never heard that one before. “But I’m going to think about it,” he said. “Yessiree, I’ll be thinking about that one.”

And when I’m on the other side of the world, reading through John, I come upon chapter 11, the familiar story of Lazarus’ death. In my heart I feel it, that pain of death. There are fathers with bad hearts whom we might never see again. There are loved ones we can’t rescue. Dead places we can’t do a thing about. Relationships we can’t revive. Choices we can’t go back and re-do.

Like Mary and Martha, we helplessly watch as our beloved, our hopes, our dreams, slip away.

My heart hurts so bad I feel bruised all over.

But something strange is in these pages of John, something stirring Life, sweeping the curled, dry leaves off the tombs. “When Jesus received the message, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death…”

Strange….when in fact Lazarus did die…

Which means that even when our Lazarus is stone cold and stinking in the grave, it’s not over until the Resurrection and Life says it’s over.

 

“Jesus said to her, “I Myself am the Resurrection and Life. Whoever believes in Me, although he may die, yet shall he live…”

“Do you believe this?”

 

Jesus asks us to believe in life after death. Yes, there is the real, physical life after death…but also life after a dead marriage. Life after an empty womb. Life after deep loss. Life after pain so unbearable you can’t face another day. Hour. Minute.

Even though the death is real, there is life. And it’s real too.

Things are not always what they seem and even the worst reality is only temporary.

Because there is a Resurrection and a Life and He’s a Person.

What is your Lazarus? More importantly, Do you believe?

 

Simply Trusting Thursdays

 

Today I’m also over at Raising Homemakers sharing about Lysa Terkeurst’s new bestseller Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions.

Becoming a Thermostat {And Free Webinar Tonight!}

 

 

It’s rightly been said that “Mom” is either the home’s thermometer or it’s thermostat.

A thermometer mom reflects the temperature and atmosphere of the home. If things are chaotic, tense, and loud, she will be these things too. She is affected by her environment and goes up and down with it.

A thermostat mom regulates the temperature and atmosphere of the home. She makes it what she wants it to be. This mom affects her environment instead of being affected by it.

So which are you…a thermometer or a thermostat?

In her bestselling book Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, Lysa Terkeurst candidly and extensively addresses how to move from being a reactor mom to a responder mom. She shares practical, biblical advice as well as personal examples that every mom can appreciate. Here’s an excerpt from her book:

“Do you ever have these little zingers that fly into your morning and sting your heart? I suspect you do. And it’s these kinds of things that can catch us off guard and start ratcheting up the tension that leads to coming unglued.

We don’t want to be unglued mamas. We don’t want to have mornings filled with unglued moments. So, today let’s think about what we do want our mornings to be filled with … love, peace, joy, sanity, kind words, and interactions with our kids that won’t be retold years later on some therapist’s couch.

Yes, that’s what we want.

But here’s the tricky part: I can’t control the unpredictable attitudes my kids are going to bring into each morning.

I can’t set my hope for a good morning on what my kids might or might not do. I must bring the attitude with which I want the morning to be filled. I have to set my mind on things from above … things from God.”

 

Psalm 1 says, “And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].“  AMP

The woman centered in God’s Word is like a tree growing in an arid, dry place. No matter what is going on above ground, she is green and full of good fruits because her roots are grounded in a Source and Sustenance that is always there. God desires us to be women who affect our environment, consistently bringing forth good fruits for those around us… not consistently affected by our environment.

That’s the kind of woman, the kind of Mom, I want to be. I’m sure that is your desire too. I’m thankful for women like Lysa Terkeurst who open their “sometimes messy” lives up for the benefit of us all. Be sure to check out Lysa’s new bestselling book, Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions for down to earth encouragement and practical help. And tonight, Lysa is hosting a free “Unglued” webinar in conjunction with KLOVE. Webinar begins at 7pm CDT.

P.S. Simply Trusting Thursday coming soon!

Are you a “GET UP AND WALK” kind of Christian?

cormorant_2211091945

Soaring Cormorant

 

A couple years ago, I sat down to watch a documentary called “The Mysterious Islands.” On the film, they talked in depth about the Galapagos Island cormorant bird. This bird is the only cormorant species in the world that cannot fly.

Perplexed by this, researchers went to work finding out the cause for this lack of flight. They discovered that life on the Galapagos Islands was very easy for the birds. The cormorant was not hunted by predators, which meant it was not forced to fly.

