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5 posts from June 2010

June 30, 2010

Have Faith...

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. This week I'm posting late Monday night because I'll be out of town for the next few days. Each month I give away a $10.00 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So leave a comment, share a story or insight, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend! 

This month I promised to give away not only a Starbucks gift card but also, a copy of my book, "Balance That Works When Life Doesn't." 

And the winners are:

Lisa Wilson, you're the winner of a copy of my book, "Balance That Works When Life Doesn't"

Heather Holterman, you're the winner of the $10.00 Starbucks gift card

Congratulations, girls! Just email me your mailing address and I'll get your treats in the mail sometime in the next week (email me at: info@susielarson.com) Blessings!

Two quick announcements:

In celebration of my newest release, Growing Grateful Kids, I'm giving away a 4G-I-pod Shuffle to someone who posts a book review on Amazon (only one month left on this promotion!). Go to my Facebook page, click on the Free I-pod! tab for more information. 

My new radio show, Live the Promise with Susie Larson launched several weeks ago (airs noon to 1:00 CST every Saturday)! My guest this Saturday is bestselling author and minister Larry Christenson. What a wise and godly man he is! We had a great conversation about his new book, "The Mantle of Esther"; we talked much about the power of prayer. Be sure to listen in! For more information, go to: www.Faith900.com 

Now, on to my topic...

I'm on the road right now, heading back home from a whirlwind trip in St. Louis. As I prayed about what to share today, this is what the Lord impressed upon my heart:

Remember the scene in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 8, when Jesus fed four thousand with seven loaves of bread? He had compassion on the crowd of people who forsook their physical hunger just to be with Him for three days. He miraculously multiplied the miniscule resources available to meet the vast need of hunger before Him. Verse eight says that after everyone ate and was satisfied there were seven basketfuls of broken pieces left over! Pause and think about that for a moment. 

Jesus and the disciples started with seven loaves. They fed a massive crowd by divine multiplication. And then ended up with seven basketfuls after it was all said and done. We serve a more-than-enough God. 

In the next scene the Pharisees meet up with Jesus and demand a sign from heaven to validate Jesus' claims that He is Lord. Jesus' response? He sighed deeply, confronted their motives, and refused to jump through their hoops. 

Then Jesus and the disciples got back into the boat and headed to their next destination.

While en route the disciples realized they had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them. 

They forgot the bread. They made a mistake. Oops.

During their trip, the disciples focused on one thing, Jesus on another. Jesus was still bothered by His encounter with the pharisees and therefore cautioned His disciples about becoming rigid and religious like the pharisees. He said, "Watch out for for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod." Watch out! Jesus is saying. Do not let your faith walk stray from a living-breathing faith to one of demands, rules, and regulations. This was an important teaching moment.

And yet, the disciples were self aware at that moment. And so, their minds instantly connected Jesus' comment about the yeast to their mistake about forgetting the bread.

How quickly we do the same thing! 

Though our choices are significantly important, they are not everything. When we love and follow Jesus, He forgives our sins; He makes provision for our weaknesses and missteps. He wants us to focus more on His goodness than on our badness. He wants our faith to rise up because of His sufficiency. And yet, we so often lose faith because we are constantly aware of our own insufficiency. 

How did Jesus respond to the disciples' earth-bound thinking?

"Why are you talking about having no bread??? Do you STILL not see or understand? Are you hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?"

"Twelve" they replied.

"And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" 

"Seven" they answered.

Then He asked, "Do you still not understand?" 

Now let's jump back a couple of chapters. Look at chapter 6 where Jesus feeds the five thousand (with 12 basketfuls left over). In the next scene the disciples are in the boat without Jesus and a storm hits. He walked out to them and the winds died down. The disciples were completely amazed by His power because they had not understood the significance of what He had just done with the miraculous feeding of the multitudes. In fact, verse 52 says, "For they had not understood about the loaves; for their hearts were hardened."

