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5 posts from March 2010

March 31, 2010

Safe in His Presence...

Lake Vermilion  

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. For the months of March AND April I will give away away a gift card and a couple of copies of my new book, "Growing Grateful Kids" so leave a post, share an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a fun treat this month!

A Quick Note:

I am thrilled to announce the release of my next book: Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places." Let me tell you, I am excited about the message in this book. If you have children at home (or grandchildren you want to influence spiritually), order a copy today. I do believe this book will equip you to parent from a spiritual perspective (but it's loaded with lots of practical application). You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll be inspired and encouraged (that was my goal, anyway). :) 

Now, on to my topic...

If you've heard me speak before, you've no doubt heard me joke about what it's like being married to a giant. Okay, I know he's not that huge, but his 6'3" frame looms large over my 5' 2" frame. I'm as big as his leg. We laugh a lot about it now but when we first got married we had a lot of adjusting to do. When Kevin moved to put his arm around me, he'd often accidentally clock me in the face with his elbow. Instantly my nose turned red and my eyes filled with pools of water. Awkward moment = one, Romantic interlude = zero.

Here is another scenario that happened a number of times: I'd be in bed with a nice cup of tea and a good book. My husband would sweetly and innocently pull back the covers. Well, uh, sweetly and innocently to him that is. To me, he'd create a minor earthquake by whipping the sheets back with such force that my cup of tea would go flying in one direction and my book, the other. With that sweet deer-in-the-headlights look he'd simply say, "Oops. Sorry." 

My husband buys things in proportion to his size. He drives a big truck, loves his big lawn mower and owns a sizable snow blower. He uses a mixing bowl for cereal and he takes up most of the space on our bed. But let me say this, in all of the ways that matter to me, my husband is a gentle, strong, and protective giant of a man. He is gentle with my fears and lovingly protects my hopes and dreams. He is kind and loving and true.

He simply moves in proportion to his size. 

One day I pondered the whole concept of moving in proportion to your size - in light of our majestic God. He is unfathomably mighty and immeasurably powerful. There is no match to His greatness. He moves and the earth shakes. Read how the earth responds to His power: 

Fire goes before Him and consumes his foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax in the presence of the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth the heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory (Psalm 97: 3-6). 

Sheer power goes before Him and surrounds Him on every side. With that in mind, isn't it amazing that we can even get near the Living God? If we get too close to the sun, we will burn up. However, we can draw very near to the Creator of the sun without being consumed by this formidable power!

Because of Christ's finished work on the Cross, we can do more than simply draw near, we can come boldly into the Lord's presence, and, be assured of His glad welcome! We can enjoy an intimate, engaged, and loving dialogue with the Creator of Heaven and earth. 

Why are we allowed such an incredible privilege? Because of Jesus Christ's finished work on the Cross!

Read this verse (it overwhelmed me this week):

But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord's great love - WE-ARE-NOT-CONSUMED - His compassions they never fail; His mercies are new every morning; and His faithfulness is great (Lamentation 3:21-22).

We are safe in God's presence because of His incredible love for us. We can wrap ourselves up in His love because He has boundless compassion for our weakness and our humanity. We can live with NO condemnation because His mercies are fresh and new every single morning. We are free.

As you ponder the days leading up to Easter, fully embrace the idea that your hopes and your dreams are safe with God. Your mistakes and missteps don't shake Him in the least. He's already made provision for your weaknesses. Just draw near and cherish the idea that you can draw near.

Have a blessed and beautiful Easter celebration. 

Until next week~

March 24, 2010

God Aware, Not Self Aware!

God on the water  

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. For the months of March AND April I will give away away a gift card and a couple of copies of my new book, "Growing Grateful Kids."  And it's time to announce the winners for March. Drum roll, please...

Alisha Hughes - A copy of Growing Grateful Kids

Lisa Nishimura - A copy of Growing Grateful Kids

Heather (don't know last name - posted March 16) - A $10.00 gift card to Starbucks.

Congratulations to you! Please send me an email with your mailing address and we'll get the books and gift card out within the next 7-10 days.

To the rest of you, leave a post, share an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a fun treat next month!

A Quick Note:

I am thrilled to announce the release of my next book: Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places." Let me tell you, I am excited about the message in this book. If you have children at home (or grandchildren you want to influence spiritually), order a copy today. I do believe this book will equip you to parent from a spiritual perspective (but it's loaded with lots of practical application). You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll be inspired and encouraged (that was my goal, anyway). :) 

Now, on to my topic...

I am excited about what I have to share with you today!

If you've read my recent weekly posts, you know I am in a season of learning about a new gear in grace. Grace for salvation is one thing (and what a blessed thing it is), but grace to live and to do the extraordinary is something more altogether. 

