Category Archives: rest

How to Have Peace Exactly Like God’s Peace


-Joe Fornear

Picture God seated on His throne, high above His universe. Do you see Him as upset, nervous, frantic? Probably not – He’s at rest. This, my friends, is perfect peace. Consider His type of peace:God on throne - small

  • God never freaks out.
  • God never loses His cool.
  • God never “spins” or stews over wrongs done to Him.
  • God chuckles when world leaders conspire against His purposes (Psalm 2:1-4).
  • God, and those who trust in Him, laugh at the future (Proverbs 31:25).

I’ve got good news – this type of peace can be ours because He freely gives HIS peace to those who trust in His Son as their Savior!

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid. – John 14:27

But I don’t want to skip a step for any of our readers. Please understand if you’re new to Jesus that we must first make peace with God before we can have the peace of God. So let’s first believe on Jesus to take away our sin and give us eternal life – more on this here and in this important scripture:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:1

So peace is in a Person – Jesus Christ. During my intense battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma I often tried (and still try) to find peace solely through a change in circumstances. This makes for some very unhappy days. Yet while I’m seeking Him for circumstantial changes, I believe the Lord wants me to experience His peace along the way. Yes right in the very midst of life’s tribulations!

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

So may HIS peace be with you!

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When I’m Anxious, It’s Simple …


-Joe Fornear

When I’m anxious, it’s simple, …

  • I’m depending too much on myself.Worry free zone
  • I’ve taken on a burden I was never intended or created to bear.
  • I’m not believing God’s promise that He already has a perfect plan and provision to meet all of my needs.
  • I’m spinning my wheels for no reason, accomplishing absolutely nothing.
  • I’m taking possession and responsibility of a problem God wants me to give to Him.
  • I’m trying to be God. I don’t want to be God. He’s got way too many problems. He collects them.

He’s got me, even when I had Stage IV melanoma cancer. And He’s got you – NO worries.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? – Matthew 6:27

Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

God is collecting problems again today. So let’s give them ALL to Him. If you’re having trouble letting go, don’t worry, He’ll be collecting again tomorrow.

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About Those Clouds Following You

-Joe Fornear

A freeing thought today for my friends and their caretakers who are fighting cancer: Go easy on yourself! Goodness & Mercy - 3-16-16

The beatdown of treatments and cancer not only weakens the body, but also the spirit and soul. During an incredibly intense battle, our physical immunities decrease over time, and so do our emotional and spiritual defenses. We may feel overwhelmed by fears, depression, and self-pity, forming a gray cloud which seems to follow us around.

Yet do not fear or be frustrated with your inability to cope, this is where the Lord is holding on to you! He taught me this truth during my Stage IV cancer battle when they gave me just days to live in 2003. He has a strong hold on us! This is why we named our ministry, Stronghold Ministry.

Remember what He tells us through David in Psalm 23:6:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!

Think above and beyond that gray cloud for a moment. Hovering far above are two huge billowing clouds of pure love – His Goodness and His Mercy. Just as His Presence followed the Israelites in the wilderness in the form of a cloud, these clouds are His Presence with and for us! He follows us to watch over and bless us. So let Him carry you – float you. This is truly a difficult battle, so don’t be hard on yourself, He’s not. Rest easy in His grip, my friends.

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Love Floats – You!


– Joe Fornear

There is a new 1000 foot glass footbridge in China spanning 600 feet above a valley. above clouds- love- 1-28-16There are videos of people frozen on the bridge or crawling across because they’re so freaked out by the height. For many, 600 feet seems to be quite a long way – but 600 feet is nothing.

Imagine walking across a glass bridge in the heavens, miles above the earth. As you look down and all around, picture the huge expanses not to be clouds and air, but a humongous pool of God’s love for you. Right, that’s a lot of love. Now visualize all of that love enveloping you – and dive in. Let the purest of loves carry you along over your earthly troubles. Go ahead, float there in your imagination for a while…

The good news is you don’t have to pretend this type of love to be true – God says it is true! And some of His freest children, David and Paul, discovered this fact long ago. They call to us today to join them in being caught up by the Lord’s incredible love as well:

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. – David in Psalm 36:5.

