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Faith Imagined: July 2009

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

July 28, 2009

Over My Head!

I was in the car listening to Air1 Radio, when I heard the song, "Over My Head," by the Fray. It thrilled me to hear it. The lyrics go, "Everyone knows I'm in over my head," and that's exactly how I've been feeling lately: Over my head in every way, doing things that out of my league, out of my comfort zone and out of my mind!

God has been leading me in many steps of obedience. If I were to make a list of each step and its inevitable outcome, I would become overwhelmed. In fact, I do become overwhelmed when I don't look through the lens of faith.

I've been overwhelmed before. I was tired, frustrated and angry at God. There didn't seem like enough time in the day to do everything, and there was absolutely no room for me to enjoy life. I accused God of giving me a yoke I couldn't bear, until He said, "I never asked you to bear it."

I was out of line with God's plan in my life, doing "good things" that He never asked me to do. But, this time is different! I'm overwhelmed, but I feel at peace. There's a lot to do, but each day seems doable.

God's been asking so much of me, but the cool thing is He doesn't expect me to do it alone! There is something very exciting about being right in the middle of God's plan and knowing that there is no possible way that you can accomplish it by yourself. I know that God's hand will come through for me, and I'm looking forward to seeing Him in action.

So what about you? Are you in over your head? Is God asking you to do something that you could never accomplish alone? God is wanting to do something amazing in your life. He wants to enlarge your territory! Don't be afraid! He will strengthen your capacity to handle it. Align yourself in God's plan and nothing will be impossible for you!

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all
things are possible." - Matthew 19.26

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July 14, 2009

Do Not Claim Ownership!

The Enemy hands out temptations every chance he gets. He and his cohorts have stacks and stacks of them. They stand on street corners and force them into the hands of anyone who walks by. Sometime the temptations are carefully planned, but many times they're just thrown out in droves in hopes that they'll eventually be picked up.

The sad thing is that many Christians feel obliged to take them. They see the temptation staring them in the face and have no clue what to do with it, so they quickly grab it and tuck it away in their hearts before anyone sees. They feel ashamed that such a temptation was ever offered them, like it's their fault the Enemy wants to see them fall. I've done this so many times. I'm embarrassed by a temptation that's being handed me, so I quickly take it and hide it inside. I feel that if I were somehow a better person or if I were closer to God that the Enemy wouldn't have access. Though I usually never do anything with the temptation, I still feel guilty. That guilt trips me up and distracts me from the beautiful things God is doing in my life.

I'm sure the Enemy hopes that the temptation will linger and grow roots, but he's satisfied with our guilty feelings. If we're constantly feeling guilty, we're not going to be very confident Christians. And if we're not confident Christians, it will be hard to be a Christ-like example to this world.

I finally read something that was so simple and obvious, but I just never applied it to my life: "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil" (Matt 4.1). The perfect son of God was tempted, and I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that Satan attacked Jesus with EVERYTHING in his arsenal. So whatever small or outrageous temptation we are given, Jesus was probably given it too. And please note that the "Spirit" led Jesus into the desert to be tempted. That's an entirely different topic, but Bible does say that God tests the hearts of His children: "The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the hearts" (Proverbs 17.3).

I bet Jesus was tempted a lot -- much more than what is documented in the Bible. Satan pumps up his attacks against anyone who is serving the Kingdom of God, and Jesus is the supreme servant. But, Jesus never took ownership of those temptations. He rebuked them, and He never felt guilt over them. How could He? He is the perfect son of God. Jesus has no reason to feel guilt.

Now when I walk down the street and those temptations are being thrust at me left and right, I'm going to give them to God. They have no power over me. In fact, God promises to never let us face temptation that we are unable to claim victory over. I will also search my heart for temptations that I've surrounded with guilt and tucked away. I'm going to expose them to God too, so they will no longer have any control over my life. God gives me a choice of what I claim ownership. Forget the temptations and guilt! I'll take more blessings and peace, please!

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. - Deuteronomy 30.19

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July 6, 2009

The Wii Circle

I make compilation Christian CDs and play them while I drive. I love all Christian music, and I like to expose my kids to the wide selection we are blessed with today. My oldest son reads the track number of each song and memorizes what song goes with what number.

While I was driving yesterday, I really wanted to listen to track 2 ("Awakening" by Switchfoot), but my son kept insisting that we listen to his favorite. I asked him what his favorite was. He thought for a moment and said, "Number 12." I didn't believe him. I told him that he was making up a number just because he didn't want to listen to what I wanted to listen to.

He kept yelling from the backseat to play track 12. I asked him to tell me what the song was about. He couldn't explain it, and again I thought he was just making it up. (Sometimes I forget that my son is only five).

Once we got home, I skipped the CD to track 12 because I wanted to make a point to my son. I just knew it was one of the songs he didn't prefer. When the song came on, I realized that he had picked my current favorite song, "One Trick Pony" by Mercy Me.

"You see, Mom! I wanted you to play your favorite song!" he said from the backseat.

I felt horrible. All along my son wanted me to play my favorite song. He knew that this song always cheered me up. I was totally missing the point. I was so consumed with what I wanted that I couldn't see my own son trying to bless me.

I gave him a big hug and apologized, and I thanked him for being so sweet to me.

As I walked into the house, I asked God, "Why can't I get it right?"

God has been teaching me a lot lately about His children. What I've realized is that my kids are not mine at all. I know people say it all the time, "They're not really my kids. God just loaned them to me." However, I never really understood the depth of that statement until recently.

God gave me an image of my son's soul next to mine in Heaven. I was no longer his mother. We were both simply souls in a vast horizon made up of God's children. The important thing is not that I'm his earthly mother. The important thing is that God chose my son's soul to be under my care for a season. God has allowed me to have a huge influence on another soul of His creation.

God has made it abundantly clear that I will raise His child precisely as He says. I will be held accountable, and this is a job I do not take lightly. But with this realization came an intense weight of responsibility. I do not want to mess up.

But, as in the track 12 example, I do mess up. I started to feel anxious. How could I possibly raise God's children perfectly? I'm an imperfect human. There is no way I'll raise my kids according to God's plan exactly. I daily make mistakes.

As I fretted over this, God gave me an image of the "Wii Circle." If you don't know what the Wii is, it's a video game system. Along with this system, you can purchase a fitness program called Wii Fit.

I don't own a Wii; but I went to a friend's house for a game night, and she had one. I played one session of the Wii Fit. I had to stand on a platform that weighed me - in front of everyone! - and I began doing different strength training moves. On the TV screen was a dot that represented my performance. There was a circle around the dot. If I could keep my dot within the circle's limits, I would have a near perfect score.

My dot wasn't streamlined; in fact, it moved and wiggled a lot. Nevertheless, my dot stayed within the circle. As long as it stayed within the circle, my score was great!

When God showed me the image of the Wii Circle, I instantly felt relieved. Of course I would never be perfect. God knows that! He puts a circle of grace around me. Even though I mess up, I can still do an awesome job at raising my kids, at being a wife, a friend, a leader, etc. As long as I stay within the confines of His grace, I can still make a near perfect score at this life.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. - Hebrews 4.16(NIV)

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