Category Archives: Faith

De-Conform

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To all the wordaholics reading this, I am well aware that de-conform is not a word. I made it up for this blog post. Wordaholic, for that matter, isn’t a real word either. Just let your OCD tendencies slip a little for the sake of literary license, okay?

I read Romans 12:1-2 in The Message Bible, and this is what it says:

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. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I know, I know. I’ve caused you more grief by using a paraphrase instead of an actual bible translation. Live with it. But don’t miss my point.

Which is to de-conform.

Remember my last post (click here) about the crowd-following bridge-jumpers? The whole de-conforming thing fits right in. Read the two verses above again and get a small glimpse of what the Apostle Paul is saying here. In a nutshell, THINK! Use your brain.

In a world gone berserk – come on, let’s call it what it is – going against the culture is unpopular, and can even get you in trouble if your attention isn’t fixed on God. But when you ask Him, hear Him and include Him in your life, He’s going to give you some pretty specific instructions. He will change you. He will bring out the best in you.

I had the opportunity to pray with and speak into the life of a young woman today. The details of the situation are hers to share, not mine, but the amazing and completely God thing about it all was that because I put aside my own comfort zone in order to do what the Holy Spirit directed me to do, this young woman got something she would have otherwise missed. It had nothing to do with me, except that I was obedient. It had everything to do with her receiving a gift that the Lord wanted to give her.

As it says in the above passage, readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. I clearly recognized God’s direction in that moment (believe me, I don’t always), and I acted on it immediately. As a result, a precious woman was blessed. How awesome is our God!

So, what does de-conform mean? (Again, my own word, so my own sort of definition.) Rather than chugging along with the crowd, I am striving to hear the voice of my Father so that when He tells me to move in a different direction, I won’t even hesitate. It’s a process. But He is so patiently teaching me, waiting for me to catch up, nudging me along, and scooping me out of the ditches when I stumble. Oh, He is good!

I don’t want to be a photocopy of everyone else. I want to be what God wants me to be – a reflection of His Son, Jesus Christ. I want to be obedient and faithful and true to what He has for me to do. To say. To be. Holy and acceptable to Him.

De-conform.

It’s a real thing.

 

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Shifting Gears

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I have to repent.

For years, I have stubbornly refused to use this blog as a forum to document my personal journey as a follower of Jesus Christ. Oh, I’ve posted smatterings, but I wanted to be careful to keep it generic enough to stay out of trouble, so to speak. I didn’t want the controversy or the potential criticism.

I don’t care anymore.

So, I repent. I am so sorry that I caved to the social correctness of the days we live in, despite the gentle coaxing of my Father to write what He wanted me to write. I tried to reason with Him, because He’s all over being reasoned with, right? Uh – no. I used the excuse that I had nothing of life-changing relevance to share. After all, who would listen to me anyway? Yeah, that didn’t go over so well with God either.

I’m shifting gears.

I’ve told the Lord that I want to write the words He’s given me, sharing the insights He’s revealed.

That’s scary.

Scary, because it means I am exposing myself in ways that I’m not entirely comfortable with. But then whoever said being a Christian was supposed to be comfortable?

Here’s the thing: life is short. Especially when you’re on the back end of middle age. I don’t have time to piddle around and make lame excuses anymore. I’m going to write what my Father tells me to write, in the way He wants it written. And I think He is smiling and heaving a great sigh of relief because I will finally use the gifts He has given me for the purpose He meant them to be used in the first place.

But this is hard. So hard. My brain is shouting at me, saying I’m crazy to even consider this. Well, Brain, get with the program.

We’re shifting gears.

Stay tuned.

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The Numbers Business

Have you ever noticed how occupied with numbers we are?

For example: This is my 554th blog post. As of this moment, there are 302 followers. And  probably another time as many on Facebook and Twitter. Today, January 9th, is my birthday. I am 59 years old. I have 1 husband, 4 + 2 children, and 8 grandchildren.  The computer in my car told me this morning that I can drive another 603 kilometers before the gas tank is empty. My cell phone battery is at 69%. In 4 hours, choir rehearsal begins. I have written 4,762 words since Monday.

