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5 posts from June 2009

June 30, 2009

Times and Places...


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. Would you believe it's already time to announce the winner for June? The winner of a $10.00 gift card from Starbucks goes to...

Drum roll please...

Stephanie Carlson! Congratulations! Please note that you have to email me your mailing address some time before I award next month's winner. Contact me at: info@susielarson.com 

*One more important note. I will be on vacation next week and will be away from the internet and out of email range. I'll look forward to connecting with you on the 15th of July. 

Now on to my topic...

Many years ago, I learned a valuable lesson: God is not subject to my timetables. I may have good reason for expecting Him to come through for me on specific occasions, but His actions will not be dictated by my timelines. 

As a young mom, I never realized how much I had hoped in God for my circumstances (instead of through them). 

After six months on bed rest due to a high risk pregnancy and in spite of some scary neurological symptoms during that pregnancy, I had hoped God wouldn't allow me to go from dealing with bed rest to dealing with a disease. But He did.

Amidst babies in the hospital and my own health battles, I had hoped that God wouldn't allow us to suffer financially, but He did. 

After going through several years of crisis, and then finally having the opportunity to go on a vacation to a resort with my extended family, I had hoped God would bless us with great weather and healthy kids for a week, but He didn't. 

At the end of the day, I wanted to stomp and scream and wonder what was the point of faith (and I definitely had my moments), but deep in my soul, I knew God was there with me, teaching me to hope in Him - and not in my circumstances. 

A verse that I love comes from first Timothy (6:6) and it reads:

Godliness with contentment is great gain.

To me, godliness speaks of forward movement; an earnest pursuit of the Father; a strong hope that He will come through for us; and a faith that believes in God's promises amidst the absence of evidence. 

And then there's contentment. My Thesaurus describes contentment with these words: fulfillment, peace, happiness, ease, comfort, well-being, satisfaction, serenity.  

To me, that's a measure of maturity; embracing a forward moving faith, along with a peaceful, satisfied heart that embraces God amidst your current circumstances.

When our hoped-for plans come to a screeching halt and God disappoints, how do we find peace, fulfillment, ease, well-being, and satisfaction amidst it all?

We step back and remember that God is God. And He is good. And He is always up to something. 

We wrap our arms around the Vine, we pursue godliness, and we embrace contentment; a contentment that declares, "I will find God in this somehow! My hope is in the Lord, and not in the idea that things should always go my way. Plans may fail, the rain will fall, and circumstances will sometimes fall short of my expectations, but this is where my faith counts. When I put everything on the table and give God room to work, I will find Him in the most unexpected places, and I will grow in the process!" 

Godliness with contentment is great gain. 

Though our plans may fall short of our expectations, we must not miss the opportunity to gain ground in our walk of faith. We hope in the Lord, not in that next raise, the next potential job, vacation, family time, etc. We make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps (See Proverbs 16:9). And in due time, we will enjoy a surprisingly sunny day, or a peaceful morning, or a sweet vacation, or a quick breakthrough. And those times are especially sweet when we learn to put our hope in the Lord. It's like icing on the cake. :)

In closing, read this wonderful quote by John Tauler written in the 1300's:

"Be assured of this, you do not know God in truth, and have no true peace, if you are depending upon times and places. Remember that whatever God gives you to do, from moment to moment, that is the very best thing you could possibly be doing, and you little know where and when the Lord will meet you. He who does not seek to find God everywhere, and in everything, finds Him nowhere and in nothing." 

Have a blessed couple of weeks.

PS ~ If you haven't signed up for my free quarterly E-zine, you might want to. Some of my author friends give away free copies of their books, I write a devotional, share some great book recommendations, great quotes, and a prayer to send you on your way. My next issue releases on the 15th of July. Click the link below to sign up:

June 23, 2009

Your Covering and Protection...

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 along the way. 

Each month I give away a $10.00 gift card to someone who posts on my blog. This month's card is from Starbucks. So share an insight or a story, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend!

Now on to my topic...

How are you handling the times? Are you struggling with fear and uncertainty? Are you anxious and unsteady? 

Well, I have good news for you!

With the Lord at your side, you have nothing to fear! 

