Adrenaline for Jesus

I was a competitive runner for many of my younger years. For you runners out there, I was an 800 meter state champion, I ran a 5:10 mile, and my fastest 5k was 18:54.

I know what it means to press on through the pain for the victory that waits ahead.

I’ve also given birth to three children. The first with 21 hours of labor and an epidural, the second was induced with only a partially effective epidural, and the third with no drugs whatsoever! Through all of my childbirth experiences, I’ve learned that Pitocin is of the devil and adrenaline is your body’s way of telling you, “You can do this!” In fact, adrenaline is all you have for those “rocket launch” type of births!

I know what it’s like to push through the pain for the joy set before me.

Adrenaline is what pumps us up for cheering our favorite team, competitive games, family arguments, job interviews, and pushing out little humans! It is the hormone responsible for the “fight or flight” response – our God given impetus to press on, push through, flee, survive, fight for your life, breathe.

After considering the life of Paul, I’m convinced that adrenaline for Jesus is what kept him alive, not only physically, but spiritually. Paul knew what it means to press on, push through, survive, and even rejoice in his suffering. The evidence is sprinkled throughout his letters to the churches.

For example in Romans‬ ‭5:3-4‬ ‭(ESV‬‬) Paul says, “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope”. Paul understood that Christ doesn’t just hand us the victory, but that victory is found as we arise, press on, and push through the trails of life.

Victory is found in tests of endurance, character building situations, and hope-filled discoveries as we travel down our journey of faith. Or as Oswald Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest, “God does not give us overcoming life – He gives us life as we overcome.” Jesus doesn’t just give us victorious life, He gives us victory as we live by faith. 

What we lack in the church today is adrenaline for Jesus. I want to be pumped for Jesus! I want to fight for my faith! I want to press on through the pain in the race of life with all its trails, hardships, and problems. I want to push through the labor of Jesus being born in me, no matter how much it hurts.

We like to blame a lot of things on hormones. Yet, maybe adrenaline is really the Friend who sticks closer than a brother. 

Adrenaline for Jesus reminds us “We can do this!” I want to encourage you today to face your trials with the knowledge that Jesus is before the Father interceding for you as you go through the best and the worst of times. You can do this! You will get through this, with Jesus.

Witnesses to Me

What does it mean to be a witness to Jesus?

The New Oxford American Dictionary offers one definition of witness as “an open profession of faith through words and actions.” Depending on the translation, the word for witness in scripture is interchanged with testimony and evidence. So being a witness to Christ means giving an open profession, testimony, or evidence of what you know to be true about Jesus through your words and actions.

Most of my Christian life I’ve understood being a witness to or for Christ as someone who shares the gospel message with unbelievers, who speaks of His transformational work in their lives, and who emulates Jesus in their morality, service, and love for mankind.

Sounds like a powerful witness, right? Yet, according to great men and great minds like Oswald Chambers, there is so much more to being a witness to Christ.

Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest, “When we are born again by the Spirit of God, our testimony is based solely on what God has done for us, and rightly so. But that will change and be removed forever once you ‘receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…’. Only then will you begin to realize what Jesus meant when He went on to say, ‘…you shall be witnesses to Me….’ Not witnesses to what Jesus can do— that is basic and understood— but ‘witnesses to Me….’ We will accept everything that happens as if it were happening to Him, whether we receive praise or blame, persecution or reward.”

Oswald goes on to explain that only someone totally compelled by the majesty of His power will be able to take this kind of stand for Jesus Christ stating, “It is the only thing that matters, and yet it is strange that it’s the last thing we as Christian workers realize.” Herein lies a deeper work of God and, subsequently, a deeper transformation of a witness to Christ.

Naturally, we begin our faith journey testifying to what Jesus has done for us, in us, and through us. As we walk further down the path of faith, we begin to recognize the call to endure trials, suffering, and perhaps even persecution as the embodiment of Jesus.

