More Faith Please

Vintage_10_More_PleaseIt’s pretty common to hear people say – one way or another – that they need more faith.

Been there.  Done that.  Bought the T-shirt.

Those that have fairly strong opinions about what faith is or isn’t will chime into the subject with their own (“scripturally proven and supported” (sound of throat clearing) positions.

However, my suggestion for your consideration is not that more faith is needed, but more wisdom.  Here is what a rich stew of God, His Word, time, people and their experiences, and me and my experiences have taught me.  Well…at least a fraction of it.  The total would fill at least a book or two.

The Mustard Seed

Luke 17:6, “The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Because this is a verse in the Word of God, this one illustration has many rich lessons.  One of them is that the amount of faith is not at issue in experiencing spectacular results.

Sometimes I’ve waited till I “sensed” I had enough faith before I would put what I had into action.  Of course “sensing” enough faith is flawed reasoning to begin with because the very search for sensing something often takes a person the opposite direction of faith.  Although emotions are God created qualities of the soul, how we use them, in the decision making process, is often more like walking by a kind of sight than it is by faith.

Add to that:  I’ve found that many faith steps challenge what I’m feeling.  It doesn’t support what I’m feeling.  More often than not, what I’m feeling is based on my comfort zone and circumstances.

Imperfect Action

Another decision for waiting longer before taking action is often based on the flawed reasoning that great results have to have great starts.  That’s.  Just.  Not.  True.

G.K. Chesterton (a great success in his own fields of endeavor) said, “If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.”  He was not lobbying for mediocrity.  He was stating the obvious.  We won’t go anywhere or develop anything if we don’t s.t.a.r.t. somewhere.  Act on what you have.  However…

Here’s The Turn In The Road

A man of faith that I highly admired, Dr. Claire Hutchins, spoke at my church back in the day.  Since we were considered a Word of Faith church, I asked him questions about his faith.  You see Dr. Claire Hutchins had done many mighty works with God throughout his ministry and I wanted to glean from his experiences.

He said something that, at the time, surprised me.  He said, “I’ve discovered that I need less faith now and more wisdom.”  He added that wisdom had directed him in what faith steps to take and how to take them.

Faith Without Works Is Dead.  Faith Without Wisdom Gives God A Bad Name.

I’m not referring to what the Bible calls, worldly wisdom.  I’m speaking of seeking God for His wisdom as much as you are His faith.  And pleeeeeeeeease pleeeeeeeeease.  Do not interject, “Brother Gary, read your bible.  Those are the words of wisdom right there in front of your face.  If it says it in black and white, speak it and act on it.”

I’ve watched too many folks take – what they called – faith steps – that did not produce faith results.  I’ve been there.  I’ve done that.  I’ve bought a whole bunch of the t-shirts.  What (we’ve) too often actually done is had a huge idea that would take God to pull off, and launched forward in faith because ask whatever you will…right?  Nothin.  Nothin happened.  Or, the opposite happened that we were acting in faith for.

Then We Say…

  1. Faith doesn’t always see results
  2. The devil hindered

When God’s Truth Was…

He didn’t give you the marching orders you acted on.  He didn’t order the sandwich you made for Him.

Thank God For His Mercy

He bales us out of our errors.  Remember, we do need to start somewhere.  But…we also need to be humbly teachable and learn instead of defending ourselves and doing the same dumb thing over and over and over and over and over again…..and….call it acting in faith in God’s Word.

There Is More Than One Way “To Skin A Cat”

My Dad used to say that.  And, it’s true.  In life and in a life of faith.  Jesus said that He only did what He saw His Father doing and said only what He heard His Father saying.

There are many facets on the faith diamond.  God’s wisdom shows us what facet He knows needs to be applied to each and every faith situation. 

How Do I Get The Wisdom

  1. Ask God for it.  James says, “If any man lack wisdom, let Him ask of God.”
  2. Then, don’t ignore the nudges of what I call, “Sanctified common sense.”

In other words, a six foot hole should be dug six feet deep unless God specifically, and clearly confirms the fact that you should only dig it 4 feet deep.  If it should take 3 months to do justice to a project, don’t attempt it in 10 days unless you have a very clear, confirmed word from God.  I know people who I think God has given a mercy ministry of bailing people out of foolish decisions.  How do I figure any decision is foolish?  When it doesn’t work as advertised.

Luke 14:8 advises us to count the cost of building a tower lest we start and aren’t able to finish.  Counting the cost is far more than “great big ideas,” “faith confessions,” and people manipulations.

The mustard seed of faith contains many elements in it’s dna.  Elements such as wisdom, patience, and love.