(I pray) that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. – Paul in Ephesians 3:17-20.

“Yeah, yeah,” you might say, “I know God loves me.” Yet note Paul insists God’s love “surpasses knowledge.” In other words, it’s something you know and feel, and He wants us be filled up with this love! Words don’t do justice. Paul says it’s incomprehensibly wide, long, tall and deep! That’s a lot of love – extending up into the heavens.

So cuddle up to The One who is crazy about you and cares deeply about everything you face in life. Picture His love melting away each and every fear you’ve ever had. See His love releasing you of all tensions, worries and cares. He’s got you. Exhale. Smile. Soak. Float in His love. Repeat often.

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How Mountains Get Moved

– Joe Fornear

We all face mountains in life that seem impossible to budge.move mountains - 9-23-15 Whether your mountain is cancer, a financial struggle, or a relational issue, you’re convinced it’s bigger than you! Maybe you carry the disappointment of an unmoved mountain from your past. You desperately hoped and prayed that God would remove it … and He didn’t. The fallout is a new mountain which continues to overwhelm you today. Don’t despair, there is hope!

Zerubbabel was governor of Judah after the return of Israel to their land around 500 BC. He had started to build a new temple for Israel, yet there was a very discouraging 15 year delay due to criticism, opposition and total lack of interest. With only the foundation laid, finishing the temple seemed impossible, even laughable. This was a mountain of a task.

But the Lord stepped in. He said Zerubbabel would indeed finish the temple, yet not with military or human strength, but that it would be by His Holy Spirit filling, guiding and strengthening Zerubbabel and the workers.

“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts. “What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’” – Zechariah 4:6-7

God Himself is talking to us here about our mountains. With His help, mountains become plains! Now this doesn’t mean every circumstance turns out exactly according to our preferences – that only happens in heaven. It does mean that supernatural resources will lift us through whatever troubles we face. So don’t gut it out and expend all of your human energy until you’re exhausted. Step back and invite His power to flow in and through you. There is a surrender which produces rest, as Jesus said:

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

Now someone might think, “I’m just too weak and my faith is non-existent.” Yet note that in the Zechariah passage above, after the temple was completed with the top capstone, shouts of joy over God’s grace would fill the air. Grace is God’s undeserved favor. We don’t earn His Spirit’s supernatural assistance – this empowerment is a gift! He loves to give to the weak, humble, needy and sick. The irony is He works best when we’re weakest. As Paul said, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). So let’s relax and ask Him to teach us how to tap into His power!

New Book by Terri Fornear
ABiding coverTerri Fornear has published her caretaker side of the story of the Fornear cancer battle. Abiding Through the Shadows, A Caretaker’s Struggle with God’s Goodness, is not about her courage and strength, but rather how God met her at her weakest points. She pulls back the curtain to transparently reveal her false concepts of God, which created extra turbulence during that hard time. She shares how the Lord graciously and gently walked her through it all, setting her free from lies about Him.

If you are, or have been, a caretaker of a cancer patient or someone who is in crisis, we believe you will benefit from this book! Stronghold Ministry has joined with Terri and I to offer this book to you free. Simply reply to this email with your full name and address and we’ll send it to you. If you insist, you can make a donation to Stronghold Ministry here. Or you can purchase the book here.

Here is another excerpt from Terri’s book. After learning Joe had been misdiagnosed as not having cancer for months, she was obviously upset and concerned, but she also saw through the lie about God which she needed to replace with the truth:

Mind Renewal
Lie: Man’s mistakes have more power than God and prevent Him from working.
Truth: Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him have been called according to his purpose.

We invite you to acquire this book and abide in our tremendously good God together with Terri.

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Do You Have an Ideality Gap?

– Joe Fornear

Sometimes I see my life as all about closing the gap between life as it is and life as I want it to be. ideality blog - 6-11-15An “Ideality Gap” is the distance between current reality and the ideal. You see, I have goals – big goals – and when they’re blocked, I’m not happy. I need to get stuff done. I’ve got to make a difference.

