Friday, March 29, 2013

Faith to know the outcome

Have you ever been paralyzed about making a decision? Maybe you have two opportunities in front of you but you don't feel like you know which way ultimately to go. You're not sure what to do, who's advice to listen to, and whether you can even trust your self. What if you make the wrong move? What if something bad happens? What if this is your one shot?

This is probably our biggest waste of time and energy as human beings.

So often we forget about the power and authority we have as His creations. We're so focused on what mistakes we might make that we forget that our futures are already secure. We are God’s handiwork, created to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do! God has given us authority to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm youWhen we're in intimate relationship with God, we're doing our best to follow Him and we trust that God knows our hearts.  He promises that He will work for our good. But when we are continuously analyzing and debating and letting go of our peace, we get further away from God.

Consider Jesus' last night in Gethsemane. I'm glad this story is in the Bible because it gives us an example of what to do when we're struggling. The night He is captured, Jesus is deeply troubled, to the point of telling his disciples that His soul is overwhelmed with sorrow. But after praying all night, He is divinely fortified to complete His assignment. Now, I was thinking this morning, did Jesus really have to go through that? It is said He prayed all night, sweating to the point of blood. Yet, knowing what would happen, He also could have been resting with the disciples and other loved ones.  Now, I'm not judging because its awesome that in our weak moments, God shows up to empower us.  But when anxious, afraid, or uncertain about what will comes, we can also be assured that God is our rest, our strength, our hope, our refuge.

This is where we draw on our faith. Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  Confidence means to be conscious of one's power, to be certain, to trust and rely upon. Assurance means to guarantee, to be secure.  So even when we feel that we don't "know," the irony is that you do know - you know that God is always for you and so whatever may come He will be with you.

When we let go of control and surrender our own need to micromanage the universe, we enter into complete acceptance of what is and what will be. You begin to really embody what it means to be more than a conqueror because  you already know that whatever problem comes your way, you can overcome it. In fact, you live with complete joy, peace and love - all your birthright and ready for you to claim!

Friday, March 15, 2013

No fear - the courage to face mountains

no fear in facing your mountains
Learning to surrender and trust God with the outcomes is not an easy thing to do in our need-to-know culture. We don't like not being able to plan it out. We want to know what is happening next. So when we reach a point of uncertainty, we start worrying. We get uncomfortable. We imagine all the worst possible outcomes. We become panicky. We might start making choices and decisions to get control of the situation. And many of us run off the path as soon as we can before we've learned what that experience was supposed to teach us.

Yet, Jesus told his disciples, "Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” But if you're like me, when you look up at that mountain you might start thinking about your fear of heights ;). All you can think about at the foot of the mountain is what it’s going to take to get to the top -- how strenuous and shaky the path will be, how much time it's going to take, how tired you'll be when you finish, how many opportunities there will be for something to go wrong. You'll forget about all the times you've done this before. And how strong and accomplished it feels when you've made it. Or how good it feels when you're on the top, fully present and connected to all of God's creation. How much it feels like this is the place you were meant to be.

Fortunately, even when we're too caught up in our own fears and anxiety to move forward, God gives us multiple opportunities to face our mountains. In fact, God reminds us that we don’t even have to climb the mountain. We can simply tell the mountain to get out of our way. That’s how much power we have when we believe and trust in God.

To walk in that kind of confidence, we have to understand that God is with us wherever we go. He never leaves our side. As David writes, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

Throughout the Bible, God continuously tells us to be courageous, strong, and still (at peace) because He is with us. In His presence we are covered, we are secure. He promises us that He will not fail or forsake us; we have His comfort; and that He will fight for us. What more could we really ask for?

A beautiful passage in A Course in Miracles says, "You can never be deprived of your perfect holiness because its Source goes with you wherever you go. You can never suffer because the Source of all joy goes with you wherever you go. You can never be alone because the Source of all life goes with you wherever you go. Nothing can destroy your peace of mind because God goes with you wherever you go." Lord we thank that you are always with us.  Because of your presence, we do not have to walk in fear. I pray that we are encouraged to live our lives in complete confidence in You, to know that all things are operating in our favor. Amen.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Shine bright

I recently finished a book, The Big Leap, in which the author talks about the "upper limit problem" that keeps people from walking in the complete joy, love, and fullness that is always accessible to us when we're operating in our full potential, which he terms the "zone of genius.”  This zone -- an expression of your unique gifts and talents -- is everyone's birthright.  But because of our upper limit problem, we often subconsciously self-sabotage ourselves when things are going well by allowing fear, worry, blame, insecurity and other negative thought patterns and narratives to block us from receiving what is ours.  We believe that we cannot possibly be entitled to this much joy, so we find ways to limit ourselves.

As I have been thinking about how our stories and internal narratives keep us out of Eden, this book made me contemplate how difficult it is for many of us to accept our greatness.  We think that to be humble and righteous we must deny our gifts and power.  But the truth of the matter is that all your talents and strengths are given to you by God to glorify Him.  God does not create junk.  He says that we are His masterpieces.  If you are a child of God, a reflection of Him, made in His image, light of the world - then your purpose is to shine brightly.  It is not arrogant or unrighteous to accept the truth of what we are created to be.  It is unrighteous to act is if you have nothing to offer the world, no gifts to bring, no potential.  When you do that, you deny God's power and His purpose for you.  Which means that you believe the insane thought that you came into being on your own accord - that is arrogance. 