Paul describes this deeper work of God many times in his letters, yet perhaps most poignantly in Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭(ESV), “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Living by faith and, subsequently, being a witness to Christ means we become the embodiment of Jesus. We no longer live, but Christ lives in and through us. Are you ready and willing to accept everything that happens to you as if it were happening to Him?

Praise or blame?

Persecution or reward?

Good times or bad?

In sickness or in health?

For better or for worse?

Sounds like a marriage proposal? Well, it kind of is one. Are you willing as the bride of Christ (the church) to marry and intertwine your life so intimately with Christ that your transformation makes you almost unrecognizable to the things of this world?

Being a witness to Christ ultimately means becoming one with the Father as Jesus is one with the Father (John 17). It means experiencing His death so that we may embody His life. It’s so much more than what He’s done for you and me.

Access For All

What do you tend to take for granted?

Freedom.

Running water.

A loved one returning home.

How about the Word of God? What about the one, or two, or possibly even the ten bibles you possess in your own home? Perhaps, on a more subtle note, it’s the fact that your one, or two, or ten bibles are published in your native language . . . English, Spanish, maybe French.

Think about it. Most of us have the privilege of waking up each morning with the opportunity to read God’s personal Word to us in a language we can not only read, but we can comprehend, share, and grow spiritually.

I take this for granted.

This seemingly infinite access to the living, life-changing Word. This tap of an app and I can search and browse and even have someone’s voice in my phone read scripture to me! I forget to say, “Thank you, Jesus!”

How about you? What subtle provision do you tend to take for granted? Perhaps it’s just your access to God Himself through prayer and candid conversation. He’s always available, always listening, always present. We forget to live in His presence.

Regardless of our location on this globe, we all have access to God. Even the small villages and people groups who have never heard the spoken name of Jesus. They hear the whisper of the Creator in the stirring of creation. They see His presence in the dancing branches of a windswept tree, and in the majestic hues of a sleepy sun. They feel His wooing of their souls in their longing for something beyond the natural seen world.

Then I read Isaiah 52:15 (AMP), “For what they had not been told they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand.”

Therefore, I find comfort in Isaiah’s prophetic words, that while I have unlimited access to the Word of God, others will “see” and “understand” in a way only God can provide. Perhaps as Joel 2:28 describes, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”

I forget. I take for granted. Then I remember those who have never heard His Name. So, thank you Jesus that you have provided not only access for all, but also sight and understanding beyond the written Word.

Christmas In The Shadows

The heart and soul of Christmas is a joy unspeakable found in a baby born in Bethlehem. A baby whose birth lit up the brightest star, leading wise men from afar into the presence of the Light of the World. 

As believers, we know God is light and in Him there is no darkness. Yet, why does it feel like many of us are spending Christmas in the shadows? While Christmas is a holiday celebrated with lights, good cheer, and joy to the world, many are struggling in the valley of the shadows of grief and loss.

I understand your shadow. I’m with you in the struggle.

Will you turn with me to the Word? To Isaiah, Revelation and Psalms to find partial understanding and hope.

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭60:20‬ ‭(ESV‬‬) says, “Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.” This promise is echoed hundreds of years later in Revelation 22:5, “And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

My friend, my family, my brothers and sisters in Christ, we possess this hope. We posses this Light of the World within us. And while the light of God’s glory illuminates the cross of Christ, it also casts a temporary shadow. A shadow that will one day be no more.

While we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we know the greatest Christmas gift is Jesus. We know one day the Lord will be our everlasting light, and our days of mourning shall end. We know that shadows are temporary and spiritual life is eternal.

So we trust in ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:4‬, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Let God comfort you this Christmas in the shadows.

So Then, What About Jesus?

“Thousands of people in this world profess to be happy without God. But if we could be truly happy and moral without Jesus, then why did He come? He came because that kind of happiness and peace is only superficial. Jesus Christ came to “bring…a sword” through every kind of peace that is not based on a personal relationship with Himself.”

-Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

I have seen it with my own eyes. There are thousands, maybe millions, who profess to be happy without God. Tragically, many of them were raised in the church, in Christian professing homes, and yet, they have exited the institution and many have severed their relationships with family and church family.

