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4 posts from January 2012

January 25, 2012

Your Presence...

Hipstamatic Dock and BoatGreetings, Friends!

And to those visiting, I say welcome! Susie Larson here...

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. And, I LOVE it when you encourage each other on this blog! So please feel free to post a word of encouragement when you feel so inspired.

Now on to my topic:

I've been praying about what to share with you today and the thing that's most on my heart is the whole idea of presence.

As I walk through the grieving process, I find myself remembering certain things about my dad I never realized I'd treasure so much. I remember sitting on the couch, working on my homework and having my dad walk into the living room, put on an Elvis Presley or Andy Williams album. He'd take me by the hand and stand me up so I could dance with him. We'd sway back and forth and he'd twirl me a time or two. We'd giggle, then minutes later, I'd sit back down to do my homework.

The reason scripture says that it's better to go to a house of mourning than a house where there's a party is because losing a loved one causes you remember what's important: people and God. When you go to a party, the mentality is "consume now, pay later."

It's a gift to remember how brief life is. It's a precious treasure to remember that life is a gift, and that the more we love, the less we'll have to regret.

What can we give others so they will know God's love? We give them our attentive presence. We look them in the eyes. We love them right where they live. And we point them to the Truth of God's love. We refuse the curse of a hurried, skim-the-surface kind of life. And we determine to send our roots down into the soil of God's marvelous love, so we'll have plenty to give to those we meet along the way.

May we determine to be present with those God puts in our presence. May we be so in tune with the Father's love that they can easily grasp how wonderfully He loves them.

And may we ourselves, camp long in God's presence; long enough to remember that He adores us with an ever lasting love. He offers us the riches of His love and every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm (See Ephesians 1). He invites us into His presence that He may impart more of Himself to us.

We have access to God's powerful presence because of Christ's victory on the cross. We can walk in His presence as we live here on earth (See Psalm 116:9). He is an ever present help in times of trouble; fully engaged with us every step of the way. He laughs when we're funny, and aches for us when we believe a lie. He always has our best interest at heart and He makes a way when there seems to be no way.

Scripture says in Psalm 16:11 ~ In Your presence the FULLNESS OF JOY is found. Think about that for a moment: in the Lord's presence, we find spilling over joy, an abundance of peace, and everything good.

We tend to make everything a task, but it doesn't have to be that way. The sacred moments are those that compel us to celebrate life, to embrace God's greatness, and to be in awe of His goodness. God's great gift to us is His attentive presence. He breathes life into our weary soul that we may live full and powerful lives. 

May we be as present with those we love.

On the day of my dad's burial service, my boys, my daughter in law, my husband, and I scurried around the house to get ready for the service. We pressed our clothes, the guys straightened their ties, the mood felt somber. Suddenly, my oldest son Jake flipped open his laptop and played a bebop 'dance with me' song by a British girl band. The fun upbeat song instantly changed our mood. In a matter of seconds, we  were dancing around the kitchen, clapping to the beat, and celebrating life. God gave me that wonderful moment with my sons and hubby, right in the middle of a painful day, and I'll always cherish it.

Maybe you celebrate life in a different way. No matter; may your sacred moments not escape your notice. May they not get away from you before you've had a chance to embrace them, enjoy them, and thank God for them.

May we all live constantly aware of God's presence in our midst. May we give others (especially our husbands and children) the gift our presence. And may we splash in pools of blessing right in the midst of our very important and busy days.

Sieze those sacred moments because those are the ones you'll remember.

~Until next week.

January 18, 2012

Believe the Best...

Glorious MorningHappy Wednesday, Everyone!  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 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...

We all go through seasons in life when we feel especially vulnerable and our insecurities feel close to the surface. During such times it's easy to misread people and situations. 

A trusted friend suddenly seems disloyal and distant. A co-worker pulls back and seems to be spending time with someone who doesn't like you. You walk into church and nobody seems interested in talking to you. Your pastor walks right by without noticing you. You no longer feel like you have your boss's favor.

