7 posts categorized "Passion for God"

October 05, 2011

When God Moves, May I Respond...

Brisk Morning Greetings, Dear Friends! Susie Larson here...

And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose it 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 September: Darcee Zehm, congratulations! Just email me your mailing address and we'll get your gift card in the mail within the next week. You can email me at: [email protected] - Congrats and thanks for posting on my blog!

A quick note: Four times a year I email out my Quarterly Ezine; next issue comes out on October 15th. It's free! If you haven't signed up, you can do so at my website. Lots of fun stuff in that Ezine. 

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 stiffened up, got 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. Yikes. 

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

 

February 01, 2011

Raw and Godly Authenticity...

Hipsta Sunrise
Happy Wednesday, Everyone! 

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

It's time to announce January's winner...and the winner is...Kathy Baker! Congratulations! Email me your mailing address at: [email protected] and we'll get your gift card in the mail! 
One more thing...
We've had a couple days of powerful shows on Live the Promise. On Monday we talked about BIG FAITH behind our prayers and on Tuesday we talked about ASKING for BIG things when we pray (totally biblical, totally God's will). Listen if you get the chance! You'll be encouraged and inspired. Here are the links to those shows:
Excellent shows, both of them!  

Now on to my topic...

I love the story of when King David brought the ark of the God back to the City of David. He led the throng of people with excitement and jubilation. He danced before the Lord, not as a king but as a humble servant. King David removed his royal garb and wore only his linen ephod, which in those days was like the simple tunic slaves wore. His wife watched him from the window and was so appalled by this display of worship that she criticized him when he returned home. Let's read their exchange:

When David returned home to bless his family, Michal came out to meet him and said in disgust, "How glorious the king of Israel looked today! He exposed himself to the servant girls like any indecent person might do!" David retorted to Michal, "I was dancing before the LORD, who chose me above your father and his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the LORD. So I am willing to act like a fool in order to show my joy in the LORD. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, but I will be held in honor by the girls of whom you have spoken!"  So Michal, the daughter of Saul, remained childless throughout her life. (2 Samuel 6:20-23 NLT).

Michal paid a price for her self-preserving attitude.

David, on the other hand, didn't rest on his laurels or feel the need to appear dignified at all times. Underneath it all, he knew who he was: a servant of the Most High God. 

Do you notice how mightily God uses those who are willing to humble themselves before Him? Why then, do we work so hard to appear more put together than we are? Pure and simply, we need Jesus! Every day! Every hour! 

Not one of us has arrived and we won't until we cross the finish line and hear our Father say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." There's that word again.

Read this compelling excerpt from John Fischer's book, "12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee."
"I often wonder how a gospel based solely on the merits of the one who has died to forgive sin could be perpetuated on the merits of those who don't seem to need it. If the whole point of the gospel is forgiveness of sin, then why do we insist on continually parading these 'almost perfect' lives in front of each other? How has it happened that the people who proclaim forgiveness of sin don't seem to have any sins to be forgiven of themselves? How has a church that once was the happy possession of common fishermen and prostitutes and tax collectors become the home of the spiritually elite? There are, undoubtedly, numerous and complicated answers to this question, but I believe at the root of them all is lurking the issue of the Pharisee." (p.95). 

Now, of course, if we are serious about our walk of faith, we will grow into the likeness of Christ. Hopefully we are more loving now than we were last month; and more forgiving now than we were last year. But I believe that we are never more intimately linked in fellowship with God than when we are raw and honest before Him about our sin and about our daily desperate need for Him. Not because He doesn't know our sad state, but so that we can be lifted from it. 

And I believe that we are never more blessed in community and more one with each other than when we are raw and honest with a handful of safe, godly friends. We need each other on this journey and we are better together. 

May we, like David, shed all of our frivolous garb and celebrate God with reckless abandon! May we always remember that we are servants of the Most High God. And may we be humble enough to be real and honest about our need for Him.

Have a blessed 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~

December 16, 2009

Give Him YOU...

Christmas - Believe  

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!

Last month, in light of the Thanksgiving holiday, we explored some uncommon aspects of giving thanks. 

This month, in light of our Savior's birth,we'll spend the next few weeks exploring differentideas around giving and receiving 'gifts.' 

Now on to my topic...