May your walk of faith be filled with wisdom, patience, and love.  May you see many more God results than ever.

If you’ve found this personally helpful, please Share It on Facebook, Twitter, or your other favorite social medias.

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith and Caterpillars

CaterpillarWhat do faith and caterpillars have in common?  Let me tell you.  Caterpillars hold an important key to the quality of a persons life of faith-walking. 

Caterpillar Factoid:  Some caterpillars are born in the spring and some are born in the summer. The spring bunch eat oak catkins. That’s the dangling flowers on an oak tree. And within days, guess what? They look as fuzzy as their meal was that they ate just a few days ago.

Let’s take the summer bunch now. They eat smooth leaves because that’s what’s out then. Would you believe it? They become smooth caterpillars. It’s amazing! Caterpillars exemplify that old adage, “You are what you eat.”

Paul’s Dietary Instructions:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”

What’s This Got To Do With Faith?

Living a life of faith (walking by faith) is far more than doing faith formulas or specific confessions of words in hopes of attaining a certain personal objective.

A life of faith is a quantity and quality of daily actions and attitudes that re-present the character of the Kingdom of God in the earth.

What Did Jesus Do?

Acts 10:38 says that Jesus went about doing good and healing all those who were pressed down by the devil.  This is a very rich verse.  I encourage you to ponder it for yourself.  Let it simmer in your mind and heart.  However, for now, I’m going to make a couple of observations that speak to this blog post:

  1. Jesus went about doing good
  2. Jesus healed all those under a demonic oppression of one kind or another

He did good stuff.  He did power stuff.  Although we sometimes think the power stuff is more important and spiritual, it’s the life of doing the good stuff that opens doors to do the power stuff.  The good stuff life is as much of the faith life as the power stuff life.

Many people I know that talk about walking by faith are referring to having “miracle moments” that more often than not equate primarily to healings and finances.  Don’t miss my point.  I absolutely activate my heart for healing and financial needs.  I believe strongly in God’s provision in those two areas.  But daily life on the street occupies much, much, more.  The faith life is being conscious of conducting the affairs of one’s life on both levels.  Little good things and big power things.

The Holy Spirit Empowers Little Good Things

The first part of Acts 10:38 says that Jesus was empowered to do what He did by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  And, the anointing of the Holy Spirit for the little things and the power things was a result, in large part, to the fact that Jesus followed the counsel of Paul.

[Okay…hold on skippy!  I KNOW Paul was inspired by the Spirit of Christ.  Take a deep breath and allow your shorts to unbunch.  Follow my meaning.]

You Are What You Eat

The best way I know to hinder an authentic walk of faith is to allow your mind to be occupied with things that are not true, not noble, not right, not pure, not lovely, not admirable, not excellent.  

Many times a person will say, “Well, it is true.  They did me dirt and that’s the truth.”  Sorry, but that’s not the truth.  The truth that Paul was speaking of [actual definition] is “uncovering and making plain a reality that leads one to a higher place.”  Paul’s descriptive words are all building on the same reality of thoughts of excellence.

It matters very little how many confessions of faith one makes if those declarations are isolated from an overall mental habit.   A person will be, in a life and practice of faith, what they eat mentally and emotionally. 

The Solution:

I believe that Scriptural truth is a paramount foundation, but also work diligently at denying the entrance of garbage thoughts and emotions by indulging yourself on all sources of thoughts that  are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

Many people work in an environment that is anything but those things.  So, let me conclude with the analogy:

“You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you don’t have to let them build a nest in your hair.”

Has this helped?  It’s your turn to add to the conversation by commenting below: 

If this helped you, share with others on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, or your favorite Social Media.

Gary

 

 

 

 

For Moms That Feel Like Failures

babyI know far more moms that feel like failures than feel successful…especially in their spiritual lives.

Today, I want to link you to a post by Emily T. Wierenga to hopefully be encouraged by her vulnerability.  .

Here’s how it starts out:

Dear Lord,

Thank you for today.

(Kasher, get your hand out of the toilet!)

Thank you for loving me in spite of me.

(Is that a fly in my coffee? No, Aiden, you’ve already watched a show–now it’s time to play nicely with your brother while Mommy talks to God.)

Thank you for sending your Son to die for me.

(Kasher, why does your hand smell like poop? Oh dear, is that poop on the floor? Hold on Lord, I’ll be right back…)

God, you still there? Me again.   (Read the rest here)

Be encouraged, Mom!

Gary

God’s Word Can Be Felt

campThe very heart of God is found through the pages of the Bible.  As I began to approach it as “an invitation to experience…” everything began changing for me.