Picture the protection of the Lord as a big umbrella. Underneath it we are safe from the enemy's plan to destroy us. The umbrella represents the stronghold of God - the place where we abide in His presence, obey His word, and live the way He calls us to. 

The Lord establishes boundaries for our safety and our good. He loves us so very much and knows what the enemy wants to do to us should we venture out from under His established protection. Not that God can't get to us anywhere; He'll come for us if we call on His name; but He'll also allow us to walk away from Him and endure the consequences of our actions. That's how we learn. Any good parent would do the same thing. 

The Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and knowing the Holy One helps us understand Him (Proverbs 9:10).

Fearing the Lord simply means, "I respect and honor the Lord enough to do what He says, because I know He will do what He says." 

At the very edges of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. If we don't have a healthy reverence for the God who created the heavens and the earth; the One who put the stars in their place and who told the oceans where to stop; if we don't tremble at the thought of dishonoring Him, well then, we are fools. 

He is loving and gracious and kind and good, but He's still God. And He means what He says.

The amazing thing though is that He takes this mandate so seriously that when He finds a soul humble enough to honor Him and revere His name, He honors them. He blesses them before a watching world. He entrusts them with the great honor of serving Him in magnificent ways. 

When a man or woman fears the Lord, his or her enemies respond differently; evil doesn't stand a chance, and the world receives a proper picture of what a relationship with the Lord Almighty is supposed to look like. 

The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him; on those who hope in His unfailing love (Psalm 33:18).

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid (Psalm 27:1)?

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear the Lord; and He delivers them (Psalm 34:7).

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.

When a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him (Proverbs 16:6-7).

The fear of the Lord leads to LIFE; then one rests content, untouched by trouble (Proverbs 19:23).

Do not fear anything except the Holy One. If you fear Him, you need fear nothing else; He will keep you safe (Isaiah 8:13-14)

Instead of fearing others' opinions, may we honor and fear the Lord, He will take cares of those who stand against us.

Instead of fearing the economy and clinging to what few resources we have, let us honor God, sow generously, give to those who less than us, and trust Him to supply our needs.

Instead of fearing the instability of the times, let us daily read Psalm 91 and Psalm 112, and reacquaint ourselves with the promises of God, and live in a manner worthy of His name. 

The Creator of the Heavens and earth knows your name, and mine. He loves us and wants to hide us in the shadow of His wing. He calls us to live close beside Him and to trust Him fully when the storms rage. He is faithful and He is serious about our obedience. 

These are not days for lukewarm faith and casual commitments. May we walk in the fear of the Lord.

God bless your week!

PS ~ And if you haven't signed up for my free quarterly E-zine you might want to! The next issue comes out in mid-July. A number of my author friends give away free books; I write a devotional and offer some great book recommendations and favorite quotes, and then I leave you with a prayer to send you on your way We have lots of fun together! Here's the link to sign up:

Susie's Ezine...

June 16, 2009

Rebellion and Obedience...


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. This month's card comes from Starbucks. So leave a comment, share a story or insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend!

Now on to my topic...

If you read last week's post you know that I'm going through a number of transitions in life. On top of that I'm working on a new book titled, Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places. This book has me taking many trips down memory lane.

While recalling many of the battles and victories on this journey of faith, I've noticed something very important. Obedience is crucial for us as Believers, and we'll never enjoy the full victory and blessing God intends for us without it.

Every time I heeded the voice of God and obeyed Him even when it cost me, I came out of those times richer spiritually, more aware of His presence, and more sensitive to His voice. When He entrusted me with little and I was faithful, He blessed me with more of Himself (and the opposite is true as well).

When I think of my own kids and the times they chose to respectfully obey me even when it crossed their will, their actions both blessed and honored me. So much so that I blessed and honored them when the time was right. How much greater is God's work on our behalf!

In the book of Samuel, King Saul was given a clear directive from the Lord. And yet he only partially obeyed. Then he made excuses (ever do that?). Read Samuel's response from 1 Samuel 15:22-23 (NLT):

But Samuel replied, "What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you from being king."

God calls for our obedience every single day. He speaks, nudges, urges, and prompts us to be living, breathing representatives of the Most High God. We have to be daily in tune with Him if we hope to fully obey Him.

