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4 posts from July 2011

July 27, 2011

Found In Him...

Vermilion Dock Greetings, Friends! Happy Wednesday!

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 an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend!

One more note: I had a great show on Tuesday with Jason Vallotton. We discussed his book, The Supernatural Power of Forgiveness. When we make the subtle shift from hoping in God as our Source to hoping in people (who make a lousy source), we give away our God-given power to live free and full lives. Even so, there is a way to navigate through the relational waters in a healthy way. We love people, we hope in God who empowers us to thrive even in a broken world. If you're interested in listening to that interview, just click here.

Now on to my topic...

Words to an old hymn have been replaying in my head lately: On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.

Psalm 62:7 says this: My salvation and my honor depend on God alone. He is my mighty Rock and Refuge.

He saves us, defends us, and protects our honor. He is the Rock on which we stand and the Refuge in which we find shelter. He is everything.

Picture standing on a solid, stable and level rock. On either side of the Rock you see bubbling pits of quicksand. On your right is the quicksand of pride, on your left is the quicksand of despair. If you shift your weight onto either of these, you'll sink. Sinking sand will swallow you alive.

In Philippians chapter three, Paul expressed that compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ, everything else was rubbish. If anyone had reason for pride, Paul did. Accomplished, educated, and accredited, the man had a resume. And if anyone had reason for despair, Paul did. God chose him as an ambassador of the faith and once his eyes were opened to the superior reality of faith in Christ, he was smacked with the depths of his sin. Paul was responsible for the torture, persecution, and death of innocent Christians. Can you imagine how the enemy used his own sin against him during those sleepless nights?

That's why this statement means so much coming from Paul: 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14). 

On our own, we don't have a leg to stand on, but thanks be to God, we have a strong and stable Rock as our foundation!

Pay attention this week to those zingers that steal your joy. Almost always they'll connect to thoughts that weaken you, thoughts that spew from the quicksand, "You're such a dunce. Always saying what you shouldn't." Or, "You'll never overcome your past. You're destined to repeat it." Or, "You are really something because of what you've accomplished. You're not as good as____, but you're definitely better than___. It's okay to use your position to get what you want."

Pride and despair are bottomless pits that will suck the life right out of us.

Paul's goal was to be 'found in Christ' - always and ever drawing life from his association with the one true Vine. Paul accomplished what he did for the Kingdom because he refused to be bogged down by shame and condemnation, and he refused to be puffed up by his accomplishments. As far as he was concerned, it was all garbage compared to the moment-by-moment intimacy he enjoyed with Christ.

This is not to say that what we accomplish for Christ is rubbish; it's a true treasure to serve Him. But the minute we shift our weight off of who we are in Christ and onto what we do for Him, even our works of service become filthy rags because they cannot save us. The Bible says that even our best effort is only as significant as a dirty rag apart from Christ.

And a final word about shame and condemnation. My mentor told me recently that shame is an inward reproach.

In other words, to embrace shame is to hold ourselves in contempt. Shame is a blemish or stain that discredits us and holds us captive only by our agreement. It's time to disagree with shame and condemnation! There is NOW therefore NO condemnation for those in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:1).

Stay firmly planted on the Rock of your salvation! He saves, He delivers, He establishes, and He protects. All other ground is sinking sand...

~Until next week.

 

July 19, 2011

It Matters...

God on the water

Hey 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 an 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...

God confronted me on something today. As soon as He spoke to my heart, I knew He was right. And I, was absolutely wrong. Isn't it amazing how these kinds of conversations with the Lord bring only life?

This morning while on a walk/run with my dog I breathed in God's promises, and breathed out my unbelief and anxious thoughts. Each time I sucked in and filled my lungs with air, I breathed in the Scriptural prayers I often pray: You both precede and follow me; You place Your hand of blessing on my head. Surely goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. You make all grace abound to me so that I, having sufficiency in all things, may abound in every good work. I will live out the number of my days in health and declare the works of the Lord!

There is such power in praying and declaring Scripture over our lives!

