Archive for the ‘Pressing on to Maturity’ Category

Walking Worthy

November 22nd, 2017

  This has been the resounding thought for me this week. I absolutely and regularly notice when I fail to walk worthy, but this week as I pondered this verse a desire has grown where I want to strive daily to learn to walk worthy in this new season in my life.  There are things in life we […]

 

Ephesians41and2

 

This has been the resounding thought for me this week. I absolutely and regularly notice when I fail to walk worthy, but this week as I pondered this verse a desire has grown where I want to strive daily to learn to walk worthy in this new season in my life. 

flourish2

There are things in life we each desire, but right now, today, in this season , while we may not see those desires (yet) fulfilled, our Heavenly Father gives us unique callings through which we can bring glory to His name by allowing Him to shape our character through loving and serving Him, proclaiming His goodness, and loving and serving others.

flourish

Right now, today, how can we walk WORTHY of the calling we have received? 12 attitudes and mindsets come to mind:
  1. Humbly – laying pride and selfish ambition aside to serve those we have been led to serve.
  2. Gently, not allowing the harsh actions of others shake our ability to respond (although sometimes firmly) in gentleness.
  3. Bearing with one another in Love, growing in patience and ability to love broken people especially as we would hope they can love broken imperfect people like us!
  4. With a heart that lays aside the desire to please others and strive to please God alone.
  5. With a Repentant heart for when we need grace and mercy to meet us when we make mistakes or fail.
  6. With a heart of Perseverance that can choose to yet try again after those mistakes or failures.
  7. With a Fearless heart that casts cares on our God and chooses to walk choosing trust and confidence in His sovereign plan for our good and His glory.
  8. With a Steadfast heart that does not look to the right or the left and compare our callings, our strengths, our weaknesses, our blessings or our trials to that of others, but instead takes delight trusting the Lord will show Himself as personally faithful and trustworthy in His way in His time.
  9. With heart of Faithfulness – that desires to be intentional and faithfully do what we’ve been called to do without slacking or delaying.
  10. With a heart of Peace, knowing that as we are walking faithfully doing what we can do, God will handle the rest.
  11. With a heart of Kindness and with a heart of Joy and gratitude for all we have been given, both the blessings and the challenges that are designed to be used to honor God, bless others and to shape us!
  12. And with a Prayerful Heart that knows to walk worthy we will need the strength of our Heavenly Father, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the mind of Christ that happens as prayer changes our circumstances and/or changes us through our circumstances.

Walking worthy of our calling is a high calling, even an impossible one to do in our own strength. But my prayer is that we seek our help from the Lord daily, and that as we learn to rely on Him to walk in a manner worthy,  God’s love and truth would change us and change the lives of many.

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PRAISE + WORSHIP: A DAILY OFFERING GOOD FOR THE SOUL

January 31st, 2017

Anyone who has been raised in or around the church knows the phrase “Praise and Worship”. They’ve heard of “praise bands” and “worship teams” and they’ve been invited to “stand and join us in Praise and Worship”. Lately I have thought and read a great deal about worship and praise, and all the swirling thoughts […]

 

Anyone who has been raised in or around the church knows the phrase “Praise and Worship”. They’ve heard of “praise bands” and “worship teams” and they’ve been invited to “stand and join us in Praise and Worship”.

Lately I have thought and read a great deal about worship and praise, and all the swirling thoughts have become like dots I am seeing connect slowly. It has blown my mind. One site – Got Questions – is referred to a good deal in this post since I find it, in particular, really discusses this topic well in my opinion.

I want to share a little about the intentions and blessings that flow from praising and worshiping God, and encourage us to make it more than a delegated task on our agenda. Not just playing music in your car, and not just praising and worshipping when we are in the sanctuary with a praise and worship team or when something great happens…but rather really look at how God’s Word talks about it and how we can seek to make it a lifestyle.

According to the ministry team at gotquestions.org,

Praise is “the joyful recounting of all God has done for us.”

When God has taught you a new thing, intervened or answered prayers the way you hoped in your life or the life of a loved one in a big way, praise can come quite naturally. This really delights God when we acknowledge His goodness and His hand in orchestrating our circumstances in those moments; however, something that we find incredibly unnatural to do is to praise Him when He does not shield us from pain or sorrow or provide for us the way we hoped.

When we are confused or heartbroken, it can be the last thing we think of to lift our praises to God. However,

it is often the times it is hardest praise God

that our choice to praise Him becomes the best medicine for our souls.

This is probably a big part of why scripture tells us that it is God’s will for us… His desire for us…is for us to give thanks in ALL circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). If you have ever heard of the phrase “offer up a sacrifice of praise” and thought “What’s with that?” This is where it comes in.

The Got Questions team explains it so well:

“Then there are those times when God did not come through the way we thought He would. The medical test comes back positive. The spouse wants a divorce. A child is wayward. The mortgage company calls in the loan. God seems very far away, and praise is the last thing to bubble up from our hearts. We can’t see His goodness, and circumstances scream that He has forgotten us.

