Devotion, Faith, freedom, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Day 8: “Pursue Freedom.”

freeWeek 2 of the fast hopefully finds you more rested, clear-headed and at peace. Pursuing freedom is a lifelong journey, not to be oversimplified here. However, you have hopefully identified some blockages in your life which rob you of your peace and inhibit your ability to receive God’s gift of rest.

The Holy Spirit wants to rid your life of shame, guilt, un-forgiveness, offense, anger and strife… whatever torments you or holds you back.

Today, meditate on this:

“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:3-5 MSG)!

Allow the Holy Spirit to flood your life with more of his Word, an abundance of  love, additional blessings. Let your heart overflow today with worship and thanksgiving. When you see your troubles developing passionate patience in you, you can even count them as benefits. Divulge your secrets to your God. Declare victory over your past.

As you speak these things out loud in your prayer time, you’re pioneering your path to freedom.

Devotion, freedom, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Day 7: “Free From Insecurity”

free from insecurityEveryone knows a pubescent teen battles insecurities; they can own up to their self-doubt. Insecurity is a common vocabulary word in a young person’s vernacular and you empathise when an adolescent acts out. You know where it’s coming from.

When you’re all grown up (18? University graduate? Marriage? Parenthood?), it’s suddenly no longer socially acceptable to admit you’re insecure. On the contrary, it’s entirely EXPECTED that you never show weakness, that you exhaust yourself covering up your problems, and that no one knows your pain.

Women might admit they feel embarrassed in a bikini but they hardly confess how insecure they feel in bed. Men appear overconfident by dominating conversations about work yet fall silent when asked to open up about their feelings.

You cover up uncertainty by gossiping and judging… it’s so much easier to tear down others so your own short-comings are masked. You feel belittled by your wives and criticised by your fathers, so you retreat and self-medicate with porn or alcohol.

Living a life of cover-up is exhausting. Vulnerability is a scary word, one you avoid at all costs. You’re weakened by your negative self-talk and proving yourself to the world. Relaxing in your own skin is about as comfortable as a fish is out of water. You may not call it insecurity, but it is.

The opposite, (self-acceptance), stems from knowing your identity in Christ. Author and research professor Brené Brown says, “Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect.” Where do you acquire love and belonging, especially if you’ve ever been rejected?

God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. He says he has plans for your life, that you were created with a purpose uniquely yours. He loves you and says you’re created in his perfect image.

In a world longing for validity, you, as a child of God, are the legitimate and conclusive evidence of God’s love; you belong to HIS family. Your imperfections merely highlight your need for Jesus and they aren’t something to run from. There’s no greater peace than embracing the skin you’re in and loving the only you you’ll ever have.

As you go deeper with Jesus during your fast, allow vulnerability to expose your insecurities and expect God to re-define and re-align your identity.

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Devotion, Fasting, freedom, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Day 6: “Free From Fear”

I will not fearFear – obvious when it makes you sweat, keeping you up at night. Other times it’s subtle and heavy and creeps in like dread. Fear can cause you to make poor decisions (like marrying the wrong person because you’re too scared to wait for Mrs. Right). It compels you to overspend if you’re afraid of missing out.

That one four letter word represents anxiety as your mind anticipates unknowns and worries that your worst case scenario will come to pass.

Fearful parents are controlling parents – unrealistically believing they can protect kids from pain or from making mistakes.

If you’ve ever been hurt in a relationship, you’re too scared to risk again so all your suspicions turn to distrust. The root of your brokenness – FEAR.

You can be afraid of failure; and, equally, you can fear success.

Fear is a spirit that can manifest in every area of life. However, Jesus came to give you a full and wonderful life and you can’t have that if you’re walking in fear. Trusting your Heavenly Father is the antidote to fear. It’s the key to true rest and peace. Author Ann Voskamp says, “You have to let hope always carry you – or fears will carry you away.”

God’s desire for you is total surrender and acceptance of him and his plans. He wants you to believe in a blessed outcome with the battles you face; Jesus has already defeated your enemy. Recognise that your eternity is secure.  Believe God has your back. Learning to REST in these truths isn’t easy but it IS simple.

If fear has a hold of you in any area of your life, you CAN be set free. Slow down, breathe deeply, and allow your mind to settle on the goodness of God. Repeat. Daily. Hourly.

Maybe even minute by minute.

Live in reckless abandon alongside Jesus and see what peace it brings. Go on, I dare you! You’re strong and courageous. Look how far you’ve come and what you’ve been through and let that give you strength. Sleep well tonight and fear not.

The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake is confirmed by my sleeping heart. Day and night I’ll stick with GodI’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go” (Psalm 16:7-8 MSG).

