Monthly Archives: September 2016

Understanding God–our Power Source (Part I)

If God is your partner, make your plans BIG!—D.L. Moody

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Carrie Underwood’s song, Jesus Take the Wheel, topped the charts. Why did these lyrics strike a chord with listeners? Could it be because we want to believe when the going gets tough, we can turn things over to a higher power to rescue us? If God is so wise and powerful, why do we ask Him to sit in the passenger seat while we drive? Why do we wait until we can’t handle things to ask Him to take the wheel?

When confronted with impending peril, it has been reported both the faithful and faithless cry out to God, hoping for a manifestation of His power. Certainly this was the case with the disciples in the storm. We are going to look at them off and on in our study. Here I want to point out that Jesus (all power) was on board. They didn’t wake Him and ask Him to steer. They woke Him because they were irritated they were struggling and He was sleeping. They wanted Him to get up and help them with their plan: bailing water. Of course, we know how the story goes: His ways and plans were just nothing like theirs. He simply spoke and stopped the wind and waves, and they sailed safely to shore. I can picture Him wiping His hands, saying, “Done!” as they stood in amazement. The Bible actually records that they were virtually scared to death. Who was this man who commanded the elements? Get ready. If you ask Him to show up with His power, the outcome won’t be anything you had in mind. You are going to be overwhelmingly amazed at His power at work in you. Like Peter, when He bids you to come in His power, you’ll walk on water.

As we get started, use your notebook and let’s tackle some hard questions (you can be honest because only God and you will know what you write down):

  • When do you cry out for God to show up in your life?
  • Do you wait for a crisis or walk so closely with Him that there is an easy expectation He is ready to work on your behalf?
  • Is the essence of your prayer time a recitation of all the things you want God to do for you, preferably with the outcome you have envisioned?
  • Do you ask God to help you with your plans or do you seek to have Him fulfill His plan for your life?
  • Does letting go of your plans for His purpose scare you?
  • Do you seek and actually expect to see God’s power in your daily life?

Unfortunately, most of us tackle each day in our own strength. We set goals we feel we can reach if we apply ourselves. We tackle problems for which we either know or feel we can find the answer. Unfortunately, we are happy to have God ride along with us, but we prefer to drive: at a safe speed, and on a familiar road.

The safe road certainly has some merit; but as God’s children, we have access to His power. He tells us He can do exceedingly, abundantly more than we even ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). He also says we have not because we don’t ask; and when we do ask, we ask for the wrong purposes (James 4:3). For most of my life, I’m ashamed to admit James described me. Does he describe you, too?

I asked around, “Would you say that you have experienced the power of God in your life?” The majority recited times they had experienced the goodness of God; however, when pressed, they could not say they had personally experienced the power of God. Many could tell stories of seeing the power of God manifested in the lives of others, particularly Bible characters.

One friend shared a moving story of how God had rescued her from an abusive situation. She had felt His presence poignantly, experiencing Him truly rescue her from the jaws of death. Through tears she testified of His power in her life. As she finished her story, she looked up at me and said, “Now that I know He is truly real and have seen His power, I want to experience His presence and power every day. My heart longs to know Him more, to feel His presence, and to experience His power in a sustained way in my life: not because I need rescuing, but because He is working in and through me.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. She just described my longing heart. I’m assuming she described your heart as well. In my work in recovery, I learned the first step is to acknowledge you need help. The second step is to acknowledge God is your source. These actions place you in the exact right spot, a place of humility that prepares you for the change ahead. So in humility before Him is the right place for us to begin this journey: knowing we need His help, knowing our way isn’t working, and trusting Him to show us His way.

If you have experienced the power of God in your life, you don’t want it to be a one-and-done sort of thing. Doing things you know are impossible for you is good, very good. It’s as if you have joined Peter as you walk on deep waters. Your heart begins to pant after Him. I can identify with Paul who was compelled to run the race for the high calling of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:14). When He answered my plea and let me catch a glimpse of His power, He also planted a desire in my heart to know Him fully. He gave me a desire to know Him, to understand His wisdom and His power, and to find a way to live in that sweet spot every day.

As we learned, Jeremiah 29:11 explains God has a plan for our lives and Ephesians 3:20 assures us He is up to any task. Indeed, He is indeed able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine, according to His power that works within us. Have you unleashed the power of God to work in your life? Are you tired of your way and ready to see His plan? If not, why not? Is it because you don’t know how to do so or because you like control? Do you want to sit in the driver’s seat?

