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How to be rich in 2014 {A Heads Up!}

When you need a new you

 

 

When you need a new you

Five kids, one dirty dog, one messy house, and one demanding husband into life, she lost it.

Took her daughter to the ER one day ~ I remember sitting in the van singing the Romans 8:28 song while we drove her there~ and she walked out of that ER loony.

She went missing and even after they found her and her frightened daughter on a street corner in Tampa, it took a while for us to really find her. It was like her mom before her…and her mom before her. Just like generations of moms past, sprinkled throughout a lineage as far back as I can trace. I come from a long line of women who’ve up and gone crazy, lost their minds, gone stark mad.

And words, they can be weapons. Words like, “You remind me of your Aunt…” “You’ll never be good enough.” “Look how you’ve done it now!”

It’s true that fear can mark you, hunt you down, shape your identity.

If you let it.

 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly… For if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.”

 

We can  ”let” the word of others root in us… or we can “let” the word of Christ be what dwells in us richly. Not our past. Not our mistakes. Not a lousy year full of regret and bad choices. Not our inadequacies. Not the words of friends, foes, or facebook.

The word of Christ.

And if Christ didn’t come for the healthy but the sick… if He didn’t come to call the righteous but sinners (Mark 2:17), then that means we have real hope. His words are LIFE and truth and everything we need. 

We can stop letting everything else take root and let the word dwell in us richly and we can marinate in those words and that’s how we can live out the new year and the new you. We can remember we’ve been redeemed from the past.

 

 

“You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Your real life is Christ…”

~ Colossians 3:1-4

 

So there’s been this prompting to do something new here in this space.  Something I’ve never done before. Pray about joining in? A way for us to let Words be our Wealth, a way to be rich and full with heaven. Because really? There’s no better way I’d rather spend my 2014…  my life… than feasting on Christ.

In the next 24 hours I’ll be sharing the details!  Whenever I get the invitation ready… perhaps around midnight? Can’t wait to slip it to you!

 

Declaration of Love

Today, I will believe that God’s love is demonstrated towards me. It is expressed in ways I can see and experience. (Romans 5:8)

The expressions of God’s love are so numerous, they fill the whole earth! (Psalm 57:10)

Today, I can be sure that God wants me to know and believe the love He has for me. (I John 4:16)

With this knowledge, I recognize then that any breakdown lies not in God’s love for me, but in my ability to perceive and embrace it. So I endeavor, with the help of God, to bind His kindness on, and write it on the tablet of my heart today. (Proverbs 3:3)

I will do this by taking up the following spiritual disciplines:

~ Today, I will, with great intentionality, consider the lovingkindnesses of the Lord.  (Psalm 147:43, Matthew 6:28)

~Today, I will count His kindnesses by listing them. (Psalm 92:1-2)

~Today, I will bless myself and others by sharing the in context of community the love, faithfulness, and kindnesses of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19, Psalm 40:10)

~Today, I will not grow discouraged, knowing that the more I train my senses, the clearer I will see God’s love, and that soon this will be a well established habit in my life.

~Today, I will remind myself that the Disposition of God is kindness; the Default of God is mercy; the Gifts of God are good; the conclusion of every generation is that God is good. And God has chosen me to be a witness in my own generation,

Today, I will taste and see that the Lord is Good. (Psalm 34:8)

 

Click here For a downloadable copy of this to hang on your fridge or mirror: Manifesto of Love

Related Posts on Developing the Habit of God’s Love in your life:

Rooted and Grounded in Love

Walking in God’s Eulogy

How to Really Know God Loves You

Trusting God’s Intentions Towards You


Knowing God’s Intentions Toward You

We have good days, we really do, and ever so slowly the good days are outnumbering the bad ones.

It’s when the bad days come along that I have to dig deep and draw upon truth. These days I ask her the simplest of things and she shuts down, pulls away, wonders what I really want from her.

I give the slightest instruction and she stares me down, draws a line in the sand, gears up to fight for control.

It pains me that after nearly three years, she still does not trust my intentions towards her.

It smacks me between the eyes, that insight. Because my LORD wants my full and complete surrender but how can I give it if I do not fully trust His intentions towards me?

Yes, I know about doubt. We adopted not because we wanted another child, not because we had some silly notion of “saving”  a “poor child,” but for the simple reason of obedience. We asked God how He wanted us to fulfill James 1:27. “Adopt,” He told us.

We did. So things should be okay, right? We are being obedient to God and are joyfully following the Lord…things surely won’t blow up in our face. Right?

Wrong.

