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Faith Imagined: May 2010

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

May 30, 2010

Not King of Slaves

Jesus is the King of Kings, not the King of Slaves. We are children of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8.17). We are called to be Kings of an inheritance created for us before the world began. Yet, many Christians live as slaves. We are slaves to the world, instead of free by His truth (John 8.32).

We each have a passion to lead, but our preconceived and corrupted beliefs prevent us from knowing the truth about who we are in Christ. We fill our mind with the lies of the world and the promises of God stay locked up in our unread Bibles and godless thoughts.

The only way to discover our royal heritage is to leave the yoke of slavery and head towards the promise land (Ephesians 1.11). However, many Christians fear the wilderness that they must pass through in order to reach freedom. We stay content in our honey-like pleasures and trapped in our mediocre mind sets. We are kings living as slaves by choice.

Why must we pass through the wilderness in order to reach the promise land? The wilderness teaches us how to be kings. The wilderness helps us to shed our chains and embrace the passion and purpose that God placed in each one of us. Most of all, however, the wilderness teaches us the true definition of kingship.

Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and He came to this earth to serve. The inheritance that God has for you -- the kingdom that He has created for you -- is your ultimate gift of service to this world. You were built to serve humankind in a specific area. The more you are able to serve, the bigger your kingdom will grow (Mark 9.35).

It is God-like to serve the needs of others. It is slave-like to be served. If you feel like your are not fulfilling your purpose in life, you may have not found your current niche in which you have power to serve. If you feel like your kingdom is not growing, you may not be fully embracing the privilege of serving others.

God has a plan for your life. When you find your gift of service, God will give your grace and power to multiply your efforts beyond what you can humanly manufacture. Our life is short and there are distractions around every corner. God has placed in your soul a desire for your life to have meaning and for you to live out a purpose. Seek His will. Discover your destiny. You will find passion that you didn't know was in you. You'll wake each day with a confidence that you can't explain and a fire that the world can't smother.

"They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers" (Revelation 17.14 NIV).

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May 23, 2010

Kingdom Idol

I was reading about the first division of God's Chosen people in the promise land. After Solomon died, the kingdom was split in two. Jerusalem was given to Solomon's son, Rehoboam. And Israel appointed their own king, Jeroboam.

The House of God (temple) was in Jerusalem, and Jeroboam feared that his people would start to pledge loyalty back to the line of David. So Jeroboam decided to construct two false idols in Israel. He erected two golden calves so his people wouldn't have to go to the House of God in Jerusalem to worship. Jeroboam wanted something that was granted to Rehoboam, so instead of seeking his own style of kingship, he created false idols (1 Kings 12.27-28).

My fear for Christians is that we see the Kingdom Purposes that God has given to others, and we start constructing Kingdom idols to match theirs. We don't seek our own kingship of the purpose God has planned for us because we fear that ours will not be good enough. But if we could weed out the lies blocking our view, we would realize that each Kingdom Purpose is equal in beauty and influence.

I believe that we can be deceived in two ways.

1) We look through the lens of our current culture. Our culture has a list of what is considered worthy and great. If something is not popular, famous and beautiful, then it is not worth our time. If a person or ministry does not appear on TV, in several books or on the Yahoo information page, then forget it. It is no good! However, we can not judge a life by what the world says is worthy. We have to rise above popular opinion and find the value in what God has planted in each of us.

2) We look through the lens of our selfish flesh. It is a struggle not to see life through our self-centered perspectives. It is amazing how many times I made plans in the past, claiming they were for God; but in actuality, they were based on selfish motives. We all have a great gift of denial and justification when it comes to getting what we desperately want. God has revealed many selfish motives in my life that I wasn't even aware of because I was seeing through my eyes instead of His. I built idols for a kingdom that God was not giving me, and I suffered for it.

What I'm beginning to learn is that each of us -- whether we influence millions or just a few -- has equal Kingdom Influence Ability. Some Christians are called to front-porch evangelism. Some Christians are called to small group discipleship. Some Christians are called to a national Gospel movement. And some Christians are called to a world-wide ministry. We are each designed to work in a certain sphere. Of course, we can jump to different spheres on occasion when the Holy Spirit leads; nevertheless, we still will find more grace and power in the sphere we were designed for.

