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4 posts from July 2008

July 30, 2008

Conviction...

Housethroughtherocks

Greetings, Dear Friends!



And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul and encourage your faith along the way.

Before I get into my topic, I wanted to remind you of a couple of things. Each month I give away a $10.00 gift card from Caribou Coffee to someone who posts on this blog. Next week I'll announce July's winner. I love to hear from you! There were some incredible comments on last week's post. God is moving in the hearts of His people!

In celebration of my new release, "The Uncommon Woman" I will award a $50.00 VISA gift card to someone who posts in August. Each week I'll post about what it means to be uncommon and I know you've got things to say about that! The call to be uncommon is straight from the Word of God, and I want to hear from you!

Here's another way to win a $50.00 VISA gift card. Read my new book and post a review on Amazon (follow the link above). Email me letting me know you posted your review. One of you will win the gift card. I'll announce that winner in my quarterly E-zine (next issue releases October 15). Want to subscribe? Click here: Susie's Contact Page

Now...On to my topic:

Do you ever find yourself watching the news and wondering how people can do the things they do? I almost can't bear to watch the news before I go to bed at night. If I hear that one more young man has assaulted an elderly woman for the $35.00 she has in her purse, I think I'll have a fit. 

I guess we shouldn't be surprised since the Bible tells us that in the last days, people will become lovers of themselves; haters of God; haters of others. Lord, forgive us.

Now let's take a look within the Church. Many are desperate for a fresh revelation of God. Some fumble their way through with their one-foot-in-one-foot-out lifestyles. And still others, are perfectly content to live by the moral code by which they were raised.

In light of the evil that surrounds us, morality and goodness are, well...good, right? Right. These are great things. But as Believers, is it enough to subscribe to a moral code? 

What about conviction?

And what's the difference? 

I'd say the difference is this: A moral code gives us guidelines in which we live: boundary lines we do not cross; places we would never visit; things we would never do. 

Conviction on the other hand, compels us to a much higher standard.

Living simply by a moral code allows you to go on auto-pilot. You do what you should do. You don't do what you shouldn't do. But there's no expectancy, no spiritual tension within you. No readiness to respond to the inner voice that calls you to pick up and do something radical for the sake of obedience and love.

Living by conviction is something different altogether. It's the living breathing voice of the Holy Spirit within us. Sure, we don't do the things we shouldn't, but not because these things are on some sort of list. 

We do what we do because we cherish our oneness with God so much that we respond to anything and everything He says to us.

I can't remember if I already shared this on a previous post, so forgive me if you've heard this before. Because I wanted my sons to walk closely with the Lord, and to cherish His voice in their lives, I told  them about the 'Conscience Box' analogy when they were very young. This is what I said, "Picture Jesus placing in the center of your heart, a small box with four sharp corners. Whenever you do or say or think something that is different than God would want for you, that little box will turn and prick you. That's how you'll know you're on the wrong track. Listening to Jesus' voice within you is everything! It's a gift to you. If you ignore the little pricks, your ignorance acts like sandpaper, sanding down the corners. And next time you make a wrong choice, you won't feel it as much. Unless you ask for forgiveness and determine to listen when He speaks to you." Jake looked up at me and asked, "Is that why bad guys can kill people without thinking too much about it? Is their conscience box spinning because they're not paying attention to right and wrong?" "That's exactly right" I replied.

The conscience box analogy was something I heard from another mom when my kids were babies. 

Conviction makes us uncomfortable. It calls us to care for the weak and the hungry. It spurs us to forgive the unforgivable. It compels us to love the unlovely. Conviction call us to morality, yes. But it also, sometimes, calls us off the beaten path to messy places where faith is required. 

Living by a rigid moral code requires that I give my lunch away to someone who needs it. 
Conviction leads me to give my lunch to Jesus so that five thousand others might be fed.