It is tragic, but I get it. There’s no judgement here, only grace.

These same individuals have often times been deeply wounded and severely disappointed by the men and women who taught them The Way. Again tragically, faith, hope, and love found only in the Person of Jesus Christ, have been overshadowed by doctrinal differences, corporate mentalities, and human power struggles within “the church“. In fact, some churches have wandered so far from the red letters that they should start selling tickets for admission for the entertainment factor alone.

While churches continue to come up with more and more programs and strategies to bring people in the doors, there are generations of people walking away from a faith that they now consider a fraud.

First, I want to say to those individuals who have been deeply wounded and severely disappointed by man and/or woman of the church, “I’m sorry this was your experience. I’m sorry you’ve been hurt by those you once trusted.”

Yet my question for those individuals is this: If you could strip away all your negative experiences with “the church”, let go of all your expectations of the institution, and agree that “the church” (not as Jesus ordained it, but as mankind has invented it) is flawed, then, when all that negativity is neutralized . . . what about Jesus?

What do you do with Jesus? What do you do with the red letters and the cross and the empty tomb?

Matthew‬ ‭10:32-34‬ ‭in the Amplified Bible (which gives an amplified definition of the original Greek) says, “Therefore, the one who confesses and acknowledges Me before men [as Lord and Savior, affirming a state of oneness with Me], that one I will also confess and acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven. But the one who denies and rejects Me before men, that one I will also deny and reject before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword [of division between belief and unbelief].”

To those who have walked away, I would ask, was your faith in man, or in Jesus? Man will always disappoint. So then, what about Jesus?

As Oswald Chambers once wrote, “Jesus Christ came to ‘bring…a sword’ through every kind of peace that is not based on a personal relationship with Himself.” The question is not church or no church, doctrine or no doctrine, it’s a question of belief or non-belief.

 In Mark 8:29 (ESV) Jesus asked his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” and Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”

I know this could become a two year long conversation with lots of counseling in between, so all I ask is that we start the conversation.

And remember there’s no judgement here, only grace.

‭‭

The Advent Of The Soul

Perhaps no one understands nor appreciates the season of Advent more deeply than the ones who have loved and lost. The passing of a loved from earth to heaven leaves us wanting, weary, and waiting. We desperately want more time as we eventually become weary with grief, all while patiently waiting for the glorious day when we shall meet again.

For those whose loved ones have departed to an eternal home as well as those who wait for the arrival of a soldier’s homecoming, the season of Advent takes on a more intimate, familiar meaning. A grieving heart needs the healing whisper of an expectant Savior. A Savior whose presence and promises help sustain and prepare them for a celebrated reunion with those they are separated from for a time.

Wanting.

Weary.

Waiting.

These three words in succession describe a type of advent of the soul. We were created to want beyond our natural abilities, to grow weary striving for that which only Jesus can give, and to learn to expectantly wait for, thus put our hope in, the eternal presence and promises of God.

If the liturgical Advent is a season filled with expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the Second Coming, then the advent of the soul is a lifetime filled with wanting more time with Jesus, weariness over that which separates us from Him, and expectant waiting and heart preparation for His anticipated return.

The advent of the soul is everyday, every season, every individual’s journey of faith. It requires diligent yet patient emergence of Christ-like qualities until the day in which our souls will perfectly reflect His glorious appearance.

Do you find yourself wanting, weary, and waiting? Embrace those inner longings as the love of God embraces you.

Who Told You?

Satan became Satan because he believed a lie. He is a fallen angel because he believed a lie about God, and about himself. Then he took a posse of angels down with him.

And yet again, out of his own disdain and jealous nature, he set out to trick the first woman and the first man into believing the same lies. And he brought them down too.

In Genesis 3 after the fall, God asks Adam and Eve, “Who told you were naked?” It’s a timeless question because God never intended for us to experience shame or any other emotion apart from total acceptance. He continues to tenderly ask you and me the same question today, “Who told you….?”