This thought hit home for me when I read Dr. David Cho's book, The Fourth Dimension. Dr. Cho is an influential Christian leader who pastors one of the largest Christian churches in the world. He has brought multitudes to Christ through his ministry. But he didn't become a Christian until he was dying at age 19 from tuberculosis, and he realized none of his local gods could help him.

A young Christian girl (Cho can't remember her name) came to visit him daily and talked to him about Jesus. She would go over the Scriptures with Cho until he was completely irritated with her. She prayed that he would receive Jesus as his savior and finally -- after much effort -- he did. Cho was healed out of death's bed, and he began to direct his life to full-service for God.

This young girl went to a dying teenager's house every day. She didn't care about changing a nation; she just wanted to change one man. She worked in the Kingdom Purpose God had given her and look at the results. If Cho had not become a Christian, countless other wouldn't have found Christ. This young girl is responsible for thousands of souls going to heaven. She might be a nameless nobody in our current culture, but God has established her name and obedience in the records of eternity. With her seemingly insignificant ministry, she has greatly expanded God's Kingdom.

Are you striving with grace and power in the ministry that God has called you to? Are you embracing the Kingdom Purpose given you, or have you been unknowingly building Kingdom idols? Have you been deceived by cultural trends or your own desires?

"There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us" (1 Corinthians 12.4-6 NLT).

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May 20, 2010

Ruby for Women Guest Post

I'm a guest writer at Ruby For Women, edited by Nina Newton. This is an extensive site and magazine for women that offers yummy recipes, great craft ideas, devotionals and more. I would definitely check out the recipe for Hot Cross Buns. I'm eager to make them!

God-Confidence & God-Worth

I’ve always struggled with self-confidence. For much of my life, I allowed the Enemy’s arrows to strike through the heart of my self-worth and value. I thought I had to prove myself. I needed to be fit, smart, well-liked, productive and esteemed. When something in my life wasn’t going right, I would crumble into a big, mushy pile of insecurities. I would take my failings and wear them, unable to live in victory in any other areas of my life.

I couldn’t be a good example of a righteous child of God because I allowed my feelings to dictate who I was in Christ. I was like a ship on the waves, going back and forth depending on the external forces. Who in their right mind would want to emulate my insecurity-driven life? Shouldn’t Christians be brimming with confidence and worth because of the cross?

Finally, God brought me to a place in my life where He cut everything that I tied my self-worth and confidence to. I wallowed in my self-defeat, until I looked to God for help. I realized that I placed very little value on the fact that I am a child of God and placed great value in what the world deems as worthy. God showed me that when I form roots of self-worth to areas other than the Trinity, they become idols and distract me from loving Him most.

During that time, God helped me cultivate a single, strong root to Him. He became my self-worth and confidence. I am the daughter of the Most High, and He places great value and worth into me. I don’t need to prove my worth because Christ proved it on the cross. God has chosen me for a special purpose, and He provides me lots of grace to accomplish His will.

Now when the waves of this life knock me around, I don’t fall down in despair. I stand firm in God’s promises, and I claim unseen victory. I don’t bow down to the Enemy’s accusations. I only bow down to my Creator. All of my self-worth and confidence is wrapped up in Christ. I fear little else other than to lose His favor, His blessing, His smile. I no longer care about self-confidence or self-worth. All I want is God-confidence and God-worth.

“Or, you may fall on your knees and pray—to God’s delight!
You’ll see God’s smile and celebrate,
finding yourself set right with God.
You’ll sing God’s praises to everyone you meet,
testifying, ‘I messed up my life—
and let me tell you, it wasn’t worth it.
But God stepped in and saved me from certain death.
I’m alive again! Once more I see the light!’”

- Job 33.26-28 (The Message)

You can also read this article at Ruby for Women!

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May 16, 2010

Kingdom Faith

I already wrote about how the Kingdom is Here, but now I want to explore how to access the Kingdom in each of us. I would like to stress that the word "kingdom" denotes a King -- The King, The Creator, The God. In order to have the fulfillment of God's Kingdom (His purpose) in our lives, we need to first have a relationship with the King. The only way we can have a relationship with King is through His Son, Jesus. Once we have a relationship with Jesus, we receive God's Spirit (Holy Spirit) to guide us. God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit are three separate components of God, but they are all God.

