A Lion Uncaged — “Into the Word” Week 6

  As a kid, my parents and I ventured to a zoo where lions roamed freely.   My dad forked out an outrageous amount of cash, and then slowly inched our car through the safari-style exhibit.  A rule breaker by natural design, my dad ignored the signs that clearly stated the car windows should remain up in order to protect your precious family.  My mom was not amused by his rebellion.  A shrill scream pierced the air.  That was our first and last visit to the park as a family — a very memorable childhood experience.

About a year ago, my husband decided that I should revisit the lions.  We drove to the same park I had screamed through as a youngster, but this time the experience paled in comparison:  no crazy dad hanging out the window with a camera, no mom sounding off  like a fire siren, and sadly, no animals roaming freely.   Fences now surrounded the lions — separating them and caging them in.  My heart hurt to see the noble ruler of the jungle trapped and robbed of its freedom.

Scripture challenges us that “the righteous are as bold as a lion” (Prov. 28:1, NIV).  But as believers, I think we often let this world cage us in and sedate us.  This week as I was digging Into the Word,” I saw this lion spirit in the early church leaders:

“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).

  What does it mean to be bold for the kingdom today?   Does my life display the power of the Holy Spirit?  What is caging me in and rendering me ineffective?  God didn’t want me to forget about those caged lions, so this weekend, he put me in a stadium with lions for God at the One Conference.  Listen to how a lion speaks:

  • Francis Chan began by reading Romans 8:11:  “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.”  He challenged us to “fight to live Biblically when everyone else is telling you to live comfortably.”
  • Christine Caine challenged that we should be fools for Christ as “Christ came to make us free, not to make us safe.”
  • The legendary Franklin Graham shared the Truth of the Gospel with unapologetic passion.
  • James MacDonald provided perspective with the theme:  “We are ordinary, but our God is extraordinary.
  • Miles McPherson told us to love and “be a broken record — I gotta obey God.”  Jesus didn’t stay in the synagogue; He was out on the streets.
  • Carl Lentz, Jr. explained that we must be willing to do the “unspectacular”–“We need a love so deep that it pushes past our discomfort.” 
  • Ed Young asked us “Who are you reaching?” and admonished that the church is a rescue society, not a yacht club.
  • Britt Merrick described how a “heart at rest” is attractive to the world and admonished that we should “discover what the Redeemer is doing and get caught up in it.”    Christ put Himself in need to open up the opportunity to minister to the woman at the well.
  • Rich Wilkerson, Jr. illustrated that the recipe for revival is prayer and work.
  • Brian Houston shared that we should have a “glorious obsession” for God because “nothing of eternal value has ever been built out a spirit of obligation.”
  • Bob Coy, my beloved pastor, encouraged us to celebrate the Son by lovingly “calling out” those brothers who need correction — using the Word to build up the body.  He challenged us to feed our spirit with a healthy diet of Scripture. 
  • Greg Laurie asked us to examine if we are getting up in the morning because of an alarm clock or as a result of a calling.   He explained that the first century Christians didn’t “out argue” the lost, they “out lived” them.
  • Pedro Garcia opened and closed the conference by evoking Christ’s prayer for the church in John  17:21: “That all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”

May I live an uncaged life — bold for Jesus.  Do you know any lions?  How do you flesh this out in your life?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

For those of you who are just stopping by today for the first time, check out this post to enter a Giveaway of 2 great books: Stumbling Into Grace by Lisa Harper and The Circlemaker by Mark Batterson.

Every Monday we will be working our way through Anne Graham Lotz’s 52-week study “Into the Word.”    Hop on over to the 3dLessons4Life Blog Facebook Page to join us as we dig into God’s Word together.

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Dead End — “Into the Word” Week 3

   A few weeks ago, I braved the expressway and headed about sixty miles South in rush hour traffic for a doctor’s appointment.  Honestly, I don’t mind a long drive.  You know why?  It’s because my car becomes my concert hall.  I love to sing along with the radio and do so with hearty enthusiasm.  The problem is that sometimes I get really distracted by the music and miss my turn.

Once I realized my error, I did what any girl would do — I frantically called my husband for advice and then decided to stubbornly ignore the route he suggested in hopes of saving some time and still making it on time to my appointment.  Do you know where this disobedient wife ended up 20 minutes later?  Apparently, I did a complete circle and ended right back at the same spot — utterly lost and stuck in crazy traffic.  My short cut actually was a dead end — I was like a caged hamster on a treadmill wheel pushing my feet with all my might and going nowhere.  Do you ever have days like that?

Last week, I recognized this “dead end” thinking in the life of Abraham.  I’ve been digging “Into the Word” and examining Genesis 12 and 13.  Here, after building an altar and worshiping God, Abraham decided to take matters into his own hands when he encountered a famine — he headed straight into Egypt, symbolic of worldliness and carnality.  Then, he proceeded to lie and manipulate rather than use the spiritual weapons of warfare that God would have readily supplied had he just asked.  This was not a careful course of action bathed in prayer, but rather a decision full of fear and self-centeredness.  I wish I could claim to “not relate” to the outcome.

Abraham decided to worship God again and got back on the right road.  I am so thankful for a God who allows me to begin again.  Aren’t you?