But you, dear friend, are all together lovely and irreplaceable to God.  You are divine thought brought into being.  Your value has been established by God and it needs no defense.  This is our truth.  So why are you defending an image of yourself that is not real?  Why are you fighting God about who you really are? 

In A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson beautifully writes: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

You see, when you allow your own light to shine, you light a path for others.  This is why we are here -- to support each other in remembering who we are and revealing the love that God has for us. 

let your light shine

Dear Lord I pray that we will stand in the truth, Your truth of who we are.  That we will not be afraid to shine brightly, that we let our light continuously light a path to You.  Amen.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Changing your perspective - seeing your obstacles as God's opportunities

One of the biggest blocks to reclaiming our lives and experiencing Eden, is often the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.  Many of us look at our challenges as obstacles without realizing that those very experiences can be a doorway into miracles -- our very dreams come true.  Particularly when we are in the wilderness, we can become so used to the discomfort of transition that rather than seeing this time of growth as a temporary passage, we make it a permanent lifestyle.  Because we're too afraid to claim what lies ahead, we hold on to old stories or create new ones that make us believe we are unworthy of getting to the other side.  Yet, the truth of the matter is that it is in the going through process that we are strengthened, our faith is built and our relationship with God is deepened in intimacy.  

changing perspective seeing like God

In many ways, our obstacles are a gift - an opportunity for us to remember that we are worthy: before we were even born, God knew us and set us apart for great things.  He comforts and supports us in our times of trouble.  And who we are -- our identity as His -- is secure. 

Critical to my own journey of healing and forgiveness has been learning to see as God sees.  For both my parents and myself, I've had to examine the limiting beliefs that entrapped us.  My parents’ behavior stemmed from their own pain and struggles with self-worth, and I knew I did not want to repeat the cycle.  That has meant both learning to see their heart's struggles with compassion and prayerfully examining what I can learn from their lives so that I do not recycle their stories into mine.  A central question for me is what is the life I want to live?  You see, our lives are always talking, so at some point you will have to examine what is the story that you want your life to tell. 

The good news is that God already has written the story of your life.  Unfortunately, many of us are holding ourselves back from enjoying the experiences of life that God has planned for us.  So, how do we change our perspective to match God's?

1) Trust Him.  I know this statement seems very basic.  But trusting God is the foundation of your journey through this human experience.  Our ability to surrender, to let go, to cast our cares on Him, to lay our burdens down, to enter His rest, to approach our lives with wonder and expectancy is to know at the level of our souls that whatever is happening, God is with us. 

I remember in college, when I first started developing my own personal relationship with God, I was so condemning of myself.  I felt like everything I read about God could not possibly be for me.  I would go to church and cry my eyes out because I did not think it possible that God could really love me.  I would read the Bible and tell myself, oh, that will never be me, I will never have that, that doesn’t apply to me.  But, over the years, as God has lovingly nurtured me and shown me how He has never left my side, I now can open the Bible and be filled with amazement!  I read the scripture now and I am excited about what is promised and what is in store for us.  I can look at my life with great thanks and see where God has been present and how those very promises in the Word are in fact now operating in my life. 

To get to that place of joy, I had to understand that no matter what is happening, God is for me.  The Word says, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,who have been called according to his purpose.”  God works for our good and we have been called for a higher purpose.  He has great plans for our lives that will be fulfilled; we just need to trust him. 

2) Claim your power.  This is a key step that many of us miss.  In some of His last words to the disciples, Jesus says, "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these . . ." Jesus continues with the familiar promise that whatever we ask in His name, He will do. However, so often we gloss over this first part -- the fact that we have power to do even greater things than Jesus accomplished in His ministry!

Throughout His time on earth, Jesus consistently points out what is possible if we only believe (Matthew 9; Mark 11).  He wanted His life and ministry to be examples of the power we have to change the world.  The Word says, "as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”  In what ways are you  limiting your power?

We must remember that we are chosen.  We have the strength of God.  All things are possible.  We must reprogram our beliefs to assert that we have the power to overcome any obstacles that block us from what God has in store for us.

3) Renew your mind.  You can see how when you're caught in negative thinking and limiting beliefs, your life plays out.  When you think that everyone is out to get you, you interpret others' actions accordingly to confirm this.  When you do not have a strong sense of self, your interactions with everyone become reflections of your insecurities.  You constantly feel rejected.  You are defensive.  You walk in fear. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  You see, when you put your mind on God, on things above, and begin to walk by faith, you create a space for new thoughts -- of victory, joy, peace, and love to pour out from your spirit.  That is what He wills for you. 

I want to encourage you that any moment is an opportunity to start anew.  The Bible says that if anyone is in Christ he is already a new creation.  Behold the old has passed, the new has come!  You just have to claim it. 

In the newness, you will see as God sees.  A new heaven and a new earth will emerge, reconciled.  The former things will not be remembered; they will be erased from your mind.  In place of pain and sorrow, there will only be joy.  You will know that God dwells within you; and that you are His.  You will live freely, receiving all that is your inheritance.  And you will know in your soul the truth of His promise that "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." Amen.