This spring speaking season for me is one of intensity, demand, and constant work. In between events and even between sessions I have battled some major fatigue, but whenever it is time to step up, God surprises me with a fresh infilling of strength, clarity, and boldness. Over and over again comes the whisper across my heart, "My power is perfected in your weakness." This has been the song of my heart for the past several weeks. 

What happens when we get weary? We become self-aware. We look down. We notice gravity. The older I get, the more gravity bothers me. I am so not thrilled about what happens to your skin when you get older! But even on a more important level, when we are weary, it's easy to notice how far we fall short and how feeble our efforts can be. These kinds of perspectives keep us chained to an earthbound existence. 

The other day I read Romans 8:1-2 and though I've seen it a thousand times before, it about knocked me over. There is now therefore, NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has SET ME FREE from the law of sin and death. 

If we are in Christ Jesus, there IS NO condemnation in us! No root, no weed, no seed (unless we allow it to be there). We have a blood-bought right to be FREE of condemnation! Which means we are free to be God-aware and not self aware!

This morning I was getting ready to go work out and I looked in the mirror and frowned at a few of the things that have been bothering me about myself. Just like that the Holy Spirit whispered across my heart, "Stop looking at yourself!" And let me tell you, those were words straight from heaven!

We'll never get anywhere or do anything significant as long as our gaze remains fixed on ourselves! 

Are you more sin-aware than God aware? Are you still counting your sins and feeling the weight of their debt? Because Jesus has cleared the slate! They are GONE! You are FREE to skip and jump and run and celebrate a debt that is no more!

Read this wonderful poem by W.N. Tomkins:

Reach my blest Savior first, take Him from God's esteem; 

Prove Jesus bears one spot of sin, then tell me I'm unclean.

Love that. When the enemy holds up your account, you point to the cross! Shout out, "Look at Jesus, my risen Lord, and just try and tell me I'm unclean! He took my sin and now I am clean! I am the righteousness of God in Christ! I am an heir of God!" 

Are you more self-aware than God aware? Do your thoughts roam to the size of your thighs or your inability to organize, more than they do the majesty and the abilities of Almighty God? Lord, help us to lift our chin and look up.

Read this great excerpt from my 'Believer's Bible Commentary":

(Comparing the law of sin and death to life in Christ Jesus):

It's like the law of gravity. When you throw a ball into the air, it comes back down because it is heavier than the air it displaces. A living bird is also heavier than the air it displaces, but when you toss it up in the air, it flies away. The law of LIFE in the bird overcomes the law of gravity. So, the Holy Spirit supplies the risen life of the Lord Jesus, making the believer free from the law of sin and death." (p. 1708).

The law of LIFE in Christ Jesus overcomes the weight of our sins and our humanity!

Lord, help us to comprehend what You've offered us here. You've set us free from condemnation, from self-awareness, and from the law of sin and death. Though this is true, it will never affect and impact our lives when we embrace unbelief and when we insist on looking more at ourselves than we look at You. It doesn't matter if we are weak or small or human - You made us this way - and You've purposed to show Yourself strong and mighty on our behalf! You desire to do the extraordinary in and through us! Have Your way, oh Lord! Break through our affinity for gravity and lift us up by Your grace. Help us to rise up with wings like eagles that we might live from an other-worldly perspective. Help us to draw from Your resources that we may look for and be expectant of supernatural results. In Your Name, we pray, Amen. 

What a gift God has given us! Our slate is clean, we have supernatural assistance every moment of the day, and we have an engaged, intimate Father who is with us every step of the way. This is the stuff of miracles.

You give ME Your shield of victory. Your right hand sustains ME. You stoop down to make ME great (Psalm 18:35). 

Amazing love.

Until next week~

March 17, 2010

Hardened Confidence or Holy Confidence?

Housethroughtherocks  

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. In the month of March I will give away a gift card and a couple of copies of my new book, "Growing Grateful Kids."  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 (or maybe you'll win a copy of my new book)!

A Quick Note:

I am thrilled to announce the release of my next book: Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places." Let me tell you, I am excited about the message in this book. If you have children at home (or grandchildren you want to influence spiritually), order a copy today. I do believe this book will equip you to parent from a spiritual perspective (but it's loaded with lots of practical application). You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll be inspired and encouraged (that was my goal, anyway). :) 

Now on to my topic...

Today I am battling a bug and feeling pretty miserable. But last weekend I had the privilege of serving and ministering to thousands of women at the Nat'l Hearts at Home Conference. I always love meeting new sisters in Christ. We had a great time together! I spoke on two topics: Growing Grateful Kids and Becoming an Uncommon Woman (based on a couple of my books).