I began discovering that there was not one right meaning to the verses and words.  I abandoned my denominational and doctrinal prejudices and biases.  I began being awed by multifaceted diamonds of truth and reality.

I began hearing His voice…

Speaking. To. Me.

I began to be fascinated with this new Book of fresh bread.  I began discovering the genius of word pictures that were painted with the original languages. 

A Picture Called Grace

Grace is one of the fundamental facts of New Covenant life.  But there is so much more to that five letter word than most modern Christians realize.

In the Hebrew mind, when the Hebrew word for grace was spoken, the listener would envision something they were very familiar with.  It was the place where shepherds would return after a long hard day of leading and protecting their herds of sheep.  The literal word meaning was, “beautiful encampment.”

Another English word that describes the same idea could be settlement or ranch.  A homestead also carries the same connotation.  To more fully understand the word, we have to tap into the emotion that those words illicit.

After a long, hard, dangerous day’s labor, the worker would head for home.  The closer he got to home, the more his or her emotions would take a peaceful deep breath.  If home was the experience for the weary worker it is intended to be, it held the promise of rest, love, provision, restoration, security.

It was GRACE.

You see, grace is better described than defined.  To properly understand the heart of our Heavenly Father, we have to “feel” the words He speaks to us.

G – ods
R – iches
A – t
C – hrist’s
E – xpense

Now if we combine those two thoughts, we have an even more thorough sense of the heart of Ephesians 2:8.

The Amplified Ellis Paraphrase:

“It is the wealth, love, might, security, peace, and provision of the Father’s dwelling place that rescues and restores us to His kind of abundant life.  We experience and enjoy the benefits of this heavenly environment as we humbly receive them for ourselves without the foolish wasted effort of trying to earn any of it.”

Let me repeat:

To properly understand the heart of our Heavenly Father, we have to “feel” the words He speaks to us.  Let me encourage you to approach the glories of His word as “an invitation to experience the feelings of His heartbeat.”

Feel His Word.  It will change everything!

If you believe this article will help someone else, please take this opportunity to share it through Facebook or Tweet it.

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shhh… Chill…

shhhThe most powerful, penetrating, soul changing experiences I have with God come out of the Shhh of my soul.

The Psalmist calls it “Selah.”

We are all in desperate need of selah with God. 

The chaotic clamor of daily life dulls us to His all powerful still small voice.

I must know the shhh.  You must experience the shhh.  The shhh in our souls.

It is from the Shhh we discover the wisdom, peace, joy, and Presence we cry for.  It’s from the shhh that a word of faith springs up.  A word of faith that changes everything.

Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God…”

Praying on the run is not enough.  It happens.  He hears us.  But do we hear Him as we pray on the run?  Not likely.

Day changing prayer is born from the womb of Shhh.

“Be shhh and know that I am God…”

Find the shhh of God…the shhh of soul as a habitual daily practice.  In so doing I practice the following:

  1. Before I read or pray a word, I shhh myself.  I chill.  I let let my “insides” (body, and soul) sink into a relaxed shhh.
  2. When I sense an inner settledness that is welcoming God’s presence, I begin to very slowly read letting individual words rise out of the shhh.
  3. I let my thoughts settle on ideas that arise from the “special words” that are attracting my attention.
  4. I talk to God about what I’m feeling.
  5. Every little bit, I just shhh again.

What is the result?

My soul embraces that He and not the things that cause fear, frustration, and chaos are not God.  He is God. 

And since He is God, I can just shhhhhhhhhhhhh and trust that I will have whatever I need when I actually need it.

Have you experienced the shhh of God?  How do you practice it as a habit of the faith life?  Feedback in the comments.

Gary

 

 

Munchables

More ThanMunchables are power snacks for the soul.  It’s a ‘replacement food” for the unhealthy variety of thoughts we tend to graze on throughout the day. 

Worry.  Anxiety.  Doubt, etc.  is the soul food that causes spiritual and emotional cancer.

All you do is carry a 3×5 card with you.  Whenever you start feeling a bit “peckish” just let your eyes feast on one or all of the following:

(Btw…don’t just bite once and swallow.  Chew like a tasty piece of your favorite gum.)

  1. Jesus is more than words about Him.
  2. He’s more than enough for this.
  3. He’s more than you knew you would need.  (This is one of my favorites)

More than are the first words of a very personal and intimate description Jesus can be for each of us.  It’s causing our minds and hearts to munch on the more than’s that will propel us into healing and health for our bodies, minds, and souls.

Add a “more than” in the comments.  It may be the munchable that will help someone else.  Thanks for munching!

Gary

 

 

The Courage Injector

InjectionDo you need a good injection of courage, today?  I’ve got some great news!  The Injector of Courage is ready and waiting. 