To the extent that we listen and obey, is the extent that we will be entrusted to do greater things still. To the extent that we take the time to listen during our prayer times, is the extent that we will recognize God's voice amidst the ruckus of our crazy schedules. 

In the Gospel of Matthew we read about a time when Jesus went up in the mountains with Peter, James, and John, and he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as light. 

The 'goodness' in Peter compelled him to start talking...and to start doing. 

God interrupted Peter's automatic response with these words, "This is My Beloved Son. I am fully pleased with Him. LISTEN TO HIM."

A moral code allows us to act out of instinct. Not such a bad thing.
Conviction compels us to make choices out of the moment-by-moment leading of the Holy Spirit within us. Definitely a better thing.

Daily He's speaking. Daily listen.

Until next week~

July 23, 2008

Let Peace...

GayHeadCliffs

Greetings, Dear Friends!



And to those visiting, I say welcome!

I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way.

Before I get into my topic, I wanted to remind you of a couple of things. Each month I give away a $10.00 gift card to Caribou to someone who posts on this blog. I love to hear from you! There were some incredible comments on last week's post. God is moving in the hearts of His people!

In celebration of my new release, "The Uncommon Woman" I will award a $50.00 VISA gift card to someone who posts in August. Each week I'll post about what it means to be uncommon and I want to hear from you! The call to be uncommon is straight from the Word of God, and I want to hear from you!

Now, on to my topic...

I don't know about you, but I've battled some real anxiety and angst lately. In fact, I know I'm not alone because many, many women have shared they've been battling the same thing. Maybe it's because the world seems to be spinning out of control. Maybe it's because of the wars and the rumors of wars. Maybe it's because it seems impossible to reconcile the sufferings in the world with our shallow, busy schedules. Jesus tells us that in this world, we will have trouble, but then He adds, "...but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."

My friend called me on the phone yesterday. She said, "Susie, I was praying for you last week and God gave me the sweetest picture of you. You were resting in a boat; in fact you were so at peace and so focused on Jesus, that you were content to let Him lead you to shore, wherever that next place might be."

My answer to her? "Wow, that's a great picture, but I'm not there. But, oh, how I'd love to be. In fact, that'll be my pursuit today. I'll press in for peace and rest until I find it."

We said our goodbyes and I sat back and looked out the window. I thought of my friend's picture. And then I came up with a picture of my own: I'm sitting in the boat, holding onto the edge with a claw-like grip. I'm watching the waves lap up and spill over into the boat. On each wave is a picture of someone I've hurt; or mistakes that I've made; or conversations I've had...all in the past; all things I've repented of and embraced mercy for.

But there before me were all of the reminders of why I'd never make it to the shore of my next promised land. I'm a putz. If left to myself, I'll mess up everything. 

I looked out the window a second time and breathed a heavy sigh. Somehow, once again, my focus had become more self-aware than God aware. Hmmm.

I picked up my Bible, and wonder upon wonders, my next reading passage was of Jesus sleeping in the boat. The waves licked the sides of the boat. The water spilled over and threatened to capsize the boat and everyone in it. And Jesus slept. 

In frantic fear the disciples yanked Jesus from His sleep and frantically pointed to the waves. Jesus sat up, questioned their faith, and then spoke to the waves. And suddenly all was calm.

When the storm rages against us, the call for me and for you is twofold: We must use the authority God has given us, and rebuke the waves. When the enemy stands against us and reminds us of all the reasons we'll never make it across the water, we need to stand in the authority given to us, and point to Jesus. 

We must resist the temptation to make a bigger deal out of the wave than we should. The Bible says, 'When the enemy comes in like a flood, the LORD will raise up a standard against him!"

Instead of being bullied by the fears and threats hurled at us from the enemy, we stand in faith, we point to Jesus, and we refuse to let a few waves deter us from going where God is leading us.

Secondly, we learn to rest. We trust the mighty power of God (and His love for us) enough to get comfortable, and to take a good nap. When our faith allows us to recline at The Table in the presence of our enemies, our lives become a force to reckon with.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He calls us to peace at all times, in all ways. He offers us a fresh outpouring every single day.