I remember one day reading an essay written by A.W. Tozer where he explored the difference between the giants of the Christian faith, and those who only blended in. He stated that since God is no respecter of persons, the difference had to be in the people themselves. What he found was quite interesting. Looking back at the Wesleys, Finney, the Booths, and the other greats from our past, he observed that the differences were as stark as the day is long. Some were educated, others weren't; some were rich, others were poor. But what they did have in common is this: these spiritual giants listened for the voice of the Lord and when He spoke, they did something about it. And God entrusted them with more.

Obedience is paramount to living out the gigantic calling on our lives. Not just obeying the commandments; of course do those. But obey in the personal, every day ways. The ways that others may not notice and only you and God know about. Obey when it suits you and when it doesn't. Obey when it costs you and trust Him through it all. 

Let's look at the second part of the verse above:
Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols.

That's a tough verse to swallow and one most people like to brush aside. Just as obedience to the Lord opens the door for Him to work more powerfully in our lives, rebellion opens the door for the devil to work more powerfully in our lives. 

We may think it's cute to be mad at God and to tout an adolescent attitude towards Him when things don't go our way. But these are serious times requiring a serious look at our faith walk. The very fact that rebellion and stubbornness towards God opens us up to untold evil, should put the fear of God in us. Jesus is out for our best. The devil is out to deliver his worst. 

Father in Heaven, 
Raise up a new standard within me! Help me to be more sensitive to Your voice and more apt to obey. Give me the faith and humility to follow You even when it doesn't suit me. Ultimately I know You are writing a beautiful story with my life and You know the best way for me. I love You and trust You. Help me to love and trust You more. Amen. 

Have a blessed and wonderful week!

PS ~ If you haven't signed up for my quarterly E-zine, you may want to! The next issue comes out mid-July. My author friends give away a number of their books. I write a devotional and offer some great book recommendations and wonderful quotes. And I send you on your way with a prayer of blessing. Click on the link below to sign up:

June 09, 2009

What's New?

Jordan and Angie Graduation.jpb

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 leave a comment, share a story or insight, bless lots of people, and maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend. 

Now on to my topic. 

What is God doing in your life these days? 

That's a question we often asked our boys during their growing up years. In fact, we still pose the question from time to time. 

One of the things I love about God is that He is always working. He is always up to something. The Bible says that daily the heavens pour forth speech and there is no language where His voice is not heard (See Psalm 19). God is always after an increase in our lives. He wants to bring us from strength to strength, from glory to glory. He's moving and He wants us to move with Him. 

When I consider my own life, I see movement all around me. As you can see from the picture above, my youngest son Jordan just graduated from high school. 

And in a couple of weeks, my middle son Luke will marry the love of his life. Our house is quieter than it has ever been. I just finished writing a book that'll release in October, and I just started another book which will release next March (kind of like having a baby, but not really). Amidst all of this change, I'm going through the painful letting go syndrome common to moms of boys. You've heard it said, "A daughter is one that you'll have for life, but a son is only a son until he takes a wife." 

A fellow author friend of mine (also a mom of three boys) once shared these wise words with me: Prepare yourself for the day when your boys get married. It's a drastic adjustment. You go from having the starring role in their lives, to having a bit part. You go from being their number one to being number five, just behind the family pet. For those of us who have been super involved in our son's lives, it's a tough adjustment but one every healthy mother of boys needs to make.

I'm telling you, with one son living in Nashville, one son about to get married, and another very busy with life and quite taken with his girlfriend, I'm feeling that surprising ache in my heart. 

On one hand, I'm so happy for all of them. This is the stuff of life. But their absence reveals another place in my heart for God to fill. And I'm expectant for Him to do just that. 

What I do love about this next stage of life, is the extra time I get to spend with Jesus. I take my time praying, reading, and journaling. My heart is at rest because I have the time and the space to cultivate such a thing. I also love the extra time with my husband, Kevin. 

Even so, as I move into this next season of life, I know I have to let go of the 'mom who takes care of her sons' role, and move into the 'mom who intercedes, loves, and supports' her sons and their future wives. 