Who is this “Injector of Courage?”

I grew up in a conservative religious environment that believed in the Holy Spirit.  He was the third person of the Trinity.  Beyond that, I didn’t know for sure what His role in my life was to be.

More than anything else, I expected that the Holy Spirit was the Divine Police Chief.  It was His primary purpose to bring my attention to all the places I was breaking the rules in hopes that I would repent and do better at pleasing God.  I wouldn’t have said it that way out loud.  But, there’s often a big difference between what we feel inside and what we say with our lips to sound acceptable…correct…on track with what everyone else says is right.

My understanding of the word conviction would have been in a sentence, “To make one to feel like crap for, once again, for being such a slug…a loser…a disappointment to God.”  Sometimes it wasn’t that graphic.  I would have described it more like the Holy Spirit was pointing out where I was getting it wrong in order to “turn over a new leaf” and do better at not doing it wrong.

I always assumed and anticipated that, in one way or another, the Holy Spirit was the One of the Godhead that let me know (like the line from the old movie), “I know what you did last summer.”

Then I began realizing that the Bible describes the Holy Spirit with many encouraging terms.  They were right. there. all. along. hidden. in. plain. sight.

In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I will ask the Father and He will send you another (Comforter, Counselor, Helper,) [Just like me] and He will be with you forever.” 

(Now go back and read that statement … slowly … at least 3 times}

By implication and definition, any comforter, counselor, or helper that is worth their salt brings encouragement to the table.  To Encourage = To re-courage, Inject with fresh courage.

Acts 9:31 says that the increased in numbers as they lived their lives in the fear of the Lord (deep reverence/worship) and the COMFORT of the Holy Spirit. 

It is the will of God and purpose of the Holy Spirit to inject you with fresh courage, today.  He wants to remind you of the accounts Jesus has already settled.  He wants to call to your mind the truths that fill you with courage to face your day.  He’s your, “You Can Do It” with the strength I bring to the table.  Ask me.  Trust me.  I’m there for you!

Welcome the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit into your life, today.  You have nothing to be afraid of and everything to gain.

BTW…filled with courage, we sin less.  Discouraged we sin more.

Thanks for taking a few seconds to comment. 

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

We Will Always Need Training Wheels

Training wheels

I’ve made an important discovery about my spiritual development.  I’ve discovered that I will always need spiritual training wheels.  It’s not a sign of maturity to shed them.  It’s not a sign of growth to be able to “go it alone.”  It’s a sign of immaturity to stop learning.  

It’s a sure indication of maturity to admit that you don’t know it all, make mistakes, and are still learning.  It’s a sign of growth to acknowledge, “I don’t know.”  It’s a good thing to discover and acknowledge that your way is not the only way…or even the best way.

Proverbs 18:15 (The Message), “Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights.”

Proverbs 3:7(a), “Do not be wise in your own eyes…”

The man and woman of character will let others recognize the wisdom they think they have…whether that be true or not.

The man and woman of true maturity recognizes they will always need training wheels because they will always be attempting something new.

If life is truly abundant, it will be filled with fresh opportunities to learn and experience one more thing, one more truth, every day.  Don’t fear it.  It’s where the grace is found.

Crossing the “chicken line” means we’re finally growing up!

Gary

 

 

Peace-A-Plenty

PeaceJPG.001To experience “Peace-A-Plenty,” some people will need to take the next exit off of the road they are currently traveling.

To live with peace requires a different mind-set of attitudes and actions.  Many Christians don’t realize that an atmosphere of peace is possible, now.  The reality is…peace-a-plenty may well just be around the corner for you.  Or, maybe you’ve already discovered God’s green pastures of peace and the following will simply help you keep on track.

As you read God’s Word, you discover many verses that describe the potential life of peace.  You also see it demonstrated in the life of Jesus even as He walked through turmoil.  For this posting, we will find nuggets of gold in Isaiah 26:3:

   “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

To Keep

We see that the “keeping” action is performed by the Lord.  The Hebrew word picture, “to keep,” is that of a honey comb being placed deep inside a thorn bush.  This is something the shepherds would do to protect the honey from predators.

Perfect Peace

When this promise was given Israel was in a dark period of her history. It will help us in the church age, when surrounded by gloom, depression, doubt, fear and worry. When all is going well it is easy to read a promise like this in a very superficial way, but when clouds of trial, disappointment, anxiety and alarm blow across our skies and the sun is hidden, these words become very precious to us.

There is not a promise in the Bible that says we will be free from troubles, wars, trials, temptations, tears and sorrows in life. God promises something better. He promises peace in the midst of the storm.  The peace He promises is “perfect” peace.  This isn’t like the world gives.  Superficially dependent on circumstances.  Perfect peace is the quality of God given peace that abides in the soul.