Jesus' life was foretold by the prophets (Isaiah 53.3-5 NIV) in the Old Testament and was fulfilled and documented in the New Testament (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23 & John 19). During His ministry on earth, Jesus taught us to "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 4.17 NIV). There is an overall Kingdom fulfillment for this world that Jesus foreshadows in Luke 21; however, I believe that God has planted in each of us a Kingdom fulfillment.

I find it interesting that Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to yeast. Yeast is dormant until it is placed in bread dough. (I believe that each of us have a Kingdom fulfillment, yet it will stay dormant until we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.) The yeast works on individual particles in the dough and transforms them. The end result is a sweet, yummy loaf of bread (John 6.51 NIV).

This Kingdom image leads me to believe that we all have a kingdom purpose to fulfill, which will be a part of the Kingdom purpose of all existence. God's Kingdom fulfillment has already been established. His Kingdom will come whether we participate or not. It will be a shame, though, to see Jesus coming down from the skies riding a flying horse and realizing that we snoozed through this life and never fulfilled our purpose (Revelation 19.11 NIV).

Humans have two parts: We are flesh and spirit. Genesis 2.7 explains that "the LORD God formed the man from the dust [flesh] of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [Spirit], and the man became a living being" (NIV). When we ask Jesus into our hearts, God plants His Kingdom purpose into our spirits. The only way we can fulfill our purpose is if we live in the spirit. The problem is that it is so much easier to live in the flesh. To live in the spirit takes A LOT of faith. The flesh and the spirit are always struggling for dominion. A person can not live divided. Either she is walking in the spirit or in the flesh. There is no middle ground.

So what do we do? How can we ensure we live in the spirit, so that we can fulfill our Kingdom purpose? The answer is easy, but it may not seem pleasing at first.... hardships.

God allows hardships in our lives for two main reason: First, they kill our flesh. As Christians, we need to desire the death of our flesh because, otherwise, we will never fulfill our Kingdom purpose. Since our flesh and spirit are constantly warring for control, God does us an absolute favor when He sends hardships our way to take out the flesh (Galatians 5.24, Romans 6.2, Romans 8.13). We will always be drawn to live in the flesh because it is just easier. If we allow God to beat down our flesh, we will more likely embrace the spirit.

Second, hardships build our faith. Faith is the key. According to our faith, will our Kingdom purpose be done (Matthew 17.20). I think it is interesting that we embrace physical exercise because we know it's going to build our bodies, yet we don't embrace hardships, which will build our faith. Every time we endure hardships and continue to believe God for His promises to us, our faith becomes stronger. We must have stellar faith in order to live in the spirit.

Faith is essential to fulfilling our Kingdom purpose. God is going to do something in us that will go against all odds (Matthew 19.26). We will need lots of faith to believe that He will work His beautiful plan through our messed-up lives (Philippians 1.6). The main way we build faith is through hardships. Hardships come in many forms, but we can claim victory to overcome them through Jesus Christ (1 John 5.3-5). When the sin of this world increases, God's grace increases (Romans 5.20). And we can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4.13).

I'm determined not to give-up when hardships come my way because I know that when my flesh is weak, my spirit will become strong (2 Corinthians 12.10). There is a battle between my flesh and spirit, and I want my spirit to win. It is only when we go through hardships, we can ensure that we fulfill the Kingdom purpose God has for us: "where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God" (Acts 14.22 NLT).

Therefore, let us face our hardships with determined victory because they bring to completion God's Kingdom fulfillment in our lives: "But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (1 Peter 4.13 NIV) and "Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory" (Romans 8.17 NIV).

What storms are you currently finding yourself in? How can you walk by faith and claim God's victory?

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May 12, 2010

Silence in the Storm

During Jesus' day, disciples (students) didn't just go to school and learn from their teachers. They immersed themselves into their teacher's life. They followed their teacher almost every moment of every day. This is true for Jesus' twelve disciples. They were always with Jesus.

They experienced all the miracles first hand that Jesus performed. Each miracle I read, I believe in my heart that it is a historical fact that has been recorded into the Living Word of God. I don't doubt what the Bible says; however, that doesn't mean that I have faith in them. Belief and faith are two totally different claims.

