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4 posts from August 2008

August 27, 2008

The Great Adventure...


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 little business to take care of. As most of you know, each month I give away a $10.00 gift card to someone who posts a comment on this blog.

And in celebration of my new release, "The Uncommon Woman"
I'm giving away a $50.00 VISA gift card to someone who posts a comment during the month of August! I'll announce the winner next week.

Another way to win a $50.00 VISA gift card is to post a review of 'The Uncommon Woman' on Amazon. You have to be subscribed to my mailing list to win. Once you post a review, email me and your name will go into a drawing. I'll announce the winner in the October issue of my E-zine.

Okay, now on to my topic...

I'm reading a great book right now, written by one of my modern-day heroes, Gary Haugen. His new book, "Just Courage" is of course speaking my language, challenging my faith, and confronting my own need for self-preservation. 

I love it.

The opening pages tell of a time when Gary was back in college, staying up late, sitting in the dorm laundry room, waiting for his clothes to dry. While he waited, he read an essay written by John Stuart Mills titled, "On Liberty". In the essay, written in 1859, Mills described the process by which words lose their meaning. To quote from Gary's book, "He casually offered that the best example of this phenomenon was Christians. Christians, he observed seen to have the amazing ability to say the most wonderful things, without actually believing them." (p.9)

Gary goes on to describe a time when his father took his three sons (Gary being the youngest) on a mountain climb. At one point up the mountain, Gary decided he'd had enough and would rather wait it out in the visitor's center. There, he was comfortable and safe. He read about other mountain climbers and saw pictures of the beautiful flowers that roamed the mountainside. 

Eventually, though, the visitor's center seemed small and stuffy. Gary envied those who had the courage to actually climb the mountain. He realized there was vast difference between those who actually see the flowers and climb the mountains, and those who simply read about such things. When his brothers returned from their adventure, their faces were flush with excitement; their bodies scraped from the climb; and they had stories to tell about their adventure with their dad.

Here's a powerful excerpt from the book:

"In different times and different ways, our heavenly Father offers us a simple proposition: Follow me beyond what you can control, beyond where your own strength and competencies can take you, and beyond what is affirmed or risked by the crowd - and you will experience me and my power and my wisdom and my love...

"...Does this mean I need to abandon the things I do well? Do I have to let go of my source of strength - my gifts, my passions, my training, my expertise? No, I don't think so. Those are good things from God. I think he simply wants us to take them on a more demanding climb, where we will actually need his help, and where he delights to grant it." (pp. 17-18).

A complete side note: Many years ago, I sat on a laundromat bench, waiting for my clothes to dry. With my Bible open to John 13, I pondered these words in a fresh, new way:

"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist."

Because Jesus knew His identity was not up for grabs or changeable with popular opinion, He could get up from the table and do what the lowliest servant would have done. Jesus climbed mountains and moved mountains. He healed the sick and comforted the poor. And He rubbed the grime off of the feet of friends who would abandon Him that very night. Jesus did things great and small with a consistent dignity because He embraced His identity and was clear about His purpose.

Likewise, when we hold fast to the idea that we came from God, are returning to God, we will be compelled to consider - on a deeper level - what we do with our time here on earth.

Recently I pondered passages from Scripture that reminded me once again, that my work, my life, my efforts will be put through the fire. And only those things done for Christ will last. The Bible says that clearly, some will only get through with their Salvation because their works will not survive the fire (See 1 Corinthians 3 & 4).

The Bible also says that "anything done apart from faith is sin."

These are sobering words for sobering times. 

Works fueled by self promotion, self-preservation, selfish ambition, will not survive the fire. 

Feats attempted with holy confidence and humble dependence will. 

You've heard it a thousand times, we're not called to be successful, only faithful. Although, God loves to grant success to those whose hearts are set on Him. He is thrilled to meet us on a journey we could never make on our own.

You and I are called to faith; to adventure with God to unknown places; to right some of the wrongs in our day; to help the helpless; to take risks with both love and mountains. 

For my final post this month on what it means to be uncommon, please allow me to share one last excerpt from the book:

"May the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, bless you and make you a blessing. May His face shine upon you as you determine to live a life that is pleasing to Him. May you never settle for halfhearted living since you've been offered continual abundance. May you never be content to shuffle on the low road when our Savior has called you to the higher way. May you always be filled to the fullness of God until you reach the other side. May you now, with all of the faith can muster, receive and appropriate the gifts God has given you. I pray you will speak and live with holy confidence and humble dependence. May you determine to live a life of radical love and powerful servanthood. May your life reflect the true meaning of living as an uncommon woman." (p. 194)

Until next week~

August 20, 2008

Tenacious Faith...


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 little business to take care of. As most of you know, each month I give away a $10.00 gift card to someone who posts on my blog.

Well, in celebration of my new release, "The Uncommon Woman"
each week in the month of August my posts will be on the uncommon life. And one of you who posts will win a $50.00 VISA gift card! 

