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4 posts from December 2008

December 31, 2008

Refresh!

Housethroughtherocks

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. Most of you know this already, but for our new visitors, I want you to know that each month I giveaway a gift card to someone who posts on my blog. This month someone will win a $25.00 gift card to Starbucks! So leave a post, share a story, and maybe you'll win a treat for you and your friends.

Now on to my topic.

Every Wednesday morning my husband and I spend an hour praying together before he heads off to work. This morning during our prayer time God gave me a fresh perspective on an insight He'd given me long ago.

If you've heard me speak before you've probably heard me talk about the 'snapshot' sin. We all do it. We've all been subject to it. Someone from your past knew you back when you were in a less-than-favorable season of life. Maybe you said things you wish you wouldn't have. Maybe your choices left a wake of disappointment behind you. Or maybe you were simply misjudged. There was only a kernel of truth in the gossip that was directed at you but you had no way of defending yourself. No matter. But you know in your heart that you've changed. God's done an amazing, forgiving, and renewing work in your heart, and you're forever grateful.

But still, someone holds a snapshot of you from 'back when' and they are judging you based on the old picture and not on the present reality. They've summed you up; they've come to conclusions about you and no matter what you say or do, they won't let you off the hook. It's quite painful, no?

I just love how Jesus refuted the snapshot sin. He walked right up to people who were known sinners, or of a hated race, or were considered the outcasts of society. He walked right up to those in need and ministered to them. He saw these precious people as ones who were created in God's image before the sin and stain of the world got to them. He regarded them from a Heavenly point of view. That's how I want to be regarded, don't you?

Even if someone has a snapshot of you, it has no power over you unless you surrender some of the value assigned to you by God. 

This concept is something I teach on quite often. But let me share the fresh insight God gave me this morning. 

How often do you hit the "refresh" button on your computer? What happens if you don't? You have an 'old' screen. We refresh our screen in order to have the most current page, updated changes, and most recent stats before us. We want the most accurate information available. Things change. The refresh button brings us up to date.

Well this morning during our prayer time I was quite challenged by the Lord. As I looked back over my shoulder at the year behind me, I see how God moved. I also see how I picked up certain opinions or assessments or assumptions along the way. The 2008 path has been one of highs and lows; good times and difficult times; peace in relationships and sometimes pain. God's challenge to me was this: "Are you taking any old information with you into this new year? Do you need to push the 'refresh' button with regards to your marriage, family, church, ministry, country, even Me? Have you made snap judgements or let go of the wonder that I am always moving, always working? Pause here for a moment, and take inventory. Seek My face with regards to every area of your life. Make sure you have My perspective and My heart, and not your own. Make sure you view every area of your life from a hopeful, redemptive perspective because that's how I see things."

Wow. What an assignment. And what a cleansing one it was.

I challenge you to do the same.

Take some time this week to be alone with God. Take inventory of the various areas of your life. Have you drawn conclusions about people, places, and certain experiences? Remember, we only know in part. God sees the whole picture. What for you might have seemed like a big mishap might have been from God's perspective, a divine appointment. Seek God's heart concerning these. Ask Him to bring a fresh revelation to your reality. Refuse to walk into the new year with old snapshots. 

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Take inventory. Refresh your perspective. Repack your bags. And look ahead to the new thing that God is doing in you and all around you.

Be blessed, my friend.

PS - If you haven't signed up for my quarterly E-zine yet, you might want to. My next issue comes out on January 15th and I have a stack of fun books to give away! Here's the link:


Susie's Ezine..

December 17, 2008

Marvel...

Marvelpic

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. Most of you know this already, but for our new visitors, I want you to know that each month I giveaway a gift card to someone who posts on my blog. This month someone will win a $25.00 gift card to Starbucks! So leave a post, share a story, and maybe you'll win a treat for you and your friends.

Now on to my topic.

Today...this week in fact, I ask you to pause and do a little marveling. Ponder right now, who God is and what He has done for you. Read this great excerpt from my 'Believer's Commentary':

"The converted person boasts in the Lord - not in his own character or achievements. When we understand the gospel of grace we realize that we did all the sinning and He did all the saving. So our boast must be in Him alone." (p.596)

We did all the sinning. He did all the saving. He is good to us every single day. Even when we don't notice it.

What does it mean to marvel?

To marvel means to: be amazed, be surprised, be astonished, be awed, stand in awe, wonder, stare, gape, be dumbfounded, be flabbergasted. 