It wasn't enough for the disciples to be wowed by Jesus power. He wanted them to possess an inner knowing that they possessed everything they needed because they had Him.

Okay, I know I'm keeping you a bit too long today, but there's an important message here:

When faced with a storm in life. Have faith! We must discern God's ability to not only carry us through our current circumstances but to show Himself powerful on our behalves. And how do we do that? We consider the significance of what He's already done.

The disciples had too quickly passed over what Jesus had done in their midst. They should have pondered it; remembered it; considered its implications on a much deeper level in a way that altered their core beliefs. Jesus is our divine supply. He is our divine deliverer. He is not subject to the laws of nature; they are subject to Him. We follow the King of Kings. And He will intervene at just the right time with just the right solution. 

Jesus is not after a perfect performance in us, He is after our absolute faith and trust. 

He forgives our sins - thank the Lord!

He makes up where we lack - thank the Lord!

He knows where we are weak and forgetful - thank the Lord!

He cares when the winds threaten to overcome us - thank the Lord!

He is our God and we are His beloved ones. Thank and praise the Lord!

To stand strong in our current circumstances, we must remember the significance of what God has already done in our midst. He is faithful and He will be faithful again. We have suffered, and we will suffer again. But right in the midst of our heartache and trials, God's power will emerge, His promises will be our treasure, and His provision will more than deliver us.

Have faith, my friend. Our God - right in the midst of where we live - is mighty to save. 

~Until next week.

June 21, 2010

The Right Kind of Fatigue...

Kev'sMorningRoutine  

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. This week I'm posting late Monday night because I'll be out of town for the next few days. Each month I give away a $10.00 Starbucks gift card to someone who posts on my blog. So leave a comment, share a story or insight, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend! 

Two quick announcements:

In celebration of my newest release, Growing Grateful Kids, I'm giving away a 4G-I-pod Shuffle to someone who posts a book review on Amazon (only one month left on this promotion!). Go to my Facebook page, click on the Free I-pod! tab for more information. 

My new radio show, Live the Promise with Susie Larson launched a couple of weeks ago (Noon to 1:00 CST every Saturday)! My guest this Saturday is author and columnist Lee Grady. We will be talking about his book, "The Holy Spirit is Not For Sale" and, about the need for a great awakening in the coming days. We had a great, and thought-provoking conversation. Be sure to listen in! For more information, go to: www.Faith900.com 

Now, on to my topic...

Many years ago, I went through a burnout stage that was so bad, it actually scared me. I had been committed to so many good things, I - like many others - had lost sight of the BEST thing - to live and breathe in sync with God's heartbeat for me.

The Lord was gentle and wonderful during my recovery season. Step by step He led me through a time of soul-searching, rest, reflection, and repentance. I understood, on a deeper level, how much He loves me, how important my time is to Him, and how I only have this one life to offer HIM. And I can't give to Him something I've already given away to somebody else.

Out of that season I learned to 'put the big rocks in first' as some are known to say. Certain things in my life had to be immovable commitments if I ever hoped to bear the kind of fruit God had in mind for me from the beginning of time. And the same is true for you.

In the Gospel of John (chapter 15) Jesus tells us that we have a divine appointment to bear MUCH fruit, and that it's to His Father's great glory when we do. It blesses His heart so much when we live by faith, abide in the Vine, and live in response to His love. 

As Christians, we don't produce more by doing more; we produce more by being more with Christ.

But here's something very important about the fruit-bearing life: We are going to get downright exhausted sometimes, and that's okay.

In those early years after my burnout, when I would only take careful steps into commitment, and still have the occasional day of absolute exhaustion, that wretched enemy would come in like the bully he is and accuse me for being 'back in that place' of burn out; of never learning to say no, etc., etc. blah, blah, blah.