Yet it happens over and over. I’m bogged down by seemingly purposeless roadblocks. Then as my ideality gap widens, my agitation increases. My “fixer” gets fired up and compulsions kick in. “Hi, my name is Joe, and I’m a raging workaholic.” Who will set me free from this discontent?

My ideality gap was never wider than back in 2003 while sidelined by Stage IV melanoma. Because I couldn’t work much, I felt doomed to a helpless state of limbo. The option to double down on effort was removed – I was just too weak. Then I learned of a surrender which sets free. That “still, small voice” from that great, wise Lover of my soul spoke once more:

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. – Psalm 127:1-2

So I questioned, and still question today, my inner slave driver. “Do you seriously believe you can out-think, out-plan and out-produce the God of the Universe?” After all is said and done and re-done and re-said, He gives to us even in our sleep!

Am I really so important? Does everything depend on me? Could I trust Him to cause the readers of this devo to have a meaningful take away, even if I ended abruptly?

Well, maybe not that abruptly. One final thought –  all praise to Him Who sets us free from obsessing over ideality gaps.

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The Green Grass Is Under You

– Amy Fornear
(Amy is Joe and Terri Fornear’s daughter and our special guest blogger today).

“Suffering is having what you don’t want or wanting what you don’t have.” – Elisabeth Elliot sheep green grass- 4-9-15

Whether it’s loneliness, chronic illness, fear of failure, unanswered prayer or an unfulfilled desire there is always a nagging voice saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.”

Or maybe, “That pasture is greener than over here.” Or the frustrated, shorter version, “The grass over there.”

That voice allows you to have the wonderful privilege of acknowledging everything you don’t have and hating everything you have. Yeah, I would call that suffering.

While the enemy is voicing what you lack, God is voicing what you have! And right now you have green grass UNDER YOU. The finished work of Jesus Christ is literally UNDER YOU and IN YOU. Sit in it.

Of course “He makes us lie down in green pastures!” What else is there to do with NICE, LOVELY, GREEN GRASS that is directly UNDER YOU. Sit in it! Nap in it! Roll around in it! Eat it! Have a picnic in it with Him. Tell Him about your day so far. Tired of asking Him for the same things? Change the subject. Ask Jesus what His hobbies are or what He loves to do. I bet He has good stories to tell… like when He made something come out of nothing or when He was twelve years old and scared His parents when He left the caravan without telling them!

Enjoy your Maker – He made you and the green grass UNDER YOU. Now just sit in it. Go with the gravity and sit. It’s easier that way.

More blogs from Amy Fornear on her blog page here.

Overcoming Being Overwhelmed

 

– Joe Fornear

I recently got a note from a sweet woman with young kids whose husband was just told, “There is nothing we can do for you.” mountain- mission possible- 2-6-14She asked if I had any thoughts. No one ever wants to hear those words, still we have to boldly face bad news to keep it from overwhelming us. As Job said, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). So in this post I thought I’d share my response to her.

“Well first I know and remember this sense of desperation well, as they gave me days to live in May 2003. They used the h-word – recommending I go on hospice. Tumors were invading both sides of my pancreas, causing excrucitating pain. I had lesions in a lung and a kidney and a big patch in my groin that grew through and fractured one of my sitting bones – ischium bone. I felt so out of control, but I kept telling myself three things:

1) Though I was totally out of control, God never is. So try to rest in His complete sovereignty over everything – God is way bigger than cancer. It’s never over until HE says it’s over, and He can heal at any old stage of cancer. So have hope that He CAN heal and also believe that healing is His default position.

But He (Jesus) said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” – Luke 18:27

2) Soak up HIS supernatural peace, the peace which He says “surpasses all understanding.” In other words, His peace doesn’t make human sense because it can make us relax even when earthly circumstances stink. God is at rest all of the time. He never panics – nor should we – even during impossible times.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7

3) Face the possibility that He may choose not to heal – on this side. Do not fear this possibility. He will walk us through whatever He allows. In fact, even if we get healed a hundred times in life, we will all eventually face our mortality of both ourselves and loved ones. Yet let this sink deep into your heart and mind – His children will absolutely never be alone or abandoned to fend for ourselves (How to know if you’re His child? – click here). His Presence always goes with us and there is absolutely nothing to fear. So be bold and courageous about your future. Don’t let the enemies of doubt and fear chip away at your sense of well-being in the Lord. He holds your future and even if it is very hard – it is very bright!