When one or more of these scenarios happens in a short amount of time, it's easy to connect the dots, draw certain conclusions, and then react accordingly. Just recently I talked with someone who had a number of 'dots' out there. He had some legitimate reason for concern, but deep in his soul, he sensed that God was telling him to believe the best about others, not to jump to conclusions, and to continue on with doing the right thing.

His response was exactly right and at the end of the day, the little mishaps fizzled to nothing. Imagine if he would have taken the bait, gotten big and reactionary with his friends and co-workers, and stepped out of the authority and assurance that he had in Christ Jesus. 

We may have some real 'dots' out there, just begging to be connected, but that doesn't mean that the picture actually exists or is an accurate one. We need the mind of Christ not to draw wrong conclusions.

From now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view (2 Corinthians 5:16).

I cringe when I think of how many times I assumed people had bad motives when they didn't, or I assumed they we're mad when they weren't. Thankfully, many of those times, I kept my feelings to myself and brought them before God and found my footing once again. Interestingly enough though, I learned that in many of those situations, those people we're enduring their own struggles and would have greatly benefited from an extra dose of grace and love (which comes out of fullness; reactions, on the other hand, come out of emptiness).

We all tend to misread people and situations when something in them resembles a past painful experience for us. We must take responsibility for our actions and reactions, and we must pursue deep inner healing so that our past no longer has the power to diminish our current perspective and relationships.

Remember too, the enemy overplays his hand when it comes to our unhealed areas. He prowls around, just looking for an opportunity to magnify a problem or skew a perspective. His goal is to get our eyes off of God and onto our fears and hang ups. He wants our past to keep speaking to us. He wants our wounds to perpetuate themselves. And he wants us stuck in the prison of an earthbound perspective.

You've probably heard me say this before, or read it in one of my books, but it bears repeating. If the devil can get us to live in reaction to our circumstances rather than in response to God, well, then, he has succeeded at stealing our joy and robbing us of the abundant life to which our souls are heir. 

Determine to believe the best in others this week. Even if their motives are off, you stay in the shelter of the Most High God and declare, My salvation and honor depend on God alone. HE is my mighty rock and refuge (Psalm 62:7). Determine too, to believe the best about God. He has your best interest at heart every single day. Even if your circumstances scream something different, refuse to draw a conclusion that disregards God's promises to you.

For the Believer, the only conclusion that matters is the one God has come to regarding us. We are worth everything to Him. We are loved, called, equipped, and chosen. We have everything we need and then some.

Have a blessed week~


January 11, 2012

Redefine Your Circumstances...

Burning sunrise

Happy Wednesday, Friends!

And to those visiting, I say welcome! Susie Larson here...

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...

Many of you know that my dad passed away last week. We're still reeling from the suddenness of it all, but we know he's with Jesus and for that, we're eternally grateful. My dad dealt with numerous health issues and rarely felt well, but that's not what all of his grandkids will remember about him. When they think of their grandpa they'll remember how funny and snarky he was, how much he loved them, and how important they were to him. When the grandkids were around, my dad focused on them, not on his suffering, which to me, was incredibly heroic of him.

When Jesus suffered on the cross, His thoughts were on those He came to save. Because of the joy set before Him (you and me), He endured the cross and scorned it's shame (see Hebrews 12). He could have complained about His immense, unfathomable pain, He could have shouted, "To hell with you all! You're not worth it!" But He did the exact opposite. He embraced our worth. He cherished the thought of us in Heaven with Him. The whole idea of eternity with us kept Him going. Thank you, Jesus.

Jesus came to save us, and in the process, He redefined the cross. Crucifixion was a horrific, public, painful humilation. It was the worst way to die, in pain, shame, and dishonor.

Jesus, our perfect, sinless, spotless Lamb, brought honor and dignity to the cross. He offered salvation to a lost and dying world, through the worst it had to offer, death on the cross. He triumphed over death on the cross that we might live free and powerful lives.

