Tag Archives: obedience

When We Cannot Do What God Asks

13 Dec

Does God ever ask you to do something you cannot do?

I’m still reading Luke alongside Mom’s Toolbox and it’s been fabulous.

Over the weekend, I read Luke 6. I was reminded of a recent Sunday School lesson and something one of my friends pointed out in this chapter.

Jesus told the man with the shriveled hand–“Stretch out your hand.”  See Luke 6:10

The man shouldn’t have been able to do what Jesus asked. Yet, he did it.

How? Jesus provided the power.

Diseases were being cured and evil spirits cast out, “and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.”  Luke 6:19

In verses 27 – 36, Jesus gives all of us instructions which on our own, we cannot do. Truth is, we often do not want to.

  • Love your enemies
  • Do good to those who curse you
  • Pray for those who mistreat you
  • Turn the other cheek
  • Give more than what someone takes from you
  • Give without expecting repayment

Without Jesus providing the power and strength, how can we do these things God asks of us? We cannot.

Lord, please give me a heart that longs to do what you ask. Remind me to pray and ask for the desire and obedience you provide to do what you ask. Thrill me with your pleasure and joy as you grow me in my walk with you.

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Are Questions Okay, God?

6 Dec

Do you ask God questions? Is it okay to ask God questions?

I’m joining Mom’s Toolbox and reading the gospel of Luke for the remainder of December. (Why not join us? If you blog, grab the button from her site and include it on your own blog.)

Yesterday was the first day of reading and focused on Luke 1:1 – 38. I try to never read a passage without praying first and asking the Holy Spirit to teach me something. Here’s what I got after observing the passages yesterday. Luke with MomsToolbox

First the similarities.

Gabriel, the angel, visited both Zechariah and Mary. He brought news of a baby to be born to each of them. (John the Baptist to Zechariah and Jesus to Mary.)

Both were astonished at the news and both had questions.

Now for the differences.

Zechariah asked, “How can I be sure of this.” We are both so OLD!

Mary asked, “How will this be since I’m a  VIRGIN.”

Zechariah had doubt. Mary had wonder.

Gabriel answered both of them, but Zechariah received a consequence for his doubt. He’d be unable to speak until the child (John the Baptist) was born. Zechariah still received the son Gabriel told him about. John the Baptist still did all God had announced he would do.

Mary, on the other hand, received her answer explaining that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and do the work. Then, Mary received a word of encouragement that her relative, Elizabeth (Zechariah’s wife), would also be having a child.

What I see here is a heart difference. God accepts doubt and questions from us, we can see this from Gabriel’s interactions with those questions. But, our heart condition with those questions matters.

God, thank you for knowing we don’t understand everything You do and say. Thank you for your loving patience, forgiveness, and faithfulness. Grow us up in faith and salvation so we can believe and stay eager to be your servant through any of the hard questions in our lives.

Nothing is impossible with God  Luke 1:37 (NIV)

What’s something that seemed impossible, which God’s accomplished in your life?

Candy, Cash or Christ – How can we build spiritual appetites?

29 Nov

If you stood in a room full of kids and announced you had a prize for anyone who could hop on one foot for 30 seconds, what do you picture happening next?

Probably a room with shaking walls from all the bouncing, and children falling over one another.

Undoubtedly, some kid would scream out, “Is it candy?”

Thank goodness we outgrow this behavior. Well, at least some of you probably have.

Now picture standing in an auditorium of adults and calling out, “Loads of cash and buffet tables, just down the hall. First come, first serve. No limits.”

Perhaps everyone would look around like, “Yeah, right. Too good to be true….What’s the catch?”

Cynicysm, or let’s call it realism, does seem to come with age.

But if a few bold folks decided to go check it out, a stampede would ensue. What if it is true? What if they get it all?

Psalm 19:9-11 (NIV)

9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
   enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
   and all of them are righteous.

 10 They are more precious than gold,
   than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
   than honey from the honeycomb.

11 By them your servant is warned;
   in keeping them there is great reward.

Respect of God.  Knowledge of His word. These are more desireable than gold.