Furthermore, the cormorant relied on his diving skills rather than his flying skills to find food. The Island cormorant became excellent at diving, even though diving was a secondary skill. Over time, the bird’s body adapted to how it was being used and the lack of flying until he became unable to fly.

As I watched this film, the Lord spoke to my heart: “The American church is like that cormorant bird.”

I was heartbroken. I knew God was telling me that as a whole, His children in America had come to rely so much on secondary blessings, such as wealth and abundance and tips and strategies and flashy resource after resource… that we have stopped living from our primary gifting- the Holy Spirit.

 

Flightless Cormorant - Galápagos Islands

Flightless Cormorant of the Galapogas Islands

 

Like the cormorant bird, the American church knows how to dive. We know how to get our needs met and dip into the abundance of resources we have. Life is good. We know how to host conferences and build buildings and put on grand performances. We have lots of resources and know how to use them.

While there is nothing “wrong” with diving and using our resources, I do believe we have forgotten how to soar.

I have had the privilege of living in other cultures where the Christians don’t have all these things. In fact, daily reliance on God is the only thing they have. Boy are they rich!! They have the power of God on their lives. They know how to soar.

No matter what our Christian culture does, as individuals we can choose to soar. Read Acts 3 and let the Holy Spirit speak very personally to you:

 

“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.

Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”   (Acts 3:1-6 ESV)

 

The lame man was expecting a coin, some token thrown his way that would keep him surviving. In fact, it says he daily came out for his alms. And where did he hang out for these mere coins? The temple. The religious institution.

But Peter gave him something totally unexpected: full healing in the name of Jesus.

It makes me ask: What tokens are we accustomed to receiving? I wonder if we associate books and podcasts and conferences and workbooks with spiritual abundance when perhaps they are mere tokens? They keep us surviving but we keep needing more, day after day, week after week. They are never enough.

Are we eating scraps off the table when God has something far greater that He intends for us?

Peter didn’t have any gold. No shiny alm to make the man feel good and prop him up one more day.

Peter had the power of God.

I have a question for you: Are you a “silver and gold”  kind of Christian? Or are you a “get up and walk” kind of Christian?

Are you surviving on token Christianity? Or have you come to the place where you lay all of that down for a Spirit filled life that is full of power?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t make the most of what we have. I am saying these cannot be the object of our reliance. If it means not having them in order to have something greater, we must be willing.

I am absolutely, positively convinced that God desires His people to live powerful, get up and walk kind of lives. I’m sure of it because His word is clear.

I am also convinced that most of us have grown up in a “silver and gold” paradigm of Christianity and, although we long for a more powerful, dynamic walk with the Lord, we are stuck in the wrong paradigm.

For the past two weeks, Jennifer and I have been discussing the spiritual sense of “Hearing.” I believe one hindrance to us hearing God and living a powerful Christian life is the reliance on secondary skills, blessings, talents, and resources. Over-emphasis on these things have caused us to become dull of hearing.

 

“Concerning this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull in your [spiritual] hearing and sluggish.

 For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food.

For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]!

But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.

Therefore let us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity.”

~Hebrews 5:11-6:1a

 

This passage tells us that when we become dull of hearing, we fail to train the spiritual senses we need for spiritual maturity. We are like that cormorant bird whose flying muscles atrophy due to lack of use. Habitually hearing God and acting on what He says is essential for steady spiritual growth. It is how Peter knew to walk over to that lame man and tell him, “Get up and walk!”

Training our spiritual senses through constant use is required for living a “get up and walk” kind of life. We’ve got to use those spiritual muscles and soar!

To help personalize this and make it useful in our lives, let me close with a few questions. It will help if you jot them down and then write the answers down as you prayerfully consider them. Writing things down helps solidify them.

 

1. Spiritually, what “tokens” are you relying on to keep going? Prayerfully identify anything you are relying on in lieu of His Spirit. List them as specifically as you can.

2. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the the Word of God.” The surest way to develop your hearing is to increase your intake of the Word. How can you get more word of God into your day? Brainstorm ideas, then adopt the most realistic one or two. Work on incorporating them into your life this week. {For the Bibles I use, click here}

3. This week, when you are tempted to reach for one of the ”silver or gold” tokens you have identified, turn to Christ instead. Ask Him to fill you with His promised living water (see John 4:10) Pray Samuel’s prayer, “Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening.” Then wait expectantly for Him to speak.