Lots of people visit this site and many people will glean from your insights and perspective. I've LOVED reading your posts. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Now on to my topic...

I just love reading about some of the spiritual giants who have gone before us. Recently I read about the life of Charles Finney and it absolutely knocked my socks off. Currently I'm reading about William and Catherine Booth (the founders of The Salvation Army). I'm telling you, I've added them to my list of heroes. Can't wait to meet them in Heaven.

Catherine was frail of health and spent a good portion of her childhood in bed. Lying on her back and holding her Bible before her eyes, she read it cover to cover and then did it again. If I remember right, Catherine read her Bible through, out loud - 8 times - by the time she was 12 years old!

Catherine and William both had a deep love for Jesus, a tenacity of faith, and an abundance of conviction. What they accomplished by sheer obedience and trust, was impossible by the world's standards, but indisputable nonetheless. Millions of people were saved, fed, rescued, and impacted because two simple people decided to take God at His Word. 

I just have to share this excerpt written by William Booth (taken from Roberts Liardon's amazing book "God's Generals"). Now this is tenacity...

"You must pray with all your might...It means fervent, effectual untiring wrestling with God. It means grappling with Omnipotence, clinging to Him, following Him about, so to speak, day and night, as the widow did to the unjust judge...until the answer comes and the end is gained. This kind of prayer, be sure the devil and the world and your own indolent, unbelieving nature will oppose. They will pour water on this flame...They will talk about impossibilities and predict failures; but if you mean to succeed, you must shut your ears and eyes to all but what God has said, and hold Him to His own word...You must pray with all your might." (p.420)

Beloved Friend, oh, that we'd all be so earnest in prayer and tenacious in faith!

God's promises are true for us!

Here's an excerpt from my book, "The Uncommon Woman":

"What we do with the promises of God is the tipping point in every area of our lives. Whether or not we decide to believe that we have access to the very power that raised Christ from the dead will determine just how uncommon our lives turn out to be. Though we have trials, His promises are true. Though we may not feel Him at times, He's still there. And though the enemy would love for us to settle for less, God gets absolutely giddy when we reach for more." (p. 166)

No doubt you have some significant needs before you. And if you're in a time of favor, you don't have to look too far to find others who are in desperate need of a miracle. 

Jesus calls us to a vested, active, walk of faith. The Bible says that if we stay in step with Him, and confess the sins He brings to mind, and if we do what He says, and if we live by faith, our lives will be conduits to His Kingdom work on earth. This is the stuff of miracles. 

The Bible says that if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him (1 John 3:21-22). This is a huge responsibility linked with an even bigger promise.

Our world needs the miracle working power God has made available to His people. 

Grab hold of His promises and don't let go!

I'll close with a couple of great quotes...

One from A.W. Tozer,

"God is looking for those with whom He can do the impossible. What a pity that we plan only the things we can do by ourselves!"

And this one from Catherine Booth,

"We are made for larger ends than Earth can encompass. Oh, let us be true to our exalted destiny."

Until next week~

August 13, 2008

Titles, Labels, and...Freedom


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 little business to take care of. As most of you know, each month I give away a $10.00 gift card to someone who posts on my blog. 

In celebration of my new release, "The Uncommon Woman"
...this month I'll be giving away a $50.00 VISA gift card to someone who posts on my blog. 

Each week I'll post what it means to be uncommon and I want to hear from you! Share your own insights and perspectives. Lots of people visit this site and will definitely glean from what you have to share.

Now, on to my topic...

You may be wondering why I posted a picture of a couple of pairs of feet today. Well, I have a good reason!

Those feet belong to my husband Kevin and me (the big ones are Kevin's). 

Let me tell you, I don't know another person who enjoys their feet like Kevin does. He loves his feet! In the morning when he sees his feet for the first time, he wiggles his toes and says hello as if he and they were long lost friends.

I envy him. :)

I have ugly feet. Or at least that's what I've thought all my life. 

I can say this with a light heart now but when I was a child, my sweet father (whom I adore more than words can say) made a joke about my feet and his words left an indelible impact on me.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was standing on the edge of the picnic table with all of my weight on my toes. I was getting ready to do a back flip off of the table (something my sisters and I did with some regularity). 

My dad sat down at the table, looked at my gnarly feet, and said, "Yikes, you have ugly feet!..." He went on to say a few more teasing comments about my calloused feet as I went sailing through the air to complete my back flip.

He was simply teasing and meant nothing by it but for the next 30 years or so, I was convinced that I should hide my feet. Even now, I have such an appreciation for cute feet because right now, with a secure heart and mind, I can look down at my feet and say, 'You know, he was right. My feet are pretty gnarly looking!" But I can laugh about it.

What does this have to do with titles, labels, and freedom, and how does it connect with being UNCOMMON?

Of course, my 'ugly feet' story is a small and trivial matter in the face of the real issues and deep pain we all deal with. 

Every one of us have been on the receiving end of words that shot like an arrow to the center of our souls. Without thinking too long about it, most of us can think of hurtful assessments and judgements that have left their mark on us. Furthermore, most of us remember many of our own words that we wish we could retract.