As I was reading in my one-year Bible, I came across another of Jesus' miracles: "Then he stood up and told the wind to be silent, the sea to quiet down: 'Silence!' The sea became smooth as glass" (Matthew 8.26 Message). Jesus and His disciples were floating in the middle of a severe storm. The disciples believed they were drowning, and Jesus was taking a nap on the deck.

After Jesus spoke peace into this middle of this storm, The Message Bible reads in verse 27, "The men [disciples] rubbed their eyes, astonished. "What's going on here? Wind and sea come to heel at his command!"

Just that day Jesus had healed a leper, the Centurion's servant who was not even present, the "inwardly tormented" and the "bodily ill." Why all of a sudden did the disciples rub their eyes? What had changed to cause them to ask, "What's going on here?" They had seen Jesus do miracles. They had belief, but they still lacked faith.

The distinction between belief and faith occurs when the miracle needed becomes personal. It is easy to believe victory over someone else's storm, but it takes faith to claim victory over your own storm. God is teaching me faith because I'm learning to claim victory in my own storms while the waves of life are crashing on me, causing me to want to give-up and drown.

Faith is hard because everywhere I look, all I see is impossibility and hopelessness. I don't see an answer in the physical, but I need to claim God's solution in the spiritual. The storm is causing me to feel pain, worry, mistrust, fear and anger; but I need to take those thoughts captive and claim victory (2 Corinthians 10.5). The physical world is merely a manifestation of what's going on in the spiritual world. If I can shout victory in the spirit by faith, God can take that mustard seed of faith and create the solution (Matthew 17.20)!

What storm are you in the middle of today? A finance storm? A marriage storm? A job storm? A ministry storm? An inward storm? You are the eye of the storm. The storm wouldn't be there if you didn't exist. Don't just believe that God can do a miracle. Have faith that God is producing a miracle from the storm's center -- you. Stand up in faith and allow the Holy Spirit within to claim "Silence" over the storm.

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May 9, 2010

Kingdom Purpose Movement

I wrote in my Shutter Island Moment that compared to God's perfection we are all monsters. However, I want to emphasize that all Christians are called to a life of perfection through a friendship with Christ. We are suppose to be different from the world, and our lives should reflect God's glory. There is a large gap between just being forgiven by Christ and being perfected in Christ. Christians should be on the path to perfection, headed toward Christlikeness.

Many Christians receive salvation through Christ, but they don't pursue a relationship with Him; therefore, their lives blend in with the cultural norm. Other Christians receive salvation and pursue good-works rather than relationship with Christ. Good works become idols instead of an outward product of an inward fellowship.

As Christ's disciples, we are called to become like Him. We can not become like Jesus from our own effort. It must be the Holy Spirit working in us (Philippians 1.6 and 2.13). When Christians passionately pursue an intimate relationship with Jesus, their lives will be sanctified (set-apart) and will produce God-centered good works (Ephesians 2.10 and John 17.19).

The question is, "How do we move from being Monsters (selfish nature) towards Perfection (Christlikeness)?"

My first inclination is to say love. If we love Christ enough, we will automatically begin to take on His likeness. However, we could love Jesus in heaven. We don't need to have this earth and this temporal life to love Jesus. If love would get us from point A to point B, why wouldn't God just call us all to heaven now?

There has to be a reason Jesus walked this earth and we walk this earth. This creation must serve His purpose in perfecting us.

I write a lot about our Kingdom Purpose. I believe God has an awesome, powerful Kingdom Purpose for each of us. God taught me a lot about His overall Kingdom Purpose and our individual Kingdom Purposes when I did my 7-day fast. If you haven't read my meditation on what I learned, you can find it at Fast to Feast. During this fast, God gave me one of Jesus' parables to meditate on, and it was about His Kingdom. Did you know that God's Kingdom is one of the topics that Jesus discussed most? Why so much emphasis about our Kingdom Purpose?

What I would like to suggest is that God's Kingdom Purpose is what moves us from Monster to Perfection, from sinful nature to Christlikeness. Let me explain why.