And I just took it because I agreed with him. But then, the Lord whispered to my heart and said, "You are most definitely NOT back in that place! You have a little fatigue today and you need some rest; tomorrow is a new day. When you were burned out, you were tired every day; you had lost your margin and your joy. That's not you now. You are in a NEW place and learning to work within the ebb and flow of life." That insight was a healing revelation to me.

I also read the work of pastors and ministers who do large-scale ministry, and every one of them admitted that although they KNEW they were walking in God's will for them, they still had days when they dropped in bed in exhaustion. It's simply true: walking out the things God has for us - though wonderful and exhilarating - can still make us tired from time to time.

Maybe this is obvious to everyone but me. But when I figured this out, the accuser slithered away. Now, instead of being tired for a month (something I'd never allow in my life again), I might be tired for a day or two. And as soon as I notice twinges of fatigue that carry over, I make some immediate changes.

What about you? 

Are you flirting with burnout? Have you been joyless and tired for a long time? Maybe you need a time of recovery and rest. I'd love to send one of you a free copy of my book, "Balance That Works When Life Doesn't." Leave a comment and I'll announce a winner next week along with Starbucks card winner.

Or maybe you're just a little tired and just need a little break. Give yourself one.

More than anything, I pray that if you're tired, it's from working through and walking out God's highest and best will for you. 

May the Lord fill you up and make you strong! May you hear His voice and follow His lead.

Blessings upon you this week~

June 16, 2010

Strengthen Yourself in Him...

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. So leave a comment, share a story or insight, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend! 

Two quick announcements:

In celebration of my newest release, Growing Grateful Kids, I'm giving away a 4G-I-pod Shuffle to someone who posts a book review on Amazon (only one month left on this promotion!). Go to my Facebook page, click on the Free I-pod! tab for more information. 

My new radio show, Live the Promise with Susie Larson launched last Saturday (Noon to 1:00 CST)! My guest this Saturday is author and evangelist Matt Brown. We'll be talking about people, in every generation, who have advanced the Kingdom of God. We had a powerful conversation. Be sure to listen in! For more information, go to: www.Faith900.com 

Now, on to my topic...

First of all, thanks so much to all of you that prayed for my family. Bless you, bless you! 

Our pastor recently asked us to read Revelations 2 and 3 and to ask ourselves, "What is the Spirit saying to our church?" I loved this assignment and I think it's a wise thing to do. I need a few more days with these two chapters before I'll really have a sense of where we are at as a Body of Believers.

However, something struck me during my reading time this morning. I was reading about the Church in Sardis. They had a reputation for being alive, but they were dead. 

Reputation: A widespread belief or perception

How many churches, ministries, and people have a look of being successful but at their core (to borrow a phrase from 'The Princess Bride') are mostly dead?

What a scary thought!

Verse 2 reads: Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

My NIV Study Notes offered this insight: Outwardly the (Church of Sardis) appeared spiritually alive and active and had a reputation of success. But Jesus saw the absence of the inner reality of Himself in the hearts of the people; he saw religion, not spiritual life.

What a wake up call for us! 

Is there any area in your spiritual life that you've allowed to go on auto pilot or that has become a rote practice, void of life? 

The passage above advises us to strengthen what remains, to remember what we have received, to obey what God has asked us to do, and to repent of our sins.

How easy it is to go through the motions, to look good, but to bear little fruit! And yet, there's an answer for us. We are to strengthen what life we have in us.

When the Psalmist David was in one of the battles of his life, the Bible says that he 'strengthened himself in the Lord.' (See 1 Samuel 30:6) 

I believe that David simply reminded himself of God's greatness, His faithfulness, His promises, and His presence. I think David probably nourished his soul by telling himself that he was not alone and that he mattered to God. 

While we still have today, may we abide in the Vine, and receive the fresh life flowing from Him! May we refuse to live a 'religious' life; one that is absent of a fresh, thriving, and fruitful life. May everything we do be motivated by our love for God and our response to His love.

When God looks upon His people, when He looks upon you and me, what does He find? 