 

Let’s excercise this week, friends!!  As always, you are invited to share in the comments. Let’s be iron on iron for the glory of God! Your thoughts, insights, questions, even disagreements are welcome :)

Soar, my friend. Soar.

Jennifer and I will be back next week with more in this series. You can subscribe to Arabah and Smelling Coffee to make sure you get upcoming posts in this series.

~Arabah

 

Related: Post One in this series

Post Two in this series

When You’re Feeling Vulnerable

 

 

Little Bit’s first day of school. She comes home and I ask how her day was. “Good,” she says.

But she is not acting normal. Twice she tears up at the drop of a hat. I ask her what she had for lunch, trying to lighten things up, get her to relax, open up.  Food is her favorite subject so I’m dismayed when she bursts into tears.

I pull her close and know something was triggered in that little heart today, deep things I can’t understand.

I soothe long and hold tight and reassure her that everything is going to be okay.

Later, I notice she has downed a ton of water. She wants something in her mouth. That has always been a security blanket to her, having food, drink, a cup, a hand, anything close to her lips. I ask her if she would like me to put more water in her cup.

She bursts into tears.

“Little Bit, what’s the matter? Did you have a hard day at school today?” I pull her close and stroke her hair, not knowing how else to draw her out, help her be ready for day 2.

“Yes,” she tells me. Then Little Bit does something she has never, ever done before. She lets herself go. She allows herself to be vulnerable.

“Momma.” She is sobbing on my shoulder.  “I wanted to go home.”

She has found her own voice, spoken her own words instead of parrotting mine.

She is breaking my heart and elating me all at the same time.

I feel her do something she has never, ever done before. She wraps her legs around my waist. Her body softens and flattens against mine. For the first time ever, she is not rigid in my arms.

She allows me to comfort her. I soothe her vulnerabilities. I let her see the wetness on my face, allow her to understand how deeply I feel for her. I carry that Little Bit of a girl around for a very long time, stroking her, whispering to her, touching my tear streaked face to hers, telling her everything is going to be okay. I tell her that she will always come back home and that I’m so proud of her.

Little Bit does something else she struggles with…she receives.

And right there, I get a glimpse of Glory.

All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned each one to our own way. And when you’ve been deeply hurt, neglected, uncared for, your own way is to withdraw, retreat, and never allow yourself to be vulnerable.

In this, Little Bit and I are alike. We’ve both walked the way of the wounded. And it’s been rightly said that it isn’t what’s done to us that’s the worst sin, but how we turn to our own ways in response.

We turn to falsehood, thinking there is safety in someone else’s arms when God’s Word says to flee.

We close up and shut off, never allowing anyone in.

We hold bitterness in our hearts.

We use our anger as a weapon.

Yes, we wrap ourselves with all sorts of falsehoods, turning to them like a security blanket.

But Glory allows us to attend kindergarten. He let’s us experience hard things in our lives that make us want to go home. And when we get to His arms~ because after all, where else can we go?~  we un-learn our own ways. We learn His instead. We learn to soften, to reach out, to receive.

We learn that being vulnerable is okay and He really is the path of Life. And no matter how bad our day is, it’s only kindergarten to our King…He’s got things covered! And there are tears on His face and scars on His hands and even though this is kindergarten to Him, He deeply feels our struggles and everything is going to be okay. Really!

The iniquity of all our wanderings has been laid on Him.

We can come home.

We can wrap our arms and legs around Him and feel His tears on our face and hear Him whisper it really is okay and that we will always come home and that He is going to help us and that we can count on Him.

Friend, I am writing this because I sense the Spirit saying that someone needs to come home today. Someone reading this needs to forsake her own way. Someone needs to understand that even though she has turned astray, the Lord has taken the iniquity of that on Himself. No matter what mess you’ve gotten yourself into, it’s kindergarten to the King and He’s got it covered.

Feel the tears on His face, the scars on His hands, and come home.

 

“The Spirit   and the bride   say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.“  Revelation 22:17

 

*If I can pray for you, please email me at arabahjoy@gmail.com

 

Finding Your Middle C

 

 

Last night I dreamed of Florida…of bare feet in warm sand, of wind in the trees and whip-o-wills at dusk. I dreamed of Momma’s kitchen table, always ready to accommodate, of drinking sweet tea while the house buzzes with young cousins and secrets and life.

