“What if?” — Two Words Can Change A Life

What if something as small as two words could change the trajectory of your life, improve your relationships, bring increased joy and renew purpose. Maybe you think I am exaggerating, but honestly, I’m not.

Twelve years ago, my husband and I refused to retire and chose to repurpose our lives instead. We shifted from business owners to working for paychecks and shedding the load of business responsibilities. Then just five years ago God interrupted our pleasant lives with what seemed like an impossible proposition. There was a sudden urgency to publish a “children’s” book.

Others encouraged me. However, the pressures of full time work, ministry obigations, and family life squeezed the majority of my time and energy. Eventually, I resigned from work to give writing and publishing complete focus. After jumping into the deep waters of unknown outcomes, persevering through disappointments, frustrations, and many tears, Olivia & Me was published in 2017.

What a journey! It was like running a marathon without training. Whether stubbornness, frugality, or simply the quest to learn, determination ultimately pushed me into the diverse and “techy” processes involved in website development, writing, formating, book design for interior copy, graphic design for covers, coordinating with printers, and forming marketing strategies.

Now just five years later, the eighth book, Great and Awesome God is in the publishing queue. When we are willing to give God our “Yes, Lord!” anything is possible!

“The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him: though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”
Psalm 37:23

Stumbling

Honestly, stumbles and trips still occur almost daily. Even now, I struggle to overcome many obstacles — some internal and others external. But “what if” my roadblocks became highways to success.

These two little words are capable of changing anyone’s perception, even mine!

We all know the voice of our internal critic.

  • You are not enough!
  • Nobody will buy these.
  • You will make a fool of yourself.
  • This is nothing but a waste of money.
  • You have no training for this.

However loud your harassing voice, we all have the ability to silence it.

  • What if God is enough!
  • And what if people buy them and are encouraged?
  • What if others grow spiritually, even if at times I might look foolish?
  • Or what if the money spent becomes an investment into the eternal futures of people?
  • What if I seek training, engage in writer’s groups for support, and God does fill in the gaps with His wisdom and the help of others?

“Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.'”
Luke 18:27

These two little words exceed any positive thinking strategy. They open a heart and mind to trust God for His possibilities worked in and through our lives. The only thing we have to offer Him is a segment of our time and limited resources.

Possibilities

Although creativity infused my life in a multitude of ways and I had once played around with oil paints, my inner critic told me (in no uncertain terms) I could not illustrate a book. After my husband bought $350 worth of watercolor paints and supplies for me, I cried, absolutely convinced it was a waste.

One step at a time, God led me like a little child to create color charts by blending one color with another and to watch numerous online tutorials.

Alone one day, when no one could watch me fail, I sat with a broken HB2 pencil and began to sketch the image of a baby. To my astonishment, a beautiful face began to appear on the paper! What if this was possible, thoughts broke through the inner voice of condemnation. What if God is all I need . . . and more!

These two little words, “what if,” transformed my pessimistic mindset to one of God possibility.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
Ephesians 3:20

There Is More

We all face daily challenges.

As covid restricted personal contact with people, my confidence took a nose dive — especially in the area of markteting. In person meetings gave people opportunity to see me, hear the message, and develop trust. On line, however, seemed cold, detached, and artificial. To propel me through the challenges, God connected me to Christian Book Academy, where I found support, prayer, and strategic tools.

What familiar chant does your critic play through your thoughts, pointing out roadblocks and limitations. It may be saying something like:

  • Your marriage is doomed to fail.
  • Your business is about to collapse.
  • You will never survive that blunder.

And more and more . . .

Last week God encouraged me to make a list of critical and negative thought patterns. Then with a stroke of the pen, He led me to create a different outcome beginning with “What if . . .” What if God works through us to establish a beautiful, healthy marriage? What if this downturn is actually for a longterm benefit? With God, even my greatest mistakes become what if possibilities for character develop and lessons learned.

“Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Matthew 21:21-22

Faith Rising

This may sound foolish, but by the end of the exercise, I was high-fiving, fist-pumping, and cheering in triumph around my living room. (Fortunately, there were no cameras present!) God strengthened my faith, blowing the lid off perceived limitations.

Everything becomes possible with God on our team!

I would encourage you to make your own list. Then give God room to fill in the “what if” over your situations, relationships, businesses, dreams, and desires.

I pray that by sharing my simple experience you will find courage to transform negative thinking into God thoughts over your life. May you have faith to believe in God possibilities. What if your roadblocks are God’s highways to something great? What if your difficult season propels you something better than you could imagine?

May we al give ourselves permission to believe the “what if” thoughts of God!

**********

Better Together!

JUST FOR YOU! Enjoy free bonuses and benefits developed to encourage and enrich your faith. Grab them now!

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

**********

Rules Matter! Run to Win the Prize

Rules matter, guiding every area of life. Competitors must run according to the rules in order to win a prize. In far too many competitions, someone becomes exposed for breaking the rules in an attempt to reach the top of the podium. Why is twisting and bending any or all regulations so common — not just in athletics but in every aspect of life? Whether in sports, politics, business, or even ministry, people willingly risk disqualification or loss of reputation to attain perceived goals.

“Isn’t it obvious that all runners on the racetrack keep on running to win, but only one receives the victor’s prize? Yet each one of you must run the race to be victorious. A true athlete will be disciplined in every respect, practicing constant self-control in order to win a laurel wreath that quickly withers. But we run our race to win a victor’s crown that will last forever. For that reason, I don’t run just for exercise or box like one throwing aimless punches, but I train like a champion athlete. I subdue my body and get it under my control, so that after preaching the good news to others I myself won’t be disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Here, Paul lays out strategic guidelines for success for virtually any area of life. Rules matter!

Know Your Lane

Whether in baseball, motor sports, swimming or track events, each participant runs within an assigned position or designated lane. Lanes ensure safety for the competitors and fairness in the competition.

What lane has God called you to run in? Is it within business or finance? Maybe your lane focuses on caring for and loving your family or community well. Is it shepherding a church? Or perhaps teaching or writing? Are you running in your designated lane?