To praise God in those times requires personal sacrifice. It takes an act of the will to lay our all on the altar before a God we don’t understand. When we bring a “sacrifice of praise,” we choose to believe that, even though life is not going as we think it should, God is still good and can be trusted (Psalm 135:2; Nahum 1:7). When we choose to praise God in spite of the storms, He is honored, and our faith grows deeper (Malachi 3:13-17; Job 13:15).

The command in Hebrews 13:15 says that this sacrifice is to be offered “continually.” Our praise of God is not to be based on our opinion of His job performance. Praise cannot be treated as a “reward” we give God for His obvious blessings. Isaiah 29:13 says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Real praise continues regardless of circumstances.”

This article goes on to say that it is this type of praise – a sacrifice of praise – that “flows continually from a heart of worship.”  And –

Worship gets to the heart of who we are. To truly worship God, we must let go of our self-worship. We must be willing to humble ourselves before God, surrender every part of our lives to His control, and adore Him for who He is, not just what He has done. Worship is a lifestyle, not just an occasional activity.

When we understand that the our Heavenly Father wants us to praise and worship Him in this way, it involves so much more than just thanking Him for the good in our life or setting aside time to do so.

Praise and Worship, when joined together, honors and glorifies God by allowing us opportunities to strengthen, purify, apply, and walk out our faith in any and every circumstance and season in life as we:

1.) REMEMBER all God’s done for us with a joy-filled thankful heart…His faithfulness and provision in the past.

  • When we accurately remember who God is and what He is capable of, we have a more accurate view of ourselves and our limitations and need for such a faithful God!
  • When we praise God, and recount the marvelous ways He has been faithful in the past (in scripture, in the lives of others we know, and in our own lives) it can remove the doubts, distractions and discouragements we may be facing in our present and help us to then enter into true worship – truly agreeing with who God is and all He’s capable of according to scripture, and fully able to humble ourselves to trust His ways over our understanding and obey Him with submissive trusting hearts. As a commentary I once read from Deuteronomy once noted – REMEMBRANCE LEADS TO OBEDIENCE.

2.) PRIORITIZE our present thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

  •  Speaking about God’s goodness and truth reminds our minds, emotions and spirit of the right attitudes to have, words to speak, and actions to take.
  •  When we remember how God has provided for us financially in the past, for example, it helps us choose to trust and obey God’s instructions on finances in our present and trust He will provide faithfully for us again in our future.
  •  When we remember His faithfulness to us in the past, it helps us defeat doubts about His purpose and plan for our present unknowns and surrender and obey in the present.

3.) PROCLAIM God’s goodness to those who do not yet know God as Lord and Savior.

  • When we offer praise and worship God, what we are inwardly experiencing often is evident in our outward expression, which proclaims the truth, love, and power of God to the people around us. Biblical praise and worship often leads to an outward expression acknowledging who God is – which can encourage those around us who are followers of Christ in their faith and compel others who are living life without faith to seek the Lord.

4.) ANTICIPATE God’s faithfulness in our future. 

  • Remembering God’s Word and His history of faithfulness, and proclaiming it focusses our attention to His ability to be faithful to His promises in our future.

One of the portions of scripture I fell in love with when focussing on true praise and worship is 1 Chronicles 16…after the Ark of the Covenant has finally been brought to Jerusalem and David leads Israel in giving thanks and establishing a life of continual praise and worship for the nation. See how David helps those who hear his words to remember, prioritize their thoughts attitudes and actions, proclaim God’s glory to others, and anticipate God’s wonders through every circumstance as He writes:

David’s Song of Thanks

fOh give thanks to the LORD; gcall upon his name;

hmake known his deeds among the peoples!

Sing to him, sing praises to him;

tell of all his wondrous works!

10  Glory in his holy name;

let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!

11  iSeek the LORD and his strength;

seek his presence continually!

12  jRemember the wondrous works that he has done,

khis miracles and the judgments he uttered,

13  O offspring of Israel his servant,

children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

14  He is the LORD our God;

lhis judgments are in all the earth.

15  Remember his covenant forever,

the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,

16  the covenant mthat he made with Abraham,

his sworn promise to Isaac,

17  which nhe confirmed to Jacob as a statute,

to Israel as an everlasting covenant,

18  saying, o“To you I will give the land of Canaan,

as your portion for an inheritance.”

19  When you were pfew in number,

of little account, and qsojourners in it,

20  wandering from nation to nation,

from one kingdom to another people,

21  he allowed no one to oppress them;

he rrebuked kings on their account,

22  saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,

do my sprophets no harm!”

23  tSing to the LORD, all the earth!

Tell of his salvation from day to day.

24  Declare his glory among the nations,

his marvelous works among all the peoples!

25  For ugreat is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,

and he is to be feared vabove all gods.

26  For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,

wbut the LORD made the heavens.

27  Splendor and majesty are before him;

strength and joy are in his place.

28  Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,

xascribe to the LORD glory and strength!

29  Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;

bring an offering and come before him!

yWorship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;2

30  tremble before him, all the earth;

yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

31  zLet the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,

and let them say among the nations, a“The LORD reigns!”