One of the key points in my Uncommon message is this: true identity is always linked with humility (and visa versa). For the Christ-follower, identity and humility must be inseparable in our lives. Holy Confidence and Humble Dependence are defining factors for us as Believers.

When we go through painful relational conflict, we may be tempted to look down and to become self-aware, but even in that place, we must remember who we are. We must hang on to our identity in Christ. And thanks to Him, it's a settled issue.

When we get to step up into places that seem way out of our reach, high places that only God could orchestrate, we must hang on to humility, knowing that it's only by the grace of God that we get to do such things. 

When we go through those raw and painful seasons that make us feel vulnerable and exposed, we remember who are - even there. We hang on to identity.

When we are wronged by someone who is as wrong as the day is long, we hang on to our identity and we thoroughly embrace humility.

Here's where it's tempting to go off track. When someone wrongs us, the devil tries to bait us with self-righteousness which quickly leads us down a path of spiritual blindness and a hardness of heart.

I've known people who have an air of confidence about them, but truly, their boldness comes from a hardness of heart that declares, "I don't care what people think!" 

Maybe they've been hurt enough in the past that they decided to build a wall around their heart and their emotions. Nothing is going in, nothing is going out. In their hardness of heart, they stay separated from people, inoculated from the jabs and sneers of unkind people, but also, unaffected by the pain and suffering around them. 

As Christians, this cannot be an option for us.

Holy Confidence goes much deeper than this self-serving survival mode. Holy Confidence connects us to the very heart of the Father. He defines us, He fills us, He saves us, and He restores us when life bruises and beats us. He understands. 

Holy Confidence is defined by tenderness, openness, caring for others while entrusting yourself to God. Holy Confidence declares, "I can care deeply for you without worrying what you think of me. I can take risks with you, be vulnerable with you, and give sacrificially you, because you can never define me. Jesus already has."

We can never truly love people the way Christ has loved them until their opinions of us matter less to us than God's opinion of us. And He is perfectly in love with us. Isn't that great news?

May we get free from the bondage of others' opinions so that we can get on to the business of loving others the way Christ loves them! A noble pursuit indeed. :)

Until next week~

March 10, 2010

When God Moves...

Vermilionfalls  

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. In the month of March I will give away a gift card and a couple of copies of my new book, "Growing Grateful Kids."  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 (or maybe you'll win a copy of my new book)!

A Quick Note:

I am thrilled to announce the release of my next book: Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places." Let me tell you, I am excited about the message in this book. If you have children at home (or grandchildren you want to influence spiritually), order a copy today. I do believe this book will equip you to parent from a spiritual perspective (but it's loaded with lots of practical application). You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll be inspired and encouraged (that was my goal, anyway). :) 

Now on to my topic...

Recently I read through the book of Acts and noticed something kind of profound, something that's still happening today. 

In chapter 14 we read about Paul and Barnabas in Iconium, preaching at the Jewish synagogue. Paul and Barnabas spoke with power and influence and the Lord our God was with them. Clearly, they loved God more than their personal safety. There was nothing self-serving about their ministry. Christ in them, was their hope of glory.

And as a result, Christ could trust them with His glory. 

God moved powerfully in and through Paul and Barnabas. And what was the result?

  • Humble, reverent earnest-God-seekers, responded to this movement of God in their midst. These sincere seekers were healed, encouraged, and saved. 
  • Rigid, pharisaical leaders stiffen up, get territorial and jealous, and viewed things from an earthbound perspective. These prideful unbelieving people stirred up trouble and tried to find fault with their supposed opponents. In fact, they wanted Paul and Barnabas dead. Ouch. 

Read this passage from Acts 14: 1-3

As Iconium, Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against their brothers. So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of His grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. 

Even now, within the Kingdom of God, we have plenty of people building their own kingdoms. Maybe it's a kingdom of comfort, or association, or reputation. Maybe it's a kingdom of celebrity, or mega-status, or political correctness. 

But the Kingdom of God is always about Christ's saving work in our lives - moving and advancing to reach others with that same saving message.

The fact is, the Kingdom of God is ever moving, always flowing, and He is not interested in our fossilized methods, especially if they serve as obstacles to His presence. He wants us. He wants a living-breathing, freely-flowing relationship with us. He wants to move in us and through us and He reserves the right to disrupt our plans, our methods, and even our ideals in order to accomplish His other-worldly plans upon this earth.

Jesus didn't have a one-method way of doing things either! He healed people in a whole plethora of ways. He is not at all bound by the 'way we've always done it.' 

If Christ wants to move in our church or in our business or in our family in a new and fresh way, may we be the first to get out of the way and let Him have His way!

And what happens when we do such a thing? Fruit happens! Life happens! Power happens!