Get the picture?

We base much of our day to day living on numbers. Time. Distance. Measurements. And what does this have to do with anything, you ask? Well, I’m glad you did. Ask, that is.

God is in the numbers business. He knows exactly how many hairs are on your head (Luke 12:7). He makes promises based on numbers (Matthew 13:3-23). He talks about numbers in church growth (Acts 16:5). And numbers are everywhere through the book of Revelation. Throughout the entire Bible, in fact.

So what?

This tells me that our God is concerned with order. He is interested in doing things properly and precisely.

I once had a manager whose favourite saying was, “if  you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. He drove me nuts every time he said it . . . until I understood what he meant. I had to pay attention to details. I had to plan ahead. I had to set goals and establish actions to reach them. I had to enlist the help of those working with me in order to accomplish what needed to be done. I had to mark the milestones along the way so that I could see the progress, define the improvement, and celebrate the success.

It’s no different in our faith walk.

1. Pay attention to the details. Watch for signs. God is speaking to us all the time. We need to learn to listen and to recognize His voice when He is telling us something.

2. Plan ahead. Where do you want to be next week, next month, next year? Pray and ask God to help you set goals based on where He wants to take you. Then write them down. And identify the changes you need to make or actions you need to take in order to make those goals reality.

3. People. Who are the people around you who can help you to achieve your goals? Don’t misunderstand; I’m not talking about using people for your own gain. I’m taking about looking for mentors, the wise ones, those who have talents and abilities you don’t. Encouragers, motivators, cheerleaders. Get what I mean? And you need the support of family or friends or your pastor or somebody who believes in you. And if you don’t have someone like that in your life, as the Lord to bring that person across your path.

4. Take action. As my sister-in-law said recently: “Taking the next step of faith: we may not see that much ground before us but there is a long road of God’s faithfulness behind us . . . He calls us to remember”. Be brave. Be daring. Measure your progress. Take note of the numbers.

5. Celebrate! And then move on to the next goal.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

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Done With Average

You’ve seen this curve before, right? That’s because the world around you is based on averages – education, industry, science, economy, everything. You name it, there are averages. This obsession with average has created a society that says it’s cool to go along with the crowd. To be just good enough to get by. To blend in. After all, if you’re average, you’re okay.

What a lie.

Being average was never God’s plan for us.

Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12 (NKJV)

Does that sound like average to you? I don’t think so. Jesus did some pretty awesome things during His time on earth, yet this scripture says that if we believe in Him, we will do the same things He did – and even greater.

I thought about this and decided to be done with average. No more mediocre, second-rate, or uninspired. Average does not reflect the person God created me to be.

When you read through the Bible, you see how much God has promised to those who serve Him – joy, peace, strength, power, blessings, abundance, forgiveness, confidence, wisdom, success. That’s a supernatural life. And definitely not average!

So, there’s a choice to make.

Will you continue along, frustrated and dissatisfied with where you’re at? Will you write your dreams off because you’re too afraid to pursue them? Or will you take a bold step of faith and leave average behind?

Get into the Word and read all of God’s promises you can find. Take them personally. Act on them. Ask God to reveal those things you need to do in order to walk away from average and become what He’s wanted you to be all along. Stay in really, really close touch with the Father. Talk to Him often. Listen to what He has to say.

You’re on your way to being done with average.

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Err On the Side Of Caution?

We just spent the past three days at our church’s annual family camp. Along with the usual lake-side, rustic-setting outdoor activities, we had some awesome Holy Ghost breakthrough meetings with our pastor and the guest speakers he invited to share with us. Wow! We will never be the same.

I’ve had a few holes poked in my nice comfortable theological box. Much needed, I might add.

You’re familiar with the phrase, “err on the side of caution”, which means to act in the least risky manner in a situation where one is uncertain about the consequences. This is human nature. As a matter of fact, we’re even encouraged to take this approach to a give situation. It’s safe.

But what if God is asking you to take a risk? To ditch the easy way and try something new? To take a leap of faith, not knowing what the outcome will be?

I can see the expression on your face. You’re wincing.

