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4 posts from January 2010

January 27, 2010

Fear Masquerading As Wisdom...



Greetings, Dear Friends!

Susie Larson here...

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 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So share a story or an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and friend!

It's time to announce this month's winner...

Joy Ballard, congratulations! Email me at: info@susielarson.com with your mailing address and I'll get your gift card out to you within the next week or so. Blessings to you all and thanks for your posts!

Now on to my topic...

I like Wednesday mornings. I wake up extra early to do my Watchman Prayer (an hour designated to pray for the families and ministries at my church), I get to talk to one of my mentors when I call to hand the prayer baton to her. Those few minutes of deep spiritual dialogue give me food for thought the rest of the day. And, another great thing about Wednesdays is that I get to connect with YOU!

This morning, my mentor and I talked about what it means to venture out in faith to the unknown zone. God is moving in our midst. Are we willing to go where He leads? 

My mentor said something struck a cord with me. Here's what she said: "All too often, we don't want to look foolish or take certain risks, so we stay safe and miss God. Which is really just fear masqueraded as wisdom." 

Just what kinds of fears are we talking about here? Fear of man, fear of the unknown, fear of discomfort, and fear of looking foolish; these are the ones that come to my mind. What will people think if I fail or look foolish? What if God asks me to do something that really costs me? Do I really want to take the risk of being uncomfortable? 

But let's look at Jesus' life. Is there anything about His time on earth that catered to other's opinions, looking foolish, or personal comforts? At some point we have to get free from such things if we want to live Kingdom lives here on earth!

God is on the move! And He wants us to move with Him! 

Are you clinging to safety and comfort and calling it wisdom?

Sometimes it is wise to stay put when everyone else is running. But sometimes it's just safe, and not wise at all. 

Here's an excerpt from my book, "Embracing Your Freedom":

"Being a believer involves faith. And faith involves risk - calculated yet heroic steps that lead us out of places of self-protecting and into places of God-provision. Embracing our freedom means we are willing to press past our fears because freedom is better...When God says, 'Go!' it's more dangerous to stay behind. There is less risk in moving into the unknown than in lagging behind in disobedience and unbelief" (p.210).

Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along HIS path. He will honor you, giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed (Psalm 37:34).

Here's another verse that I love:

Do not fear ANYTHING except the Lord Almighty. He ALONE is the Holy One. If you FEAR HIM, you need fear nothing else. HE will keep you safe (Isaiah 8:13-14).

May we embrace faith and be truly wise. 

~Until next week

January 20, 2010

Guard the Flame...

Flame  

Greetings, Dear Friends!

Susie Larson here...

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 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So share a story or an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and friend!

Now on to my topic...

The other day I was out to lunch with a few girlfriends and our conversation went from discussing the urgency of times, to the-sometimes-powerlessness within the church, and then we ended up talking mostly about the presence of the Living God. My friend Sandy referenced one of Tozer's books and said, "It's all about the flame. We're nothing - we've got nothing if we don't have the presence of God in our midst." 

Then just this morning during my weekly prayer watch for our church, I called my mentor to hand the baton to her, and she and I ended up talking about the flame - the presence of the Living God - and then we spent time together in prayer, asking God to move in our midst. While we were praying I had this picture in my mind of a few of us leaders hovering around this little flame. We protected the flame from the winds of distraction; we fanned the flame with the breath of faith; we invited more people into our circle and slowly backed up as the flame burned brighter. 

I shared my word-picture with my mentor and we discussed the importance of guarding the flame within us. We need to steward God's presence in our lives. When He moves, we need to move with Him. When He speaks, we need to listen. When our choices cause Him to step back, we need to notice it right away, and get right with Him in a moment's notice. 

Please know that I'm not speaking of His omnipresence; He IS ever present - all around us. But Scripture clearly says that He draws near to the humble; He draws near to those who press in and draw near to Him. He steps back from the proud, and He won't have any part of our self-serving, self ambitious ways.  Do you notice it when your way upstages His way? What do you do when the spirit of worry quenches the awareness of God's presence in your life? 