Peter, James and John didn’t really understand who Jesus truly was. Then one day, on a mount, He was transfigured right before their eyes. The Apostle Paul also saw Him on the Damascus road. When confronted with the glory of God, none of these men were ever the same. Why did Jesus hold back the veil so they could see Him, His glory, and His power? Seeing Jesus for who He is will change us completely. What about you? Are you ready to see Him work in your life? He says if we seek Him with our whole heart, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). So spend some time on your knees asking Him, as Moses did, to reveal Himself to you. He answers prayer.

Light takes a power source. Candles need fire, light bulbs and lamps need electricity, a flashlight needs a battery, a gas fireplace needs gas, and fireworks need explosives. Unfortunately, most of us spend our lives assuming we can light up the world all by ourselves if we just work harder or smarter. This is man’s way. As human beings, we might make a name for ourselves in this old world. However, I can tell you from experience, those trophies and certificates lose their luster and make great dust catchers. They are recognition of a job well done from a worldly perspective. They dazzle and distract our attention for a season, but they don’t add up to a radiant life.

If you are looking for ways to obtain worldly accolades, unsubscribe to my blog now. We aren’t seeking an ordinary light. We are seeking light for our lives that is powered by the Almighty, and His ways are not man’s ways (Isaiah 55:8). We want our lives to shine radiantly, like the noonday sun (Psalm 37). We are asking the Great I Am to take this vessel of ours and turn it into something spectacular for His glory.

If you want to activate His power to fuel your life, let’s start with a primer on God’s power for He is our source.  We are going to tackle a little theology. Don’t be frightened: it simply means the study of God. So we’ll start with the basics. I learn and retain information if I can see it visually; you’ll love the chart.

How did I end up writing a book–of all things (Part II)

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If you read Part I, you know as I did that there was a God thing going on. When my company moved out of town, I thought my involvement was over. I wasn’t sure what God was doing. It wasn’t long, however, before I got a call and (long story short) I became the VP of the Greater Richmond Chamber and Executive Director of Workforce One ( a regional workforce development initiative). I held this job for three years and then became a national workforce development consultant to cities and states. To say I was busy would have been an understatement.

In my spiritual life I was never more aware of my need for God’s leading. I’d become enamored with the wisdom of God because I knew that I had knelt in the same spot as Solomon, had asked God for favor, and received it just as He had. WHY? What formula had I somehow magically gotten right? If my prayer that night by my bed moved the hand of God and engaged the power of God, I wanted to stay right there. My ears were pricked if the word wisdom, understanding or knowledge showed up in conversations, a lecture, a sermon–anywhere/anytime. I made scribble notes of verses and quotes and stored them in my PC as soon as I could transcribe them. I also started  noticing the 7’s in the Bible and started recording them.

Then on a very ordinary Wednesday night I showed up in a small room at church to meet with a group of ladies for Bible study. They informed me they didn’t have a teacher but wanted to study Proverbs. AH! Proverbs. Well, it didn’t take long before I was sharing what I’d been learning, so they asked me to teach the class. There was no way I was taking on teaching a class; there just wasn’t time. But I had another idea; I told them of my interests in the book and some further research I wanted to do. They agreed to join my efforts and we became a research team. Each week I’d make assignments and they would come back and share their findings. The Word began to unfold itself right before our eyes and it became the most exciting Bible study I’ve ever done.

Several weeks into this effort, my pastor calls and asks me to come in to see him. Of course, I thought I must be in trouble. He assured me that was not the case. It seems his wife was in our group and came home on Wednesday nights excited about what we were learning. So, he just wanted to hear it from me. With a deep sigh of relief, I began to lay out before him what we had found. He sat back and said, “That’s amazing! Most people think Proverbs is a lot of great, but mostly disconnected, thoughts and sayings. But you have found a framework for it that ties it all together. In fact, I think it is probably a framework for all of Scripture. There’s not much written on Proverbs. I think you should write this book.” I was still breathing a sigh of relief that I hadn’t done anything wrong, but book writing? Well, it just wasn’t anything I had an interest in. And for sure I didn’t have time for something like that; I didn’t even have time to teach this class. So I dismissed his comments.

As I walked into class on Wednesday night the girls were all abuzz about me writing a book. It seems the pastor’s wife had shared his thoughts with them. I tried to quiet their enthusiasm because there just really was no way I was going to write a book. Over the next couple of weeks, they continued to press me about it. We were signed up to attend a women’s conference in Lynchburg, VA. They insisted that we should all pray and ask God to reveal to me at the conference if I should write a book. I assured them we didn’t need a conference or prayer. I wasn’t writing a book. I didn’t know how to write a book, I didn’t want to write a book, I didn’t have time to write a book. But they were not to be discouraged. Finally, I agreed to at least pray with them but warned them that it was going to take an audible voice from God for me to entertain writing a book.