Right in the middle of my breathe-in, breathe-out exercise, the Lord whispered to my heart, "You were wrong to say what you did the other day." And instantly I knew which day and which moment He meant. It's too personal for me to share the details here but suffice to say, in reaction to feeling despair over someone's spiritual condition, I said to myself, "Maybe it doesn't matter that I've prayed, sowed, believed, and spoken consistent words of faith to this person. It doesn't seem to have mattered one single bit. The pull of the world is just too strong."

Even as I write these words, I'm reminded again how untrue they are. Even so, there I was this morning, enjoying some brisk exercise, breathing in deeply the promises of God when He lovingly confronted me about words spoken the other day. He said, "You were wrong to say what you did the other day. I want you to renounce those words; repent of them; confess them as sin and then accept My forgiveness so you'll be cleared and cleansed of all unrighteousness."

I pounded the pavement with my feet. My dog ran loose-leashed right next to me. I took in another deep breath and then renounced those faithless words and sincerely asked forgiveness. I was instantly wrapped up in peace and grace. What a treasure are His daily mercies. I reveled in them when the Lord whispered to me once more, "Now declare what's true. You know the truth, now speak it out loud."

I really didn't care who heard me or if people driving by in their cars wondered who I was talking to, I boldly declared: Lord, I thank you that it matters what I say, what I pray, and if I plant seeds. It matters that I speak life where there is no life. It matters that I believe You for things I cannot see. Your Word always accomplishes a purpose and never returns empty. You are Lord, Your promises are true, and You work mightily through Your people. It matters what voice I listen to. It matters that I respond to You! It matters whether or not I plant many seeds or only a few. I will live by faith and not by sight because it all matters, very, very much. Amen."

I ask of you, friend, if you've forgotten how much your faith matters, may you remember again today. Speak out some of these statements and you'll feel your own faith rise up within you. My soul was significantly strengthened after that little exercise. No pun intended. :)

So be strong and courageous, all you who hope in the Lord! ~ Psalm 31:24 

~Until next week

July 13, 2011

Don't Lose Heart...(Guest Blogger Today!)

Hey Friends, Beck Gambill here. I’m stepping in for Susie Larson today and have an insight I’d like to share with you.

Glory hole Please feel free to check out my blog at: Beck's Blog

Do you find yourself in a stage of life that is discouraging; are you ready to quit? Perhaps you're disheartened by hard parenting decisions, a relationship is in trouble, finances have taken a hit, your health has failed. I understand; at one time most of us have been there. Recently I witnessed an extraordinary process. A glass blowing demonstration. Many of us are familiar with the examples in Jeremiah and Isaiah likening mankind to a lump of clay in the potters hand. Isaiah 64:8 says “And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.”

Truth lifted itself from the page of scripture to come alive as I watched the craftsman shape the molten glass. He began by gathering a ball of red hot materiel from a furnace that has been burning perpetually for five years. He worked the glass; shaping and manipulating it, reheating and rolling. His breath blowing air into the fiery blob. All the while the glass yielded, changing shape as he labored. After gathering another layer of liquid glass the cylinder was dipped into beads of color.

As the artisan rolled and breathed, swirls of purple and yellow fused, staining the heart of the glass, becoming part of it. He worked using tools and at times his protected hand. He applied his skill, coaxing beauty from nothing. There were moments I thought the vase was finished, and yet the craftsman worked on. Finally, after reheating for the last time, the vase was put in the annealing oven to drop the temperature of the glass gradually to avoid cracking. It was impossible to miss the parallels between the glass's refining process and our own. How often have we resented the long, hot hours in the furnace of life, considering them to be ugly?

Yet from the vantage point of the vase, our refining process is beautiful and intimate. The fire of holiness is forged into our hearts through the painstaking efforts of a Craftsman more skilled than any earthly one. There are four truths God showed me through this living parable that I would like to share with you:

1) First, the glass did nothing except behave exactly the way it should under the circumstance. It yielded to the heat, to the tools, to the worker. Often we fight the flame or the Artisan's hands in fear, when what's required is yielding.