What in your life quenches that flame within you?

I know for me, un-appointed busyness throws a wet blanket on my flame. Fear, doubt, worry, and anxiety are like tornadoes in my life. Wandering thoughts weaken me, and before I know it, I'm missing that strong sense of God's presence in my life. But I'm much quicker to catch it these days.

If you know me, you know that my life verse is Psalm 116:9 ~ And so I walk in His presence as I live here on earth. 

My life's aim, especially in light of the times, is to nurture and protect the flame within me, that I might burn brightly for a world in need. 

Read the following excerpt from Franicis Frangipane's excellent book, "And I will be Found by You":

"The church needs more people who have, like Moses, climbed closer to the Almighty, people who have stood in the sacred fire of God's presence. Instead, we exhaust ourselves arguing over peripheral doctrines or styles of music in our song services. Perhaps there are benefits to constantly debating the nuances of our doctrines, but are we not more truly thirsting for the reality of God? What happens when we seek God? The Bible says at the very moment we are drawing near to Him, the living presence of God Himself draws near to us (James 4:8). 

Guard the flame. It's in His presence that the fullness of joy is found (see Ps. 16:11).

Until next week~

January 13, 2010

First a Test, Then Some Rest...

Uncle Seth's Pond  

Greetings, Dear Friends!

Susie Larson here...

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 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So share a story or an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and friend!

Also, this Friday (January 15th), my Quarterly E-zine releases. This is a real treat for my subscribers. A number of my author friends give away free copies of their books, I write a timely devotional, offer great book recommendations, give ministry updates, share quotes that move me, and offer you a prayer to send you on your way. Lots of takeaway for you! If you're not on my mailing list, be sure to go to my website and subscribe so you can receive this FREE publication.

Now on to my topic...

We just returned from a 2000 mile road trip (we moved my youngest son across the country for college). I had lots of time in the car to read, pray, and reflect. And believe me, I needed it. I know I've mentioned this one or two times but this past year has been a refining one for me. I know it has been for many of you as well. 

Be encouraged today, my friend. God never intends for us to live in the valley of suffering or in a season of refinement. This too shall pass. Jesus is intent on seeing His reflection in us and He'll do whatever it takes to remove the dross that dims us. For the Christ follower, there are possibilities in every ounce of pain, there are treasures in every single trial, and God won't leave us in the fire one moment longer than is necessary. We are precious to Him and He is making something beautiful in us. 

Let's look at a couple of scenarios where God ministered restoration after the test:

Joseph (of the Old Testament): He was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused and imprisoned. But he honored and trusted God through it all. After the trial, Joseph triumphed: "Until the time came to fulfill His word, the Lord tested Joseph's character. THEN, Pharaoh sent for him and set him free. The ruler of the nation opened his prison door. Joseph was put in charge of all the King's household, he became ruler over all the King's possessions (Psalm 105: 19-21). 

Job was a good man. He was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. Satan asked permission to sift Job and 'prove' that he wasn't as upright as he seemed. Job endured unimaginable crisis, one after the other. Amazingly, Job honored God through his first phase of testing. But when his 'friends' seemed too much for him, Job tried to defend himself. God knew, that underneath all of Job's wonderful qualities, was a core belief - albeit understandable - that he had a leg to stand on before God. Once God spoke, Job humbled himself and said, "Surely I spoke of things too wonderful to me." God never stopped loving Job, in fact He honored Job by confronting Job's 'friends' on Job's behalf. He lifted Job out of the ashes and restored him to a better state than he was before: "After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10).