His decrees bring more sweetness to life than honey.

Not that God’s Word should be more desireable, but that it is; whether we realize it or not. 

Verse 11 says His word illuminates His servant, and brings a great reward.

As adults, we try to curb our natural desire for foods that are unhealthy.

But, money? Another story. It’s a necessity after all.

Yet the temptation to crave more than we need has us acting much like children with a sack full of halloween candy. I’m as guilty as anyone.

How can we invite more of God’s illuminating word into our lives?  Are we as willing to do it as a kid hopping on one foot for candy?

How can we foster our children viewing God’s Word as desireable?

For me, praying for desire for God’s Word has transformed my life. And having my kids walk in on me in the midst of Bible reading or prayer has taught them more than any direct instruction I’ve ever given.

Leave a comment. What are you doing to grow your own appetite, or encourage that of your children?

Get Real or Stay Stuck – Series Post #4

21 Oct
Know how when you’re on a diet–ahem, or making a lifestyle change–you’re often advised to list everything you eat? It makes you get real about what you are putting into your body.
My food journal often looks great the first half of the day. Boiled egg whites, whole wheat bread, grapefuit. Perhaps there’s grilled chicken over salad or tuna at lunch. Early afternoon snack is  an apple and light cheesestick. 
But, around 4:00 o’clock, things often take a turn. And the food journal stays incomplete the rest of the day.     Who wants to put they ate 3 cookies and a stack of Pringles in their diet log?
A food journal also shows you what you aren’t eating. Enough fruits, veggies, fiber — the good stuff.
On my good girl to God’s girl journey, I had to get real about my diet. Eating great on Sunday morning church and being spoon-fed on a weekday morning study group was about like my food log. I wasn’t getting anywhere, my spiritual diet had me stuck in the same place for years.
This is when I got real and prayed to God. “Make me want to read your word on my own. Make it jump off the page at me, teach me what you want me to learn, show me what you want me to see. Give me a craving for it!”
Maturity requires a healthy diet. Maturity brings rewards and responsibilities
Take a few minutes to read this great blog post by Waylon Bailey, a pastor in Louisiana.  What’s your diet missing?
http://waylonbailey.com/2011/08/a-checklist-for-taking-the-next-step/

Linking up with

Life: Unmasked

Damaging Detour – “Good Girl” Series Post 3

18 Oct
Welcome back to post #3 from the “Good Girl to God’s Girl” series.
Last time I shared my mantra, “Being Right Is Not Who I Am.” 
God had revealed my true condition:  Much of my identity was rooted in myself, in what I did or didn’t do. That’d been my main problem.
Think of it this way. Even within the heart of a true believer, vast detours can take place.
Self-centered living drives the Good Girl.
Christ-centered living drives God’s Girl.
So how could I do the 180 degree turn and shift my thoughts and heart away from self and to my God?
I couldn’t. But God could.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

The first thing I needed to do was pray to God and admit the pride in my heart, and ask for His forgiveness and His renewal.
Here are some personal notes from my journal during that time.
God, you can see my good motives and genuine care for people. But, you can also see my selfishness, the laziness in my approach to you. My desire to be in control and produce immediate results. I believe you created me with special care, giving me abilities to be used for your kingdom. I do not want to lose you in the middle of obedient routines. I believe you can teach me and show me how to be fulfilled and submitted all at the same time. Only you have what I need.
Another key verse became my earnest prayer.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting  Psalm 139: 23 – 24  (NIV).

What might God reveal to you about your own identity? We can always go further, releasing more of us to be filled with more of Him.
Leave a comment, what’s one thing you sense God asking you to let go of to move closer in relationship to Him?