Whose Mind Is Stayed On You

Stayed is a word that gives us the picture of a person leaning so hard against a wall that they are potentially off-balance.  If the wall were taken away, the “stayer” would “face plant.”  That’s how hard they are leaning into the wall for support.

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”

Leaning on our own understanding is the thing that robs us of peace.  We normally are not nearly as smart, wise, and logical as we think we are.  Human reasonings have their place, but not the place we normally give them.  The understanding that cushions us with His peace is that which comes from His mouth.

Mediate/Ponder/Deeply Consider/Imagine

Whatever word you’d like to use, the key to peace is found in “mining” God’s Word.  Meditating. Pondering. Deeply Considering.  Imagining.  That’s the heart and mind activity that brings God’s revelation/insight/clarity.  It’s from that place that peace springs forth like a fountain watering the garden of our hearts.

Peace-A-Plenty is available.  Not by begging for it, but by digging for it.  Try some.  It’s sweet.

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wait is a 4 Letter Word…

Wait.001Truth be told, words like waiting and patience are blessings if understood from God’s point of view.

It’s understandable that those two words would be misunderstood in a culture that is driven by instant gratification.  But “quick feel goods” are usually most like cotton candy.  It tastes good quickly but, truthfully, makes you weaker physically…not stronger.

In God’s process of living, the word patience doesn’t mean “white knuckling it” while all the time waiting for the escape hatch.  It’s a fruit of the spirit.  It is the ability to calmly hold one’s position without panic.  It is a quality that the Holy Spirit is glad to share with anyone who will ask.

Then we have the words of Isaiah 40:31, “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strenth…”  In fact it says that they will “…mount up with wings like eagles.  They shall run and not be weary.  They shall walk and not faint.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve experienced a whole lot of fainting going on trying to wait and be patient……understood NOT from God’s perspective, but from man’s natural wisdom.  I would have to say that the word wait was literally a four letter word in those cases.

I am so thankful I am learning God’s true perspective:

My previous error…

Here’s what I used to do.  I used to wait and try to be patient as I sweated out the manifestation of what I thought I wanted or needed.  In other words, I was NOT waiting on the Lord.  I was waiting on the appearance of better days….the escape hatch….the object of my faith [except FAITH it wasn’t].

Now here can be the tricky part…

It’s important to have a goal in mind.  It’s vital not to take a que sera sera (what will be will be) attitude.  Focus on specifics of an answer is a good thing….if it’s held with a gentle mental grip.

Here’s what I am learning to do…

Let’s say I need to pay a bill.  I’ve discovered it’s helpful to an inner release of faith to allow my imagination to “see” the bill being paid.  After all, very often, we “see” the bill not being paid when we allow worry to usurp the “imagination muscle” of our brain.

[Side Note:  It’s a scientific fact that the majority of our thought process takes place in the area we call imagination.  What we call logic is totally dependent on the imagination to function]

But…and this is one of those very important buts…

I don’t become fixated on the specific picture.  I hold my imagined manifestation lightly, but I put the weight on the wait….as the word is actually used in the scriptures.  First, I wait ON THE LORD, not on the manifestation.  My attention is one the truth of His character…and that He cares about me…and that He’s just a touch wiser than me [sarcasm].

Waiting on the Lord taps into His life flow [peace, joy, hope, to name a few].  You and I can’t truly connect to Who He Is and What He Has Done without all that good stuff soaking into us.

Wait is also translated “hope” and “gather”

Hope should be self explanatory so I’m going to focus on a fact that most of my readers may not realize.  There’s something in the science of biblical interpretation called, ‘the law of first mention.’
That basically means that the first time a word in used in the scriptures gives us the root idea of what the word means.

Genesis 1:9, And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place…”  That’s the first occurrence of the word “wait” that we find in Isa. 40:31.  Except in Genesis it’s translated “gathered.”  That gives us a very important clue to understanding the meaning of what it means to “wait on the Lord”

In Genesis, we have the report that God gathered the waters.  Essentially what He did was put the waters within banks to flow.  So…wait for it…drum roll.

When we wait upon the Lord, we gather the “waters” of our thoughts and imaginations within the boundaries of the character of God’s truth.  This is confirmed by 2 Corinthians 10:5,

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

So, to wait upon the Lord is a very specific activity to choose until the manifestation of God comes into view.  All the while, we get stronger…not weaker and more frustrated.

AND on a parallel track…keep putting one foot in front of the other, doing what your hand finds to do right in front of you.  Be an active waiter.

Gary