He pours it out, we need to drink it up. We need to let it in. We need to receive it.

Let's read this powerful verse:

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful (Colossians 3:15)

Look closer...

To LET means to: give permission, grant the right to, allow, empower, enable, permit

Think about the potency of this verse. We have A LOT to do with the measure of peace we enjoy! God offers it, but we must receive it. But not just receive it; we're to grant the right for peace to RULE in our hearts. 

This verse strongly suggests that it's our calling. Our privilege. Our responsibility. 

And we're called to be thankful. Always. In everything (not for everything; but in everything). At all times.

Dear friends, there is a way to navigate through the storms of life with a heart at peace. The Bible also says that a heart at peace gives life to the body and health to the bones. Who doesn't need that?

May we stay in step with our Prince of Peace today. May we confess our sin, offer forgiveness, and refuse condemnation. May we learn to sleep through the storms and may we rebuke the waves when necessary. It's our privilege. Our call. Our right as ones who belong to the Most High God.

Until next week...

July 16, 2008

Amazing...

Martha's Sunrise

Greetings to you all!


And to those visiting, I say welcome.


I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way.

First of all, I want to apologize for missing you last week. I was on vacation in northern Minnesota and the internet was down at the resort. I had fully planned on posting, but the forced break from my computer was a welcomed one.

This week I am in Orlando at the giant Christian booksellers convention. Today is my first day online in what seems like ages. In a moment I'll respond to some of your posts from last week (bless you for stopping by!).

Before I get into my topic, I wanted to remind you of a couple of things. Each month I give away a $10.00 gift card to Caribou to someone who posts on this blog. I love to hear from you!

In celebration of my new release, "The Uncommon Woman" I will award a $50.00 VISA gift card to someone who posts in August. Each week I'll post about what it means to be uncommon and I want to hear from you! The call to be uncommon is straight from the Word of God, and I want to hear from you!

Now, on to my topic...

I'm here in Orlando to celebrate and promote the release of my new book (can I just say that this new book is truly the book of my heart?). I'm doing radio and TV interviews, I had a speaking engagement and a book signing, I've had editor/agent meetings, I've connected with a number of my author friends, and I've walked the convention floor to see what new books are hitting the shelves.

Each day I see someone 'famous'. The other day I had an interview right after Liz Curtis Higgs and before Karen Kingsbury. During one of my interviews, I looked to my right and a couple feet away, Rebecca St. James was giving an interview, and Ralph Reed was on deck. Yesterday as I walked onto the convention floor, I looked over my shoulder and noticed Kirk Cameron walking right behind me.

Truth be told, I'm not one to get star struck, but this whole event got me thinking about status and fame. This morning I had the most amazing prayer time in my hotel room.

With the Word of God open before me, I pondered God's greatness and majesty. I thought of the oceans and the mountains and the stars in the sky. He holds it all in the palm of His hands. Amazing. 

While we pine and posture to get our way, He tells us to delight in Him and He promises that He'll establish us.
While we strive and strain because of our many responsibilities, He tells us to be still and know that He is God.
While we are instantly impressed with the accomplishments of man, we often miss the wonders of God's hand.
We love to be noticed and embraced by someone of influence, and yet we often miss or make light of God's invitation to be much with Him.

To think that God Most High - the Maker of the Universe - thinks much of us, is amazing.
To think that the God - the One who is a Consuming Fire - draws us near without burning us up, is amazing.
To think that that Jesus - the King of the Earth - invites us to come boldly and gladly into His presence, is absolutely, amazing. 

May we value the Lord the way He has valued us.
May we take seriously the invitation to be much with Him and trust Him to make a way for us.
May we honor the invitation to come before Him, and do so regularly.

And may we understand in a fresh new way, what it means to walk in the fear of the Lord. 

