Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Living Like Winners

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. — 1John 5:4-5

In last week’s post I touched on the theme of overcoming. If you think about your favorite movies and stories, I bet you’ll find a common theme of a character overcoming some major obstacle or hurdle in their life, even possibly death.

As Christians, we have a unique perspective of the greatest “Overcomer” in history. Jesus overcame the greatest battle over sin and through his death, we have the opportunity to live victorious lives.

But what does that mean, what does it look like, and how do we do it? This past Sunday, my pastor spoke about 1 John 5:1-5. What leapt out at me were verses four and five. John tells us flat out that everyone born of God overcomes the world. He even goes on to define who that person is, one who believes Jesus is the Son of God.

That’s you and me. Or if you’re still sitting on the fence about who Jesus is, take a leap of faith and accept who he is. God will affirm you in amazing ways!

But these verses hold a truth and a promise that’s ours for the taking:
    1. Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is our promise from God. No matter what we face or how difficult it might get or how hopeless things might seem at the moment, we’re already winners. Death and sin have been defeated. Our eternity is secure. It’s a promise. So, do we live in fear of what might be or do we go forward, knowing exactly what WILL be? We know our future and ultimate destination. We’ve won, so let’s live like winners. He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1John 4:4). The enemy would like nothing better than to convince us we can’t overcome the hardship and challenges in this life and in our spiritually mismatched marriages. If he can convince us we’re defeated, he destroys our testimony to our spouse too, but it’s a big fat lie.

    2. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. This is our truth. It’s a fact. The moment we accept Jesus, we are born of God. That makes us overcomers. We WILL overcome the world because God’s Word says we will. This doesn’t mean life will be smooth sailing, but it does mean we can face each battle with the reassurance that we don’t fight alone and that God equips us with everything we need to overcome and win. The thing we have to remember is that sometimes victory may not look so great. Look at Christ…he died and even the disciples thought they’d lost. But that wasn’t true, was it? They won the greatest victory of all time—eternity with their precious Lord Jesus. So just because it may look like you lost to the world, seek God’s perspective. You’ll find the deeper prize hidden beneath the outward appearance.
As I continue my search for how to live victoriously in Jesus, I keep finding the same truth over and over again. It all boils down to trust and focus. Who are we trusting? (I mean really trusting…it can’t be ourselves.) And where is our focus? (On our circumstances or on God?)

I haven’t figured it all out yet. There are a couple areas in my life that I continue to struggle with and some days, wind up feeling like a failure because of them. But God’s working on me, working to replace the lies with his truth.

What does living victoriously look like to you? Hope you’ll join me the rest of this month as I search for more clues in God’s Word to living in victory through Jesus.

Praying and believing,

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Rewards of Simplicity
by Pam and Chuck D. Pierce

I recently requested a free copy of The Rewards of Simplicity by Pam and Chuck D. Pierce for review from Bethany House. The title intrigued me, especially since I've sensed a need to simplify in my own life.

The book starts out in Pam Pierce's point of view. She shares a lot from her own experiences of how God called her to simplify her life. This part was definitely the spiritual part in the subtitle "A Practical and Spiritual Approach." Only when she got the the last few pages of her par of the book did she delve into the practical applications. Though I appreciated how God had worked in her life as she shared through experience, I finished her part of the book still wondering what the take away value was.

The second part of the book is written from Chuck D. Pierce's point of view and at first, got me excited that I'd now find more of take away value of this book. But again, though his wisdom and experience are wonderful and intriguing at times, I reached the end of the book still wondering what this book offered beyond what I already knew.

As a more mature Christian (but by no means there yet!), I could connect in many ways to what the authors had lived and shared. The last two years alone have stretched my faith in ways I never imagined possible. But I wonder if a newer Christian would wind up lost.

This could very well just be one of those books that will appeal to some and not others. I have no doubt that God will use the authors' words to reach and help people in significant ways. I, however, am not one of those people. Perhaps that's because many of the things they shared I've already come to appreciate and am implementing slowly in my own life. I wanted more...just not sure what, to be honest.

So, I recommend you check out the book well before you buy it. Make sure you feel the book with benefit you. Like I said, I think this is one of those books some will appreciate, like me, and others will truly benefit from.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Catching Up...

I'm playing catch up this week so I apologize for the lack of posts here. I'd like to share a couple of articles I wrote over at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. I pray they bless you as you read. I love these details that God so graciously shares with me from time to time.

Peter Looked Away
One of the most famous stories we have of Peter is when he walked on water. I think I’ve read more commentaries and devotionals on the story than I can remember.

Well, bear with me as I add another one to the list, because a nuance of this story hit me afresh recently. Like I’ve said in the past, God brings multiple layers to everything in the Bible and symbolism is his strength. In fact, I think the Bible should be given credit for setting the precedent on symbolism.

Anyway, onward with Peter. If you’ve read the story, then you’re familiar with how Peter boldly (did he do things any other way?) stepped out of the boat when Jesus told him to come to Him. I might add as well, that Peter is the one who asked to go to Jesus first. Gotta love this guy’s moxy... Read the rest at S.U.M. 

"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete." Luke 6:46-49

This parable about building on a firm foundation has always fascinated me. Again, I really love God’s symbolism, and Jesus truly knew how to use it. In this parable we can see the obvious that when we build our lives on the foundation of God’s Word, on Christ who is truth, we are unshakable in our faith through the storms of life.

But I’m seeing a new part to this Scripture. If you look at verse 48, specifically the part about the man “building a house, who dug down deep,” the words take on some figurative meanings as well as literal in the Greek translation.

The Greek word used here for building is oikodomeo, which means to build, but also comes from the root word meaning to edify or for edification. Interesting to think about, especially if we consider edification in terms of teaching and improving. This reflects the process of how we learn more about God and grow as we build our foundation upon Christ.
But even more exciting is the “dug down deep” part...  Read the rest at S.U.M. 

And Finally...
This past weekend I did my first radio interview for our book, Winning Him Without Words. Talk about being nervous! I'm so appreciate a great interviewer like Jim Norman and his program Wise People. I hope you get a chance to listen!

Wise People Interview, Dineen Miller