False Identity – Good Girl to God’s Girl Series (#2)

13 Oct
“Have you ever failed?”
The question stopped me. Made me pause.  A coach asked me this question one morning while I was in over-analysis mode about a car purchase. Should I or shouldn’t I? I didn’t want to make a mistake.
Pride.
A vehicle purchase of all things. This is what I was spending my time discussing.
Measures. The cost. The value. The smart thing to do.
But that question: Have you ever failed? It jolted me. It shifted my perspective. Those words forced me to realize where my identity rested.
Me. What I did. Performance. Being Right.
The answer was yes. I’d recently failed in a business. And I wanted to avoid any type of failure ever again. It stung. It tasted bad. It dented the armour of me.
“I was tired of acting free when I was not, tired of acting strong when I was in fact weak.” That’s a quote from Lisa Bevere’s book Out of Control and Loving It, and it depicts exactly where I lived at the time.
The car discussion was a snapshot of the pressure I put on myself in everyday life.  I had gotten so accustomed to doing the “right” things and living an “obedient” life, that it’d become a false identity for me.
People unintentionally reinforced my performance-based identity. They’d say how efficient, reliable, loyal I was.
Nothing wrong with that, except for what they couldn’t see on the inside.
I was focused on tasks. I didn’t focus on God. I knew right from wrong. I’d invited Jesus into my heart at age nine. I went to church every week. I listened to christian radio.
I also ran my own life within a box of do’s and don’ts.
I didn’t spend precious time satisfying myself in God. I was only satisified by tangible tasks being done. Items crossed off a long list. Bank account balances showing progress. Anything I could measure. Something I could control.
That same day, I developed a mantra. “Being Right Is Not Who I Am.” I repeated it to myself over and over. Especially when I felt the perfectionist rising inside.
It may sound silly, but for a good girl who fell into the trap of always trying to do the right thing, it was groundbreaking. Paradigm shifting. It also created the obvious question: Who am I?
When my coach asked me this, I said, “Just another child of God.”
Lord, forgive me for the word “just.” What a gift that I am yours and that is everything. You are more than enough.
That’s where my journey from good girl to God’s girl really took off.
What are you more hungry for than God? What attaches itself to you, good or bad, as your identity that’s not from God?

Linking up with

Life: Unmasked

Good Girl to God’s Girl – A Keystroke Off

11 Oct
Five years ago, I discovered my life was a keystroke off. 
One little “o.”
I hadn’t noticed at first. Not really. The spell check of life didn’t catch it. Everything made sense. Things appeared in order.
Yet, something was definitely off.
What could it be?
  • Grew up in church
  • Minded the rules
  • Graduated college
  • Got married
  • Stayed in church
  • Had children
  • Worked hard
  • Lived honest
  • Kind to others
  • Paid tithe
  • Good girl
Ahhh….that’s it. One little “o” too many.
It looked okay at first. But that extra keystroke; it changed everything.
Good. God. I’d become Good Girl instead of God’s Girl.
How did it happen?
For the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing my personal experience of too much obedience and not enough relationship. This will include sharing journal entries, scriptures and prayers.
Could you be a keystroke off? Consider these tendencies I found in myself. They’d evolved from an innocent place, but morphed into destructive habits and a false sense of self. 
  • Measurement. Whether it’s a to-do list, a mental check of productivity,  or an inner comparison of self against others, a good girl’s always got to be measuring herself, judging herself.
  • People pleasing. Because performance is everything in a good girl’s life, making people happy is essential. Saying no isn’t even an option. Everyone must be pleased with good girl.
  • Achievement. Since productivity and performance are driving motivations, achievements usually follow the good girl. But, they never bring rest, only pressure to get up and do it all over again.
It’s a vicious cycle. Achievement looks great on the measurement scales. Yet, it resets the bar even higher.
And people? Oh, they always notice achievements, offer compliments. They’re pleased. But, now they expect you to keep it up
See how it all feeds the good girl machine?
There’s certainly nothing wrong with working hard, being kind to others, and having some success in your endeavors. But if those are accompaied by exhaustion, irritability, and frustration (and a fair amount of eye rolling), some editing may be required.
Question:  What warning signs have you learned to recognize in yourself? When do you realize you need to step back and evaluate what’s driving you, motivating you, strengthening you?

Linking up with

Life: Unmasked

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