2) I noted the extreme conditions involved in transforming the blob of glass into a fine vase. The crucible, the furnace from which the glass is originally taken, is 2,400 degrees. The glory hole, a slightly cooler furnace, is used for reheating. As well as being heated the glass is also rolled, blown and pulled. The conditions of our personal refinement are also often extreme.

3) The craftsman was a person of skill, talented and committed to the process. He did the work; hot, sweaty, tiring work, resulting in the completion of a beautiful piece of art. He knew the right time to blow air into the ball, to add color and to reheat. Our own transformation rests on the skill and faithfulness of the perfect Craftsman.

4) I couldn't envision the finished product in the beginning. Yet the end result, as well as the process, was more beautiful than I imagined. At times I would have settled with the vase the way it was. Still the artist kept going and the shape was fuller, the color clearer, the size bigger than I would have guessed. In the end it was all worth it!

When you find yourself under fire, and you will, remember these images. Your beauty and usefulness is of value to God. He reheats and shapes as long as necessary, with an eye for what he's creating, using dedication and skill. Don't lose heart in the fire, beauty is on the other side. Is there an area of your life God is refining? How do you respond to the challenges you are facing?

July 05, 2011

What Are You Afraid Of?

God on the water

Hey Friends! Happy Wednesday! 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 post, share an insight, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend.

It's time to announce the winner for June...Andrea Abernathy, congratulations! Please email me your mailing address and I'll get the card in the mail within the next 2 weeks. My address is: info@susielarson.com Thanks for posting and bless you! 

Now on to my topic...

A couple of years ago, while speaking at a women's retreat, I decided to try something new on the women. I told them to come to Saturday night's session titled, "The Fear of the Lord" in comfortable clothes and armed with their Bibles, notebooks, pillow, and blanket. My  plan was for them to 'camp' in the presence of the Lord. 

Using Hebrews chapter 12 along with a few other passages of Scripture, I taught for ten minutes, then I stepped away from the podium and put on about ten minutes of beautiful music and gave the women journal and prayer assignments (all the while, Power Point slides rotated different 'fear of the Lord Scripture' against an ocean background). After ten minutes of journal and prayer, I stepped up again and taught for ten minutes, followed by another ten minutes of music and reflection. We did this for a full hour. I talked about humility, teachability, the discipline of the Lord, what it means to honor Him, and Who it is we come to when we come to Him.

We spent an hour re-setting our spiritual lives; humbling ourselves; remembering again how mighty this God is that we serve. When I looked around the room, I saw a beautiful combination of reverence for the Lord and a comfort in His presence. Not casual in His presence. But comfortable with the idea of His love, His mercy, and His forgiveness. Not because we deserve it, but because He offers it. 

We need moments like this. Lots more of them. 

When we run to and fro in our busy lives, we so easily default to fears that are not ours to embrace. We fear other's opinions; the stock market; the unknown; the loyalty of friends; ourselves. 

One of my favorite verses is this one:

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

When we say things we shouldn't say, and we fear getting caught more than we fear dishonoring our God, it's time to re-set, and remember to Whom we are ultimately accountable. 

When we give more weight to man's words than God's Word, it's time to re-set, and remember that no words can diminish us if God's Word is strong in us.

When we pay more attention to the economy than to how the Holy Spirit is moving around us, it's time to re-set and remember that we are not made for this place. We are just passing through. We serve a Living God and His economy is strong indeed. 

When we acquaint ourselves more with our circumstances than our identity in Christ, it's time to re-set and remember once again who we are, and whose we are. We are His. And everything He has is ours. We have more than enough to live abundantly today.

If we're bent on fear, may ours be a fear of the Lord. May we know in our core of our potential to squander time, embrace selfishness, and overlook the suffering. And in light of our earthbound ways, may we walk ever closer to Him and fully trust Him in these trying times. He is Lord. We are on the winning side.

Until next week (Maybe. I'll be out of pocket for most of next week but I'll do my best to post!)~