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!

The Trouble With Double Standards

God has been pouring out blessing upon blessing in my life and yet, I find myself dwelling on the impact past sins may have on the future.

We’ve all sinned, right?  Granted, in our minds some may seem much larger than others – some with longer standing consequences, but they’re sins all the same.

There is no sliding sin scale – a sin is a sin – plain and simple.

Do you ever find yourself being your own worst critic?  Having impossible standards?  Allowing yourself to be haunted by those past mistakes?

If so, you’re not alone.  If so, there’s hope. But it requires a shift.  It requires letting go of those sins.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to  them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

God tells me He is faithful – He tells me He will forgive me – He tells me He will cleanse me – He tells me He will work ALL things together for good.  When I stumble and follow with repentance, why then do I hold onto that mistake for dear life?

It is so easy for me to look at a person and see who they are – the good and the bad.  I can easily see how God takes a situation and turns it into something wonderful. And I completely believe He forgives those who repent of their sins.

And since we all know God is not a respecter of persons, why then do I continue to dig up my past mistakes?  I’m like a dog with his favorite bone – I can’t seem to let go.  God has forgiven me – it’s gone – it’s erased!  So why then, do I readily let go of others’ mistakes and yet hold on to mine?

The trouble with this double standard is that it’s almost as if I’ve decided what sins get forgiven – and it’s a mindset that can hold me back from fully moving forward into what God has in store for me – a mindset the enemy thrives on.

How exactly do I accept God’s grace and forgiveness? Daily.  Each time the enemy stirs up those feelings of guilt I must be reminded God removed those transgressions – not temporarily – He removed them permanently.  And I use the tools He gives me to reinforce His faithfulness –  daily prayers of thanksgiving, affirmations standing on His promises, and most importantly, leaning into Him and resting in His love.

1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:1-5

I Give Myself Away…

Thank you William McDowell for sharing such an amazing perspective…now it’s up to me  to live it out…

I woke up today with this song in my head…actually, it’s been simmering on the back burner of my mind since last Sunday’s service…I know it’s what God wants from me… I know it won’t be until I’m completely out of my comfort zone…all the structure I have a tendency to cling to…is removed…

Praise God! To move towards a place of total surrender…a place I’ve wanted to be – I just wasn’t there yet…I’m not confident I’m there now, but I’m definitely past just wanting it, I have a hunger for it now – to completely put my life – my hopes – my dreams – my trust – in Him!

I know it’s not a magic pill…or a checklist…it’s dying daily to my idea of what life is supposed to look like and stepping out of the way so He can use me

I’m not a control freak…well, perhaps I am – I’ve always been a gal who loves a plan – it’s time to let Him do His job and give up trying to do it all myself.

I Give Myself Away

Lyrics

Chorus:
I give myself away
I give myself away
So You can use me
I give myself away
I give myself away
So You can use me

Verse 1:
Here I am
Here I stand
Lord, my life is in your hands
Lord, I’m longing to see
Your desires revealed in me
I give myself away

Verse 2:
Take my heart
Take my life
As a living sacrifice
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord I place them in your hands

Chorus:
I give myself away
I give myself away
So You can use me
I give myself away
I give myself away
So You can use me

Chorus:
I give myself away
I give myself away
So You can use me
I give myself away
I give myself away
So You can use me

Bridge(7X):
I am not my own
To you I belong
I give myself, I give myself to You
Chorus:
I give myself away
I give myself away
So You can use me

Covenant Relationships

Analytical by nature, I’m constantly attempting to put puzzle pieces together – yes, even when I don’t have all the pieces! God was so good to reveal a bigger part of His picture this week.  His covenant relationship with me.  A bond He longs for me to fully embrace. 

Enter the Love Dare – yes, perhaps an unconventional approach to developing a stronger relationship with God, but when I step back and consider the pieces…the conventional use of the Love Dare is between a couple – husband and wife – it’s goal to strengthen the covenant bond of marriage.   God is simply using the Love Dare as a tool for me – taking the concept of a relationship between man and woman a step further – with Him – to strengthen my understanding of His covenant relationship with me.