32  bLet the sea roar, and all that fills it;

let the field exult, and everything in it!

33  Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy

before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.

34  Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

for his steadfast love endures forever!

35 cSay also:

“Save us, O God of our salvation,

and gather and deliver us from among the nations,

that we may give thanks to your holy name

and glory in your praise.

36  dBlessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,

from everlasting to everlasting!”

eThen all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD.

Praise and Worship from scripture includes singing, playing an instrument, shouting, and proclaiming truth of scripture to yourself and to God aligning your heart in agreement with Who He is and surrendering your will to His. There is probably so much more to learn about how to praise and worship Him, but I hope this encourages you as it does me to focus my heart and will towards glorifying God through true, continual praise and worship!

Because music helps connect our head with our heart, here are three songs I adore –

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Stripped Away

June 10th, 2016

It’s no secret that the majority of my inner struggles in my life have stemmed from insecurity. Even in my earliest experiences with being judged and criticized for my stature and appearance in middle school, it was plain to me that I had a poor self-image. So it’s no surprise that, when I began submitting […]

 

It’s no secret that the majority of my inner struggles in my life have stemmed from insecurity. Even in my earliest experiences with being judged and criticized for my stature and appearance in middle school, it was plain to me that I had a poor self-image.

So it’s no surprise that, when I began submitting my life to Christ’s authority near the end of my high school season, I brought to Him my brokenness and asked for freedom, redemption, and the ability to see myself the way He sees me. To find my whole identity in Him. I was on a positive self-image mission…which has been a beneficial process! But there is this one thing.

This path I’ve taken to seek Christ’s truth in how I view myself does not end where I thought it would. And it’s probably not over yet. It actually has far less to do with my “self” than I ever thought.

I still have complete awareness of my imperfections and I still see all that I’m not…and I do have more gratitude for all that I am, peace about it in light of my confidence in who Christ is, and who God says I am. BUT. I am also learning that having a positive self image is not God’s end goal. The end goal is about reflecting Christ’s image. Not mine.

Lately I have found myself facing one test after another, and I have a mental picture that has been stuck in my mind to help me see what is happening. Up to this point, I have chosen the narrow way. The way through the narrow gate  of following Christ. And, right now, it is as if I’ve been entering a series of tight narrow tunnels along this narrow way, and I cannot bring with me all that I intended to bring. And so the choice is mine each time I am presented with a new narrow tunnel along the way.

Whose image do I want to push through? Both will not fit. Whose image do I want to Protect? Proclaim? Profess? Proceed with? Flesh or spirit? My image, my reputation, my my my? Or His? God’s Word says we cannot do both.

Galatians 5:16-17 (ESV) Keep in Step with the Spirit  

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Part of this in my case of various forms of insecurity has been learning to confront the hesitation of  “why in the world would I want to serve in ministry in a public way where people will see every mistake I make?” Perhaps it’s to remind me that it’s not about preserving my image, but about promoting the truth and hope of Christ, working His image and character into my heart through serving, and growing through experiences both successful and challenging to shape my heart like His and show others what a work-in-progress for Christ looks like so that they might be bold enough to step out too.

And part of this has been learning to ask myself – “when someone offends me personally, does it matter?” My normal response would be to defend myself, my character, what is “fair”, and my cause…but would my normal response burn a bridge for them to see the love and truth of Christ in me? If it is not kingdom essential (meaning if it is just me alone they are insulting, belittling, criticizing, undermining, or disrespecting only and not involving injustice to another or an attack on God’s truth) , it is not worth taking up my cause at the expense of the cause of the kingdom. I am learning it is best to respond in love and kindness despite my offenses so that maybe the love and truth of Christ may still shine through and be exalted and made known to my offender. There is a right and wrong time to turn the other cheek and pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:29), to “tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecc. 3:7) The Bible talks about being ready to give an answer to what you believe  and standing up for the oppressed and needy, but time and time again it tells us to seek peace, pursue what builds up others, and leave vengeance to God when it comes to personal offenses. Boy this is new to me. And so challenging. Why is it this way? Perhaps to keep us focussed on what is most important. Perhaps it is because we can win a battle in defending our names and lose the war in participating in the great commission of winning souls for God’s Kingdom.

I don’t know if you’ve been in this place, where you constantly have to choose “self or Christ?” And answer “Who are you seeking to magnify in your actions?”…but I feel like it’s been a peeling process. Stripping off the old self, and walking in the new. Because there is only room for one if we are to walk along narrow way to which we’ve been called.

Old and new self

This reflection I’ve been having brings me to Ephesians 4, which is worth reading and proclaiming to ourselves over and over! Each day, possibly multiple times a day, we must choose – who are we ambassadors for? For whose cause are we filtering everything else through today? If we are filtering everything through a self-preservation lens, our responses will be quite often very different from a Christ-and-Kingdom-centered lens. And our response determines our reach (Lysa TerKeurst). So may we choose well today,tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…and walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1)…because things done to the glory of God for the kingdom have an eternal weight and glory!

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