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28

God calls each one of us according to His perfect purpose and design for us. He equips and empowers us to fulfill specific roles. When we know and intentionally run in the lane God has called us to, our lives become exciting and fulfilled.

Whether you a professional dragster or an elementary school sprinter, knowing your lane determines your starting position and the course ahead! If you are unsure which position God has called you to run, ask Him for clarity and allow Him to show you.

Rules matter. The most important rule is staying within the lane God provides.

“Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.”
2 Timothy 2:5

Discipline and Self-Control

We will all start the race at some point, but too few will complete it. Perhaps, a lack of self-discipline or self-control hinders us from staying the course. Whatever the goal or purpose, these qualities will help successfully carry us from start to finish.

A good start doesn’t guarantee a great finish! Sacrifice marks the road to victory. Just as rules matter, so does character.

“. . . we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope.”
Romans 5:3

Though not a contest, entering God’s “race” comes with a physicaly, emotionaly, and often financial cost. However as we run our race, we experience many benefits. God brings out the best in us, deepening our character.

Titus lists qualifying characteristics of those who lead the pack:

“Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.”
Titus 1:8

These attributes form the personal character needed for a great finish to any race we begin.

Oh, my fellow runners, let’s not slow our pace or deviate from our course. May we remain faithful to run with perseverance, character, and hope.

Champion Others

The race we run resembles a relay or a marathon more than a solo sprint. Others run with and beside us. Still more will follow in our footsteps.

As we devote ourselves to run our race, may we champion others — encouraging, training, and developing those co-laboring with us.

We have opportunity daily to choose whether to wear the mantle of encourager or that of a critic. May any encouragement be sincere and all critqueing be given with humility, inspiring listeners to press beyond their expectations.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Matthew 7:1-2

May we refuse to look over our shoulders, judging others for running in a different manner than we would. Criticism inevitably causes us to lose personal momentum, veer off track, or even break godly guidelines of good stewardship of gifts and resources. Rules matter!

What strategies for success can we pass on? How can we help someone else meet and surpass their goals? What tools, resources, or influence can we share?

May we humbly and willingly both receive and pass on the baton of encouragement, creating a synergy of wins.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

God rewards those who diligently seek Him.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:12-14

Through the days, weeks, and years of training, a competitor strains toward the goal, the highest prize possible— the top mark, the highest rank.

Every earthly award will eventually break or lose its luster. In a few short weeks or years, it will fade into insignificance.

As Christians, we run or compete, not for human recognition, but to finish the course God has set before us. Everything will pale in comparison to hearing the King of Glory say,

” . . . Well done, good and faithful servant! . . .”
Matthew 25:23

Let us not become distracted. Rules matter! Staying the course matters! Character matters! Passing the baton and keeping focus matters, too. But maintaining sight of eternity guides us along a straight and purposeful path “heavenward.”

Run Well

Maybe you feel like you have tripped up too badly to continue. Today, I encourage you to restart and refocus. No matter how tragic your fall, with God’s help, restart. Move back into your lane and step-by-step aim for the finish line.

None of us know how much time we have left to run. Today, God offers us a fresh start and a new opportunity to gain ground. He is the God of second chances.

Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity . . . “
Ephesians 5:15-16

You can do it! God is on your side, while forerunners in heaven and on earth cheer you on!

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Spring is Here Signalling a New Generation of Growth

Spring is Here!

Everyone from the far north announces when spring is here. Snow melts; puddles appear. Even the muddy messiness is a welcome reprieve. Preparation by gardeners and farmers began months ago. Proud growers splatter social media with images of seedlings flourishing under growlights lights and in greenhouses.

Most people look forward to spring. Maybe not the muddy part, but certainly the clean, fresh, green part! We watch and listen for the return of waterfowl and songbirds, building nests and laying eggs. We google over sprigs of green bravely emerging from the cold, once barren, earth. Spring brings promise.

Spring comes slowly only to leave quickly, followed by the steady rhythm of other seasons.

See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.”
Song of Songs 2:11-13

Solomon never endured the lengthy, frigid winters we do. Yet, he welcomed spring with a song, “Winter is over! Spring is here!” He relished the sights, sounds, and aromas of the season of awakening and fresh starts.

Fresh Start

God often refers to autumn and spring rains as refreshing and rejuvenating the earth. The spring rain carried a promise of future harvest.

Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.”
Joel 2:23-24

Spring symbolizes new beginnings. Those fresh sprouts of green will eventually produce a harvest. In the Bible, an overflow of grain, new wine, and oil speaks of abundance flowing from fresh starts and new beginnings. Each symbolic, not just of earth and soil, but people with soul coming into spiritual overflow.

So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today — to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul — then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.”
Deuteronomy 11:13-14

Can you feel it? God’s promise of abundance and blessing?

The Patience of Spring

All us dirt-between-the-fingers gardeners know that to plant a seed or see a fresh sprout rising from the dust doesn’t mean harvest has arrived. Spring may be here, but harvest follows much later.

The sower plants with patient expectation. The patience of spring represents another more important waiting.

“Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea 6:3

Just as the spring rains cause the dead sprigs to burst into life, spring announces the promised return of Jesus Christ. When He comes, death will forever be cast aside as He breathes fullness of life into His own.

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”
James 5:7

Farmers know we need more than just a few spring showers to produce a harvest. Timely summer rains bring the crops through to completion. But, no rain carries as much significance and promise as the early spring rain.

Ask for Rain

The patience of waiting partners with fully trusting in the Lord’s provision. The sower plants, waits, and seeks God for the increase. Within patience flows asking — asking God to provide His rain at strategic times.

Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone.”
Zechariah 10:1

Spring follows winter as surely as day follows night. But God encourages us to ask for His showers of blessings. Zechariah reminds us to be bold in our asking God for the full provision of spring.

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry gournd; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.”
Isaiah 44:3-4

God remembers we are made from dust. We forget what a dry thirsty people we become apart from the constant “showers” of the Spirit. The spring rain points us to Holy Spirit being poured out on humanity — on us and our children — saturating and reviving all that has grown cold and barren.

