Choosing Faith

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

In carrying over from Earl’s thoughts yesterday, I find myself in a bit of a waiting game with the Lord.  I’m under tremendous pressure to accomplish something at work involving an outside company by a certain date.   The ball is in the other company’s court and has been since Friday and absolutely nothing has happened since then.  In my schedule of things that need to happen by certain dates – a.k.a. “my thoughts and my ways” (see verse 8) – they are completely behind schedule and no matter how much I try, I can’t get them to get moving.

Clearly, I need His help with these circumstances admittedly beyond my control.   My plans are not His plans.  My thoughts are not His thoughts.

Hebrews 11:1-3  (NKJV)

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

…the worlds were framed by the word of God.”  He is in control.  I am not.  I guess this is where faith kicks in..  Rephrase – I guess this is where I choose faith.

Ephesians 6:10-18  (The Message)

A Fight to the Finish

10-12 And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

13-18 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

The New King James Version says in v11 “… and having done all, to stand.”  I’ve done all I can do.  Now I stand.  I chose faith.  I choose faith in God and all that He is and all that He has proven to be.  I choose to have faith in the character of Him who never changes.  I’m choosing faith.


Today I had a great run.

It was a great run for a couple of reasons.  1. Physically, it was a really consistent pace with virtually no stops.  2. God really showed up, or should I say, I really listened well today.

You see, my typical M.O. for running it so watch my pace and try to keep a brisk clip going based on the pace (minutes per mile).  But today I strapped on the heart monitor and decided to run based on a consistent heart rate, paying no attention to how fast I was running other than how fast my heart beat and how hard I was breathing.

I noticed something on the way “back” (I run an “out and back” loop most days) today.  If I focused on my breathing and intentionally inhaled in deeper, through my nose, for three steps and exhaled consistently through my mouth, for 3 steps, I could lower my heartbeat by 5-7 beats per minute.

It was hard to maintain.  It was not natural.  It took effort.  But it worked.

I tend to think of running posture as something that just “happens” naturally.  But today showed me that when I focus on it, I am able to override “natural.”  Physiologically, when I run with my head held high, looking forward, and my shoulders high and tall, then my chest has the best possible opportunity to fully expand allowing more oxygen-rich air to come into my lungs.  As I focus on taking longer, deeper breaths, I get more “good” air in.  I also have to focus on exhaling “bad” air out, intentionally trying to empty my lungs of oxygen depleted air to make room for more O2-rich air. I tend to notice that inhaling is not something I naturally focus on.

As I get tired, I naturally begin to let my shoulders “sag” and my back to slightly hunch over which keeps my lungs from expanding as much and keeps more of the oxygen-depleted air in my lungs.  This results in my heart working harder – to the tune of 5-7 beats a minute – based on today’s run.

If you’ve read my blogs long, you know that I believe most physical observations have a spiritual connotation.

The idea of spiritually breathing is not a new one.  It is simply the practice of Exhaling (Confession) and Inhaling (being filled with the Holy Spirit).

1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive our sins.  This is the process of getting all the “oxygen-depleted” air out of our lungs.  Sin keeps us from staying in step with the Lord and can hamper our walk with the Lord due to fear, or the inability to hear Him clearly.

Paul writes in Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  That literally translates to “keep on being filled” indicating that it’s not a one-time event… kinda like breathing in.  Again, this is not something I naturally focus on.  My natural self tends to lean to the “one-time event” versus a continual focus to “keep on being filled.”

Today I had a great run.

Running After Papa…

Right Now…

James 5:1-6 (NLT)

1 Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. 2 Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. 3 Your gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment. 4 For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
5 You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you.

I found it interesting that the verbs referring to the “things” of the rich in this passage are all present tense, when the rest of the verse has verbs indicating a time to come. “Your wealth is rotting…”, “… fine clothes are moth-eaten…”, “… gold and silver have become …”.

It just got me thinking of the here and now. All of it, the cars, the houses, the jobs, the status, the ______________ (fill in the blank of whatever floats your boat), is all crap to him.

Isaiah 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…”

My best is like a filthy rag. If you’ve never heard what that word “filthy rag” really means, it means a bloody tampon. That’s what I have to offer him. My best acts, all the “greatness” I acquire on earth is nothing more than a bloody tampon to Him.

A little further in Isaiah the Lord says this:

“I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help.
I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’
to a nation that did not call on my name.
All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people.
But they follow their own evil paths
and their own crooked schemes. ” (Is 65:1-2)

God is in the now of things. Jimmy Evans preached a great sermon on “The God of Now” that I really like. I’ll tell you this, I don’t want to be the one not asking for His help, when He’s ready to respond. I don’t want to be the one not looking, when He’s wanting to be found. I don’t want to be following my own evil path or crooked scheme when Papa is crying out “I’m here! I’m here!”

Where is my focus today? Where is my focus in this moment? Right Now! That’s all that really matters.