Does He find us striving in our strength? Deeply motivated by our own selfish ambitions?

Or does He find our delight in Him? Humbly waiting for His lead in our lives? 

May everything we do, be in response to His love. 

Author John Ortburg's mentor once said to him, "The devil drives. The Shepherd leads."

No matter what you look like to the world, successfully huge, or obscurely small, let Him lead, and humbly follow. You'll find your strength in Him.

Until next week~

June 09, 2010

Rise Up and Stand Strong!

Backyard Sunrise2  

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 leave a comment, share a story or insight, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend! 

Two quick announcements:

In celebration of my newest release, Growing Grateful Kids, I'm giving away a 4G-I-pod Shuffle to someone who posts a book review on Amazon (only one month left on this promotion!). Go to my Facebook page, click on the Free I-pod! tab for more information. 

My new radio show, Live the Promise with Susie Larson launches this Saturday (Noon to 1:00 CST)! My guest is national recording artist, Sara Groves. We'll be talking about what it means to be so in tune with Jesus, that He uses us to be the answer to someone's prayers. For more information, go to: www.Faith900.com 

Now, on to my topic...

I don't know about you, but everywhere I turn, I see people enduring incredibly difficult times. And yet, amidst those difficult times, God is doing some amazing things. Even in our own family, we've had some significant crises. 

Recently, my brother in law and nephew were anchored in a bay fishing when they were hit by a speeding boat. The boat actually hit my brother in law as he was trying to jump out of his boat. He has a long road of recovery ahead of him. My mom was rushed to the hospital with chest pains and ended up needing a couple of stints to open up the vessels around her heart. My youngest son, who was miraculously healed two years ago from a serious back injury, woke up yesterday morning and could barely walk. He did nothing to injure his back. And yet, the doc says he has a new herniated disc. Crazy times. And yet, God is on the move all around us. Every where I turn, I see glimpses of His glory, evidences of His love.

A fellow author friend, Leslie Vernick, says that in life, we often experience those 'yea' moments right alongside the 'ugh' moments. How true. 

As I have prayed earnestly for friends and family members who are fighting some intense battles, I get the feeling that this is how it is going to be in the days to come, and yet with an even greater intensity. We will experience increasingly powerful yea moments right alongside the gut-wrenching ugh moments.

The Bible says that when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord raises up a standard against him! No attack launched by the enemy will go unanswered. We are in a war and our battle is not against flesh and blood, or even the people who seem to have it out for us. Read what the Scriptures say:

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities in the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). 

There is a very real spiritual war going on, and if our earthly pursuit is for a comfortable, pain-free life, we will be sorely disappointed, and even worse yet, taken by surprise. 

Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting, you'll still be on your feet (Ephesians 6:13).

I believe that we are entering times where we will see God do some amazing things! People you never thought would surrender to Christ, will bend their knee to Him and surrender their lives. Circumstances in which you never thought you'd see break through, will suddenly break through. Children you never thought would come home to their faith, will come running. I believe it! 

But, at the same time, the devil fights dirty. He will not give up his stolen territory without a fight. So, we have a choice here. We can sit and feel sorry for ourselves, and allow ourselves to become totally disillusioned by the arrows that zing past our head, or we can raise up our shield and sword, stand on the Word of truth, and see ourselves as the over-comers we are!

In Christ, we HAVE the victory! Overwhelming victory is ours. We are more than conquerors because Jesus has made it so. 

Read this great quote:

If a person allows it, he can find something at every turn of the road that will rob him of his victory and his peace of mind. Satan is far from retiring from his work of attempting to deceive and destroy God's children...(BUT)...faith can change any situation, no matter how dark or difficult. Lifting your heart to God in a moment of genuine faith in Him can quickly alter your circumstances. God is still on His throne, and He can turn defeat into victory in a split second, if we will only trust Him. --Marshal Ferdinand Foch

It's all about our focus and perspective. If we dwell on the TRUTH and fix our eyes on Jesus, the final victory is sure. 