Faithfulness

More than anything else, spring reminds us of God’s faithfulness. We might easily forget in the cold, dark night of winter, but as the sun rises higher and higher warming the land and restoring life, we remember again that God is faithful.

“Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The LORD will indeed give what is good and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.”
Psalm 85:11-13

As wars and corruption flood the earth, throwing nations and peoples into uproar, God’s reminder that spring is here brings hope. As we lift our gaze to Him, we remember His faithfulness, seeking a greater outpouring of His Spirit. Even when justice and righteousness seem distant, God is faithful!

The muck and mud always gives way to beauty. God’s righteousness will always prevail, preparing the way for intervention in our lives and in our world, until His ultimate return to gather the real harvest.

Spring signals a new generation of growth. Look down enough to avoid the muck and mud, but keep looking up to God who is forever faithful!

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Names of God

The Names of God reveal His nature and character. With each disclosure of His Name, God reveals something unique about Himself. In this way, we discover how to relate to Him and others and a life-giving manner.

As we meditate upon His Names, we discover more about who we are by design, how to maintain healthy relationships with others, and how to live fulfilled and exciting lives.

I have created a few resources to help you meditate more on the power of God’s Name and the qualities of His character. This is only a beginning, but it is a start.

Click on any of the icons below for your free downloads. Use them yourself or even print copies for your family or church group. Enjoy!

Infographic

Infographics display in point form the main points of a topic. “Knowing God” illustrates the five main benefits to studying His Names.

Bookmark

All readers, young and old, need bookmarks. Grab crayons, markers, watercolor pencils, or whatever other writing tool you design and personalize your bookmark.

Coloring Page

I find that turning on the artistic side of my brain quickly reduces stress and helps me jump back into “work mode” with greater enthusiasm. Studies show that coloring actually improves brain function and improves motor skills.

Take full liberty to print off a sampling of new coloring pages I am working, focusing on the Names of God. Copyright is reserved. Please don’t altar image in any way or sell to others. Free to you, freely pass it on. Woohoo!

Other

If you feel like going deeper, check out this recent post which may inspire you. Or perhaps you may be interested in watching sermon on two of God’s Names — The Lord my Shepherd and the Lord Who Makes us Holy. You can grab that HERE!

When God Says, “No” Keep Going

What is your tendency when God says, “No?” You created a wonderful plan, have the resources to implement it, and all doors appear to be open. Will you trash the idea and go a different direction? Will you press on, pursuing your goal at any cost?

I have a stash of seemingly great ideas! Or at least, I think they are great. Actually, some may even be God-inspired ideas. Even godly people with fantastic God-given ideas hit roadblocks. I find the proof in the Word of God, the Bible.

King David came up with an excellent idea to build a permanent place for the Ark of God.

“After David was settled in his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, ‘Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of the covenant of the LORD is under a tent.'”
1 Chronicles 17:1

Wow, David! Great idea! Build a place for God’s Presence. David confided with others who also thought it was a good idea.

“Nathan replied to David, ‘Whatever you have in mind, do it, for God is with you.'”
1 Chronicles 17:2

But God disagreed.

When God says, “No”

“‘Go and tell my servant David, “This is what the LORD says: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in.”
1 Chronicles 17:4

Good plan! Wrong man!

Honestly, it hurts to not be chosen, overlooked for a position, or have a creative idea only to have someone else fulfill it. This brings back painful memories of being chosen last for a sports team or not at all in a group as a child. It also includes being disqualified for a desired position or facing the rejection of others as an adult.

God’s “no” meant He had something permanently better for David.

God basically said, “David, thank you for wanting to build a house for me. Actually, I’m going to build a lasting house for you.”

God loves flipping things around and turning things for the good. No matter what we attempt to do for God, He comes back with a bigger, better blessing for us. It may not be immediate, but it is guaranteed.

Solomon, David’s son, became the immediate fulfillment, but Jesus ultimately completed it.

“. . . I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him . . .”
1 Chronicles 17:11-13

Praise

David’s response might seem difficult; he rested in God’s answer.

“Then King David went in and sat before the LORD.”
1 Chronicles 17:16

David wasted no time and energy in self-loathing or questioning. He sat, resting in God’s Presence. Praise flowed from the position of rest.

“There is no one like you, LORD, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.”
1 Chronicles 17:20

I love this attitude! When God says, “No” to us, will we become distracted from fixed focus on Him? Or will our hearts be fully devoted to give Him praise? In the posture of adoration, David humbly received the blessing God promised.

“And now, LORD, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised.”
1 Chronicles 17:23

Without dispute, David accepted the closed door with grace and dignity. When we are willing to receive from God both the pleasant and the difficult, we demonstrate quiet trust and confidence in Him.

Prepare

David picked the exact place to build the tabernacle. Interestingly enough, the place marked the spot of David’s greatest failure but quickest turning back to God.

Then David said, ‘The house of the LORD God is to be here, and also the altar of burnt offering for Israel.”
1 Chronicles 22:1

Insecurity might cause some people to place stumbling blocks in the path of their successors. Confident assurance, however, leads others to level the way, giving all who follow the greatest advantage and full opportunity to achieve their calling. When God says, “No,” we quickly discover internal motivations.

When we examine David’s responses, we find him to be a true gem! He

  • Appoints stonecutters, masons, carpenters, and craftsmen (1 Chronicles 22:2,15-16)
  • Provides large amounts of iron, bronze, cedar, gold, and silver (1 Chronicles 22:3-4,14)
  • Designs the specific plans (1 Chronicles 22:5)
  • Orders Solomon to carry it out (1 Chronicles 22:6)
  • Clearly declares God’s intention over Solomon’s life (1 Chronicles 22:7-11)
  • Prays a declaration of blessing and transfer over Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:11-13)
  • Appoints leaders to assist Solomon ( 1 Chronicles 22:17)

Who wouldn’t benefit from such extensive support? This list causes me to examine how I could better help others achieve their goals and reach their dreams. When we put God first and others ahead of ourselves, we discover may creative ways to motivate and encourage.