God created this earth and gave us dominion over it (Genesis 1.26 and Psalm 115.16). Jesus uses the Parable of the Talents to illustrate that we will each be given a portion of His Kingdom (Matthew 25.21). Therefore, God obviously has given us a portion of control over this earth for a reason. He wants us to have territory and use our authority to expand it (1 Chronicles 4.10 NIV).

What I'm realizing through researching the Scriptures is that our Kingdom Purpose is essential to our lives on this earth. It draws us closer to God and shapes us into the image of Christ. Sadly, though, many Christians are hopelessly kingdomless. They have no idea why they are on this earth and, therefore, become easy prey for the Enemy. We lose our focus if we haven't got a focal point.

I'm learning that the more God gives me a clearer vision of my own Kingdom Purpose, the more I draw closer to Him. Because I know that there is absolutely no way that I could achieve my Kingdom Purpose alone. I must keep in step with the Spirit. And this is why the Kingdom Purpose moves us towards Christlikeness -- it forces us to commune with God. If you are serving a purpose and it seems easy enough to do alone, I don't think you've reached the height of what God wants to do through you.

I believe that besides ignorance and apathy, the number one hindrance preventing us from achieving our Kingdom Purpose is covetness. The world has it's own degrees of what is meaningful and what is not; however, this hierarchy does not fit in with God's vision. We get into trouble when we start idolizing a particular Kingdom Purpose instead of fulfilling our own. Whether we are front-porch disciple makers or TV evangelist, we all have equal freedom to multiply our Talents and further God's Kingdom.

We each have God's glory waiting in us in the form of our Kingdom Purpose. We just have to obediently unleash it. This power is the greatest force that will shape us into Christlikeness. Our Kingdom Purpose can only be accomplished if we lean on God, obey His commands and desire Him more than anything. I think that is why in the Bible God many times claims beauty over the ugliness of His children. He knows what they could be if only they strive to accomplish the purpose that He has created them to serve.

What about you? Have you asked God specifically what is your Kingdom Purpose? Has God carved out a territory for you that makes you cling to Him? Do you think it is important for individuals to know that their lives have meaning?

"In accord with his original intent, the heavenly Father has in fact prepared an individualized kingdom for every person, from the outset of creation. That may seem impossible for us. But we do have a very weak imagination toward God, and we are confused by our own desires and fears, as well as by gross misinformation. It is a small thing for him." - Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy

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May 6, 2010

Signed Book Giveaway: Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks, and Other Gems from Proverbs

And the winner is... Winston Manor!
Warren will be mailing you a signed copy of his book. Congratulations! Thank you to everyone who had fun with us!

Every comment on this post gets entered into a drawing to win a signed copy of Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks, and Other Gems from Proverbs. We will draw the winner next Wednesday, May 12th!

Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks is a wonderful book of devotions written by Warren Baldwin. Each devotion take less than 10 minutes to read, but each offers numerous Godly insights from Proverbs that are relevant for our lives today.

The topics of each devotion range from your family life to your spiritual walk. One of my favorite devotions is "Rebuke" based on Proverbs 27.5, which reads, "Better is open rebuke than hidden love." The insight that Warren explores on this topic was so helpful to me because I have difficulty distinguishing between criticism and rebuke. As Christians, we need to love people enough to confront sin.

Another of my favorite devotions is "Entitlement and Exemptions" based on Proverbs 19.3, which reads, "A man's own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord." Warren gives every day examples of how the Spirit of Entitlement can rob people of living God's best for them. This encouraged me to raise my children with love but without indulgence.

Warren graciously conducted a short Internet interview for me.

1) What prompted you to start writing meditations? How long did it take you to compile your book, Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks?

I write daily devotionals for our local radio station. It dawned on me that I should write some on a theme with the view toward publishing them one day. It took about two years to write Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks.

2) You have well over a 100 meditations in your book that cover a broad range of topics. How do you prepare to write on a topic? Which topic is your favorite to explore?

All of the topics/discussions in Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks are based on verses in Proverbs. I would continually read through Proverbs, meditate on the various verses I selected, read about them in commentaries or language works, and think about how I could explain or illustrate the meaning of the proverb in contemporary terms. Sometimes I explain the proverb, if it is a difficult one to understand, and sometimes I just tell a story to illustrate the message of the verse. My favorite topic is probably proverbs that address attitudes and how those attitudes influence behavior. I have several chapters on such attitudes as a mocking spirit, anger and envy.