We can all think of past mistakes that still have the power to haunt us (unless of course, we've truly been set free from them).

And on the flip side, we can all think of certain titles, accomplishments, or associations that we have relied on to give us a certain sense of importance or validation. Often, we pursue 'titles' and 'position' to make up for the wounds and the lies that bind us.

Jesus was not impressed with position or titles, and He came to set us free from our past mistakes, hurtful words, and binding labels. 

Here's an excerpt from "The Uncommon Woman"...

"Jesus came to destroy the evil hierarchy that exists in our world. The Bible says that He resists and distances Himself from the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. He draws near to and confides in those who love and fear Him. He confronts those who are impressed only with themselves.

"Consequently, the banners of title and position are not the solutions for someone burdened by labels accumulated from past hurts. They are merely substitutes for the true identity that Jesus offers. Covering up insecurities with accomplishments never turns lies into truths.

"What's wonderful is that Jesus came to take off the demeaning dunce caps that have been piled on our heads. He gladly peels off the scarlet letters that have been pinned all over us. Whatever we have been through, whatever we have done, whatever others say about us, Jesus can forgive it, heal it, rebuild it, and redeem it! He makes all things new." (pp.94-95)

It's for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free. Refuse, therefore, to be subject to a yoke of slavery, of lies, and of old words. 

Embrace the beautiful truth about yourself. You're totally loved and completely provided for. You have everything you need to love and forgive others the way God Himself has loved and forgiven you. Be Free!

Until next week...

August 06, 2008

Nothing and Everything...

Martha's Sunrise

Greetings, Dear Friends!

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

Before I get into my topic, I have a little business to take care of. As most of you know, I give away a $10.00 Caribou gift card each month to someone who posts on my blog. It's time to announce July's winner...

Anna J! ~ Please email me to claim your prize and tell me where I should mail your gift card (info@susielarson.com) Congratulations!

In celebration of my new release, 'The Uncommon Woman', this month I'm giving away a $50.00 VISA gift card to someone who posts on this blog. 

Each week I'll post on what it means to be uncommon, and I want to hear from you! Share with us your own divine insights and perspectives. Lots of people visit this blog each week and even if they don't post, they're reading what you have to say.

Now, on to my topic...

At the opening of my book - the first section in fact - I make this statement, "The Uncommon Woman understands that paradox that she is nothing and everything."

In order for us to rise above the petty fray and to live up to our privilege as ones who belong to the Creator of Heaven and Earth, we must see ourselves in the proper light.

We are nothing without God. 

We can do nothing of substance - nothing of lasting value - apart from Him. We need His influence and His life-giving power operating in us and through us every moment of the day. 

If left to ourselves, we quickly become self-aware. We become strivers instead of 'resters.' We become 'grabbers' instead of 'releasers.' We become motivated by fear instead of by faith. Even on our good days, our good deeds amount to a pile of grimy rags (because that's what the Word says). 

To live up to the high calling that's ours in Christ Jesus, we must have a clear and sober view of ourselves. We love people, we love ourselves, but we put our hope in God. He stoops down to make us great (See Psalm 18:35).

But here's some really GREAT news: We may be nothing without Him, but we're everything to Him.

He's written our name on His hand. He thinks about us every day. And though the enemy accuses us day and night, Jesus intercedes for us every minute of every day.

He's pulling for us, cheering for us, rejoicing over us, singing songs of love for us, He's leading us, guiding us, providing for us, and correcting us when we need it. He forgives, restores, and replenishes us because we need it. He sends new mercies our way every morning and declares His faithfulness during the dark nights of the soul. He is strong and mighty. He is faithful and true. 

He has His eye on you and me and He delights in using us for His grand purposes. 

With God at our side, nothing will be impossible for us. In our weakness He is strong. When we have faith - even mustard seed sized faith - He will move mountains on our behalf. 

What a privilege and honor it is to belong to the One who knows each star by name.

How is it that we stray from His majesty and dare to think we are more than we are? Even so, He knows us intimately and loves us deeply. He knows we are dust and yet He cherishes us just the same. 

Amazing love. 

Read this great quote from Brennan Manning:

"Uncontaminated trust in the revelation of Jesus allows us to breathe more freely, to dance more joyfully, and to sing more gratefully about the gift of salvation."

Isn't that just grand?

And the following is a quote from my own book (PS ~ the term 'accepts acceptance' is borrowed from Brennan Manning and referenced in my book):

"Accepting acceptance means having the courage to face your foibles without it diminishing your value. Accepting acceptance means refusing to let others define you, because God already has. Accepting acceptance means cherishing the fact that you've been bought with a price, and thus embracing the call to become more and more like Christ every day." P.23

The idea that we are 'nothing and everything'  to me, makes the narrow road a bit more narrow. It's the place of humility and power, of holy confidence and humble dependence. It's the place where miracles happen.

May we embrace this beautiful truth today.

Blessings to you all~