Peace

Many of us might be tempted to quit when we run into set backs — get off the road, park the bus (or car or eighteen-wheeler), and find a quiet beach somewhere to do nothing. Bad idea!

God reminded David of his successes — a fearless warrior leader, bringing peace and rest for his nation. None of it was accomplished through striving. Complacency didn’t bring it to completion either.

But now, God needed a leader of peace and rest to do the future great work of building the temple.

“But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side . . . I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for my Name.”
1 Chronicles 22:9-10

God has given each of us a specific place and purpose. Sadly, I believe too many of us carry a large portion of our God-given destiny to the grave unfulfilled. How many talents and years are wasted wishing we had someone else’s call or gifts.

Freedom comes from trusting God to help us do all He has called us to do.

Promote

David did everything humanly possible to ensure Solomon’s success, not just because the idea to build a temple was a good idea, but He desired God to be glorified through it.

“Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD.”
1 Chronicles 22:19

Who’s name do I promote? God’s or my own?

When God says, “No” let us confidently promote Him, remembering everything is for His glory. We can do nothing apart from Him. We accomplish everything (even the smallest things) through His grace and goodness. Every point of success results from His blessing in our lives.

David affirms his son, Solomon and the importance of the work ahead. He calls him to give God pre-eminence in everything. Then God’s Name would be exalted.

When God says, “No,” let us each remember that His closed door for us might be the wide open door someone else is waiting for. We prefer when He throws opens those doors wide and gives us the go ahead signal. But today, David’s example helps us to keep on going, doing what we can, when we can, how we can.

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Fresh Air! A Fresh Wind Is Blowing

What memory or image most clearly represents “fresh air” to you? Is it mountains, forests, or laying in a hammock beside a lake? Developers and marketers attempt to package and advertise their latest scent to entice you into buying everything from laundry detergent to shoes. Why? Our nose knows!

When I close my eyes asking God for alert spiritual senses, I “smell” a shifting aroma that excites my spirit. I smell a fresh wind blowing, swooping across the nations of the world. It is starting almost imperceptibly, building strength, riding the prayers of God’s people of all nationalities, disrespecting political boundaries or earthly terrain. Like a powerful stallion sent from heaven, it comes — unbridled and free.

Long ago, in another land, a wind blew.

“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
Acts 2:2-4

“Suddenly” they ALL heard and saw things they had neither seen nor heard before. Perhaps, God again is repositioning us for new things previously unseen and unheard — times of refreshing, times of revival, times of awakening.

Hope

I invite you today to close your eyes for a moment and turn your heart heavenward toward the One upon His eternal throne. May you commune heart to heart with Him who loves you, knows you intimately, and sees your situation.

Neither distant nor distracted, He waits, listening for your voice. Like a loving Father, arms outstretched, welcoming you to come.

You are not abandoned! You are not forsaken! God has not forgotten your name.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
Ephesians 1:18

Oh, that we each may “know the hope to which (God) has called” us! Renewed hope breathes fresh air upon us. Do you smell it?

Courage

The fresh breeze blowing rides upon the wings of courage.

“But Jesus immediately said to them, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Matthew 14:27

We take courage, grabbing hold of it. We all possess the potential to choose courage. Courage shines strongest in the face of fierce circumstances. Courage disarms fear, exposing its faulty system.

It may be -30 degrees celsius outside, but today I unlocked the door and stepped onto my balcony with slippered feet. I shouted long and loud, laughing (literally) at fear. This simple gesture created a powerful inward move, refusing to entertain fear. The fresh air made me cough, pause, then breathe a glorious deep breath.

I smelled again the scent of newness, of God invading this earthly realm in ways my heart yearned to see.

Faith

Have you ever smelled the humusy aroma of fresh turned earth after a long winter’s rest? It is one of my favorite things, reminding me the old is gone and a new season has come. Faith smells just like that! Faith dares to turn over the moldy remnants of growth long dead, preparing for the planting of new seeds.

We enjoy the fruit of whatever we willingly sow, both in the natural and the spiritual.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-contol. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23

Sow the seeds! Reap the fruit! Breathe in the aroma of the fresh air of God’s Spirit rising.

In prayer, I saw an eagle, rising, circling upon a fresh wind. It rose higher and higher until I could no longer see it, but I knew it was there — powerful, strong and free. Suddenly, the eagle swooped taking captive what needed to be taken captive. Then flaming arrows came from heaven, lighting fires all over my nation of Canada. Not destroying fire, but fire that lights and warms — inviting fires, needed fires, holy fires.

The fresh air of Holy Spirit ignites flames of passionate worship, surrendered hearts, and yielded wills. I smell it, though I don’t yet see it.

Prayer

Yes, Lord! Bring in the fresh air of Your Presence. Blow across this and all nations with hope, courage and faith. Release over the earth the wind of Your doing. May Your church be ready! May she be waiting and watching — anticipating the newness of this day and hour. Turn over and overturn all that is dead and dying. Prepare the soil for Your harvest.
May Your people unite in perfect unity and harmony, declaring Your unfailing Word, without shame, throughout the streets and roadways, to neighbors, family, friends, and strangers.
May the winds of revival and restoration come! Remove what must be removed. Ignite holy fires. Shoot Your powerful arrows restoring Your purposes and plans. Light the path for those who have wandered far to find their way safely home.
This is a season of renewed hope! A time of great courage! Unwavering faith stirs among Your church — young and old, male and female. She is beautiful and strong. She will not be diminished! Through the burning fire of oppression she comes — radiant and unashamed.
She is learning to love as You love. She carries with her the fruit of Your Spirit, scattering it abroad. Lavishly generous, she freely receives and gives with open hands.
Awaken us, Lord! Awaken our senses to know the tremendous season upon us. It smells like fresh air, turning us toward You.
Amen.”

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

God’s Names: God’s Nature: Why Study God’s Names

God’s names reveal God’s nature. When God reveals a new name in the Bible, He uncovers previously hidden attributes of His character. The more we know His Name, the more we know our God.

We understand names carry great significance. Businesses invest time and money in deliberation, strategically choosing and designing catchy names, brands, and logos. Parents mull over baby names for hours, carefully deciding on the perfect name their child will carry.

Recently, a young companion illustrated to me the importance of a name. She chattered non-stop as we headed toward the barnyard. Upon arrival, she proudly held fuzzy balls of purring fluff for me to see. Each meowed and purred at her attention.

“I call this one Calli, because she is a calico kitten.”

Good choice, I thought.

“Here comes Greg,” she said, as a dusty grey kitten squirmed into her lap.

“And this one?” I asked as I held up another.

“Oh! I named him Tucker, because of his tortoise shell markings.”

Pretty smart, for one so small, I thought again.

I studied the litter of kittens more carefully. Their names revealed characteristics I previously ignored. As she continued to point out details of each one, I held another soft bundle of fur, gazing closely into its bright green eyes as whiskers twitched and wet paws stretched.

At that moment, I realized again the importance of studying and valuing the things that matter to us. There in the barnyard, I remembered God’s many names and the significance of them. Over time, I have grown to know Him more clearly, love Him more deeply, and appreciate Him more fully by studying His names.

Written below you will find a few benefits from studying the names of God. God’s names really do reveal His nature.

Security and Identity

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. ” Genesis 1:27

In the first chapter of the Bible, God introduces Himself as Elohim — Creator God who spoke all things into existence. All except for mankind! Humanity He created in His own image, forming every detail personally with His hands. Then in the ultimate expression of love and intimacy, He bent low, placing His mouth upon clay-formed lips and breathed.

How amazing! God intimately filled mankind with the essence of Himself. I wonder if at the core of our insecurity and at the root of lost identity, we might find a lack of knowledge of the nature of God’s commitment to us and His loving care.

Elohim, the first name we discover, presents God as one who will not rest until He brings confusion into order, darkness into light, and dust into life! In Him we may trust and in the power of His Name we rest. We discover true security and core identity only in the knowledge of His Name.

Salvation

When Peter speaks before the Sanhedrin, he draws from the Psalmist’s words, “Then I called on the name of the LORD: O LORD, save me!” Peter boldly declared,

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12

What Name bears such significance? What Name, unlike any other name, rescues and saves? There is only One! Only one of God’s names reveals such excellence — the Name of Jesus!

The beautiful Name of the Lord Jesus Christ — each portion carrying deep significance — should be the first Name we learn. Lord represents the Father; Jesus identifies the Son; Christ (the Anointed One) signifies the Holy Spirit. In His Name we find salvation and the fullness of the Trinity.

Confidence in Prayer

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, and I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91:14-16

Whether in desperate situations or the monotony of everyday life, as we acknowledge and declare His Name in prayer, God releases power and authority through our humble words. He hears. He moves and responds. By proclaiming His Name over situations, circumstances shift. Confessing the greatness, the goodness, and the glory of His Name releases His Spirit into unseen realms, transforming the seen ones.

At times uttering His Name takes on a warrior tone, another Name spoken in hushed reverence, still another sung with joy. What assurance comes as we pray, not to a deaf and distant god, but to our Lord — our Healer, Provider, Shepherd, and Peace.

Puts All Things Into Perspective

“I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: ‘LORD, save me!'”
Psalm 116:1-4

Just as the small moon, at times, blocks the sun’s light from reaching earth, present reality, at times, eclipses the larger truth of who God is and the greatness of His Name. The more we study God’s names and His attributes, the clearer we see the fleeting nature of this present life and difficulty.

Limits constrain everything earthly. But nothing constrains God! He defines Himself in limitless terms: omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal, without beginning or end.

Deeper Awe and Worship

“Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, you his servants; praise the name of the LORD. Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.”
Psalm 113:1-3

For some people, finding a reason to praise God may initially appear difficult. Yet as we practice the adoration of His Name, worship bursts forth. God remains forever worthy of exultation. He commands worship, not because He is a self-seeking egotist, but rather because worship strengthens us! As we pour out unrestrained worship to Him, we become complete and fully satisfied.

For me, the abandonment of worship flows easily. When asked why, I give no other reason than He is worthy!

Every morning when I awake, I ask, “Today, is He worthy?”

Every morning, I come to no other conclusion but, “Yes! Yes! Today, and every day, He is worthy! Today, and every day, my God is worthy of ALL praise.”

Strength under Trial

“We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 124:7-8

Allow these words to comfort, strengthen, and seep over you.

“The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
Proverbs 18:10

When everything feels like it is closing in, when there seems no way out or around a difficulty, “our help is in the name of the LORD.” God’s Name is always enough. In sickness, the whisper of that Name brings healing. In defeat, the mention of His Name secures victory. Where depression and anxiety paralyze thoughts and actions, the uttering of His Name enables release.

Power in Spiritual Battle

“The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
Psalm 9:9,10

To “know” God’s names means to know both intellectually and experientially. It means to personally “know.” As a child, I knew I could run to my earthly father in times of trouble. Why? Because he was strong enough, loving enough, and wise enough to deal with any struggle I faced.

How much more my Heavenly Father!

“The people that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”
Daniel 11:32

When we “know” His Name, He gives us authority to release the characteristics and qualities of His Name into situations we are contending for.

David came against Goliath, “in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45). As we face our own battles “in the name of the LORD Almighty,” He fills us with courage, boldness, audacity, tenacity, and anything else we might need to overcome.

Increased Faith

“Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God.”
Isaiah 50:10

We face our personal faults, fractures, and failures daily. However, the more we gaze into His magnificence and perfection, the more we will realize success and living life well depends not on us, but on God. Every mighty man or woman of God comes to the same conclusion. Though weak, they become strong in Him. Though fearful, they grow bold in Him.

One only needs to turn to Hebrews 11 to read the exploits of faith-filled ones, those who knew God well. The more we know God through His names, the more we too become “fully persuaded that God (has) power to do what he (has) promised” (Romans 4:21) and faith builds, rising to dominate our words and actions.

**********

The more time my little companion spent with her kittens, the more she knew them, not just by color, but by their character. She knew which ones would play inquisitively and which ones would withdraw to solitary corners and watch.

The more we spend time with our God, studying His names, the more we will know Him and His ways. God’s names reveal His nature, attributes, and character.

The intentional study of God’s names results in eternal dividends.

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

From “Misfit” to Beloved! Chosen and Loved by God

From "Misfit" to Beloved

Going from “misfit” to “beloved” requires more than a simple name change. To realize how loved and chosen by God we are reshapes everything!

“Misfit!” they called me. Whether within my family and outside, belonging seemed distant, often unattainable. I never quite fit in among the predominantly male student population in our one-room country schoolhouse. Nor did I quite measure up to family expectations and standards. The name “misfit” fit me well, eventually becoming an invisible internal compass, determining personal expectations, goals, and desires.

Even in adulthood, echoes of the nickname infiltrated relationships and clouded personal perspectives. Until one day, God spoke, not in audible words, but rather through deep impressions to a wounded heart, “I love you! I have chosen you!”

Have you heard Him whisper your name within your inner recesses? Have you sensed His loving Presence?

“Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow (and) said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
Isaiah 49:1-3

Was Isaiah referring to God’s call over his life. Or was he speaking of the nation of Israel or to the ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ? Perhaps all three and more! All who are “hidden in Christ”, who have a personal relationship with Him, can identify.

God knew each one of us “from our mother’s womb.” He continues to speak our names, wooing us close.

Chosen

I love these verses. Before conception, God has a plan for every life. No one enters the world by mistake or arrives by chance.

Alone

We may legitimately place our names in this passage. I have used The Passion Translation as an example. Insert your name where I have inserted mine, then read and reread it. Allow the truth of God’s sovereign love and care to permeate our hearts.

“Listen to what I have to say, you islands. Pay attention to me, you who live in distant lands. Yahweh called (MaryAnn) as his own before (she) was born and named (her) while (she) was still in (her) mother’s womb. He gives (her) words that pierce and penetrate. He hid (her) and protected (her) in the shadow of his hand . . . prepared (her) like a polished arrow and concealed (her) in his quiver. And he said to (her), “(MaryAnn), you are my special servant; in you I will be glorified.”

If this seems like a stretch, it really isn’t. The Bible says that when we believe in and confess Jesus, we become hidden in Him.

“For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Colossians 3:3

It is a profound truth. God loves the unlovely. He chooses the misfits, renegades, and outcasts. In Him, we all find belonging, family, identity, and purpose. Before, any of us proved ourselves worthy, He loved us. Before conception, He knew us and chose us,

Loved

Nothing we did merited such grace. Nothing we could ever do validates His love. In our worst, He loved. Nothing can stop the reckless, indescribable love God has toward us.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:6-8

Lightbulbs Different

Jesus provided the ultimate demonstration of love to us by giving His life for us on the cross.

We all hold remnants of “misfit” stories — moments or seasons of profound rejection, cast-aways from the comfort or care of others. Isaiah again scribes a clear image for us,

“For your Maker is your husband — the LORD Almighty is his name — the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit — a wife who married young, only to be rejected.” says your God.”
Isaiah 54:5-6

Our husband calls us His beloved. He comes to us as our Maker, the LORD Almighty, the Holy One, Redeemer, and the “God of all the earth.” We have not been short changed! The One who knows us best — deeply and intimately more — loves us most.

Jesus tasted rejection. He, more than any of us, felt the sting of “misfit” — fully God, yet fully man. Divinity robed in human flesh. He understands. So, he reaches out with endless love to you and me.

Beloved

To be loved by someone is a privilege, but to be loved by holy, righteous, perfect God, is incomprehensible! To declare such things of ourselves would be presumptuous. But when God declares them, the truth becomes life-giving, sustaining, and powerful.

You are His beloved! One who is greatly loved!

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! ...” 1 John 3:1

Different Cubes

Right now, God greatly loves us. Right now, He secures us into His holy family as His chosen children. Not after we clean ourselves up or improve in some way, but right now. Now, He loves! He plays no favorites. Even though He loves everyone, only those who believe in Him and receive Jesus develop the capacity to truly experience it.

Receive

For those bearing the label of “misfit,” receiving love becomes a challenge. Thoughts of unworthiness invade the reality of His divine love, warping and twisting it. Far too many people carry the scars of failed commitments and broken promises, which mask the promise of love’s full potential.

Misfit Locker

When two people devote themselves to love each other in marriage, they often exchange rings as a symbol of enduring love. Though the rings may last, the pledged devotion too often fades — its essence cast away and discarded like an old garments. But not with God. God loves perfectly and permanently.

God speaks through Isaiah again, saying,

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands . . .”
Isaiah 49:16

God publicly demonstrates His lavish love for each of us, wanting everyone to see and know. Your name and mine, your identity and mine, He carves into His being. “Engraving” carries the sense of a commandment or decree. The engraving becomes God’s decree of His undying love and devotion before the entire world and throughout all ages.

A Prayer

You, too, can move from “misfit” to beloved. You, too, may experience God’s deep love. If this is your daily reality, then thank Him again for it! But if HIs love seems foreign, I would like to encourage you by faith to reach out, accept His love.

Dear Lord, thank You for loving me and making room for me in your family even before I was born. Thank You for offering me — the least, the misfit, the outcast — Your great love. Today, I simply receive Your love. May I experience the power and presence of Your love in undeniable ways. I possess nothing of earthly value to offer You in return. As You have loved me, I choose to love You. Thank You.

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Winning and Losing — Gideon — A Great Warrior

A Great Warrior

When I look at Gideon, a great warrior in the Bible, I ask, “What constitutes great leadership? What propels a person beyond the normal? Why do some people fall from leadership, while others rise above?”

Did Gideon’s father and mother see greatness in their squirmy, newborn son when they chose his name. Gideon means great warrior, great destroyer, one who smites and cuts down, leaving only a stump. He entered the world while Deborah, another magnificent judge, led Israel to victory and renewed worship of God.

How quickly Israel forgot, abandoning their God for lesser things! So God, for a season, abandoned them to their enemies. Hordes of Midianites swarmed upon their land, completely decimating everything in their path.

“Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds.”
Judges 6:2

LIzard in Cave

While hiding like lizards in the caves, they cried out to God for help. God responded, sending a prophet to confront their idolatry and wickedness.

Every time someone spoke his name, Gideon was reminded of the greatness encrypted on His life. However, the evidence of such greatness hid as illusively as the people within the mountain caves.

Gideon’s Call

God often speaks suddenly when we least expect it.

“When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.'”
Judges 6:12

“Warrior!?” I can almost imagine Gideon looking around, sure that someone else was hiding with him in the winepress.

Though, God spoke truth about his identity and purpose, Gideon hesitated and resisted. He even quarreled with the LORD. “Look! God isn’t with us! He has absolutely abandoned us!”

Gideon saw only depressing and oppressive circumstances. God looked and saw Gideon, a great warrior. Gideon preferred to settle — to seek whatever shelter, safety, or comfort he could, hoping someone else, anyone else, would correct the situation.

Iguana

The LORD is With You

God listened to Gideon’s complaint for a while.

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

“You, Gideon, a mighty warrior, arise! Strike down all your enemies.”

We may try to debate, hesitate, and procrastinate when God presses us into the impossible. Yet God invites us to situations where only He can see us through.

“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?”
Judges 6:14

God doesn’t pump up Gideon’s ego or remind him of all the wonderful attributes he possesses. God points to Gideon’s inadequacy. The Hebrew word for “strength” used here has a double meaning. First, koah means power or strength, but it also refers a long, slender reptile considered unclean to Israel.

Lizard in Water

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”
1 Corinthians 1:27-29

What made Gideon a great warrior wasn’t his name, his character, or his stature. God made Gideon a great warrior. May we always remember that it is only through Him and by Him we accomplish anything, big or small.

“I will be with you” should be the only God response we need! Godly leaders know it takes God’s strength to overcome “lizard” tendencies. He brings worth and value to everything He does and everyone He calls. He is enough!

The LORD is Peace

When Gideon acknowledges the littleness of himself and the power of God’s Presence, he swings into action.

“So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD Is Peace . . .”
Judges 6:24

Worship shifts us from apathy and self-protection to God direction. The only peace any of us experience comes through following God whole-heartedly. In following Him, we fight. Most of us won’t face the battle Gideon faced, but we all have the same enemy, satan, who seeks to obliterate us, our families, and our nations.

Sleeping Chamelion

Every step we walk with God into the battle, He fills and surrounds us with His peace. Peace holds the implication of the permanence of wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety, and prosperity. But in moving toward peace, we must deal with our unclean, “lizard” nature that operates contrary to God.

Cut it Down

Gideon’s name comes from the Hebrew verb “gada,” also meaning to hew down or cut off, mostly of religious regalia and holy trees. Strikingly, there are no nouns formed from this verb, suggesting that whatever was cut off, was even cut off from speech itself. Gideon, a great warrior, must first become a hacker who hews down familiar idols!

“That same night the LORD said to him . . . ‘Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height . . .'”
Judges 6:25-26

“Cut it down, Gideon! Destroy all foreign worship that you, and your own father, and your own community depended on. Then build Me an altar,” God commands.

Despite fearing the outcome, Gideon obeyed. During the night, Gideon stepped into the beginning of his call. That very night, courage pushed through, little strength proved enough. In dark obscurity, the evidence of his greatness shone.

The Battle

“Now all the Midianites, Amalakites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel.”
Judges 6:33

The moment we choose to live for God, we can expect the enemy to push back and the battle to intensify. Godly leaders know when to fight. They refuse to back down.

Iguana - WIld

Gideon sounded the trumpet, calling his people to battle. God immediately thinned Gideon’s army of thousands to three hundred. He wanted everyone to know this was His victory, not man’s. What a victory it was! A hundred and twenty thousand enemy swordsmen fell that day. Only two kings, Zebah and Zalmunna, with fifteen thousand remained.

Gideon kept up the pressure.

“Zebah and Zalmunna, the two kings of Midian, fled, but he pursued them, routing their entire army.”
Judges 8:12

Finish Well

Gideon’s story didn’t exactly start well. It doesn’t end extremely well either. Gideon followed God after much deliberation and hesitation. He finished the same way.

God instructed Gideon. “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

Gideon almost finishes the task. His army annihilated the joint forces of the entire eastern army except for the remaining two kings — Zebah and Zalmunna.

“Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, ‘Kill them!’ But Jether did not draw his sword, because he was only a boy and was afraid.”
Judges 8:20

Lizards

Gideon passed the sword to his young son, expecting someone else to finish what he had both the power and authority to fulfill. Gideon started his journey by prodding God to choose someone else, anyone else. Now, at the end, he pulls back again. How tragic.

“Zebah and Zalmunna said, ‘Come, do it yourself. ‘As is the man, so is his strength.’ So Gideon stepped forward and killed them, and took the ornaments off the camels’ necks.”
Judges 8:21

Victorious Power

The word Gideon’s enemies used for “strength” refers to the LORD’s mighty hand that delivers His people.

“Now this I know that the LORD saves His anointed. He will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.”
Psalm 20:6 NKJV

Even before Gideon completed his mission, he became distracted by the gold ornaments around the camel’s necks. After asking each of his fighting men for a gold earring from their spoils, he created a new idol, an un-god, to worship, repeating the sins of his fathers and perpetuating it to his sons.

“Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it here, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.”
Judges 8:27

Anger rises in me as I read these verses. Through God, Gideon broke the generational strongholds of idolatry his father committed. Through God, Gideon united Israel to fight and defeat enemy invaders. Gideon even destroyed the leaders who murdered his own brothers (Judges 8:19).

Warrior Lizard

Instead of returning to the altar he built and dedicated to the LORD, Gideon reached for the ornaments of gold. He turned back to his “lizard” ways, worshiping frozen gods made with human hands.

What if? What if Gideon would have walked with God in whole-hearted devotion rather than reluctant obedience. How different his story would end!

The End

We may draw many key principles from Gideon’s wins and losses.

God challenges me through Gideon’s failure in several ways:

  • Step into whatever open door God provides without excuses or hesitation.
  • Do not shun opportunities, ministries, or leadership roles that He opens.
  • Acknowledge and repent of my own “lizard” qualities of fear, insecurity, and misplaced dependence.
  • Keep my focus on Him, knowing He is the Source of all things good and great.
  • Never quit fighting this war between good and evil — whether before the battle, in the battle, or after the battle.
  • Pursue God with wholehearted devotion.
  • Do not depend on someone else to finish what God has called me start.
  • “Build a proper kind of altar to the LORD (my) God,” returning again, and again, to worship Him.

What about you? What challenges is God speaking to you through Gideon’s wins and losses?

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

A Never Ending Battle: The Problem With Pride

Problem with Pride

Do you have a problem with pride? If you answered in the negative, I guarantee you do. Actually, we all do. Whether flagrant or subtle, we all battle with pride.

In an action-packed child’s game called “Catch-a-Mole” each player whacks one of several moles popping up from its hole with a hammer. The person who pulls the most moles out of their holes becomes the declared winner. Oh, how this game resembles my battle with pride. No sooner have I successfully whacked pride in one area of my life, when suddenly a new area springs up — or even a multitude of new areas.

Unfortunately, in reality, no one wins when it comes to being proud. God minces no words about His hatred of pride.

“The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.”
Proverbs 16:5

Proud as a Peacock

My Battle

I’m often shocked at the invasive nature of pride. All too frequently, I have to pick up my spiritual weapons against this deceiving attitude, pulling it from its hiding place. There lay part of the issue! Pride wraps itself deceptively in a multitude of disguises.

I may easily become proud of my looks and my possession, or even my spiritual gifts or prayers. Pride pops into my thoughts, bounces off my words, and hides in the motivations of my heart. Sometimes, I lose hope of succeeding in the battle.

Three truths help me:

  1. The root of all pride grows in insecurity.
  2. The only antidote is humility.
  3. I am free to choose.

“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 14:11

Peacock Feather

Pride’s vain promises result in humiliation, but God rewards those who choose humility. We will all have ample opportunity to choose either to exalt ourselves or to walk in humility.

The Test

We often see the evidence of pride in others long before we recognize it in ourselves. I’ve listed just a few of my pride points below. Do you relate to any of these?

  • Self-sufficiency — difficulty asking others for advice or assistance
  • Comparing myself to others
  • Need to be heard or noticed (especially getting in the last word)
  • Not being grateful for the little and big things God and others do for me
  • Jealousy or envy
  • Slander, gossip, or talking negatively about others
  • Feeling irritated, frustrated, or critical of others
  • Fault finding and being judgmental
  • Perfectionism
  • Feeling inferior to others
  • Difficulty saying, “I was wrong. Please forgive me.”
  • Feeling embarrassed or foolish around others
  • Finding it difficult to receive correction — justifying myself
  • Believing my way is right
  • Self-willed and stubborn
Problem with Pride

These symptoms of pride are obvious. What about the more subtle ones?

  • Often late for meetings or appointments
  • Interrupting a conversation or not listening when someone else is speaking
  • Being superficial
  • Difficulty working with others or as a team
  • Preferential treatment toward some, while neglecting others
  • Reluctant to share personal needs or struggles
  • Neglect of prayer or Bible reading

These lists form only the key points of my struggle. Though I am improving in this area substantially, my problem with pride has negatively affected many people.

The Antidote

Fortunately, God equips us to win! The problem with pride is beatable. We dare not let down our guard, lower our hammer, or turn a blind eye to any “pride mole,” wreaking havoc in our lives. Whether I whack once or fifty times a day, persistence reaps rewards.

Whack #1: If I ask, God stands ready to reveal and expose areas of pride in my life.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139:23-24

Puffed up Peacock

Whack #2: View every point seriously! Instead of a general, “I’ve failed . . . sinned . . . been proud,” be specific. By pinpointing the exact areas where the problem with pride arises, we target the “mole,” dragging it into the open. Then confess each area, asking God to reveal the source behind the problem.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9

Sometimes, I wrongly expect God’s complete faithfulness, regardless of my half-hearted confessions.

Whack #3: The responsibility for my pride rests on me. God desires that I choose humility, but the decision is mine.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
1 Peter 5:6

Keep Whacking

For me, the greatest breakthroughs came after even more strategic whacks. Victory came as I honestly repented and confessed my pride to others. I needed to both ask for forgiveness and submit to accountability in this area. Painful, yes! But absolutely profitable.

I know the best path to follow loves what God loves and hates what He hates. Such a transformation of my heart and mind requires process — a Holy Spirit led daily process.

Peacock Feathers

I often become weary in the relentlessness of it all. In many ways, the problem with pride bears no resemblance to a happy children’s game. I expect the battle to continue as long as I wear this garment of weakened flesh.

“For this is what the high and exalted One says — he who lives forever, whose name is holy: I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Isaiah 57:15

This verse encompasses God’s ultimate goal for us — “to revive the spirit of the lowly (or humble) and . . . the heart of the contrite (or repentant).”

Humility

Humility literally means “low lying.” Humility consists of that quality where you don’t think you are better than any other person. We identify this freedom from pride and arrogance as true humility.

Humility never refers to belittling oneself or denying God-given gifts or abilities. Rather, it freely acknowledges God’s grace without diminishing others.

As a matter of fact, humility empowers us to encourage, build, and lift other people to their full potential without personally feeling threatened by their success or ours.

Humility

Humility opens the door for us to receive fully the knowledge, wise counsel, and even correction from others, without self-defense, criticizing, or becoming resentful.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
Ephesians 4:2

May we all overcome the problem with pride, learning to walk in true humility, gentlessness, patience, and love.

Is anyone else ready for a ferocious game of “Catch-a-Mole?” Let’s do it!

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.