What’s Your Temperature?

In today’s society, it’s easy to find ourselves trying to “fit in” to whatever social norm seems acceptable, which ultimately means we’re motivated externally vs. internally.

15“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
– Revelation 3:15-16

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Do you ever wonder why it is perfectly acceptable and encouraged to go “all out” for things like a favorite sports team, our children’s activities, our careers, hobbies, politics, etc? We wear t-shirts pledging our loyalty to one thing or another, we go to conventions and parties, paint our vehicles and some even paint their faces. We spend substantial amounts of time with others talking about accomplishments, stats, strengths and weaknesses, strategies, and the list goes on. We invite friends into our homes to watch movies or sports on television; we play card games and attend other social gatherings. We invest time and money and more time and more money….

From a social perspective, spending time on those types of things is perfectly acceptable, isn’t it? And yet, striving to live full-throttle for God is often viewed as fanatical or radical behavior….and not in a positive way – why is that????

Granted, feathers may be ruffled or even bristled right about now and that’s OK. I’m not saying those activities are right or wrong – the point is, do we believe God desires, let alone deserves, that kind of attention and more???? Does God want us living for Him in the “normal” temperature range? Or does He desire to see a burning passion? According to Scripture, He’d rather we live our lives for Him or against Him…in other words, lukewarm complacency is not the desired result, folks.

How would we feel if God’s level of interest in our daily lives was less than 100 percent? It’s not as if He takes an interest only when we’re obedient and focused on Him. He is fully invested 24/7 – and it’s usually when we seek Him that we start to catch on to the finer details…

Here’s a personal example: One of the biggest challenges I struggle with is believing God’s call on my life. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? My desire to understand what He’s calling me towards so I can come up with a game plan is crippling me; as a result I’m left feeling overwhelmed and frazzled because I don’t understand the future. Being so wrapped up in getting from point A to point B is blocking Him from showing up and showing off in my life!

The thing is, the desire to control circumstances is like putting God on hold – it’s hovers us in the “normal” temperature range. It’s not as if He doesn’t care about our struggles – He does! He is so interested in helping us move forward, what does He do???? In addition to His Word, He provides examples in ways we can relate!

When I was really struggling, He sent me three separate examples of how others face the same struggles…in a message from Joyce Meyer, Family Life interview with Priscilla Shirer, and through a blog…and that’s just in one day!

So the real challenge we all face every single day is to move beyond circumstances of life and live for God versus self. It’s not about what we can do. It’s about what He can do. And it’s always about someone else’s story.

How do we move beyond circumstances? Joseph is a great example. It didn’t matter if he was a slave, a personal servant, a prisoner, or second in command; he lived each and every day for God – no complaining, no whining about circumstances. The choice is ours…are we in or are we out? I say let’s choose to seek Him daily by digging into His Word and live to exhibit a genuine level of passion for Him far exceeding any worldly interest. In other words – let’s get serious, look beyond circumstance, move out of the social “normal” range, and get radical!

A Time for Sacrifices…

Today my devotional was quite telling…”If you’re finding it difficult to balance your convictions and your job [life], don’t let yourself get frustrated.  Don’t doubt yourself.  Follow the TRUTH, fighting the good fight of faith that you know is right.”

Later I was reading about Abraham – oh how he waited for G_d to fulfill  a dream!  G_d is so faithful – He gave Abraham the son he longed for.  And then G_d asked him to sacrifice the dream – his son – his joy… Abraham didn’t understand why G_d fulfilled a dream and then asked him to give it up – he didn’t need to understand!  Abraham’s willingness goes far beyond obedience – beyond understanding – his willingness came from his complete trust in G_d.

11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
What a great example G_d gave us in Abraham!  Will I trust G_d enough to sacrifice dreams for Him? Enough to allow Him to work wonders through me?  I catch myself thinking, “I do trust Him!” and stop – yes, I trust Him when I can make sense of what He’s asking or when I’m desperate…but not completely – not consistently…  In case you’re wondering, yeah…that’s really hard to write…

I can’t help thinking about the changes happening in my own life.  No, G_d hasn’t asked me to physically sacrifice the precious gifts He’s given me; but He is asking me to let go… willingly give Him the reigns of my life – to move beyond a desire to be obedient – to move even though I lack understanding – to trust Him completely.

Stormy Omartian wrote a prayer that really spoke to my heart today:

“Lord, I know You ask me to surrender everything to You – including the dream in my heart.  And even when that dream is from You, You still ask me to let go of my hold on it.  So I surrender every dream in my heart to You right now.  I don’t want to cling to something You will not bless, or give up on something that is Your will for my life.”

More often than not, I can’t put the puzzle pieces of life together on my own…I can’t hold on to the corner pieces or the few that fit together and wait until it’s convenient or it makes sense to trust Him.  The only way to embrace His plans for me is to fully embrace Him.

I’m reminded life is like a parade…at best I have a retrospective view – I’m at street level seeing only what’s in front of me, fragmented memories of the past, and certainly not what’s ahead.  Only G_d sees the entire parade: beginning, middle, and end.

G_d speaks into my life in so many different ways…Scripture, devotionals, testimonies, family, friends…the list goes on and on…it’s as if He never gives up saying, “See Celeta? You can trust Me! I have great plans for you!  I’ll see you through – I won’t let you down – I never have and I never will – I promise.”

Cha-Cha-Changes…

Well, well, well…isn’t it interesting how you can see something directly in front of you, but not see it at all?  Last week I wrote about motion sickness…it made great sense to me, but of course I was looking retrospectively.  Nothing wrong with that, retrospection gives us a clearer picture of experiences God uses to grow us.  The trick is future application!

When I wrote last week’s entry, in my mind I was thinking, “Boy, there are a lot of changes on the horizon! Not worry, Celeta – your focus is exactly where it needs to be!”  Right…

Later in the week I came across a note/journal entry from two years ago that spoke of changes and how God needs to take me completely out of my comfort zone and put me in a scenario where I would have no bearing…the result? Increasing my dependence on Him.

When I read the entry I thought, “Wow! Isn’t that interesting?”  Originally, I thought it meant everything I knew – every facet of my physical existence would be turned on end… Whew! What a relief to realize that although my life was changing dramatically, God wasn’t taking my out of my world, He was bringing someone in to my world to shake things up – I can do that kind of change!  Not so fast, Sparky…as quickly as plans came into view, they started changing…ah geez…that motion sickness was setting in again!

Insecurities seem to be bubbling up like there’s no tomorrow…yet in announcing changes to family and friends, I am reminded of my primary objective…to fulfill God’s purpose in my life.  Yes, that is the desire of my heart…could someone please send the memo to my flesh????

What to do? Focus…or rather Re-Focus on God’s promises…

When I start thinking “I can’t seem to figure things out!” remind myself He will direct my steps…

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

When I start thinking, “this is too much – it’s too hard” remind myself to persevere – He will see me through…

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. ” 2 Chron 28:20

In other words DON’T GIVE UP! No one ever said change is easy…it is however, essential to growth.  My emotions are like a see-saw and even though I’m still struggling with desires of the flesh and desperately trying understand what God is laying out before me, I have to remember and find comfort in the fact that He’s the one who has written the change order, He’s REALLY good at His job, and He will get me where I’m going!

 

 

Struggling with doubt? Check out Renee Swope’s A Confident Heart