Happy Thanksgiving!

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Authority, Not Control

 

“Authority exercised with humility and obedience accepted with delight are the very lines along which our spirits live.” 

C.S. Lewis 

I’ve started to meet with a Christian therapist for leadership coaching. I want to gain insight and encouragement so I fulfill all of God’s assignments. It was revealed at the end of my first session, that I need to walk in authority, with confidence. 

For years, I’ve prayed to walk fully in my God-given authority, but it seemed I held back. As I began to ponder on what I thought authority and confidence meant, I realized I believed a lie. I’ve confused authority with control and confidence with pride. Not wanting to be controlling, or prideful, I’ve run as far away from authority and confidence. 

Those who have authority or are experts in certain areas, gained that level of influence through their experience and knowledge. Because we’ve walked through something, or have extensively studied a topic, we have expertise and therefore others believe we have authority on that subject. When we persevere through a trial, and have breakthrough, then we’ve attained authority in that area to help others receive the same breakthrough.  

Authority is not given to load it over others, nor to control people. Authority is given for one reason: to serve others. Authority has left a bad tasted in my mouth because it’s been used as a weapon to control, hurt, or to use me for someone else’s gain. But that’s not godly authority. God wants us to use our authority for someone else’s benefit. 

When my husband and I first started to train for marathons, we had no clue about what was required. We turned to those in authority, who had run numerous marathons and read their advice, in hopes of finishing the race. The author’s wisdom was for our benefit. 

In Matthew 28:18, Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” His authority becomes our authority. Jesus’ power to influence becomes our power to influence. 

Now that I know authority is to humbly serve others, I want to embrace the authority God has given to me. 

“The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power, but love, not force but example... Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.” 

John Stott 

Relevant Reflection: 

In what ways do you walk in your God-given authority and how have you held back? 

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Self-Criticism

 

“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” 

Brene Brown 

Words are powerful. Proverbs 18:21a says, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” We’ve all been hurt by people’s careless words and even though we may have forgiven the offender, the hurtful words are often remembered years later. But what does God think about the disparaging words we say about ourselves? 

In the past month I’ve had a few friends hold me accountable for the negative words I’ve said about myself. When I’ve spoken about my weaknesses in a way that puts me down, they have called me on it. After I left having lunch with one of them, God began to speak to me. 

Stop selling yourself short. Because when you do, you’re selling Me short as well. When you put yourself down or highlight a weakness or negative habit in your life, it’s as if you’re saying that about Me. When you put yourself down, you’re putting Me down, because I, the Creator, lives within you. Ouch! God went on to say: Don’t use your weaknesses as an excuse to not fulfill My calling. For when I ask you to do something for Me, then I will equip you to do that. Don’t hide behind your weaknesses. 

Joyce Meyer says, “Words are containers for power. You choose what kind of power they carry.” When I criticize and put myself down, then I have chosen words that have the power of death over me.  

Years ago, I heard the quote, “God doesn’t make junk!” If I really believed that and had revelation that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful,” (Psalm 139:14), then I wouldn’t be quick to speak negatively about myself to myself or to others. 

I’m so grateful God doesn’t let me get away with things that are not for my benefit. I’m thankful He calls me to account and convicts me of my sin. It’s His way to help me see myself as He sees me and to grow in self-acceptance and love. Let’s agree together to stop selling ourselves short. 

“Take care how you speak to yourself, because you are listening.” 

Anonymous 

Relevant Reflections: 

  1. How have you seen the spoken word have the power of life and death? 
  2. In what ways do you put yourself down? Commit to cease doing that through prayer. 
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Identity Components

 

“You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life will never make sense.  

Rick Warren 

If I were allowed to write on only two subjects, I would write on knowing who God is and knowing who God created us to be. Knowing the character of God is a lifetime pursuit. I will be learning and experiencing the wonders of my Creator, the rest of my life and never fully exhaust all that He is. When we know who God is, then we discover who we are, our identity in Christ. 

Jesus writes in John 8:14, “For I absolutely know who I am, where I’ve come from, and where I’m going.” (Passion Translation) Jesus knew clearly who He was and who He was created to be. John 8:14 describes the three components of our identity: Knowing who we are, knowing where we’ve come from, and knowing where we’re headed. 