He is our Friend, but He is far more than that. He is God Most High. He is a consuming fire. 
He is Authority.
He is Power.
He is Peace.
He is Forgiveness.
He is Love.
He is the Judge and He will judge sin and selfishness.

There can be nothing casual about this relationship.

He deserves our affections and our praise, our trust and our gratitude, our reverence and our honor.

He is God Most High and He invites us into a deep and abiding relationship with Him.
Isn't that just...amazing?
Everything else pales in comparison.

Slow down today and ponder what it means to be linked in fellowship with the One who holds the Universe in the palm of His hand.

Have you honored lesser things over the honor due Him?

Reflect again on the greatness of God.

Have a blessed and reverent week.

Until next week~

July 02, 2008

Shaken...

RapidsVermilion Greetings, Dear Friends!


And to those visiting, I say welcome!


I post every Wednesday, and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way. 

Before I get into my topic, I have a gift card to give away. And the winner is...Rebecca Marshaw! Congratulations and thank you for stopping by week after week. Please email me at info@susielarson.com to claim your gift card.

Each month I give away a $10.00 gift Caribou Coffee gift card to someone who has posted on my blog. Leave a comment; you may win a nice treat!

I'm excited to announce the release of my new book, "The Uncommon Woman"

We have lots of exciting things going on as a result. Visit my website for more information. One thing I'll share is especially for you. In August instead of giving away a $10.00 gift card, we're giving away a $50.00 VISA card as well as several copies of my new book. Each week I will post on what it means to be uncommon and I want to hear from you! If you post, your name will go into the drawing. Drop me a line and say hi!

Ahhhh...And now on to my topic...

I've talked to a lot of people lately (myself included...yup, that's right; I do talk to myself on occasion) and you know, there's a whole lot of shakin' goin' on!

Many people have expressed an unsettling feeling; a sense that change is coming; and a profound awareness of their own frailties and weaknesses (myself included).

Whatever is not grounded in Christ, whatever is not nailed down in our character is being stirred up!

This past Sunday, before church, my husband and I sat out on the deck and talked about the countless ways God has been faithful to us. I turned to Kevin and said, "You know, five years ago, I sought hard after the Lord and asked Him for a vision for my next place of promise..."

If you've heard me speak, you know I firmly believe that we are called to go from strength to strength; from glory to glory; shining ever brighter until the full light of day (See Psalm 84:7 and Proverbs 4:18). The righteous shall live by faith. Without faith it's impossible to please Him. And there's a 'next place' of promise for all of us.

I continued with my husband, "Five years ago, God gave me a very clear sense of His plan for me and since then, all of those things have come to pass. But with all of the 'shaking' going on, I've not asked God for a fresh vision for my future. I've been more motivated by fear than by faith. I'm more aware of my weakness than I am His strength."

Together we came to the conclusion that the Lord deserves our highest and best. We bowed our heads, we confessed our own lack of faith, and we asked God for a fresh perspective and vision for our future. As soon as we said, "Amen" I was filled with faith and peace.

Within the past few days, some mighty opportunities have come our way. Not what I expected. Not something I feel qualified for. But instead of looking down, my faith compelled me to look up.

This morning during our prayer time on the deck I told Kevin, "You know, I'm glad God allowed that little sifting time because it forced me to reconcile every shred of unbelief in me. In so many ways it feels like our lives are about to change, but I can trust Him. I know it." 

Are you currently experiencing a time of sifting or shaking? Pay close attention to what God is putting His finger on in you! Maybe you're trusting more in your ability than His. Maybe you're more motivated by fear than faith. Just maybe, He wants to do a BIG thing, and you're expecting He'll do noth-ing. 

Put everything on the table, all of your hopes and dreams and fears, and then step back and say, "You get to decide how this goes, Lord. My times are in Your hands."

If He's shaking that which is unsettled in you, it's only because He wants you prepared to go to the next place He has for you. And be sure of this - He has a next place of promise for you.

Be blessed and full of faith this week.

He is faith-FULL.