Today was a frigid cold yet sunny day. While shuffling along on the treadmill at the Y today, I looked out the window at the beautiful blue sky, and I wondered about something. What kinds of gifts does Jesus want from me this season? What kinds of gifts does Jesus want from you?

Picture an assortment of wrapped gifts from you under His tree. What's inside of each package?

Okay, I'll go first...

For starters, every significant thing I accomplished this past year, I give back to Him. Stuffed inside this package is also every hint of pride or shred of ambition that wants a place in my life. Nope, I give all these things back to Him. He'll love this gift.

Next, I give Jesus my right to be offended. When people overlook me, misjudge me, dismiss me, or are simply rude, I give up my 'right' to react to them. Smooshed in this box is the tendency to believe the worst, connect the dots and draw wrong conclusions, and keep a tally of wrongs done to me. Yes, I know Jesus will cherish this gift.

Tucked in a little box and wrapped with a beautiful bow, I give Jesus perspective. When I'm tempted to look down, I'll decide instead to look up. I know He'll appreciate this one.

This next gift needs a large box and lots of wrapping paper. All of my hopes and dreams are in this box. Dreams for my kids, for my husband and me, for our country, for the Body of Christ, for the lost, the poor, and the broken; dreams for the slave and the human trafficking victim. I have lots of dreams. And God's promises are true. I give this very precious gift to God, knowing my dreams are safe with Him. 

A beautiful gift bag holds my time. I give Jesus my time to decide how it should be spent. My commitments are on the table for Him to rearrange or change altogether. This is a scary one for me even though I know He's good. Yes, He's good. This is a perfect gift for Him.

Finally, in a medium sized, shallow box, I place my fears; the fears that trip me up and make me stumble on occasion. In Christmases past, this gift required a much larger box. But healing has come and is coming. God has worked and God is working. My fears are smaller now; less powerful; less significant. Still, they're there. Jesus really wants my fears. He told me as much. So, I wholeheartedly give my fears to Him. I know He'll be thrilled to receive such a gift.

I love our Savior. What He really wants for Christmas is me. And He wants you too.

What gifts do you have for Jesus this year? I'd love to hear from you...

Until next week~

September 30, 2009

What do you Fear?

Beautifulvermilionsunset


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

I decided from here on in, to announce the winner on the last Wednesday of each month (instead of on the first Wednesday of the new month). The winner for the month of September is: Kathy Schwanke! Congratulations, Kathy! And thank you for contributing so much to this blog. I really appreciate it. To claim your gift card, just email me at: [email protected] and leave your mailing address. I'll get it in the mail next week. 

Now, on to my topic...

I've spent the past two weekends up at beautiful Covenant Pines Bible Camp, speaking at women's retreats. I tried something new on the women. I told them to come to Saturday night's session on, "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~

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(The next issue will arrive in your inbox on the 15th of October)

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August 25, 2009

Raw Honesty...

Housethroughtherocks

Greetings, 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 gift card comes from Starbucks. So leave a post, share an insight or story, bless lots of people, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and friend! 

Now on to my topic...

I love the story of when King David brought the ark of the God back to the City of David. He led the throng of people with excitement and jubilation. He danced before the Lord, not as a king but as a humble servant. King David removed his royal garb and wore only his linen ephod, which in those days was like the simple tunic slaves wore. His wife watched him from the window and was so appalled by this display of worship that she criticized him when he returned home. Let's read their exchange:


When David returned home to bless his family, Michal came out to meet him and said in disgust, "How glorious the king of Israel looked today! He exposed himself to the servant girls like any indecent person might do!" David retorted to Michal, "I was dancing before the LORD, who chose me above your father and his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the LORD. So I am willing to act like a fool in order to show my joy in the LORD. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, but I will be held in honor by the girls of whom you have spoken!"  So Michal, the daughter of Saul, remained childless throughout her life. (2 Samuel 6:20-23 NLT).

Michal paid a price for her self-preserving attitude.

David, on the other hand, didn't rest on his laurels or feel the need to appear dignified at all times. Underneath it all, he knew who he was: a servant of the Most High God. 

Do you notice how mightily God uses those who are willing to humble themselves before Him? Why then, do we work so hard to appear more put together than we are? Pure and simply, we need Jesus! Every day! Every hour! 