“…Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you…”

Isaiah 43:1b-3a (MSG)

Every Monday we will be working our way through Anne Graham Lotz’s 52-week study “Into the Word.”    Hop on over to the 3dLessons4Life Blog Facebook Page to join us as we dig into God’s Word together.

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Remodeling — “Into the Word” Week 1

What is it about Pinterest that makes me want to remodel everything? Ten minutes of browsing lead me to an acute dissatisfaction with my shabby living room furniture, the white paint blanketing my walls, and the total lack of symmetry. If only The Nester could come decorate my house, my world would be a happier place. My parents had their kitchen completely gutted and re-created this past month, and I openly confessing here on this blog that I envy their sparkling stainless steel appliances, hand-crafted cabinets, and marble counter tops.

You know what really holds me back from a personal “home makeover”? A remodeling project requires some serious sacrifice. Mom and dad had “passionately debated” about how to best redesign their kitchen for quite a while. Plans were drafted, painstakingly refined, and re-drafted. For the last month, dust covered every inch of the house. Microwaved meals got served on paper plates, and boxes of appliances and corningware were piled high in every corner. Their bank account took a big hit — bigger than first estimated. Not fun at all, if you ask me. If only I could click my ruby shoes together and instantaneously make it to my Utopia, then I might begin. But, this Dorothy has grown accustomed to her comfortable Kansas, and the yellow brick road seems full of potholes and peril.

Spiritually, this same mindset leads me to a stagnant pool of mediocrity. For the past week, I have been digging “Into the Word” and examining the heroes in the Hall of Faith. Hebrews 11 is packed with people who put a lot of sweat equity into their faith walk. Just thinking about Abraham makes me freak out a bit — the man followed God, but didn’t know where he was going. Then, he lived in a tent surrounded by strangers. Yeah, that is a bit scary. I don’t do tents. I am a big fan of air conditioning and my nice mattress. Yet, Abraham’s willingness to follow God into the great unknown lead to an amazing legacy. His faith walk changed not only his family’s destiny, but the destiny of a nation.

The truth is that I can continue to pray, pray, pray for God to change my circumstances and move in the lives of those that I love, but not much may happen if I am not willing to put in some elbow grease. How can I practically put my faith into action this year? The perseverance and “gumption” of Abraham, Moses, and Rahab in Hebrews 11 inspire me to remodel. Hebrews 13:7 echoes this idea: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” The Bible maps out the blue print for me to follow. Will I?

How about you? Are you purposing to remodel this year? I would love to hear about your plans….

Every Monday we will be working our way through Anne Graham Lotz’s 52-week study “Into the Word.” Hop on over to the 3dLessons4Life Blog Facebook Page to join us as we dig into God’s Word together.

 

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The Monsters In the Closet

     When I was in elementary school, I had a tragic reoccurring nightmare every year on the night before the Stanford Achievement Test.  I would wake up in cold sweats — screaming for help because the little man with the hat from my Monopoly game had come to life and was chasing me in my dreams.  Haunting thoughts like these seem almost laughable now as an adult looking back.  Yet, even as a grown up, irrational fears still plague me.  My mature mind knows that there are no monsters in my closet, but my heart will often beat fast as imaginary ghoulish ideas dance about in my head.

My greatest fears stem from circumstances that I cannot control — Will my loved one see the Light and yield his stubborn, wild will to God before it’s too late?  For thirty-two years I have prayed and waited.  Waiting as I yield to the Spirit and rest in the knowledge of God’s power leads to strength, but anxious worry only leads me to a restless state of discontent and ineffectiveness.

This morning on the way to work, I was reminded again of God’s omnipotence, and peace flooded my soul as my heart listened to a beautiful song on my car’s radio:

“God of My Everything” (As Sung by Bebo Norman)

Oh, God of heaven come and hem me in
Gather the pieces that are broken
Show me the wonder of You again
Oh, God of heaven

God of my hope, God of my need
God of my pain that no one else will ever see
God of my healing, God of my strength
God who has always and will forever reign
God of my everything

In all creation You call my name
In all the beauty that this world displays
Still I’m the one for whom Your heart aches
In all creation

God of my hope, God of my need
God of my pain that no one else will ever see
God of my healing, God of my strength
God who has always and will forever reign
God of my everything
God of my everything

And when the mountains shake
You are my God, You never change
And when the earth gives way
You are still God, You never change

God of my hope, God of my need
God of my pain that no one else will ever see
God of my healing, God of my strength
God who has always and will forever reign
God of my everything

God of my everything
God of my everything
God of my everything

The key to conquering my fear is to rest in the capable hands of my Mighty Abba Father:

“Stay alert! I am God, the God of everything living. Is there anything I can’t do?” (Jeremiah 32:27, MSG)

What imaginary monsters are lurking in your head that you need to yield to the God of Everything?  Feel free to share a verse in the comment section below that has helped you conquer that “stinkin’ thinking.”

For more on my thoughts regarding fear and faith, take a look here.

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A Safe Dwelling

Sometimes, I struggle with irrational fears – What if my husband gets in a car accident on the way home today? Is my stomachache a tumor? Was that creaky noise in the living room a serial rapist?….

 

Recently, I had the privilege of being a guest blogger for Granola Bar Devotional, a wonderful devotional blog.

I hope you will read the rest of my thoughts on “A Safe Dwelling” by jumping over here.

Enjoy!!!


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