I remember how the floor boards creaked when I stepped out of bed in the mornings.

And I know it’s true, how sometimes when life spins you a whole new world, you crave the familiar.

Sometimes when the sun’s hot overhead and we can’t see where provision will come from, we just want the familiarity and safety of Egypt.

And God told the Israelites who wanted to go back, who craved the safety of the known, “Go up and take possession of the land.” (Deut 1:21) He had a whole new land for them if they would but keep putting one foot in front of the other.

“Possess” is “yaresh”  in the Hebrew language. It holds rich meaning because it not only means to “inherit and subdue”, but also to “dispossess and impoverish” another.

There are two kinds of wealth intended here. One is to add to our assets. The other is to decrease our liabilities. As we travel through life, God intends for us to inherit the land we tread, to take it’s spoil whatever the terrain may be… and also impoverish and dispossess the current occupant.

It could be said that in our possessing, we are granted this additional gift: to impoverish worldly deeds, fleshly thinking, spiritual strongholds, to dispossess falsehood and spiritual forces of darkness.

So I ask: Do we live wealthy? Really?

“All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future- all are yours, and you are Christ’s…”  I Corinthians 3:21

“See, the Lord your God has placed the land before you;  go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed!” Deut. 1:21

 

What does it take to live wealthy? To suck every bit of inheritance out of each moment, to rob the enemy of every last morsel?

A few days before getting on the plane that crossed an ocean, after stepping out onto those creaking floor boards at Momma’s house one morning, I opened worn pages to Deut. 1.

I find the answer.

Is this why we live impoverished {adj} instead of impoverishing {verb}?

 “But for all this, you did not trust the Lord your God”

But for all this, when everything has been given for my possession and the impoverishment of the flesh, do I fail to trust the Lord? Or do I live out my wealth? Do I keep placing one foot in front of the other, sure of my inheritance even when the ground is unfamiliar and when I dream of home?

It’s when we attend fellowship that it happens. The kids have been through such transition and they express the anxiety of it all, each in their own way. Youngest daughter clings. She’s clinging to me when the brother quotes Psalm 100.

She is hanging on my arm and I see her shift and lift her happy face to me, like the sun has just risen in her darkness. “Momma!” She whispers loud. “We know that one!”

And right there in group, in the stifling hot room with no AC, youngest has found her footing. She’s found her familiar in the pages of scripture. In the middle of changing worlds, she’s found her middle C.

I watch as she lets go of my arm. She steps out in trust. She finally knows everything is going to be okay.

Because One has told us, “Go up and take possession of this land.”

And we can trust.

We will trust.

{Will you?}

 

Simply Trusting Thursdays

 

How to Know God’s Voice

 

 

Welcome to the second post in our series on Hearing God! Are you a woman who listens to God moment by moment? Today, Jen from Smelling Coffee shares some practical tips on discerning God’s voice.

{To see how God uses His voice to lead us  read post one here. And Be sure to subscribe to Smelling Coffee and Arabah Joy for updates on this series.}

Here’s Jen on how to discern God’s voice:

 

“The Lord said to me…”
“I heard the Lord say…”
“I felt the Lord say…”
“The Lord wanted me to…”
“The Lord showed me…”
“The Lord brought you to my mind…”

Have you ever heard someone make any of the above or similar statements and wondered to yourself how in the world that person KNEW it was “the Lord” speaking and how they KNEW what He was saying? That’s what this series is all about, and Arabah Joy and I are so glad you’ve joined in the discussion with us today.

Hearing and discerning the voice of the Lord isn’t a magical spiritual power that some believers have and others don’t. The ability to hear and discern the Lord’s voice is the natural product of an intimate relationship with God.

The more time we spend with someone and the more intimate we become with that person, the more we learn to recognize that person’s voice, laughter, and even his/her whisper. It’s that way with my husband and me, and my children and me. I can tell which one of them is sniffing, or breathing loudly, or coughing, or walking – all because I love them and know them so intimately well.

The same is true with God. An intimate relationship with God is the most important factor in being able to hear God’s voice. In fact, it is the most defining aspect of our entire lives. It holds the key to our success and survival, happiness and strength, and our joy and purpose in this life we’ve been given to live.

John 10:27 says, “The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me.”