Rise up and stand strong. All of heaven is on your side!

Blessings to you this week. 

~Until next week.

June 02, 2010

Phases to Your Dream-Come-True...

God on the water  

Happy Wednesday, 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. I was supposed to announce the winner for May last week but it slipped my mind since I was writing my blog post while on vacation. :)

May's winner for the $10.00 Starbucks giftcard is...Megan Kaeb! 

Congratulations, Megan! Just email me your mailing address and we'll get your gift card in the mail. Thanks for being a part of this online community.

Win an I-pod Shuffle!

Just a reminder to you, my friends: I am giving away a 4G I-pod Shuffle in July. How do you win? Pick up a copy of my newest book, "Growing Grateful Kids" - post a review on Amazon and send me the link. Contact me for more information.

Now on to my topic...

Maybe you've read the famous Hudson Taylor quote before. I love this quote: I have found there are three stages to every great work of God: It is impossible; then it is difficult; then it is done. 

This has certainly been true in my own life. What about you?

Years ago - right in the midst of the worst parts of my battle with Lyme Disease (and the financial stress that followed), God put it in my heart to write a book. I knew that my budding dream was from Him because it was way out of my comfort zone, it made my heart beat faster; it stirred up all kinds of fear and excitement and anticipation; and wise mentors confirmed the gifts within me. And yet, I still had a process to go through in order to lay hold of such a promised land.

Currently, I am in a new place, about to lay hold of a new land, and here again, I find myself in the familiar place of unfamiliarity. If I hadn't walked through this series of emotions and feelings before, I'd be tempted to think that maybe I'm not suited for this next place. 

If you have dared ventured to a new place that God has for you, I'm sure you've encountered the same questions and feelings. But we must remember, the Bible says that even Moses felt like a foreigner in his Promised Land. Even though we have promised places to lay hold of, it doesn't mean that we'll lay hold of those new places without effort, obstacles, and whole lot of conflicting emotions.

Many years ago, out of the ashes of my pain, my writing career started this way: I self published my first book, then I started writing for Focus on the Family, and then I was contracted to write a devotional journal. All of those steps were necessary and exciting steps in their own way. But when my first big book contract finally came through (the thing I was dreaming about), I was utterly surprised by my first emotional response. You know what I felt? Instantly depressed. Does that make any sense at all?

It didn't to me either until I heard a story about when Beth Moore received her first contract. She knelt down on the floor and cried - not for joy - but out of sheer terror that she might fail the Lord in some way. That's exactly how I felt. 

When the dream is far away, it is typical to experience intermingles feelings of excitement and impatience. But when the dream is suddenly within your grasp, and it starts to touch your human-ness - and you become very aware of your own potential to make a mess of things - well that's just downright scary.

As far as I can see, the phases of our 'dream-come-true' journey look like this:

A dream far off - exciting, waiting, wondering, impatience

A dream up close - fear, second-guessing ourselves, stepping out of our known zone and into the learning zone, wondering about the cost now that the dream is so close, wondering if God made a mistake in choosing us; we can't go back - we're not the same after having this dream - but feeling unsure and unsteady about moving forward.

A dream realized - once we begin to take the land and we find a new normal, our learning zone becomes our known zone, we become more seasoned and strengthened to stand in this place, but not without effort, fatigue, faith, and trust; we wouldn't have it any other way, and yet, no one but God knows what it took for us to step and step out like we did. This is the life of faith.

Anne Ortlund wrote these beautiful words: Lift up your eyes. Your heavenly Father waits to bless you - in inconceivable ways to make your life what you never dreamed it could be.

Dream big. Dream with Him. Then walk forward unafraid - to places you've never been. Be willing to be stretched and strengthened. Embrace the unknown places with Jesus at your side and experience God's miracle of life working in and through you. What a way to live.

God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! (Ephesians 3:20).

~Until next week.