The focus of each Love Dare is basically how love impacts every facet of our lives – and how different life and relationships can be when viewed through eyes of love – through the eyes of God. 

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8 (NIV)

This verse is not speaking of the world’s definition of love – it speaks of God’s definition of love – two very different meanings!  For me, to know love is to know God – to know God is to know His Word. 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Cor 13:4-7 

And so, the Love Dare touches on these attributes of God and how they are revealed in our lives.  I know I’m only scratching the surface – I know have so much to learn! And that’s what this process is all about – learning more about Him – one devoted day at a time.

He’s Big Enough

Yesterday my Words of Encouragement were on target (as usual!):

“Dear Lord, I trust You – regardless of what the situations around me say.  I know that You won’t leave me or forsake me and that You’re big enough to handle my dilemma.”

As I read the short prayer, I was thinking, “That’s right! – He’s got it covered!”

The frustrating thing is, it wasn’t two hours before I’d completely discharged that affirmation from my thought process – I allowed myself to be focused on my circumstance versus the One “big enough” to manage my circumstance.

Fortunately God isn’t expecting me to get the timing right in every situation – when I arrived at the office this morning, there was the prayer staring me in the face – a gentle reminder – I may have forgotten the words in the prayer, but not the truth in the prayer – He was ever present as I journaled before the day came to a close…

Mentally I know God has my dilemma covered – pesky home repairs – the damage may be costly, the bank account may be drying up, but He is faithful! His love NEVER FAILS! I know He will provide everything I need and will carry me through this challenge…now if I can consistently connect all of that to my heart.  And although it’s a uncomfortable process, I’m so thankful He is growing me!

The truths and promises I know to stand on come to mind – “He’s brought me this far, He’s not going to let me down now…all I have to do is TRUST HIM” coupled with a recent message on discipleship – it’s as if Jesus is running beside me rooting me on to victory cheering, “DON’T GIVE UP! DON’T GIVE UP! DON’T GIVE UP!”  

Temptation

My words of encouragement this morning is a wonderful reminder to consistently seek Him…

“The good news is that none of us has to cave in to pressure.  In the midst of crazy days when things don’t go right and people get on your nerves, you can still have inner peace.  You can still have God’s perspective on your life.”

Hello! How easy it is to try and carry the pressures of the world on my shoulders – to try and manage life on my own…so many Scriptures come to mind, but this is the first…and not coincidentally, one of my first memory verses!

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.

And God is faithful;

He will not let you to be tempted beyond what you can bear.

But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out

so that you can stand up under it.”

Why Settle?

May 4, 2011

We’ve all heard the old saying, “Don’t settle for less” – but I wonder how often we do just that?  Settle for what seems to be a realistic outcome to circumstances in our lives.  I read a great devotional today addressing this challenge – what may seem an impossible task to me is VERY possible for God!  And it really connected dots to a recent bible study on Matthew 6:25-33

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

   And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Thankfully, God gives me exactly what I need, when I need it.  He also knows my tendency to look only at what’s in front of me and gives me great examples of what can happen when I add faith to what I already have – when Jesus fed the five thousand (Mark 6:30-44), his disciples were very much like me – they only saw what they had and not what God could do with what they had.  One of God’s beautiful promises is to provide for my needs – all I have to do is seek Him first…not second, not as as an afterthought – FIRST…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. 

When I fist started on this leg of my journey, a mentor prompted me to always ask myself a question before I started a project or responded to a need, “Is it Kingdom focused?” In other words, who’s gonna get the glory from my actions – me? or God?  Better yet, what if I ask, “How can God get the glory?”  So often, I find myself moving into action before I really think about what I’m doing, let alone who I’m doing it for, or how God can direct me toward a result beyond my wildest expectations. 

My TGIF devotional put it quite succinctly: “Do not settle for the gospel of salvation only. Jesus came that we might experience the gospel of the Kingdom in its fullest sense.”  As I’m seeing and grasping more clearly each day, my job isn’t to rely on worldly experiences of logical reasoning – it’s to put my faith into action and see what God can do!