Who told you the lies that keep you doubting God and deceiving yourself? Who told you that God can’t be trusted and that you are not valuable? Who told you that God’s grace is cheap and that His love is based on performance, and that you are beyond His reach?

Who told you to run and hide?

Beware the wiles of the devil. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But he invades with a whisper, “Did God really say….?”

Yes, God really did say! Genesis 3 is not the end. There are 47 more chapters and 65 more books about what God really says, and Who He Really Is!

The Author of Lies hasn’t been given the authority to make you believe him. God has given you the freedom to choose the truth or the lies.

Who told you? Who will you believe, God or a fallen angel bent toward destruction?

Hold Fast To The Word Of Life


Today’s blog is for the moms and dads who are pouring out their lives at the feet of Jesus on behalf of their children.

Philippians 2 has so much practical advice for our young ones. Below is a wonderful section of verses that we can pray for ourselves AND our children as they grow in knowledge, understanding and, by the grace of God, in faith.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:14-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Grumbling and complaining start when we don’t seek God in the ordinary and mundane tasks of life and parenting. It is actually easier to seek God when we are crying out in pain and anguish than it is when we are weary and bored with routine.

Teach your children to seek Him in all things. He is the God of the ordinary and the extraordinary.

Teach your children to “be the Son-shine” when everyone else is seeking relief in worldly ways. Darkness will not ultimately reign, it is merely the absence of Light. Send your children to school as the light of Christ, pray it over them, claim it on their behalf until the day they claim it as their own.

Hold fast to the WORD OF LIFE my fellow parents. Choose life. Speak life into the souls of your children. Live the life of Christ, who dwells within you, for them to witness.

We don’t RUN or LABOR in vain for our families. God sees every packed lunch, every washed dish, every late hour at the office, every sleepless night, every school project, every college application, every recital, every attempt to get to church on time.

Be encouraged! Our very lives, POURED OUT on the altar of parental sacrifice, are part of the elements God uses to bring our children to a saving knowledge of Christ and a faithful walk with Christ.

The reward comes in the mutual REJOICING. When your terrible threes prodigal returns, there will be rejoicing! When your middle school prodigal returns, there will be rejoicing! When your young adult prodigal returns, there will be rejoicing!

When grumbling and disputing are replaced with “thank you” and “I couldn’t have made it without you Mom and Dad”, then mutual rejoicing will abound!

In the meantime, hold fast to the Word of Life.

Review & Giveaway for When Only Faith Remains

Here is a blog about a blog!

https://truthandgracehomeschoolacademy.wordpress.com/

Today starts a 14 day Book Tour for When Only Faith Remains!

Each day a new blogger will write a review of the book. This event is sponsored by Celebrate Lit, and here are the blog stops!

When Only Faith Remains Celebration Tour

Check in each day through November 8th to see what other’s have to say about When Only Faith Remains.

Plus, there is a grand prize giveaway! Click on the blog stops to enter and win.

Happy clicking and reading and entering and possibly winning, as you ponder and treasure!

Broken Worship

There tends to be a misconception among Christians that we must worship God with a whole heart, even when bad things happen.

Have you ever been caught in a spiritual battle between a hard thing and an inability to worship? Have you ever experienced the crushing effects of all-consuming feelings and gut-wrenching pain? Instead of an open posture of worship, do you find yourself with clenched jaws, white knuckles, and a low-lying head?

The truth is that none of us possess a whole heart. We can only worship, pray, and seek God with a broken heart; a heart destined to be made whole by the love of God.

So if you are in a season of difficult worship, wafer-like prayers, and blurred faith, be encouraged. There are no “musts” or “shoulds” with God. There is only the invitation to come.

Release your grip long enough to offer your broken heart at the altar. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalms‬ ‭51:17‬ ‭ESV

He will give you the strength to lift your hands, your head, and your spirit to Him. “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalms‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We all worship God with a broken heart. The only heart that can’t worship Him is a hardened one.