In this transitional stage of life, I'm reminded afresh of how steady and sturdy and faithful God really is. He is moving and I want to move with Him to the next places of promise He has for me.

So what about you?

What new thing is God doing in you, around you, and through you? How are you handling it? 

Let's do this together!

Have a blessed week~

PS ~ If you haven't signed up for my (free) quarterly E-zine, you might want to. A number of my author friends give away copies of their books, you'll get a devotional from me, some great book recommendations from me, a couple of great quotes, and a prayer to send you on your way. The next issue comes out mid-July. Click on the link below to sign up:

June 02, 2009

Focused and Purposeful...

Breakthrough Sunrise

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 leave a comment, share an insight or story, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a fun treat!

Since it's the first week of June, it's time to announce May's winner of the $10.00 Starbucks card. Drumroll please...

Kristen (sorry, I don't have your last name, but I do have record of the dates you posted)! Congratulations! Here's the deal: you need to claim your prize by contacting me at: info@susielarson.com (sometime before I award next month's winner). Give me the address where you want me to send the gift card and enjoy a nice jolt of java. Thanks for your recent posts!

Now on to my topic...

During a recent prayer time, I marveled at Jesus' steadfast purpose and focus on His mission. He clearly understood His identity in spite of countless people who completely missed what He was about, or who were so threatened by Him that they plotted His death. He held to His value, kept to His mission, and would not be derailed; not for one second. 

Let's look at a few instances of Jesus' resolute focus on His mission:

After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:2-4)

The enemy tempted Jesus to grab prematurely for Himself, that which God already promised Him (protection, provision, the kingdom).Though weak and exhausted from fasting, Jesus refused to give in to temptation and stayed true to His mission.

Here's another example...

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" (Matthew 21:8-9)

The crowd that was so quick to praise Him was the very crowd that later shouted, "Crucify Him!" Jesus rode into town on a donkey while the crowds cheered. In the face of shallow praise, He didn't get full of Himself; He didn't hop off the donkey and change His plans; He stayed true to His mission.

Here's one more...

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." (1 Corinthians 11:23)

On the night He was betrayed - while evil men schemed behind His back - Jesus looked into the eyes of His beloved disciples and taught them about communion, about intimacy with God, and about resurrection power. He didn't rally His own allies to combat the gossip and betrayal. He didn't say, "We're going to fight this! Nobody treats me this way!" He willingly laid down His life. And He made sure His disciples had some important time with Him. 

In the face of betrayal, backstabbing, and horrific assault,  Jesus stayed true to His mission. 

Is it possible that we get derailed far too easily?

When we have to wait - we get mad. 
If we have to endure an insult or someone disrespects us - we shake our fists.
If we show up to pray but don't 'feel' anything, we wonder if it pays to pray.
If we give and don't receive a 'thank you' - we pull back and look for a more deserving recipient.
We need deeper roots.
We need more clarity on who we are and why we're here. 
We need more tenacity to hang on to the promises of God - because they are true whether they feel true or not! 

How do we remain focused and purposeful?

We measure every encounter against our God-given mission. We embrace in our core, that we are something special to God and that He has given us authority over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19). We earnestly seek after Him to find out His highest and best will for us so we don't waste our time on lesser things.

When we encounter tough times, instead of shrinking back, we're quick to ask this question:
Is this temptation, a trial, or training? 

We remind ourselves every day, that in order to stand in these latter days, we must be gritty in faith, full of love, and abounding in mercy - just as Jesus is with us. 

Dear Father, show us how to be more like You. Make us into ambassadors for Your name. Help us to be focused and purposeful in all we say and do. In trials, storms, and temptations, may we stand strong. In the face of praise, honor, and success, may be remain humble and flexible in Your hand. When others miss us, disregard us, or disrespect us, may we humbly honor You and entrust our reputation to You. Our time on this earth is important; help us to live in a manner worthy of our calling. We are just passing through. We're made to live forever with You. Lord, make us ready! Amen.

Have a blessed week!

Oh, and if you haven't signed up for my quarterly E-zine, you might want to! Four times a year I'll email you an E-magazine with some great book giveaways from my fellow authors, a devotional, some great book recommendations, and a prayer to send you on your way. You can subscribe by clicking on the link below: