FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Sponge or Rock?

In the wake of the trend toward more natural and organic lifestyles that will reduce toxic exposure and increase overall health, more people are using natural sponges for bathing.  In addition to just being super chic looking on the bathroom counter, sea sponges are a renewable natural resource.  They are also hypoallergenic, toxin-free, natural exfoliators!  As if all of that wasn’t good enough news, sea sponges are also super durable because they are resistant to abrasion.

When you buy a loofah sponge in the store, likely it feels as hard as a rock.  Despite this appearance and even this texture, it’s still a sponge, and there is tremendous difference between a sponge and a rock.

If you place a rock in water, it gets wet.  That’s pretty much it.  Surface appearance might change, but the interior remains unchanged and the rock remains hard.  Place a sponge in water, and almost immediately a change is noticed.  The sponge absorbs the water into its every pore allowing the water to change it.  The rock resists the water; the sponge receives it.

In Acts 22 Paul shares his account of his conversion and how he was confirmed in the change that he made from persecutor of Christians to follower of Christ.  Paul calls those who would know God’s will and also God’s power to baptism to receive Christ and to become personally acquainted with Him.  Paul calls us to be sponges – to receive Christ, to let Him soak into our very pores and change us.

It’s not our nature to be sponges; we are more prone to be rocks with hardened hearts. Disappointments, sickness, death, job loss, financial struggle, contrary teenagers, broken relationships, missed promotions, joyless days…  The world screams to us, “Harden your heart!”

Tony Reinke says, “A hard heart is an obstinate and calloused heart blind to the precious value of the gospel and Christ” (Romans 11:8).  Rock or sponge?  Resist or receive?  Embrace and trust Christ or reject Him?  Despite the situation the choice is yours.

Are you operating as a rock or a sponge?  “Hard hearts,” says Max Lucado, “never heal.  Spongy ones do.”  Soak up the promises of God and let Him change not just your situation but your heart!


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Surviving (Part 2)

Children’s author, Judith Viorst, spins the tale of a day that many of us have had in her book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Nothing goes right for Alexander.  From the time he opens his eyes to face the day until he crawls back into bed and closes them that night, it’s all terrible, horrible, no good, very bad.  Page after page we read about Alexander, waking with gum stuck in his hair, tripping over a skateboard, getting smushed in the middle seat of the car and facing a dessertless lunch sack among other letdowns and annoyances. At one point in the story, Alexander thinks that change is needed, and he resolves to move to Australia!  (Hmm, no dessert?  I’d be thinking about moving, too!)

Well, I don’t know if Australia is necessarily the answer, but to survive times of crises change is often just what we need – and just what we fear the most.  What is the change that YOU need to make?  In our last blog post we offered some possibilities – job, friends, behavior, thinking.  You might think of others, but I’ll suggest you begin with the last two in this list – your thinking and then your behavior.

God’s best for our lives begins with right thoughts, His thoughts.  But Isaiah 55:8-9 (ASV) clearly tells us that our thoughts are not the Lord’s and neither are our ways; both His thoughts and ways are higher than ours.  So how do we change our thinking?  Look to the Scriptures for guidance:

  • “…taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:5(b)(NIV)
  • “…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. Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

It is possible to change and to control our thoughts.  As soon as a negative thought – one that does not align with God – comes into mind we must intentionally and purposefully “capture” it and replace it with “God-thinking.”  It is not enough to just tell our negative thoughts to “Stop!”  We have to replace them with right thoughts, God thoughts.  Consider these examples:

 

Our Thinking

“God-Thinking”

I can’t do it.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

It’s impossible.

“…Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19: 26 NASB)

I can’t go on.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  (II Corinthians 12:9(a)  NASB)

I don’t know which way to go.

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP)

I’m afraid.

God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control.” (II Timothy 1:7  NCV)

I’m not smart enough.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5 NASB)

I’m so alone.

“After all, he has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5(b)  CEB)

 

These are but examples. ANY negative thought that you have can be exchanged for “God-thinking” if you are intentional and purposeful in doing so.  Negative thoughts breed negative attitudes which breed negative behaviors.  And so a cycle begins and continues.  Break the cycle by taking captive your negative thoughts.

Next blog entry – changing your behavior!


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Surviving (Part 1)

On October 12, 1972, a plane carrying a team of young rugby players crashed into the remote, snow-peaked Andes. Of the forty-five original passengers and crew, only sixteen made it off the mountain alive. Those survivors endured ten excruciating weeks suffering deprivations beyond imagination, confronting nature head-on at its most furious and inhospitable, and to survive, engaging in the unthinkable.  This is the tale of Piers Paul Read’s Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors.

Chances are (if you are reading this), you are not snowbound, lost in the Andes.  But are you lost?  Confused?  Off kilter?  Perhaps feeling deprived – of love?  Of true friendships?  Confronting life head-on at its most furious?  Finances?  Health?  Career?  Death? Relationships?  Parenting?  Do you feel as though you are barely surviving?

The surviving passengers and crew in Alive, survived because they did the unthinkable.  They became cannibals.

Hold up; no, I am not telling you to eat your friends and family (though sometimes you might feel like it – with your words, that is).  But what is the unthinkable, the drastic, the radical change that YOU need to make?  Perhaps you already know.  Change jobs?  Change friends?  Change your behavior?  Change your thinking?  (We’ll talk about what you know next blog.)

Or you may be completely clueless.  I invite you to look to Isaiah for wisdom. Isaiah 58:9(a) (AMP) tells us “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, Here I am.” (Feeling better already? I know I am just typing this!). But keep reading. Isaiah 58:11 (AMP) continues, “And the Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you in drought and in dry places and make strong your bones. And you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.  (In case you don’t get it, He will make you Alive!)

But there is even more!

Isaiah 30:19-21 (AMP) says, “And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide Himself any more, but your eyes will constantly behold your Teacher. And your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left.”

To navigate the Andes, the survivors needed a guide.  To navigate life, we need a guide – and we have one in Our Lord.  Keep your eyes on Him and your ears open to hear His word, “This is the way; walk in it…”