Alka-Selzter Moments

 

April 15, 2011

It’s amazing what God can do…IF and WHEN I get out of the way!!!!  To say I was struggling with work issues last year is an understatement.  It wasn’t just ONE thing (it never is), but a combination of things…feeling like an outsider in my own group and undervalued by senior management kept me whizzing around on a roller coaster of frustration and discontent.

 God is always so good to put the Scripture I need in front of me – and leaving it there to mull over…and over…and over until it sinks in.  The recent biggie was and still is Phil 4:6-7:

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (NIV)

 And if that verse sounds familiar? Well, it’s because I wrote about it a couple of months ago.  Back to the story…

 Year end in the accounting world is equivalent to chaos on steroids… ridiculous deadlines, questions, questions, and more questions… add in existing frustrations, another month-end before you’ve finished the last, a few major business changes, staffing changes, and changes on those changes and you’ve got the perfect storm – well, of course if you’re trying to steer the boat yourself!

 As much as I tried to remind myself (daily, hourly, and yes, sometimes even by the minute) to Let Go and Let God…somehow I was still managing to fight to do it myself.  It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but geez…I am one persistent human! 

 The thing about transformation is that it can’t be achieved on your own…let me repeat…TRANSFORMATION CAN’T BE ACHIEVED ON YOUR OWN.  It’s definitely a God Thing and in no way, shape, or form an overnight thing.    I thought because I recognized the obstacles ahead, I had the tools necessary to handle what was coming down the pike…nope, not even close…I was the proverbial duck: calm on the surface and paddling like mad underneath!

 I sought support from friends and family, posted reminders of Scripture, devotionals, (you name it) to help redirect me…I have all these little sticky notes with words of encouragement on my desk now… they’re really good so I’ll share a few:

 “God has brought you this far, and He’ll never let you down…but it’s up to you to trust Him.  If you do, then you can have all the success He has in store for you – spiritually and in the workplace”

 Psalm 18:39 “You armed me with strength for battle…”

“Lord, I am grateful that you have armed me with the strength I need for the battle ahead.  Teach me to persevere in prayer and not let down.  Enable me to pray through each situation until I see victory.  You are always with me, working in my favor.  Amen.”

 And one of my favorites – simple and yet so powerful…

 “Father, Bring Celeta peace in knowing that You are in control.  In Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen.”

 You see, it wasn’t until I consistently (consistent being the operative word) started praying on God’s promises, that I was finally able to relinquish my unyielding grip on the situation.  It was an “Alka-Seltzer” moment indeed – oh what a relief it is!

 The peace I’ve found in the workplace is nothing short of a miracle – I no longer feel like an outsider…my focus is on others vs myself (duh!).  I no longer feel undervalued by senior management – God has me EXACTLY where he wants me and after all, He is the ultimate Senior Manager!  The staffing changes? They’re never easy, right? Oh my goodness! The changes far exceeded my wildest expectations – that in and of itself should show anyone what God can do when you let Him. 

 Will there be challenges ahead?  Absolutely.  Will I still struggle to do it on my own? Inevitably.  But the assurance I’m embedding more and more firmly each day guarantees not only will I recognize He knows exactly what He’s doing, but I will gladly turn it over… and yes, as always, He’s got it covered!

Micro-Managing

July 21, 2010

 

Do you attempt to micromanage God?  It never occurred to me until today that’s exactly what I tend to do!  Sounds ridiculous, right?  Of course I don’t start out each day deliberately thinking I know how to handle my life better than God, but my actions show differently.  Watch the picture unfold… 

 

Last week my nephew posted a link to a video called “The Stool” http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/11396/The-Stool – it’s a short clip with two individuals and a stool.  The male represents Jesus and the stool represents decisions in the woman’s life.  Theoretically, she acknowledges Jesus makes perfect decisions for her life, but it doesn’t take any time before she finds herself crowding out Jesus for control over the stool.  There’s a great line that stuck with me, “I’m kinda one-cheeking it here.” 