3) What is your weekly writing schedule? What motivates you to write and who encourages you in your writing?

I try to write five of these short chapters a week, but don’t always get to. The radio station runs a certain amount of reruns because not everyone hears them every morning. They have years of the devotionals on file to draw reruns from (I’ve been doing this for ten years now). Actually, I draw encouragement from everyone who says, "I liked your program" or "I liked that chapter in your book." The thought that someone, somewhere, might read one of these and get a good idea that helps their marriage or helps to rebuild a relationship keeps me writing.

4) Why do you think your book would be a good resource for Christians? What do you hope your readers will glean from your writing?

I hope Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks will be a good resource for Christians because it addresses so many aspects of the Christian life, including marriage, parenting, attitudes, and daily living. Hopefully, the proverbs are presented in such a way to demonstrate that the message of the ancient wisdom is within reach of everybody. We sometimes read through Proverbs quickly and glean a few good ideas. The proverbs are actually meant to be read slowly and reflectively. I try to read a chapter a day, then pick one of the proverbs in that chapter that resonated with me for some reason, and think about it for 10 minutes or so. What is this saying? What would it have meant in ancient Israel? How might that meaning travel over time to 21st century America and my life today? How could I share this truth with someone today who might need to hear this? Hopefully, after reading this book, readers will feel encouraged to engage in this process themselves.

5) Can you explain the title of your book?

I get asked that a lot! A book of devotions on Proverbs with a title like this and a picture of a mountain lion and a cliff on the front is unusual, I admit. Somehow, calling this a "Collection of Devotionals on Proverbs" didn’t sound too interesting. So I took the titles of two of the chapters and used them in the title. A wild animal on a mountain top in Wyoming growled at me. I couldn’t see it to identify it, but a Game and Fish employee in Wyoming told me it was probably a mountain lion. I tell that story in the book, giving that chapter and the book itself part of the title. Plus, men seem more drawn to the book with the title and cover than they might have been had it been titled, "Quiet Moments with Proverbs."

Author Bio: Warren Baldwin

Cheryl and I have been married for 28 years and have ministered together all that time. We have been with churches in Florida, Wyoming and Kansas. Three children have blessed our home: a son who is a youth minister in Wyoming; a daughter majoring in elementary education in her junior year in college; and a daughter still at home. Her golf, basketball and softball pictures tend to show up regularly on my blog!

If you would like more information about Warren Baldwin, please visit the following websites. You will find that his words of wisdom will draw you closer to God and give you clarity on how to live a full Christian life!

Family Fountain Blog
Warren Baldwin's Site
Book Overview

Thanks, Warren!

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May 4, 2010

Internet Cafe: Using our Filters

When my husband and I were first married, we lived in a tiny apartment. I could vacuum the entire house using one plug for the cord. My mom came to visit for a few days. She didn’t mind sleeping on the couch, but she did mind the lack of coffee supplies. She quickly went out to buy us a coffee pot, filters and coffee.

After my mom left, she sweetly left us the coffee pot for future visits. After a year in the tiny apartment, we upgraded to a bigger one. I brought the coffee pot and the filters along with us. We made coffee on rare occasions, and I was happy we were prepared.
When my husband and I finished schooling, we moved to another city for further training. As I packed the house for the move, I broke the coffee pot and decided to throw it away. However, I kept the coffee filters. There were a bunch of them, and I didn’t want to waste a perfectly usable product. So I put the filters in a plastic bag and packed them.

My husband and I moved into our first home. We were excited about the change and the new possibilities that came with it. Most of all, we were thrilled that we lived right next to a local coffee shop. I didn’t need to buy a coffee pot; and as the years went by, I completely forgot about the filters.

We moved one more time back to our hometown where my husband and I first met. As I was unpacking, I found the coffee filters. My husband must have tossed them into the box. I thought it was interesting that the filters had made it from our first home to our current home almost eight years later.

“What am I going to do with these filters?” I thought.