It’s sort of like the Israelites leaving Egypt. They are tired and weak and the unknown hangs over their heads, presses them from all sides…and suddenly they are attacked. From behind, where the weakest ones lag. Dirty low down enemies. Surely they would at least fight fair. (See Exodus 17)

Wrong.

Where is God in all of this? Hello? God? We didn’t do this because we set out on our own and paved our own path. We are here because of You, God. We are following You by pillar and cloud. What gives? We aren’t supposed to get bindsided by a foe we didn’t even know existed right when we need rest the most.

Then when child #4 came along, the third one to arrive in a span of 23 months, I started asking even more of those questions. “Don’t you know I’m overwhelmed already, Lord? What are You thinking?”

Like in Exodus 17, God’s purpose for me was/is to train me how to do warfare. If we’re going to take our promised land, we’ve got to know how to fight.

But before we can fight, we’ve got to trust, because how can one willingly submit herself fully to God if there is even a trace of fear regarding His intent?

He wakes me one morning with the words, “Understand what the will of the Lord is,” and I know what His Spirit is getting at, how I historically define God’s will in terms of what He wants from me, what He wants me to do.

{And I’ve done this part well.}

There is something more. His will starts with His intentions.

This I have missed.

I’ve been taught to do the right thing, to please God, to obey His will…but I’ve never really understood the intentions of my Lord, the One who is supposed to be Master.

But isn’t that what faith is all about? Believing?

A word study on “will” leaves me in awe. Understanding His will means believing His heart.The same heart that birthed spoken eulogies and Word made flesh and still lives among us. The same heart who can’t help but be loving to all He has made and whose deeds are all done in faithfulness.

How have I missed this?

I’m saddened by all the grace I’ve missed.

But there are new graces for today and failing to embrace them by mourning those forfeited only compounds the loss.

In my study, I stumble upon the verse that grounds me when changing dirty diapers…when sick children keep me up all night…when I feel overwhelmed by the emotional demands from children whose hurt runs deep…when I wonder where God will send us next, and when…where the provisions will come from… the verse that I take up like a life raft and heave myself upon and calm myself with and rest and bring myself first to my knees and them, shaky, to my feet.

“Stand fully assured in all God’s will for you.”

Fully Assured. I can face each moment fully assured of God’s good will in all, and for me.

When the dirty rotten enemies come at me from behind when I’m just trying to follow God, I can stand fully assured. I don’t have to add God’s intentions to my list of problems.

“This is God’s best for me,” I tell myself. THIS moment. Right here, right now. With all the unknowns and the problems that don’t have answers yet and the inadequacy of me,

This is God’s best for me.

I can stand fully assured in all God’s will for me. There is not a moment that I have to flounder. There is not a season or a single half- second that I have to doubt His intentions towards me.

Fully Assured.

In All.

God’s Will.

For Me.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans for your welfare, not for disaster; plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

This month, we are learning the Habits of Love: How to be Rooted and Grounded in Love; How to Walk in God’s Eulogy; How to Really Know God Loves You. Join us next Monday for a wrap up and special printable for your fridge. {You can also find a printable bookmark of the 3 Love Habits I’m taking with me this year at the bottom of this post.}

How To Really Know God Loves You

Disappointment seeped in and disguised itself as a knot in my stomach. Its companion, insecurity, was bolder, creeping up my neck and coming out in my words, my actions.

It wasn’t until the next morning when quiet time found me withdrawn and struggling to believe that the “aha” moment came…my perception of God’s love for me was tainted by the incident of yesterday that caused such disappointment.

“If nothing separates me from Your love (Rom 8),” I prayed, “and if Your loving kindness towards me fills the entire earth (Ps. 36:5), extending even to the heavens (Ps 57:10) to form a canopy over me, a crown on the head (Ps. 103), then it is not Your love for me that is in question; It is my perception of it. My perceptions are faulty and need repairing.”

How like the Israelites I am! A dry spell in the wilderness makes me forget the parting of the Red Sea! New challenges today make me mindless of the miracles He performed yesterday.

Identifying hinges on which my understanding of His love for me swings… the response from others… success (or lack of) in ministry…whether or not things go well…smooth paths… acceptable performance from me… on and on. Knowing these false hinges helps me stop the downward spiral. 

It doesn’t take long to realize that basing my perception of God’s love on these things means sure disaster. But I feel lost. Where do I begin? Just believing the fact that “God loves me” seems impossible when emotions are so strong.

I look to scripture for someone who can show me how to do this, give me a model to follow. I find David.

David knew God loved him. It was his backbone when facing Goliath, his wisdom when he was king, his hope when he had failed, his refuge when attacked, his strength when he woke mere man.