If you want to know how and when God is speaking to you, you must first make sure that you belong to Him. Click here for an easy explanation of belonging to God.

So how does God speak to those who belong to Him?

That’s a big question – and one we will {by God’s help} take a stab at discussing today. Next week’s post will be about how we can tell the difference between God speaking and our own wishful thinking or the enemy’s misleading.

God speaks through His Word.

Once you belong to Jesus, you must learn what His words sound like. This reorganization comes through time spent in His Word, the Bible. The more you are familiar with the Word of the Lord, the more apt you are to hear Him speak to you through His Word, and direct you in applying His Word to the intimate details of your life. As God’s Word becomes more and more familiar to you, and as the Holy Spirit uses God’s Word to teach, convict, and change you, you are learning the sound of God’s voice. God speaks to His people through His Word.

God, by the Holy Spirit, also speaks to His people through prayer, circumstances, and the church. If you’re familiar with Henry Blackaby’s wonderful Bible study, Experiencing God, you’ll recognize this as “Reality # 5.” ;-)


God speaks through Prayer.

Dr. Henry Blackaby explains it this way.

“As I pray about a particular matter, the Spirit of God takes the Word of God and applies tit to my heart and mind to reveal the truth. I immediately stop praying and open God’s Word to the passage I believe the Spirit brought to my mind. I assume God wants to give me specific direction through the Scripture He led me to. Sometimes as I pray, the Spirit places a particular person on my heart. I assume God is alerting me, through prayer, to someone He wants to minister to through me. After I pray, I look for ways God leads me to minister to that person.

‘We are weak and do not know how we ought to pray. (Romans 8:26-27) The Holy Spirit has an advantage over us; He already knows God’s will – He is God. When He prays for us, He is interceding in agreement with God’s will. He then helps us know God’s will as we pray… You must decide, however, that you want only His will. You must dismiss any selfish or fleshly desires of your own. Then as you start to pray, the Spirit of God touches your heart and leads you to pray God’s will.

“…Don’t play games with God. Don’t just look for a Scripture that seems to say what you want to do and then claim it as God’s will. That is dangerous…Watch for God to use the written Word to confirm or correct what you sense in prayer…” [Experiencing God, Unit 5, Day 5]

God speaks through circumstances.

God does speak through the things that happen in and around our lives. However, we must not view our circumstances as the number one way God speaks. Circumstances are often confusing. God’s Word is the primary way He speaks, and then He uses our circumstances to move us into places or attitudes of obedience to that Word. Not every “open door” is one we are to go through. And not every door we perceive as “closed” is closed to God. We can’t determine what God is saying by looking strictly at our circumstances.

When we are trying to hear God through our circumstances, we must be careful not to view God from the middle of our circumstances. Picture this: (artist that I am… below is my “draw something” version of a point I’m trying to make – haha!)

The person viewing God from the middle of the circumstance gets a distorted view of God and a muffled sound of God’s voice. The person viewing the circumstance through God and His Word is able to discern what God is saying in the midst of the circumstance. The Holy Spirit will take God’s Word and apply it to our circumstances as we lay aside our wills and listen for what God has to say. He will use His Word to comfort us, convict us, confirm us, and instruct us. Then, as we wait and watch what happens next, God will often use our circumstances to confirm His Word.

When circumstances are confusing, always ask God to reveal the truth about those circumstances. In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the Truth.” We must ask God to reveal Himself and to give us His perspective. Then we must stay in God’s Word, obeying what it says, and wait for God to speak to us about Himself and our circumstances.

God speaks through other believers (the Church – the Body of Christ).

God will often use other believers who are seeking His Word to confirm what He has been saying to us. But very rarely will God speak about our lives through another person when He has not already been dealing with us about that same area or issue. God uses believers who seek His Word and His Will to come alongside other believers and encourage us to press on toward obedience. We must beware of the one who gives us “a word from the Lord” that is either contrary to Scripture, or way off radar from what God has been speaking to us. Always carry someone’s “word” for us back to the Lord and ask Him to reaffirm it through His Word. He will not mislead us.

If you want to delve more deeply into this subject, may I recommend these three resources?

Now it’s your turn to speak. ;-)

  • How has God spoken to you by the Holy Spirit through His Word, prayer, circumstances, or the church?
  • How did God use His spoken word to you to make a difference in your life?

Jennifer

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