We arrived at conference on Thursday afternoon and had sessions that evening and all day Friday and until noon on Saturday. Each time we gathered they couldn’t wait to ask me if God had shown me anything, and I was just as eager to assure them He had not. When we took our seats in the balcony for the final session, Stormie Omartian was the keynote speaker. We were really looking forward to hearing her. She had ten minutes to answer questions that had been submitted and about 45 minutes to speak. The first question she drew out of the box was, “How did you know God wanted you to write a book?” She began answering the question and about 30 minutes later she was still answering the question. In frustration she threw up her arms and said, “I know you see me looking at my watch. I’m trying to figure out how to stop answering this question and transition to the material I’ve prepared for you today. But I’ve never felt such a pressing of the Spirit of God. I know there is someone sitting in this room whom God is calling to write a book. Maybe you came with your women’s group praying whether or not you should write a book. All I can tell you is that your audible answer from God is YES!”

Well by this time my heart is beating about a thousand beats a minute, and I’m beginning to sink in my chair. She continued, “Now I know you are sitting there and your mind is racing with all the reasons why you shouldn’t write a book: ‘I don’t know how to write a book,’ ‘I don’t have time to write a book,’ ‘No one would read a book by me,’ or ‘I know nothing about the publishing industry.’ There was a man in Scripture whom God called at a burning bush. He gave God similar answers. Let’s all stand and read Exodus 4:14 to see how this made God feel.”  So 3,000 women stood and read “And the anger of the Lord burned against him.” She continued, “Do you want the anger of the Lord to burn against you?” My heart whispered a very quiet “No.” She continued, “Then you must. . .MUST. . .write this book.”

Silence fell across the room as everyone looked around to see whom God was calling. She continued, “Now I don’t know who you are, but you know who you are. . .and more importantly, God knows who you are. Write that book.” And with that she asked the women to bow their heads as they stood to pray for the one God had just called out. I was dumbfounded. But apparently I had just told God I’d write a book. There was some brief negotiations with God: He would have to show me what to write. I’d be faithful to study, but He would have to guide. More importantly, it was His job to get it published and to do with it as He pleased.

That session was thirteen years ago and I’ve been studying and writing ever since. After all, you wouldn’t just throw something together over the weekend on the wisdom of God. To this day I still grapple with the concept that I, of all people on earth, would presume to write about the wisdom of God. In desperation, I found that same sweet spot on my knees before God, humbly begging Him to show me Himself and His wisdom.  Well, James promises if we ask God for wisdom He will give it abundantly–He will hold nothing back. All I can say is that while I am sure no one can fathom the depths of His wisdom, He has opened my eyes to amazing truths about Himself. Two years ago I thought I was done and could put the final period on a book about the wisdom of God. But He said, “Not so fast. Wisdom is only one of my powers.” This led me into a deeper study of Him and His powers. Now I understand how they work together. Now I understand why I tapped into those powers when I found that sweet spot on my knees before Him.

When Jesus healed the lame man He told him in John 5:8 to rise, take up his bed and walk. This is a beautiful analogy to what God wants from us once He has healed us from our sins. He wants us to get up and get moving–to walk in power; power that He gives to us. I can assure you it can be frightening, while at the same time exhilarating, to walk on new legs.

When Jesus showed up to teach the fishermen, He told them they would need to launch out into the deep and cast their nets on the other side. In other words, you are going to have to get out of your comfort zone, go further than you’d planned, and do things His way and not yours. They were tired, but at His word, they launched the boat. And we all know the story: their nets were soon filled and breaking. But that’s not the end of the story. They brought back the largest catch of their lives and they just walked off and left it and their boats. They quit their job and walked away from their boatload of fish (which would have been a lot of money) to follow Jesus. And those smelly, drably dressed, unsuccessful fishermen became His disciples and the pioneers of our faith. Is God calling you? What does He want to do through YOU? Are you ready to find out? Get out your notebook and write that question at the top of the first page. Pray over it as we study together. God created you for His kingdom purposes. He wants to reveal them to you and to use you. And, I believe once you see Him and His power, you’ll walk away from the temporal and pursue Him as never before. If you are lucky He won’t ask you to write a book, but I know He has something very special in mind for you. It’s something you cannot do without Him. He can’t wait to show you, so get ready!

Well, I’ve written the book, but why wait for it to be published? Let’s begin unpacking what God  has shown me. In my next blog we’ll start with a quick reminder of who God is and how He works. You won’t want to miss this one because it is important to understand who He is and how He works if we want Him to work through us.

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