Contentment, Devotion, Personal Growth, Series, Uncategorized

Day 5: “Can You Slow Down?”

slowResting sounds good in theory; however, slowing down could make you realise some struggles you can’t seem to overcome. A cluttered mind helps you avoid that which is uncomfortable. Busy-ness allows you to sweep your pain under the proverbial ‘rug,’ denying Christ’s gift of rest. Your condition is clogged – your heart, hardened.

Consider the writer of Hebrews’ words: “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2a NIV).

What hinders you from an encounter with The Living God? He’s nearer than ever, watching over you, loving you, yearning for you to cast off whatever holds you back so you can stay on the course he has mapped out for you.

Are you insecure and unsure of your worth?

Have you fallen into the comparison trap?

Is it fear?

What about anger or un-forgiveness?

Can you slow down long enough to inspect your heart? 

We all have tender places of struggle. That’s not bad. We get into trouble when our compulsions consume us, our transgressions taint us, our shortcomings strip God’s truth right out of our hands.

Over the next several days, let’s pause, take an audit, and then believe God for breakthrough. Ask the Holy Spirit to shed light on any darkness that has caused a blockage in your walk with God. Don’t be afraid of what you discover. The very area you might be avoiding could be the key to freedom and peace – true rest.

“So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul” (Hebrews 3:12-14 MSG).

 

Devotion, Fasting, Prayer, Series, Uncategorized

2015 Fasting Devotion, Day THIRTEEN

Read Acts 16:16-40

Sometimes life brings situations your way that have you feeling trapped. You may not be physically incarcerated unjustly like the Apostle Paul in this story in Acts. But, you can feel stuck in a job you hate, held captive by a diagnosis, bound by people around you who seem to drag you down. The best way out of any stronghold is through worship and prayer as Paul and Silas have shown.

You can’t control what problems life brings your way and Jesus himself told us this world would bring troubles, but you CAN control your response to your pain. Worshipping God means declaring his goodness, putting him in FIRST PLACE in your life, telling him how much you love Him for what he has done in your life, exalting HIS name above every problem you face. If you can form a habit of worshipping God and praying through every trial you face, you will experience a freedom like Paul felt when the physical shackles fell from his body.

The beauty of living a God-centered life is that people around you will witness God’s faithfulness to you; they too can be set free.

Jesus, you are worthy of all my praise and affection. I honour you above everything in my life and worship you now despite any trouble I am facing. I trust you will be faithful to release me from bondage so that I can walk in freedom. Knowing my eternity is secure with you means I can face anything life throws my way. Use me to minister to others in my world and in my church as I experience your goodness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Australia, Inspiration, Pictures, religious, Uncategorized

Caught in Freedom

On Sunday, we visited Pastor Phil Camden’s Church 180.  It meets in two locations in Newcastle and we were in the downtown locale.  They purchased an old theater and it is perfect for church.

Everyone was so friendly as they handed us welcome brochures and offered us tea and coffee.  The pastoral care pastor, Garth Belford saw us and immediately escorted us around.  It was obvious we were new and I loved the way everyone seemed genuinely interested in greeting us and getting to know us a little.

The service opened with the Hillsong United song “Go” where the first line is “Giving it all away, away!”  I don’t know whether it was the presence of God in the room, the reality of our “giving it all away,” or just the beauty of seeing people like us worshipping God in a way that felt comfortable that caused me to be overcome with emotion.  Maybe it was a combination of it all.  The song was appropriate on every level. Greg and I are “giving it all to go your way!”  As much as all of the unknowns can be intimidating for us, we are also in a place of perfect peace. Knowing we are doing exactly what we are called to do is refreshing and meaningful.  My favorite line from the same song is “we are caught in your freedom.”

When you live in a place of total surrender to God’s will for your life, there is ultimate freedom.  So many people think if they give their lives to God, there is a list of “what-not-to-do’s” waiting on the other side.  The opposite is actually true.  Christ set us free to live a FREE life (Galatians 5).  That means we walk without fear, with an attitude of gratitude in all things, in peace, with joy and dreaming big dreams.  The only place I want to be “caught” is in this very freedom.

When we know we are standing for what Christ died for and surrendering everything to go His way, there is complete freedom.  I love the bathroom stall sign at Church 180:

I want to encourage you today to turn your “cant’s into cans.”  With God, your dreams can and should turn into plans.  All things are truly possible.  As we venture out into the unknown to plant a church in Newcastle, it is encouraging to know that we will be in a city with other great churches who are making a difference.  To know their heart and methods are Christ-centered and their “product” (for lack of a better term) is much like what Lift Church will be is very inspiring.  Many lives will continue to be changed and we feel honored and blessed to come alongside Pastor Phil and Church 180 to make a difference in this awesome city.