Not one of us has arrived and we won't until we cross the finish line and hear our Father say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." There's that word again.

Read this compelling excerpt from John Fischer's book, "12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee."

"I often wonder how a gospel based solely on the merits of the one who has died to forgive sin could be perpetuated on the merits of those who don't seem to need it. If the whole point of the gospel is forgiveness of sin, then why do we insist on continually parading these 'almost perfect' lives in front of each other? How has it happened that the people who proclaim forgiveness of sin don't seem to have any sins to be forgiven of themselves? How has a church that once was the happy possession of common fishermen and prostitutes and tax collectors become the home of the spiritually elite? There are, undoubtedly, numerous and complicated answers to this question, but I believe at the root of them all is lurking the issue of the Pharisee." (p.95). 

Now, of course, if we are serious about our walk of faith, we will grow into the likeness of Christ. Hopefully we are more loving now than we were last month; and more forgiving now than we were last year. But I believe that we are never more intimately linked in fellowship with God than when we are raw and honest before Him about our sin and about our daily desperate need for Him. Not because He doesn't know our sad state, but so that we can be lifted from it. 

And I believe that we are never more blessed in community and more one with each other than when we are raw and honest with a handful of safe, godly friends. We need each other on this journey and we are better together. 

May we, like David, shed all of our frivolous garb and celebrate God with reckless abandon! May we always remember that we are servants of the Most High God. And may we be humble enough to be real and honest about our need for Him.

Have a blessed week!

If you haven't already signed up for my FREE Quarterly E-zine, you might want to! Four times a year I send out an E-magazine with free book giveaways from my author friends, a devotional, great book recommendations, great quotes, and a prayer to send you on your way. Here's the link:

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August 12, 2009

Desperate!

Breakthrough Sunrise

Greetings, Everyone!



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 gift card comes from Starbucks! So share an insight or 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...

I just returned from my weekly cycle class. In fact, I'm embarrassed to say that I'm still soaking wet with sweat (I'll shower after I finish my post). :)  Anyway, our instructor (who happens to be an elite level triathlete), pushed us so hard today, the studio felt like a sauna and everyone sucked their share of oxygen out of the room. 

At a couple of moments during the class, my heart rate skyrocketed, I gasped for breath, and I was desperate for air. I truly was. I longed to step off my bike and step outside of the studio where the temperature was 20 degrees cooler; I imagined stretching out on a mat and allowing my heart rate to settle down. I was absolutely pushed to my physical limit. 

Honestly, I haven't felt that physically desperate for a long time. 

Read this Psalm:
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God (Psalm 84:2).

Oh, to be gasping and as breathless for the presence of the Living God!

Dear Lord, make us more desperate for Your presence! May our whole soul, mind, heart, emotions, and strength engage in this passionate pursuit of You! 

You reward those who earnestly seek after You - hear our cry, dear Lord! 

May we be filled with the knowledge of Your will in ALL wisdom and spiritual understanding, that we may walk worthy of You, fully pleasing You, being fruitful in EVERY good work, and INCREASING in the knowledge of God. Strengthen us with all might ACCORDING to YOUR glorious power, for all patience, long suffering and joy. Fill us with thankfulness because You have qualified us to inherit all of the blessings of Your Kingdom (Colossians 1:9-12). 

Forgive us for protecting ourselves from desperation. We have so many comforts to prop us up that we never really have to feel like we'll die without Your presence in our lives. Forgive us for drinking out of broken cisterns that never satisfy. We want You, Lord. Realign our priorities and our passions so that every choice we make is in response to your love (and not in reaction to our selfishness). 

Make us more like You! Create in us a clean heart, O, Lord. Fill us with a holy desperation to follow You and to run the race before us in a focused and purposeful way. Help us not to get sidetracked or discouraged. Make us bold and strong and brave. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

Okay, I didn't plan on writing out a prayer today, but there you have it. May our prayers be more passionate, our faith more bold, and our hearts more desperate for HIM! 

God bless your week!

PS ~ If you haven't signed up for my FREE quarterly E-zine yet, I invite you to! My author friends give away some free books, I write a devotional, offer some great book recommendations and inspirational quotes, and give you a prayer to send you on your way. Sign up here if you're interested:


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