 

Not so long ago, I was having a conversation with a friend and expressing frustrations in workplace relationships.  My struggles stemmed from a senior management team member not fully allowing me to do my job. He’d give a project to me, but it was as if he was still holding on only to take it back.  He’d go and work on the project on his own, then when he got stuck guess what happened? Of course! He would give it back.  How could I possibly show him my full capabilities if he kept taking back control? HELLO?????

 

I must have shared the workplace scenario on multiple occasions and it never dawned on me until just this morning I tend to do the EXACT same thing with God.  How can He possibly show me His full potential when I try to one-cheek my relationship with Him? It doesn’t work, does it?  Unlike my frustrations in the workplace, God isn’t going to fight for control over decisions in my life.  He will patiently wait until I decide to “Let Go and Let God” – and yes, that was a blog in the not so distant past…

 

Although it may seem like it’s the same scenario (letting go) over and over again, I can see my relationship with God changing – growing – strengthening every day.  And as I gradually give up the pieces of my life I’ve held on to so stubbornly, my heart is lighter and it feels AMAZING!  It’s kind of like when you try to hold your breath and you can’t hold it any longer…that next breath?  It’s incredible – such a relief, right?  Well it’s the same thing when you completely give something to God …His breath fills your life and propels you forward in a way you could never imagine.

Putting God on the Front Burner

May 16, 2010

It’s a quiet Sunday morning…thinking about the day ahead…going back over the week’s devotionals, many of which I missed.  The thing that’s been brewing on the back burner…I’m not spending enough time with God…am I treating Him like so many things with an “I’ll get to it” attitude?  Ouch…what’s the saying, “the truth hurts?” Often it seems I need things put in front of me over and over and over before I pay attention.  God is so good! Watch how the devotionals played out…not in the order received, but in the order read:

·Establishing a two-way relationship with God – one key element is knowing and spending time studying God’s Word – why is it so easy to let worldly things take priority?

·Plans of tomorrow questioned if our priorities are aligned with God’s – moreover am I asking God to give me His priorities for my life or am I winging it on what I think they should be?

·Fleeting Shadow reminded me our time here on earth is like a cup of coffee (yes, God knew that would get my attention) poured into the ocean (eternity) yet I give that tiny cup ‘o joe so much focus and attention when I should be pursuing spiritual opportunities…doesn’t really make sense, does it?

·Encounters with God – He knows my weaknesses and is ready and willing to help – how long will I resist showing Him I’m serious by seeking Him with all my heart…acknowledging my helpless condition before Him?

·Changing Besetting Habits – I can only speak for myself, but I need to be held accountable – it is so easy to reason away the “what I should be doing” list.   God is extremely patient with me, but more often than not, I need a swift kick in the rear to get me moving forward. 

Interesting to say the least…then I opened an email from Pocket Full of Rocks – the email had links that didn’t translate well to my blackberry so it sat in my Inbox at home for a couple of weeks – this was the one-two punch – I never saw it coming – wasn’t prepared for the immediate impact…

The link was to their blog and the first one was entitled “Embarrassments and Humiliations” – well of course it peaked my interest.  The blog was about a conversation between Michael & his teenage daughter – having raised a teenage daughter, I understood everything he was writing.  But what I never connected on my own, Michael’s words did – I’m EXACTLY like a teenager in my relationship with God! I love to share the good stuff and yes, I’m becoming somewhat more comfortable in going to Him with the tough things – relinquishing control is a HUGE stumbling block.  What about the In-Between stuff – the shortcomings I’m not so proud of? Like Michael, I block Him out of those places – the places where I need Him most and the place He wants to be!

As I go back and look at the bold print above, I’m reminded God’s ready and willing  – He will never fail to meet me right where I am.  Just like any parent, nothing gives Him more joy than when His children come to him with EVERYTHING – He wants to be on the front burner – the one fueling our lives!