Let's look at scene right out of the Word of God:

Jacob left Beersheba and went to Haran. He came to a certain place and camped for the night since the sun had set. He took one of the stones there, set it under his head and lay down to sleep.  And he dreamed: A stairway was set on the ground and it reached all the way to the sky; angels of God were going up and going down on it. Then God was right before him, saying, "I am God, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. I'm giving the ground on which you are sleeping to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will be as the dust of the Earth; they'll stretch from west to east and from north to south. All the families of the Earth will bless themselves in you and your descendants. Yes. I'll stay with you, I'll protect you wherever you go, and I'll bring you back to this very ground. I'll stick with you until I've done everything I promised you."

Jacob woke up from his sleep. He said, "God is in this place - truly. And I didn't even know it!" He was terrified. He whispered in awe, "Incredible. Wonderful. Holy. This is God's House. This is the Gate of Heaven." (Genesis 28:10-17 NLT).


It's so easy get sucked into the rat race of life and completely miss the idea that there are angels all around us; encamping around those who fear the Lord; serving and assisting us; going with us on our journey through life. 


We are not alone. Not even a little bit. Far greater are those who are for us than those who are against us. May the eyes of our hearts open up this holiday season; may we be more keenly aware of God's divine presence all around us. May we understand on a deeper level the resources and assistance to which we have access. Imagine. God, there for you, pulling for you. The Son, interceding for you day and night! The Holy Spirit nudging you, correcting you, convicting you, assuring you - all for your benefit. The angels, assisting you, cheering for you, protecting you. You are someone important!


Yesterday I had a number of heavy things weighing on my heart, when all of the sudden Selah's Christmas song, "Joy!" came on the radio. Instantly my perspective lifted and my heart swelled with joy. I hopped out of my sink (oh, um, that's where I sit to do my makeup), and I started dancing around my bedroom. I was doing a happy dance. The Marvel Dance. 


Try it today. Put on a great song. Look up. Make yourself smile (I don't know why, but this does something for the soul), and do the Marvel dance.


In quieter moments, marvel with your heart's perspective. Be amazed; be astonished; wonder and stare at the story of the Christ-child and be in awe that He would hand Himself over in such a vulnerable way. For you.


Regardless of the state of things around you - marvel today because you are surrounded by a host of heavenly angels cheering you on; hear the noise in Heaven; they're all talking at the same time! But there's harmony because they all want the same thing for you: To live in the light of God's presence, and to walk out the divine, world-changing call on your life. Marvel at that thought of it.


Smile today. Keep Smiling. Dance today. Keep Dancing. Marvel today. Keep Marveling. 


Until next week~


PS - If you haven't signed up for my quarterly E-zine yet, you might want to. My next issue comes out on January 15th and I have a stack of fun books to give away! Here's the link:


Susie's Ezine...

December 10, 2008

Comfort and Joy...

Believepic

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.

Each month I give away a gift card to someone who posts on my blog. In honor of our Savior's birth - and of your sweet friendship, this month I'm giving away a $25.00 gift card to Starbucks!

So leave a post, share a story, and maybe you'll win a nice treat for you and your friends!

Now on to my topic...

How is your holiday season going thus far? Are you running the rat race? Are you overwhelmed by your 'to-do' list? Or maybe you're so burdened by real life issues that you're having a difficult time entering into the festivities this year.

My prayer is that you'll find encouragement and comfort as you read today's post. 

Here's what the Word says:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I'll fear no evil; for Your rod and staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4)

You will increase my honor, and comfort me once again (Psalm 71:21).

In this world we have trials and tribulations, it's true. But the Christ-child who came to earth, who lived to die, who defeated death, well, He blessed us with the Holy Spirit - our Divine Comforter, to lead us, guide us, minister to us, and strengthen us.

We struggle, but we're not without comfort. We strain, but it doesn't mean we don't have access to peace. The Prince of Peace has an open door policy. We can approach Him anytime, anywhere. What a glorious gift He's given us, simply by allowing continual and constant access to Him. 

Furthermore, when we press through our pain to find peace and perspective; when we hang on to faith and find comfort in the Holy One, we then become comforters ourselves. That rigorous process of pushing past an earthly perspective to a Heavenly one, strengthens and refines us; it prepares us for service. 

Our trials are measured and though the Lord doesn't send us trials, He certainly uses them. He wastes nothing. Our divine training is very intentional on God's part.

When Jesus stepped away from His Heavenly throne, and wrapped Himself in skin and tendon and bone, and then handed Himself over to a world that would torture and execute Him - He came to earth, right in the midst of the struggles of mankind. That's why He came. We needed Him. The people in His day needed Him. 

Bypassing comfort (to say the least), He died, to save us, that we might be comforted. 

And then there's joy!

Here's what the Word says:

In Your presence, the fullness of joy is found (Psalm 16:11).

The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight to life (Psalm 19:8).

The joy of the Lord is my strength and yours!