The God Express Button

We have a very complex microwave.  There are tons of different settings to cook almost anything you can imagine.  It has the ability to brown and bake using light while cooking the inside with microwaves. It can cook a batch of chocolate chip cookies in 7 minutes.  That 3-5 whole minutes faster than the oven!  It can cook biscuit in 6 minute.  Whatever you want to cook, it can cook and it can do it faster than the convection oven (which is faster than a conventional oven).

However, our microwave has two buttons that are used the most… far beyond any other buttons.  THE single most used button on the microwave is the “Microwave Express” button.  This button turns the microwave on for 30 seconds.  If you touch it while the microwave is on, it adds another 30 seconds.  So, if I want to cook something for 1 and 1/2 minutes, it’s 3 touches of the button.

The second most used button is the one just above it that turns the light on in the microwave, so I can see my food being nuclearized, because I just HAVE to see my coffee get reheated!

I’ve noticed that I’m just that same way with Father.  I want to push the “God Express” button in various areas of my life:


How many times have I sent up A SINGLE prayer… a.k.a. the “flare prayer” to God?  “OK Lord, I’ve pushed my God Express button, answer this prayer please…

Ezra 10:1 Now while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God, a very large assembly of men, women, and children gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly.
Neh 1:4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

When Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray… (Matt 26:36-46) Jesus prayed for an hour the first time…

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

He went on to pray for two more sessions.

Col 1:3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
1 Thess 5:18 Pray without ceasing

I’m not advocating that there are not appropriate times for quick prayers to the Lord for wisdom, for an immediate situation, whatever… but if that’s the ONLY kind of prayer I’m offering and I’m expecting immediate results, then I’m treating God more like a Genie in a Bottle than I am the Creator of the Universe.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, immediately after pushing my God Express button, I push the ‘light’ button, because I want to “see” what He’s going to do about it and how He’s going to handle it.


To often I find myself with this same attitude in my own personal growth and tranformation.  “Gee, that was a great lesson Dad!  I’m so glad I journaled that,”  never to look at it again or continue working on, studying, or chewing on it.

Phil 2:12-13 (NKJV)
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure

“Work out” my salvation?  “Work out?”  That would imply that when I stop, I get weaker and less “in shape.”  Wow.  Great picture and application.  My spiritual walk needs to be exercised and strengthened daily.  There is no express button for instant muscles or instant fitness.  It is a daily, continual, diligent exercise and regiment.  So is my transformation.  Again, I’m not advocating a religious formula or legalistic “do & don’t” list.  It’s an attitude of the heart.  It’s  a process of discipleship based in a real, living, vibrant relationship with Jesus.

Guess what? The God Express Button and the Light button aren’t connected… in fact, they don’t even exist.  They are stickers that I have put on and a deception that I have believed.

Yes, Father lets us “see” our own progress sometimes.  He is a good dad.  He encourages us along the way.   But He wants me to grow.  He wants me to learn patience.

Prov 19:11 A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
Prov 25:15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.
Eccles 7:8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
Isa 7:13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also?
Rom 2:4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
Rom 9:22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?
2 Cor 6:6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Col 1:11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully
Col 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
1 Tim 1:16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
2 Tim 3:10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance,
2 Tim 4:2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
Heb 6:12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
James 5:10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
2 Pet 3:15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.

Papa, I repent of believing the lie that there is a “God Express” button that I can push to make you respond in the time frame of MY choosing.  How selfish and prideful I was.  I ask your forgiveness and know that according to 1 John 1:9 You are faithful to forgive me because I have confessed.  Help me to be patient.  I ask for that fruit of your Spirit to manifest and find good soil to grow in my life.  Continue your work in my heart and in my life.  I want to be extinct so that You are all others see, hear and feel.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

At the prayer gym…

In light of my post on Dec 13, “Off to the prayer gym…“, today God’s asking me to spend time interceding for the 23 men who are on Day 4 of their prep for the Feb 3-8 Quest on which I will be serving.  So this is all the post you’re going to get from me today… unless Papa drops something on me during my prayer time, in which case, I’ll update this blog.  After my time of intercession, I will update this posting in order to share how the “workout” went, so to speak….

Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1-2 (Amplified Bible)
1 I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

I’m floored again at the connection between the flesh, the soul (inclusive of the mind), and the spirit. My “decisive dedication” of all my body – flesh and mind – is worship. The word translated spiritual, is logikos which is much more related to the mind and to reason and logic. No wonder verse 12 is about the renewing of my mind as the key to transformation. (See “The Command Center” and “Battleground of the Soul” to get the whole chain of thought…)

Obviously, this is important.

Action Item: Detail “renewing” my mind.  What does that look like?  Is there a scriptural recipie for it?

The Command Center

Continuing the the thought of the last post is where Paul picks up in Romans 8.

Remember, I posed the question of why Jesus added the “mind” to the greatest commandment (Mark 12:30), when God himself gave the command (Deut 6:5) without the identification of the “mind”.  Read what Paul has to say about it…

Romans 8:5-6 (NLT) “5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

No wonder Jesus thought it was important.  The mind is the command center of the spiritual battlefront between our spirit (controlled by the Holy Spirit) and our flesh (controlled by the enemy). Wikipedia defines the command center as:

A command center is a central place for carrying out orders and for supervising tasks, also known as a headquarters, or HQ.

