Rejoice in Free Will!

I have been saying Philippians 4:4-8 to myself the last while and have had a second wave of a long coming revelation.

We are given free will to choose.  Anything.  I am thinking of joy in particular today.  Like choosing what I eat gradually changes how I feel and look, choosing the thoughts and emotions I entertain gradually changes my thought patterns and how I view life itself. In fact, brain specialist Dr. Caroline Leaf teaches that what we choose with our will (mind) actually changes the brain itself, which in turn changes our DNA making our body either impermeable to disease, or susceptible to it.

Rejoice in the Lord always again I say, Rejoice!  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.  

Scripture doesn’t let us off the Rejoicing hook when things look grim or when we are having a terrible, no good, rotten, I’m going to move to Australia kind of day.  It simply says ALWAYS REJOICE.

In fact, when Israel faced huge obstacles that seemed insurmountable, they were called to worship and praise God before He acted on their behalf.  Nothing has changed in 2000 and some years.  We are still called to rejoice – especially when that is the last thing we feel like doing.

Yesterday, tired and not feeling great, I struggled to accomplish the simplest of tasks with a teething, gassy baby.  Small problems, I know, but I decided to put my will to work for me rather than just giving into the frustration and impatience that welled up.

I began praising Jesus for the things He has blessed me with and His goodness and faithfulness to us.  I declared my thankfulness and told myself I was choosing to rejoice, and slowly, the tide of frustration was overtaken by the sweet waves of thankfulness.

In Psalm 42:5, David instructs his soul to hope in God and praise Him for His help.

Psalm 35:9 says: “And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; It shall rejoice in His salvation.”  

The will to choose is a gift God gave us as His children that brings fulfillment when we use our will to obey and glorify Him.  It is only then we are free to engage in the abundant life Jesus told us He died for.

With the empowering grace of Christ, nothing is unchangeable.  Depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, addiction and every other thing that robs us of the joy of the Lord bows before the will that chooses differently.  One. Day. At. A Time.

Like stepping back and critically assessing  a painting I am working on, I can asses and replace harmful emotions seeking to command my soul, and choose what brings life.  Its not something I can do on my own – as always, I need the Holy Spirit to show me what is good and choose what it true!

May you choose to rejoice today in whatever situation you find yourself.

 

A Word To The Wise

I was praying for a friend, asking God to give him a spirit of wisdom and revelation, and began thinking about what wisdom and revelation look like. Looking up the many verses about wisdom, I became convinced it is something I need more of in my life.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (Ephesians 1:17)

There is a reason God rewarded Solomon so lavishly when he asked for wisdom rather than riches or power.  God told the new king that not only would He grant his request, but He would add to it as well.

“Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chron 1:10)

From all nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom. (1 Kings 4:34)

Wisdom is not the same as being smart; true wisdom from above looks like this:

But the wisdom from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted, straightforward and sincere.  And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness. (James 3:17)

True wisdom gave Solomon a platform to influence nations. True wisdom builds healthy, beautiful relationships with God and others.  True wisdom paves a straight path to deeper relationship with Jesus, bringing a hunger to be in His presence.

Love wisdom like a sweetheart; make her a beloved member of your family. (Prov 7:4)

Wisdom creates families that thrive and build eternal legacy together, while reflecting the glory and light of Jesus.

Wisdom from Heaven gives understanding to make the hours we are given as productive and fulfilled as God designed them to be.

“I, Wisdom, will make the hours of your day more profitable and the years of your life more fruitful.” (Proverbs 9:11)

With all the fruit of wisdom, I had to ask myself; ‘how do I attain more of it?’

If any of you needs wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously  without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt for the one who doubts is like a wave tossed by the sea. (James 1:5-6)

If you want better insight and discernment, and search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure, then wisdom will be given you and knowledge of God himself; you will soon learn the importance of reverence for the Lord and of trusting him. (Prov 2:3-5)

It seems as I seek Jesus and the heart of the Father, I acquire the wisdom of Heaven.  As I listen to the Holy Spirit who is the Teacher, Counsellor, and Helper, He rubs off on me, empowering me to grow in wisdom.

So today I say; “Well Holy Spirit, lets build it together!”

 

 

 

 

Where Have all the Babies Gone?