What if God is asking you to err on the side of believing too much and acting on it rather than not having enough faith and questioning everything? Don’t you think He would far rather have you take that step and make a mistake than never take a step at all?

These are the questions I am asking myself.

And maybe you need to ask them, too.

I sat in those meetings at camp, knowing that the Holy Spirit was nudging and challenging me to take some of those risky steps. I could almost hear Him asking me what in the world would make me think He wouldn’t ask me to do something so completely out of my comfort zone that I would have to trust Him. Did I really expect the Lord to let me just relax in my easy chair for the rest of my life? Um – no. I guess not.

So, it’s time to find out what my next steps are.

I’m sure there will be opposition, because people will always try to stop you from doing what they don’t understand.

I’m sure there will be difficult days. That’s a given.

I’m sure there will be some stumbling along the way.

But I have no more excuses. I’m being pursued by Jesus Christ, who loves me and knows me like no one else does. He has work for me to do, and saying “no” isn’t an option.

 And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.  Joel 2:28-29 (NKJV)

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Moving Day

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We start moving tomorrow and despite the seemingly never-ending task of packing up twelve years of accumulation, I am so excited! We are leaving the Big City and settling in a much smaller community about an hour’s drive away. Take a look at the view from the deck of our new home.

I’ve moved a lot in my life (23 times, I think) and every one of those moves has been an adventure. When I was young, that meant a new school, new friends, a new neighbourhood to explore. I rather enjoyed the opportunities to start over. As I got older, however, moving wasn’t so easy. Uprooting our children, leaving our friends, packing and unpacking the belongings of a large family – all of that had to be considered, and we found ourselves moving less often. And now, the house we are leaving is the one in which we’ve lived the longest in our entire lives.

There are those who have asked why in the world we would consider starting over in a new city at this point in our lives. I could answer that question in many ways, but the bottom line is this: we just wanted to. We prayed about it, asked God to give us wisdom and to guide us. We talked about it, explored our options, and did our homework for many months before we made the final decision. Then, God opened the doors. Wide. And He gave us complete peace about our decision.

The past year has taught us much about how the Lord leads and directs when we allow Him to. He always gives us the choice, but He wants to be involved in our decisions, no matter how large or small.

The key is in the consultation – giving God the opportunity to provide His input.

It’s the only way.

We are going forward with this epic move, knowing we have the nod of approval from our Father. He’s made a clear path for us when it seemed like there was none, and He’s given us the promise of a good life in our new home.

Therein is liberty.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

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Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking outside the box. We’ve all heard the phrase many times. This usually means to think in broad terms, not constrained by the typical answers.

Thinking outside the box is supposed to result in new and creative ways of solving problems.

I’ve been pondering for a while, having once been an overly exuberant advocate of this methodology. If you can even call it a methodology. I stood in countless boardrooms over the years to deliver this “new-fangled” concept to hundreds of people who actually paid to learn how to think outside the box. It’s so hokey. And to think I bought into it, hook, line and sinker.

The key to creativity isn’t thinking outside the box.

It’s getting rid of the box altogether.

Because if you hang onto the box, even from the outside, you are still dragging all your garbage with you. And everything will be filtered through that box. Your old ways of thinking. Your nasty habits. The parts of you that need to be pruned off and discarded once and for all.

Leave the box.

This puts you in a vulnerable position, no doubt about it. There’s nothing to hide behind. Nowhere to climb in and pull the flaps closed. You’re exposed. Open to the elements.

And you’re in exactly the right place for God to do something with you.

I’ve been asking the Lord to show me new ways to do things – new concepts to study and develop, new ideas on how to do what He wants me to do. Much of what He’s pouring into my brain will require great leaps of faith. He’s not interested in my little cardboard box. He’s kicked aside and I can’t even reach it anymore.

So, I am standing out there. Nothing to lean on but the Father. He’s got some pretty awesome things up His sleeve for me, for my family, and for the people in my circle of influence. I’m a little nervous and a lot excited.

Being without the box is true liberty. There is no flimsy false barrier between me and Jesus. The ultimate Creator is working in me and believe me, there is no greater Source of creativity.

Life is so fun!

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

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