Even the way He lived redefined "religion" and challenged the religious legalist. They didn't know what to make of Him. Jesus just would not be bound by traditions and laws that boxed in His love and concern for those who needed Him. 

When Jesus freely shared a meal with those the world despised, the scribes hated Him for it. Because Jesus lived and breathed love, honor, and dignity, He redefined every circumstance in His midst. Read what William MacDonald wrote regarding Jesus' meal with the tax collectors:

"The scribes thought they would ruin the Lord's reputation by calling Him a friend of sinners. But their intended insult has become an endearing tribute. All the redeemed gladly acknowledge Him as the friend of sinners, and will love Him eternally for it."  (Believer's Commentary)

If you have surrendered your life to Christ and have accepted His sacrifice on the cross for your sins, you now live with the power and influence of Almighty God at work in and through you! You can bring dignity and honor to every situation. No person, no circumstance, so accusation can diminish your worth. No loss, no rejection, no misstep can separate you from God's love.

If you're walking through an especially difficult time right now, look up. Your circumstances do not define you. God does and has and you're worth everything to Him. Bring dignity and honor to your struggle with finances; bring holiness and humble confidence to your battle with health issues; bring power and influence to the pain of your broken relationships. Redefine your circumstances. You can because Jesus turned the tables on the enemy and won. The same power alive in Him is now alive in you. Overwhelming victory is yours! Walk forward with holy confidence.

~Until next week.


January 04, 2012

Live Ready...

Sun Dogs at NWCHappy Wednesday, 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 folks, and just maybe you'll win a jolt of java for you and a friend.

Now on to my topic...

If you connect with me on Facebook, you already know that I lost my dad the day before last. On December 22nd, he went into the hospital with difficulty breathing. On December 23rd they diagnosed him with stage four lung cancer. And on January 2nd, he went home to be with the Lord. We're all stunned at how quickly his health declined. I'm so grateful that he is now pain free, but my grief overwhelms me at times.

As many of you know, I've felt especially drawn to study the end times lately. No matter where you stand on the topic, Jesus' return is closer than it's ever been. The other day, Andrew Hess Tweeted the following statement: Don't let your anticipation for 2012 overshadow the return of the King.

Amen and amen!

Jesus is coming soon. Though we can't and shouldn't try to determine the exact date of Christ's return, we must discern the times and the seasons just as He told us to. Based on fulfilled prophecies and the turbulence in our midst, I believe Jesus could come at any time. With all my heart I believe that a generation that walks the earth today will live to see the rapture. But even if I'm wrong, Jesus still calls us to live ready, alert, prayerful, and watchful. 

Furthermore, none of us knows how many days we have left on this earth. Life can change in the blink of an eye. May we refuse to take our days for granted and instead, wrap our arms around faith, hope, and love, and live in a manner worthy of His Name!

So how do we live ready? 

We open our eyes to the ways God is moving in our midst ~ Those who seek Him, will find Him (See Matthew 7:7-8).

We throw off sin, compromise, and petty thoughts associated with an earthbound life ~ Those who believe they have better things to do than grovel in the dirt, will do better things (See Hebrews 12:1). 

We engage our faith ~ Those who expect great thing from God will accomplish great things for God (See Ephesians 3:20).

We pray passionately ~ Those who approach God will holy confidence and humble dependence will see miraculous answers to prayer (See 1 John 3:21-22).

We give generously ~ Those who sow generously will reap generously. It's impossible to outgive God (See 2 Corinthians 9:6)

We make every moment count for eternity ~ Those who live now with eternity in mind will have a greater capacity to enjoy heaven  when they get there (See Ecclesiastes 3:11).

We are not made for this place! We're just passing through. May we refuse the curse of a hurried, disengaged life. May we instead awaken to the power, provision, and promise written over us. May we access and appropriate all God offers us that we might live up to our high privilege in Him.

May 2012 be a breakthrough year for you. May you live ready for Christ's return, making the moments count for eternity.

God bless you.

~Until next week.