To possess joy is to know a sense of triumph - that ultimate victory is YOURS. It's to embrace gladness of heart because of a right perspective. It's to refuse to allow your emotions to dictate your day, your direction, or your current state of mind. It's to KNOW and RELY on the Love God has for you. 

Joy has its deep roots in the soil of God's love and faithfulness. To the extent that we're convinced of these, will we know joy.

Jesus came - as you know - to bridge the gap, to save our souls, to comfort our spirits, and to make us whole. 

STOP...right now, and ponder afresh what the Almighty has done for you. Ponder what He offers you today. Don't give His gifts a passing glance. Pause. Ponder. Prepare room in your heart for Him. Prepare room in your day for Him. Make room in your home for Him.

You'll be richer for it.

Comfort and joy - what precious, priceless gifts. Ours for taking.

Blessings to you all~

December 03, 2008

Contrary to Nature...

Waves Crashing

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.

Each month I give away a $10.00 gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So stop by, leave a post, share a story, and bless loads of people! 

It's time to award November's winner (and remember, you have to claim your prize by emailing me, I'm not able to chase you down. :) And the winner is...Jami! You posted on November 19th. Email me at: info@susielarson.com and we'll get you your gift card to Starbucks. Congratulations!

Now on to my topic...

We have a family tradition that I love. Every year - on the eve of Christmas Eve - we sit down to a candlelight dinner with our three sons. We turn off all of the lights save the Christmas lights. With a fire glowing in the fireplace and Christmas instrumental music on in the background, we gather around the table with great anticipation.

This is the time we lean in, enjoy our food, take our time, and share about our individual spiritual journey. First we each reflect on what God has taught us over the past year; we each discuss what faith lessons we'll be taking away from the past year's experiences. Then we move into thoughts of the upcoming year. We each share what we would like to learn from the Lord this next year. 

For instance, a number of years ago, Jake said the greatest thing: I want to learn - on a deeper level - just what I possess in Christ - and then I want to appropriate those riches in my life in a greater way.

I love that. I want that too.

Even though I'm surrounded by four strapping men, this dinner always proves to be an intimate and tender time. Of course, I cry through most of it, but that's okay, right? 

We'll this year, we wanted to add a new aspect to our eve-of-eve dinner. On Thanksgiving morning we had a family meeting via conference call. With Jake in Nashville and the other two here at home, we put the phone on speaker and gathered around the ottoman in the living room. We went around and shared about the blessings for which we were thankful. Then we said this to our guys, "You know, the economy is in rough shape right now; things are tough all over; but we live by God's economy; and His promises are as true now as they have ever been. We want to challenge you all to something. For the next 30 days, every day, ask God to bless you, to increase your territory and sphere of influence; ask that His mighty hand of power be at work in you and through you; ask Him to keep you from evil and temptation; ask Him to help you live in a noble, honorable way (this is the prayer of Jabez, as you probably recognize). And trust us in this: you will begin to see something miraculous happen. Like streams in the desert, God will make a way for you to serve Him more, to love Him more, and to be more for Him. We're going to add to our eve-of-eve dinner a time of testimony. We're going to share stories of how God moved in these past thirty days. Are you with us?"

Our guys jumped right on it! They've been praying and texting each other. In their excitement, they've called us to share some of the ways God is moving. 

We live in a struggling world, but we serve a powerful God. He is always on the move. Always working. Always looking to find faith on the earth.

I not only want to relentlessly look for that river in the desert, I want to jump into where the current is the strongest. 

When we engage our faith with God's very clear promises, we will see - before our eyes - a way where there was no way before. Contrary to nature. Different than we expected. Better even.

Read this powerful verse:

 I am the Lord, your Holy One, Israel's Creator, your King." This is what the Lord says-- he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

If you've repented of your past sins, leave them there - in the past. Take with you only the spoils from your battle. Remember the ways God came through for you. Hang on to lessons learned.

And now - look ahead. In what ways do you suppose God wants to work in your circumstances and through you that are contrary to nature?

Imagine a peaceful stream in the middle of a dry and weary desert. That's for you. In your wilderness, He's provided still waters. Slow down and take a drink. 

Imagine a crashing wave of blessing where you've only experienced drought. That's for you too. God wants to pour out more of Himself on you! Take Him at His word. Expect Him to act! Do what He says! And humbly entrust your concerns to Him. 

God is not bound by our current economic downturn. He defies the rules of nature. But He is, though, bound by our unbelief. 

I know I say this often, and that's because it's true: without faith, it's impossible to please God.

Please Him today with your level of obedience, faith, and expectation.

Have a blessed and miracle-filled week!

*If you're not on my mailing list, be sure to go to my website and subscribe. We give away lots of great stuff in my quarterly Ezine (link to my website above).