And how will people respond?

The sincere-earnest-Christ followers and seekers will be drawn to the fresh stream flowing from our lives, churches, and businesses. They will be nourished, healed, saved, and encouraged. Yes, Lord.

And the rigid-unbending pharisee? Well, they'll hate everything about it. They'll stiffen up; they'll find fault; they'll become territorial, and they'll turn into the sin police and watch for the slightest deviation from what they know to be right and true.

Now granted, we never want to deviate from the TRUTH. But in following Christ - who is the truth - we must know that He will lead us in ways we have not known before. He loves to do that and invites us to willingly trust Him, even if it disrupts our affection for appearing civilized and packaged at all times.

When God moves, may we move with Him. May we resist the urge to control our zone and to manage our methods. Let's put it all on the table and give God room to work.

Move powerfully in and through us, Lord!

~ Until next week

March 03, 2010

A New Place in Grace...

God on the water  

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. In the month of March I will give away a gift card and a couple of copies of my new book, "Growing Grateful Kids."  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!

Some of you may have noticed I was AWOL last week. So sorry about that. My husband ended up in the hospital last week and I was at his bedside with him. I didn't have a minute to think about my blog. But I'm back at it this week!

It's time to announce February's winner of the $10.00 Starbucks gift card. Drum roll, please...Helen Martin, congratulations! Please email me with your address and I will get your card in the mail within the next week or so. 

A Quick Note:

I am thrilled to announce the release of my next book: Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places." Let me tell you, I am excited about the message in this book. If you have children at home (or grandchildren you want to influence spiritually), order a copy today. I do believe this book will equip you to parent from a spiritual perspective (but it's loaded with lots of practical application). You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll be inspired and encouraged (that was my goal, anyway). :) 

Now on to my topic...

In my last post, "Grace and Power" I wrote about a new level of grace so to speak. Grace is what saves us, and what a gift that is! But grace also fuels us to walk out the above-and-beyond call God has for us! Read that post if you haven't yet. 

Years ago while at a family camp, someone convinced me to do the Pamper Pull (not sure why it's called that). Ever done one of those? Yikes, I don't think I'll be doing it again any time soon. The Pamper Pull is a very tall telephone pole with spikes on each side for climbing up the (very) tall pole. You are harnessed in but it's a long ways up there. 

That part wasn't so bad. But once you get to the top they want you to stand on the pole. But picture this with me. Once you get to the top, there's nothing for you to grab hold of to hoist yourself to the top of the pole. You have to keep your hands in place and put your body up over the pole and somehow lift your feet under you and place them on the pole. Are you nauseous yet?

Once you get your balance on the top of the pole, you have to jump a long ways out to grab hold of a trapeze bar. That part didn't scare me nearly as much as trying to finagle my body to the top of that wretched pole. :) 

When I talk about a new place of grace, I'm not talking about a featherbed where you lay back and do nothing. I am talking about attempting things with God that take you out of your comfort zone and beyond your ability to manage in the ways you always have.

The Pamper Pull wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but I refused to be a land lover. I climbed the pole, and though that took me away from the comfortable, stable ground, at least I had those spikes to grab hold of to make the climb easier.

But when I got to the top where there was really nothing to grab hold of, I simply had to go for it and rely on the harness. Nothing about that feat was comfortable. But I did it!

As I explore this place of grace in my own life, it's not comfortable, but so essential if I want to grow and experience the exponential results that God offers when more rests on Him than on me. 

This past weekend, I went into an important speaking event with very little preparation because of my husband's hospital stay, but I had God's assurance in my heart. Now don't misunderstand me; preparation is SO important. I've heard of speakers who don't prep at all. They walk out the door and think about what they are going to say on the way to their event. I would never do that.

But somewhere along the line, our routines and comfortable ways have to be challenged so that we don't end up trusting our efforts more than the living-breathing power, provision, and promises of God. 

And can I just tell you this? We had a power-full weekend! God showed up in intimate and profound ways. And, though I've spoken to larger crowds in the past, we had record sales this weekend, by a lot. Record sales. Powerful God-encounters. Women saved and restored. He took my efforts out of the equation and showed me a new place of grace.

Are you there, possibly? Is God challenging the status quo in your life? Is He asking you to reach for something and you don't even know where to put your hands to get there? You don't need to have all of the answers. You don't even need to understand.

Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart (trust not in the things that make you feel comfortable and secure), and lean not on your own understanding (lean not on your love for a predictable routine or the need for everything to make sense), in ALL YOUR WAYS acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

I do pray that you'll attempt the crazy-impossible if God asks you to. As you lay down your affection for the comfortable and the predictable, you will step into a place of adventure with Him, a new place of Grace.

~Until Next Week...