Often life is hard, but God is always good

Archive for September, 2014

Am I worn out?

Photo Credit: Bo Insogno

Photo Credit: Bo Insogno

I pray you may know….”his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 1:19-20

When I asked Jesus to “come into my heart” at age fifteen, I opened up to the Holy Spirit who came in His powerful presence; He entered my life and began to transform me.

But somewhere along the line, I succumbed to my own perfectionistic tendencies and the influence of other Christians, and began trying to be good.

After many years of living from this paradigm, I was intensely “weary and heavy laden” from my own efforts. (see Matthew 11:28-30) I was dried up, tired, powerless, and guilty for not doing or being enough.

To top it off, I was attending a church with others who lived the same way, but weren’t ready to admit it and, therefore, could offer no answers for my spiritual malaise.

Long story short, my family’s journey led us to a different place of worship where believers had rediscovered the power of the Holy Spirit.

We humans, especially middle-class Americans, tend toward an independent spirit; but that spirit lies to us subtly, whispering: “You can do it all on your own. If you are having trouble, just try harder!”

But I cannot just “gut it out”. Neither can you.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians chapter 5, that many of us memorized as children in church, comes as a by-product of the dynamic working of a powerful God – not the outcome of our self-effort. “Power” shows up all over the Scripture; my favorite Bible translation (NIV) contains 135 references of the word in the New Testament.

I am definitely not making the claim that finding a new church is a magic answer for all who are spiritually heavy-laden.

The only two requirements to receive power are humility and willingness.

You are the only source of power, Lord.”

“I open my heart to the power of the Holy Spirit today to change me and bless others.”

Let ‘s pray this and see what happens:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. “ Ephesians 3:16

“The Lord is With You, Mighty Warrior” – Calling us out

might warrior bluebird

Photo Credit: Irene Nobrega

“The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.’

 ‘Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, ‘but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.’

The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’

‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family

The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.’” Judges 6: 12-16

God has put within us gifts and callings that we cannot see ourselves because we are not yet aware of them, or we have discounted them due to failures and negative feedback from others.

We need eyes to see and ears to hear when God shows us a vision of our purpose and speaks to us of our value as He did to Gideon. He called him “mighty warrior” when Gideon was hiding in the winepress doing the best he could to keep food for his family protected from oppressors.

In his mercy, God often gives us other people who “see” us better than we see ourselves.   In The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien weaves this theme into his story when Gandalf draws out the inner gifts and life purpose of Bilbo the Hobbit. All his life. Bilbo has seen himself as a simple hobbit in the Shire, living a safe and complacent life.  All of a sudden, Gandalf shows up and thrusts him into an adventure where Bilbo is needed for skills he didn’t know he possessed.  Throughout the story, Bilbo saves the day.

On the other hand, we are like Gandalf and the angel of the Lord because we possess the discernment to both envision and call out the unique purposes of our friends and loved ones. My cousin, Jennefer did this for me recently when she encouraged me to blog. I had disqualified myself as a writer many years ago, wrongly interpreting the average grades on college creative writing papers to mean I wasn’t a writer.

I pray that God will speak to us, we will hear our calling, and in turn offer to others the inspiration they need.

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