I kept them mainly for nostalgia’s sake. The filters were a sweet reminder of my marriage’s beginning. Finally back in our hometown, we joined a church and began to raise our growing family. A year later we started a church home group. My friend bought me a coffee pot for Christmas, and I started serving the much wanted coffee for my friends. I finally had a use for my coffee filters.

What I’ve come to understand is that God many times gives us coffee filters. He puts a desire, talent, promise or dream into our hearts way before we will ever use them. They just sit on the back burner, and we wonder why God ever gave us the passion in the first place.

But slowly, without us even realizing it, a need will come and we’ll finally get to do what God has called us to do. I don’t know why God places these dreams in our hearts so early, but I do know that we will greatly enjoy dedicating ourselves to those dreams when the time arrives…. I was excited to finally use my filters.

What about you? Has God given you a talent, dream, passion or promise that you haven’t been able to fulfill? Or have you finally been able to accomplish something that God anointed you for years in advance? Share your story with us, so we can be encouraged that God does finally let us use our filters.

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1.20 NIV).

You can also read it here Internet Cafe!

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May 2, 2010

Shutter Island Moment

I watched the movie Shutter Island, and it prepared me for what God was about to do in my life. I'm always reminded that God can use anything (Christian or not) to get His perfect will done. If you haven't watched the movie, this post will spoil it for you. I'm sorry.

At the end of the movie, Dicaprio's character realizes he has been living the past several years in an insane asylum in an altered state. He believed he was continuing his U.S. Marshall work, trying to uncover a conspiracy at the hospital. His doctors needed to bring him back to reality, so they planned an elaborate role play experience, allowing Dicaprio's character to uncover the "conspiracy." The plot became layered and confusing until it climaxed with an intervention of facts.

Dicaprio's character wouldn't believe the information at first. Then, he became disoriented between what was real and fake. But finally, he fell to his knees in despair. He carried guilt from tragedy that occurred in his life, and he couldn't handle the fact that he was a monster.

The day following the intervention, Dicaprio's character slipped back into the altered state. Before the orderlies took him to get a lobotomy (which would make him passive), he asked his doctor, "Which would be worse: To live as a monster or die as a good man?”

God planned a Shutter Intervention for me three days later. I noticed that I had been criticizing people, and I couldn't understand why. I kept reprimanding myself for criticizing others, but I knew it wouldn't go away unless I let God pull out the root cause. I prayed and asked God to help me, and He quickly unlayered the sin. I criticized because of arrogance. I became arrogant because I was covering up for jealousy. I was jealous because I was insecure. But why was I insecure?

I drove to the beach and continued reading the book, Why? Because You are Anointed! by T.D. Jakes. And there in the car I was confronted with reality. I am selfish. I see life through the lens of "I" and my entire opinion of people, actions and circumstances is altered. I was insecure because I am not perfect. And because I idolize self, I couldn't handle the fact that I too am a monster.

T.D. Jakes writes: "The most prevailing sin of all mankind is sin of selfishness...the idolizing of self (self idolatry). Selfishness is the epitome of satanic, demonic, and rebellious sinful motivations and behavior."

My entire life I have seen everything from my own perspective, which is blurred by the cataracts of sin. If I were truly seeing life through the lens of God, I would never have those negative feelings of jealousy, hate, lust, pride, envy, discontent, etc.

When I realized that I had been seeing everything through an altered state, I became disoriented. I could barely get a grip of what God was teaching me. How could I apply this new truth? My understanding of everything is tainted, and I didn't know how to begin seeing clearly.

I was about to call it quits. There was no way I was going to be able to live my life with a new set of eyes. But God reminded me of what Dicaprio's character asked: "Which would be worse: To live as a monster or die has a good man?"

The reality is none of us are good enough. We all have tragedy. We all have sinned. We are all monsters. If we truly understood how ugly we are compared to God's beauty, we would all fall to our knees in despair. But Jesus died a good man to save us from ourselves. Yes, I'm a monster, but Jesus lived a sinless life and died to redeem me. If I can focus on Him being good and see through His eyes, then I don't have to worry about living in an altered state. If I can live by grace, I can live free.

"Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body
also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of
darkness" - Luke 11.34

What about you? Have you ever realized that you were seeing a situation or person through the wrong perspective? How do you try to prevent seeing life through the wrong eyes?

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