How did he do it? How did he ground himself in God’s love? What spiritual disciplines did he exercise that imparted this rich knowledge that served him well all his life? Did he just wait around to be zapped with his spiritual “AHA!” moments?

I was eager to find the answers, to take them as my own, to shape my life around them. In the story of a life lived thousands of years ago, I found answers… and a strong word of instruction:

 I have a responsibility in knowing God loves me.

 (No waiting for an “AHA” moment.) Because over and over the Bible says He loves me and He wants me to know it (Eph 3: 17, I John 4:17) and He shows me how to know it.

I am not the only one to have tainted perceptions and painful pasts and need help day after day knowing God’s love. The Israelites… well they were slaves, driven and beaten and not given a voice either. How could they claim to be God’s people, to be the recipients of His love and favor when they had been so abused and mistreated?

The evil one asks this of me, too. The only weapon is the Sword of Truth, kept sharp by spiritual disciplines that ensure my perceptions are pure, accurate, true, SOLID.

Piece by piece, bit by bit, I am mentored by a man who did it right. I sketch David’s habits, learning his ways from the Psalms. I take on his habits:

~~Start first thing in the morning.

When David rose in the morning, tapping into God’s love was his priority. (Ps. 108:1-4) He expected God’s love. He listened for it. He looked for it. (Ps. 143:8) He believed it would be there and he trusted it to guide him. Day after day, morning after morning, he was satisfied FIRST with God’s love for him, drank full up with it.

 So it will be for me.

~~Develop eyes for God’s love.

The ancients considered the specific loving-kindnesses of God by listing them (Ps. 107). Our ancestors show me that consciously recognizing and recording God’s expressions of love is a vital discipline for remaining intact spiritually (Ps. 48:9). Great demise and loss came to those who failed to develop this practice Ps. 106:7.

Ps. 107:43, “Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.”

I make a lifelong commitment to recognize God’s expressions of love, record them on paper, and recall them to mind throughout the day.

~~Start speaking of His love aloud.

After learning how to recognize God’s expressions of love and consciously considering them, pondering them, and remembering them, David spoke of them to others (Ps. 40:10, 63:3, 92:1-2, 59:16,) . He declared God’s goodness through testimony, giving thanks, and singing. I look for outlets to share of God’s love, even if it is simply with my children.

~~Find “triggers” to remind self of God’s love.

Two triggers mentioned repeatedly in scripture are the sun and birds. If the sun comes up, it is because God is still faithful, because His covenant of love still stands (Ps 89:2, 36-37)! We can know for sure that His mercies are new with the rising of the sun. (Lam 3) { I will often exclaim to my husband in the morning, “The sun came up!” and we rejoice together that God is still faithful.}

Scripture tells us that God feeds the birds, cares for them, and knows when each one of them falls. He satisfies the desires of every living creature (Ps 145:15-16) and if He cares for the creatures, He certainly cares for me. When I see a bird {which happens multiple times a day} I think, “God fed that little thing today and His eye is on him. How much more is His eye and affection upon you?”

The wise man said, “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Prov 3:3

These habits help me see God’s love in daily life, wrap myself in it, and write it onto my heart. For additional scriptures on recognizing God’s love in everyday life, see:
Psalm 147
Psalm 104
Psalm 89

Related posts on Developing the Habit of God’s Love:

Rooted and Grounded in Love

Walking in God’s Eulogy

Join us next Monday for more on developing the habit of “Love.”

Walking In God’s Eulogy

On my knees on the red carpet, the one with the play dough ground in.

“I’ll be your hero, mom,” he had told me. The girls had smeared blue play dough into the carpet and I had fussed and he had found a solution.

 He took the red play dough and smeared in on top, covered up the blue.

I had laughed and hugged his sweet body close and decided to leave the play dough just like that, hero style.

On my knees, I was face to face with that play dough as I prayed the verses for the very first time.

I’ve never sensed a greater “Yes!” from the heavens as that day when I prayed those scriptures. I knew the affirmation of God.

And when I returned to the states and walked the ladies bible study through the verses, we all felt the “YES!”   It was a powerful time, a sweet time, a glimpse of heaven.

We had all stilled our hearts and closed our eyes and imagined the scene, the birthplace of God’s love for us:

There’s God. Before the foundation of the world.

Before the earth existed and before the first man was created and before there was a twinkling in the skies.

Just God.

And He’s there, pacing among the men and women, boys and girls, the thoughts and plans of His heart before yet one of them was.

He’s walking back and forth, to and fro. Then He reaches you.

He pauses.

He turns.

And He stretches out His hand.

He touches and He begins to speak…

And as we imagined together as a group of sisters, I reach out and place hand on heads and utter words that were uttered by His mouth, intentions of His heart spoken long, long ago.