The Word of God says that we are: God’s treasured possession, the apple of His eye, we’ve been given all authority to overcome the power of the enemy, a son/daughter of God, a friend of God, beloved, set free from sin and a slave of righteousness, more than a conqueror, a new creation, chosen, holy, blameless, and victorious. When I believe these truths in my heart, then I’ll walk differently than one who has an orphan spirit or a victim mentality. 

I know my past, where I’ve come from, and all the sins I’ve committed before and after I became a Christian. I have to work at not letting my past define me, nor allow the accuser of the brethren, to whisper his lies. There is no truth in what Satan says. God has redemptively used the most painful parts in my past. The third verse in Isaiah 61 says He makes beauty out of ashes. Our past doesn’t define us, nor does it disqualify us. In fact, it actually qualifies us for future ministry. 

The last component of our identity lies in knowing where we’re headed, what our calling is all about. My destiny is to mentor the masses, to be a restorer of hearts, so that peoples’ intimacy with God is deepened. This is the future God has planned out for me and now I need to be intentional and focused on fulling my identity. 

“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.” 

Brennan Manning 

Relevant Reflection: 

Who are you, where have you come from, and where are you going? 

 

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Blessed are the Unoffendable

 

“He wants us to know Him so intimately that we recognize Him with our spirits, even when He doesn’t make sense – and even offends our natural minds.” 

Kristen M. Smeltzer 

Last week I wrote about my struggle with God not meeting my expectations. To my natural mind, it didn’t make sense for us to move us to Wichita and start all over in our early sixties. Even when you are obeying God, life doesn’t always turn out like we expect.  

Herod imprisoned John the Baptist and in Matthew 11:2-6, John sent his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” John felt disillusioned and abandoned by Jesus. Why did He allow John to be imprisoned when John had been His forerunner? 

Jesus answered John’s question with what they saw: people healed, the dead raised up and good news preached. And then in verse six, Jesus said this, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of Me.” In other words, Blessed are the unoffendable. 

I’ve been reading Who Do You Say I Am by Kristen Smeltzer and in it she explains why God pushes us into offense. I hope you’re encouraged by her reasons: 

  • To reveal the places in our hearts where we don’t fully understand His character and His ways, so we can become more grounded in the truth of who He is. 
  • To rid us of relying on our logic…and to listen to His Holy Spirit. 
  • To expose weaknesses in our faith and make them our strengths. 
  • To get us to seek out His mysteries of love… 
  • To push us to a place of decision, where we must choose to believe in His goodness when we don’t understand, and trust Him when we don’t “approve” of what He allows in our lives. 
  • To get us to push in for more… 
  • To strengthen our spiritual muscle… 
  • To make us unoffendable. The more unoffendable we are, the more peace we have regardless of our circumstances, and the more established we are in our faith and understanding of who God is. 
  • To make us overcomers and to bring glory to Him. 
  • …Our destiny is often found on the other side of the walls of our offenses! 

“God is always developing our spiritual muscle through the resistance we encounter.” 

Kristen M. Smeltzer 

Relevant Reflection: 

Describe a trial when one of those reasons listed above, came to fruition for you. 

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Expectations

 

“Unmet expectations breed frustrations.”

Lysa Terkeurst

I learned years ago that when my expectations are high, then there’s greater possible disappointment if the expectations are not met. If we have expectations of God, how we think He should act in a certain situation and He doesn’t, we can become offended.

Our expectations may encourage us to take on the role of a victim. Initially when John’s medical practice began to plummet, my expectations rose to the surface of my heart. I had believed our latter years would be easier, with less sacrifice involved. My expectation was to live in Omaha till we died and when it looked as if we needed to move to Wichita in order for John to keep practicing, I was not a happy camper! I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was offended by God and His plans for us at this stage in life. I needed to repent.

We can be offended by God because He didn’t meet our expectations. God didn’t do what we thought was best for us. He didn’t perform how we wanted Him to. The world doesn’t revolve around us; our lives are to turn around God and His desires. God doesn’t owe me or you anything. We’re the ones indebted to Him, for all He’s done for us.

God doesn’t just see the present, what is happening to us today. He’s the Alpha and Omega and sees the beginning and the end. The whole picture, not just one part, is His perspective. God knows what happened in our past and sees what will take place in our future. What if something you didn’t want to happen, in the long run, was actually better than what you originally desired, but at first glance didn’t appear that way?