Whoever controls the mind, controls the battle.  Note: We can lose a battle, but we’ve already won the war. (Thank you God!) No wonder Paul writes a few chapters later in Romans: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV).

So the question becomes, if the mind is the command center and the key to victory, how do I send in reinforcements (to continue the war metaphor)? Verse 6 says by “… letting the Spirit control our mind…,” but what does that look like?

How does one renew the mind? Is it back to what God’s been saying to me over the last several, seemingly unrelated, journal entries? Thus the beauty of journaling… to be able to go back and see how God is speaking in themes… then BAM! He ties it all together. Cool.  Very cool.

Is it back to the spiritual disciplines? Are Romans 12:2 and 1 Cor 9:24-47 related in this way?

Battleground of the soul

I have known for some time that we are made up of three “parts”: the spirit, the soul, and the flesh.  Additionally, the soul appears to be further divided into three parts: the mind, the will, and the emotions.

The spirit-man is what gets saved when we surrender our will to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The spirit IS saved. The soul IS BEING saved and the flesh is the enemies. It’s like the good guys vs. the bad guys (spiritually) all the time in our lives. Jesus has our spirits, the devil has our flesh and they are battling for the soul – the mind, the will, the emotions.

Romans 7 makes it very clear that the remnant of sin from our sin nature is very alive an well in our flesh (Romans 7:18).

Romans 7:22-25 (ESV) 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

It’s like the soul is Hell’s Gate (Lord of the Rings reference). The spirit man is Gandalf, Aragorn and the Fellowship, while the flesh is Sauron’s army of Orc’s. The assault is non-stop. The attack is relentless. Legions and legions of orcs and darkness continually bombard the soul. The mind wants to do one thing, but the flesh wants to do another. (Romans 7:14-20)

I find it interesting that Paul says, “… I myself serve the law of God with my mind…” How does one do that? It the mind – that part of the soul – more closely aligned with the spirit?

The Greek word used for mind, nous, in this passage means “1b reason in the narrower sense, as the capacity for spiritual truth, the higher powers of the soul, the faculty of perceiving divine things, of recognizing goodness and of hating evil.”

Jesus said (Mark 12:30) “30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” It’s interesting that Jesus inserted the word “mind.” The original version (Deut 6:5) only has “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

Why does Jesus add “mind” to the list? I think it’s important. I think it goes back to spiritual discipline. Practicing and exercising those spiritual disciplines to have my spirit (and my mind?) stronger than my flesh (and my emotions?). All the spiritual disciplines involve the mind and exercise the will. Pretty soon, I’ll have my flesh outnumbered!

Off to the prayer gym…

Oswald Chamber’s devotional book My Utmost For His Highest may be one of my all time favorite devotional books. For some reason, I really dig the classic and turn of the century authors. Anyway, I happened onto today’s devotional on Intercessory Prayer.

I am not a natural intercessor. I admire those who can boldly enter the throne room of Papa and stay there for hours on behalf of others… I love being around those men and women who can – with authority and fervor – pray, pray, pray. I know those men and women who are spiritually gifted to intercede on behalf of other. I am not by nature.

From Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost For His Highest – Intercessory Prayer devotional today:

True intercession involves bringing the person, or the circumstance that seems to be crashing in on you, before God, until you are changed by His attitude toward that person or circumstance. Intercession means to “fill up…[with] what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ” (Colossians 1:24), and this is precisely why there are so few intercessors. People describe intercession by saying, “It is putting yourself in someone else’s place.” That is not true! Intercession is putting yourself in God’s place; it is having His mind and His perspective.

OK. I know I’m not an intercessor, but I do from time to time attempt to intercede on behalf of my family, my friends or some other specific situation God burdens me for. But I’m honest enough with myself to know that I don’t stay at it long enough until I have God’s perspective on the situation. My prayers are much more in the “flare prayer” category.

The verse this devotional is based on is Luke 18:1 “…men always ought to pray and not lose heart…” I do lose heart in my prayers. I’m not beating myself up about it, but I know its a spiritual discipline I need to shore up.

A few years ago, I could not read the Bible for more than about 1 chapter.  Now, I get engrossed in studying the word. I could spend hours in the Word. I wish I had a job that would pay me to spend time in the word and write. WOW! How awesome would that be! But it’s a discipline I have worked on. Scripture Memory is another spiritual discipline. Prayer is too. I just need some time in the prayer gym.

I Cor 9:24-27 (NLT) Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

It looks like I’ve found a new workout for my spiritual program. I’ve found some muscles I haven’t paid attention to. I can endure in many other disciplines, but I NEED to endure in this discipline so that I come away with God’s perspective on those things I intercede for.

Thank you Dad for this revelation. Thank you for this new workout. Help me be diligent in exercising and learning this discipline… this spiritual weapon that I need to wield.