…for when He spoke, perhaps it went something like this:

“I bestow upon you LIFE! I grant you full freedom and liberty in My Son Jesus Christ. I speak over your life victory, fullness, and give you the title “overcomer.”
“To you, I give the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
“I decree that no weapon formed against you will prosper.
“I give you full access to the throne of grace.
“I call you by a new name. I grant you forgiveness. I call you holy.
“You are set apart, precious, special.
“I delight over you.
“You are sealed and protected forever.
“Greater is the One who is in you than he who is in the world.
“I grant you everything you need to live godly in Christ Jesus.
“I seal you with My Spirit, who will spring up in you like wells of living water and produce love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control.
“You are My Beloved. Nothing will ever seperate you from My love.
“I am Yours and you are Mine. Forever.”

 

And the tears flow and the hearts are soft and we feel the presence of Love God.

As I did that morning on play dough carpet.

Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed ~ eulogeo ~ us with EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING ~ eulogia~ in the HEAVENLY PLACES in Christ, just as He chose us in Him BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD…”

Before time began and man was created, God eulogized over you every spiritual blessing, every possible eulogy there was.

Amazing.

Incredible.

Mind-boggling.

And now, here we are, with a chance to live it out, to make it our reality.

And that day when I realized it, I went to the throne room to claim my blessings and I said, “Lord, You have spoken over my life every spiritual  blessing in the heavenly places and I’m here to ask that Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth, right here in my heart, right here in my life, right here in this world, as it has already been spoken in heaven.”

And He told me, “Yes! You’re beginning to understand.”

Many times I’ve combined those two passages in prayer… but only recently did it take on another dimension.  Because the eulogy of Ephesians 1:3 goes two ways, like Valentines exchanging love notes.

“Blessed be the God and Father…who has blessed us…”

He eulogized me. Now I eulogize Him.

“We praise You, Father; we thank You and bless Your Name. For You are Good and Your Gifts are perfect and Your Love, it never fails.”

Walking in God’s eulogy is a two way street, where I receive first, then I give back. It comes down and I receive fullness and I send it back up.

Walking in God’s eulogy is the way of life, the habit of love, the cord that connects.

This month, we are discussing the habit of love and how to be rooted and grounded in God’s love for us. The best place to start is at the beginning, before time, in the heavenly places, with God’s eulogy.

Why not sit down with Ephesians 1 and imagine for yourself what happened? 

Then walk today in God’s eulogy.

Next Monday will continue the habit of love and how to root and ground ourselves in God’s love. Praying today you live a powerful eulogy…

Rooted and Grounded in Love

It was the comment that changed everything.

The kids were down, husband was out, and I was washing dishes.

Alone on the other side of the world, standing barefoot and pregnant at the sink,  kitchen door propped open with a jug of laundry detergent to beg a breeze in.

It was stifling hot.

And there I was. Trying to learn all I could from those who had gone before, trying to imitate those who through faith and patience inherited the promises.

Trying to figure out how to do this thing.

God heard my silent cry, the cry of my heart that I couldn’t even articulate. Doesn’t He always?

I had downloaded the content from the internet, blessed gift, cord of connection to the outside world.

Derwin Grey was sharing his testimony…but it was God who had a message for me, because the words that came from Derwin’s mouth pierced such that they lodged in my memory { and that is saying a lot for this mommy brain that has put the cheese in her purse instead of in the fridge and that can’t remember the book she read last month. }

He said, “A false god is never satisfied.”

It entered and pierced and shook me up and turned me inside out and exposed what I was already beginning to suspect: that I didn’t really know God. Sure, I knew what church had told me. I knew what everyone else knew about God. But I didn’t really “get” Him. I didn’t really understand His heart.

I thought I understood. But I was, in fact, dead wrong.

Because God is satisfied. He said “it is finished.” He fulfilled Heaven’s demands Himself. He took our matters into His own hands so that once and for all it would be completed and the job would be accomplished without fail and He sat down at the right hand of the Father upon its fulfillment and as an act of cessation.

And He still sits.

But the God I worshiped never seemed to be satisfied.

That was the beginning of a sifting process in my life…the sifting out of all the worthless views, ideas, and notions of God I held. Beliefs passed down to me from my past church experiences, from others who had modeled un-truth cloaked as truth, from life experiences that had communicated messages about God and His goodness (or lack thereof.)

I had a lot to sort through.

It wasn’t easy, but God was faithful. {He still is.} And the wonderful thing is that each worthless view gets replaced with a precious one…a true one I can stake and center my life around, such as…

If God doesn’t chiefly desire my obedience…then God chiefly desires relationship….with me! I don’t have to perform.