I burst out laughing as my weary mind takes in the shocked look on Raphael’s little face, elicited by my shocked exclamation as he pees straight into my now cold tea.

Having a baby is like nothing I have ever done. The praying, anticipating, speaking life over this little person I will assist into the world, speaking Jesus’ destiny and calling over their life.  It is painful, messy, wonderful and often puts me far out of familiar.

There is a trend in my generation. We are not having babies. Its uncomfortable, sometimes downright painful, and really, who has time for a baby? They encompass much of your time, and resources, and there is no guarantee they won’t end up resenting you at some point and walking away.

“We have ambitions and plans that just don’t allow for kids” I hear my people say.  The focus of my generation is not on growing strong, young men and women with character who will change the world, it is on our lives and sometimes simply staying afloat is all we can worry about.

There is a mirror of culture in the church. We are not having babies. I mean born again babies. The birth that determines eternity. And I wonder why?

We can say its because things like 3000 people being added to our number like in Acts 2 don’t happen today. But in the hungry places of the world where the Spirit of God is welcomed it does.

We can say its because our culture is hardened against the gospel and not open to God. But every culture and generation has eternity in their hearts and brokenness that cries out for the Healer.

We can say its because there is not as much need in North America and we are a “Christian nation.” But we’re not a Christian nation, Vancouver is considered unreached and hurting people are everywhere.

Although we don’t say it so forthright, I wonder if we have the same excuses as my generation. We are occupied, crafting our lives, living with our own unhealed wounds and worries and don’t have the capacity to add the great commission to our already overflowing plates.

I wonder if our focus has gotten onto “doing the things” and “going to the places” that we forget about THE LOST.

There is nothing in life like participating in the eternal birth of a soul. Partnering with the Holy Spirit to love, speak life over and anticipate the birth of some one God invites us to walk with is the most fulfilling gift I have ever been given.  And I want to do it again. And again.

Like having kids, it can be painful, messy and time consuming.  It requires me to leave my safe life and enter the world of another, constantly obeying the Holy Spirit and loving radically.  But after all, that is what Jesus did for me.  Bore the messy, the painful, stepping into my world to love me before I was lovable.

So I am asking for God to bring people who need to be reborn and give me the grace to do the messy, wonderful work of loving them well.

 

Who Gave You Permission?

As a true blood Canadian, I have a propensity to apologize and worry whether I might be offending or putting some one out.  While this is not inherently bad, the last number of years, Jesus has been relentlessly working to take away the fear of man that stops me from wanting to stand out in obedience to Him.  This flies in the face of my tendency to back down when I sense disapproval from others, making me pretty uncomfortable at times. I am sorry to say, I have not always stood my ground.

Galatians 1:1 says:

I was not appointed by any group of people of any human authority, but by Jesus Christ Himself and God the Father who raised Jesus from the dead. 

Then, a few paragraphs farther:

Obviously I am not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. (1:10)

Then:

But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by His marvelous grace.  Then it pleased Him to reveal His Son to me so I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. (1:15)

It is easy to be caught up in the world’s code of established borders and fences around what is perceived as “normal” and “acceptable.”  And while some of us like to venture close to the fence like a wannabe maverick, testing the electric wire, what we don’t know is the grass on the other side can make us truly alive.

I wonder if we realize that like Paul, we are chosen and called for specific tasks God dreamed for us long before we were born.  Inside the world’s invisible fence of permissions, this calling is impossible. Like the fearful cow, afraid of the electric fence, many  never make it to the abundant, fully alive life Jesus planned for us.

Jesus wants so desperately for us to understand that He is the ultimate permission granter; the only one who can qualify and equip us for the tasks He has given us.

If we are waiting for people’s approval, we will never have His.

There is value in hermeneutics, but it can also be our excuse not to step into what we heard Jesus calling us to in the dark solitude of the night watch.

Faith takes the calling into the daylight where others offer challenges and reasonable “outs” and remains steadfast and confident that Jesus will see us through till the end.

Grace is not just what gets us saved – it is the power to finish well day by day.  Divine calling does not make life easy, it makes it significant.

I pray you are never content to live an “ordinary” life inside the fences of society.  In the way you work, play, suffer, rejoice and live, may your life exuberantly shout “Permission granted; fully living with purpose!”

Do you feel qualified for the things God is calling you to? What causes you to hesitate at the fence lines?