It was no secret I didn’t want to move away from my family, friends, and church in Omaha. My heart grieved the loss and God stored up my many tears. But now that I’m on the other side of the view of what God wanted to do, I can see that my Father knows best. I’m grateful for all His goodness I’ve tasted as a result of the move to Wichita. He did and always does, have my best interest at heart.

“Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life” (Psalms 23:6a). No matter what our expectations are, this is the Truth, and we can expect that from God.

“If you give God your attention, He’ll always exceed your expectation.”

Steven Furtick

Relevant Reflection:

Are you offended by God for Him not meeting your expectations? If so, please repent.

 

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An Invitation to Trust

 

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” 

Corrie Ten Boom 

I have never been more grateful for the traffic in Wichita as I was a few weeks ago, while driving a rental car out of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, during rush hour traffic. I kept praying my daughter and I wouldn’t be in an accident. God on the other hand kept saying, “Look at what I can do for you! I can provide the strength, wisdom, and courage that you need and I will show Myself to you as your Protector.” 

In all of life, Jesus allows things to happen so that we get to know Him better. Each trial or fear that we face is an invitation to see who He really is and to catch a glimpse of another facet of the diamond called God. 

Jesus didn’t rush to his dear friend’s Lazarus’ side when He heard his friend was sick. A few days later when Jesus knew Lazarus was dead, He told His disciples it was time to go see His friend. In the Passion Translation of John 11:14, it says, “…because now you have another opportunity to see who I am, so that you will learn to trust in Me.” 

The trials we go through, is for the purpose to deepen our trust in God. It’s as if while we’re in the midst of a crisis, God is asking each of us, “Do you trust Me?” We learn about God’s nature in our daily lives and each situation is an opportunity to see God in action, so that we can trust Him more. 

When we trust God, our intimacy well deepens from which we can draw up pails of living water of remembrance. This gives us the security that He will come through for us yet again. Intimacy correlates with trust. The deeper our trust, the deeper our intimacy will be. This applies to our relationship with God and with people. 

In what scenario is God asking you today, “Do you trust Me?” Rest assure, this isn’t an opportunity to test you, but it’s an invitation to trust Him more by getting to know who He is. Allow Him to show Himself to you in ways unimaginable, so that you can look back and know He will be there for you again in the future. 

“Faith is a reasoning trust, a trust which reckons thoughtfully and confidently upon the trustworthiness of God.” 

John R. Stott 

Relevant Reflection: 

In your particular situation, what does trusting God look like? 

 

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Stepping Forward

 

“Courage faces fear and thereby masters it. Cowardice represses fear and is thereby mastered by it.” 

Martin Luther King Jr. 

Fear immobilizes and causes us to disobey God. But for those who put their brave face on, freedom is waiting to embrace them. The things I have feared the most, have become the greatest blessings when I faced them. I fear conflict, trials, failure, and success. And if I had it my way, I’d avoid them or hide from them, which is why I procrastinate. 

I am so grateful Jesus didn’t do that. Instead, He faced His fear head on. John 18:4, in the Passion Translation says, “Jesus, knowing full well what was about to happen, went out to the garden entrance to meet them. Stepping forward, He asked, ‘Who are you looking for?'” 

Jesus didn’t run away from the awful trial He was about to face in the Garden of Gethsemane. He didn’t let His fears get in the way of fulfilling His Father’s will for His life. Fear did not dictate His next steps. Instead, He faced what was up ahead, even though He had full disclosure what was about to happen. Our Savior knew He would be tortured, suffer, and die a criminal’s death on a cross. Jesus knew the loneliness and devastation He would feel when He became separated from His Father as He took all our sins upon Himself. Instead of retreating, Jesus stepped forward and went out to meet His enemies. 

We all have fears to face. Maybe you need to have a hard conversation with a loved one you’re in conflict with. Maybe you’re facing a challenge at your job, or with a recent health diagnosis. Whatever it may be, ask Jesus to give you the grace to step forward, to meet your fear head on, just like He did. And when you do, the blessing of freedom will be waiting for you on the other side. 

“God incarnate is the end of fear; and the heart that realizes that He is in the midst…will be quiet in the midst of alarm.” 

Frederick B. Meyer 

Relevant Reflection: 

How can you step forward and face your fear? 

 

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