If God doesn’t taskmaster me…then God leads me as a Shepherd. I can view His commands as a loving staff, not as Egypt’s whip.

If God doesn’t condemn me into good behavior and works…then God can give me a greater motivation to serve Him than self-condemnation. I can let go of berating myself and be motivated by God’s love instead.

If God doesn’t coddle me as a victim…then God empowers me to get off my mat and walk. I can define myself differently.

If God loves me based solely on His own faultless, unfailing ability…then God does not turn His nose up at my failures. I can receive God’s forgiveness even in the stinking-est of sin.

If God is for me…then who or what can be against me? I can be confident of God’s YES on my life.

It became clear that the root of all my misunderstandings about God could be traced back to one thing: I didn’t really believe that God was love and that He loved me unconditionally and that He was fully, without a shadow of turning, completely and utterly committed to my good.

Sure I knew it theologically. But I didn’t know it in life methodology, in ways that my life could grab a hold of  and stand on and be centered around in my coming and my going.

Isn’t this the problem of us all, from first Eve, to me, Arabah? Knowing something in our heads is completely different than trusting it fully with our hearts.

Doubt and Distrust lead us to self-direct our lives. Make our own choices. Rely on our own resources. Believe it is “up to us.”

And that great cloud of witnesses, those that I have watched carefully to see how they inherited the promises, they tell me the chief responsibility of the overflowing believer is to be rooted and grounded in love.

“And be Rooted and Grounded in Love…so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

Our “precious faith” is to find it’s footing in this one thing: the Love God has for us.

We cannot be filled up with God’s fullness, overflowing with His bounty, pouring out with His lavish grace, without being rooted and grounded in His love.

That is why Jude, that brother of our Lord Jesus, instructed us to “Keep yourselves in the Love of God.” (Jude 21)

This is our duty. This is the discipline of all who have come to understand the essentials of the faith, from saints like Thomas Aquinas to contemporaries like Francis Chan and Ann Voskamp.

This journey is the journey of faith in Love, the unending cord that weaves through each of our lives, stitching us all together as the bride of Christ, the garment of Love.

This is the journey I started in that overseas kitchen with hands dipped in soap suds, swollen feet leaving damp prints on the floor. I began learning the habits of love. It is a journey that continues…that I look forward to walking every day of my life.

The Habit of Love

For the next few Mondays, I will share from my journey the habits of Love. How does one root and ground herself in love? How does our theology work out into our methodology? How can we make it practical so that God’s love for us is something we LIVE?Join us this month to find out how and to share how you do it too.


One additional thought for those who have an extra moment?… {this is the double feature post}

I’ve often wondered why believers I have seen and worked with in other parts of the world seem to be so full of Jesus, so full of life, so powerful in witness?

In local language, it’s “mei you banfa.” “There’s no other way.”

It’s either full trust in Jesus or utter ruin. There simply is no other way.

There is no daily Starbucks fix.

There is no cush furnishings to come home to, no comforts to pad life with.

No SUV to retreat to and run off in, no vacation to entertain, no weekends off to look forward to.

No pill to pop.

No money to spend.

No rectangular screen to go numb in front of.

No resource but Jesus.

No provision but Grace.

And most of us don’t want to live that kind of life. {Just stark honesty.}

We (me included) can be afraid to give up our perks. We can be unwilling to live without our comforts. We can be scared stiff of letting go of everything and clinging solely to His love. We don’t know what that will mean for our lives.

We’ve been duped into thinking that our way is safer. Better. More fulfilling.

When did we begin to believe that these things are life’s “can’t live with-outs?” How did we become so duped and blinded?

Have I reached the place where I don’t really need only the love of Jesus because I have so many other little things that can step in the gap?

I mean, I have the bag of chips that man has created for my satisfaction, why reach for the goodness of a carrot? Grown from love of Creator God just for my nourishment?

I have the screen and the clicker and the earphones and the touch pad that man has invented to make me laugh and entertain me, why open my eyes to the birds outside my window or the faithful witness in the sky that instructs me of the unfailing lovingkindness of my God?

In a million different ways, the tragedy is not that we have these man-made things, it is that we let them replace the love of God.

This is what living overseas among brothers and sisters who have nothing but Jesus has taught me.

God warns us not to remain blinded and numbed by our so called “resources” but to approach Him for true treasures, for real provisions. He tells us how to break free. (See Revelation 3:17-20).

Then we can be filled up with the Fullness of God and we can live lives that really count and we can use the resources He has blessed us with on behalf of others, to promote the name of Christ, and to carry forth His Kingdom into all the world.

Amen and amen.

 

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