If you are walking through a time of refining or testing, don't lose heart. Do your best not to complain, gripe, gossip, or lose hope. Don't camp here, don't make big decisions here; and don't make empty promises here. You won't do it all perfectly and God doesn't expect you to. His mercies cover our imperfections. Even so, to triumph amidst is our trials is to humble ourselves like Job did; honor God like Joseph did; and speak the Word like Jesus did in the wilderness! In due time, He WILL lift us up and bless us before a watching world. How we handle this test will determine how we fare once this season has passed. Trust in the Lord, He is with you and He will restore you!

He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because He delighted in me (Psalm 18:19).

~ Until next week

January 06, 2010

Hitting Your Stride...

Godmoving  

Greetings, Dear Friends!

Susie Larson here...

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 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So share a story or an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and friend!

Now on to my topic...

Today I had another much-needed workout at the YMCA. After cycle class, a few of us hit the treadmills for a short run. I especially love the treadmill that faces the window. I love to look outside, focus on the sky while listening to music that inspires me, and I like to settle in to a steady pace for the duration of my workout. 

With a new year before us (not to mention a new decade) we have a life to live, some God-appointed tasks to fulfill, some relationships to build, and some growing to do. How tempting it is to run haphazardly through each day, this way, then that way, never really hitting our stride and moving into the best of what God has for us!

I remember a time when I first started running. It wasn't pretty. After running a couple of miles, I stumbled onto my block with my mouth hanging open, my pony tail in disarray, my steps scattered to the right and the left, and from the distance, looking like I had just escaped from a prison in the desert. One of my neighbors poked her head out the door and asked, "You okay?" I looked up and smiled and said, "Yes. Why do you ask?"

Later, I learned a better more efficient way to run, one that wastes less energy. For starters, I learned to run in a straight line (as opposed to sloppy, side to side steps when I was tired). I learned to look ahead and focus. I learned not to run too fast at the outset. And I learned to pace myself. 

Let's take some of these lessons for running our spiritual race this year. If we're intentional about it, we'll get farther, accomplish more, feel better, and waste less energy on superficial things. After all, the Bible calls us to 'run the race to win!'

Eliminate the energy drainers ~ What in your life is draining the life right out of you? Are you filling a slot out of obligation and not because God asked you to? Have you committed to something so that others won't be disappointed or so they'll have a favorable opinion of you? Or maybe you've developed a wasteful habit and you know it's taking up too much of your time. Ask the Lord for wisdom and take the steps to straighten out the path ahead of you. Put your energy into the highest and best things God has for you!

Keep your focus ~ As you go through each day, where do the majority of your thoughts land? Are you thinking about your never-ending task list? Are you consumed with your fears, doubts and worries? Maybe your eyes are on your selfish ambitions and not on your God-sized call; this will surely take you off track. To hit your true stride, you have to focus on your Coach, and listen to His cues. He will say to you, "This is the way, walk in it." As we block out the distractions that threaten to pull us off track, we will more instinctively run the race marked out before us. Keep your eyes on Jesus and your ears attentive to Him. 

Keep your pace ~ Some have a tendency to move too slow; to need a thousand confirmations before committing to something; they tend to drag their feet when it comes to blazing new trails. Others move too fast. They jump ahead without a clear plan; they get ahead of God's plan; they burn themselves out on the first leg of the race. We want to last long and finish strong. As we eliminate the energy drainers and as we keep our eyes on Jesus, our true priorities will come into view. God may be calling you to new places, and new races. Don't be afraid to step out! God may be calling you to hunker down and hang in there with your current race. Dig deep and keep moving. He will tell you when it's time to speed up, and when it's time to pull back and save yourself for the hill ahead. Run at the pace HE tells you to!

Your pace will look different than everyone else's because life has its seasons. But that won't bother you too much, nor will you notice it much if you keep your eyes fixed straight ahead - on Jesus. Listen to His cues and put your heart into the race He has set before you. That's how you run to win. You run for Him.

Be intentional this year about where you put your time, thoughts, energy, and talents. The world needs your influence and God has appointed a special race just for you.

Do you see what this means - all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running - and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God (Hebrews 12:1-2 MSG).

Until next week~