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. – Psalm 23:4-6

I found that fighting cancer is a supernatural endeavor – not a do-it-yourself project. Lean on Him and ask Him to teach you how to fight with His supernatural resources. Thus, we end with Paul’s advice:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. – Ephesians 6:10

Find out more on what Joe found in God’s Word to fight bad news. His book, My Stronghold – A Pastor’s Battle with Cancer and Doubts, is part of our Free gift basket to cancer patients.

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-If you’re fighting cancer, please write and let us know how we can pray for you. We want to be “in your corner” and send you some free resources. -In His Grip is also sent as an email newsletter, a ministry of Stronghold Ministry – sign up here. All materials in this blog copyright (c) Joe & Terri Fornear. Scripture quotations from the NASB.

“Someone Else” To Fight For You!

 

-Joe Fornear

A celebrity’s life is certainly not more important – but their life lessons are much more accessible toStuart Scott - 1-6-15 us all. Stuart Scott, an anchor on ESPN, was a man’s man who delivered sport’s highlights like none other. For the last eight years, he has also battled appendiceal cancer – until January 4, 2015 when ESPN announced he had passed away at 49. In his mind, Stuart did not “lose his battle to cancer.” He beat it by the way he lived. As he said, “Fighting is winning,” and even if one’s fight ends, his perspective here was also very inspiring:

“When you die that does not mean you lose to cancer; you beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.”

Yet in his acceptance speech for the 2013 Jimmy V Foundation Award for Perseverance, he sobered the crowd by revealing his source of perseverance. It was not, as they say, “the triumph of the human spirit.” Instead, he pushed the spotlight onto unsung heroes – his sister, whom he called just to cry; his friends who came just to listen; his bosses who asked to drop off food. He knew the battle was greater than him alone, so he embraced his limitations and gladly leaned on others:

“So fight like hell, and when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let someone else fight for you.”

Still, the battle proved greater than his best efforts and the overwhelming human support which celebrities often enjoy.

“It recently came back a third time. To be honest, I’m scared. I’ve always been afraid of cancer, but this time feels different. My confidence is shaken. I’m a little more vulnerable, a little more aware of my mortality, a little more uncertain about my future…” (Men’s Health interview – 3-25-13).

Can you relate to Stuart? I can. Sometimes in life we encounter trials that are clearly greater than us, like my battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma. This is why that well-intentioned phrase, “You’re going to beat this,” falls so flat for me. As if we could simply will our way out of a disease – believe me, I tried!

So now what – where do we turn when our coping skills and support prove unstable?

He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. – Psalm 62:6
The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him. – Nahum 1:7

You may not be famous like Stuart Scott. You may not have tens of thousands followers rooting for you on Twitter. Yet rest assured, when you turn to THE Stronghold – you will be truly “known.” He is The Great “Someone Else” who will fight for you. Lean on Him – because He is there for you, with you, and best of all… in you!

Lord, help all of us sense Your overwhelmingly good Presence in the midst of our trials.

Find out how Joe got through his Stage IV cancer journey. His book, My Stronghold, is part of our free gift basket to cancer patients.

Those Annoying Bible Verses on Suffering with Joy

-Joe Fornear

They go together: jelly and peanut butter; Robin and Batman; bows and arrows; suffering and joy. puzzle pieces - joy & suffering - 9-23-14Suffering and joy? To me, joy and suffering seem mutually exclusive – I have one or the other – never both at once. Yet, joy is the response to suffering which God consistently encourages in His Word. Fortunately, as we’ll see, He provides the ability to respond with joy as well.

During my suffering under Stage IV metastatic melanoma, joy was rare. So, I admit, Bible verses which link joy with suffering annoyed me at times – and they’re hard to avoid:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. – James 1:2
And not only this, but we also rejoice in our tribulations… – Romans 5:3

Why was I annoyed? I could not figure out how to manufacture such joy while feeling so beat up. Yet amazingly, periods of breakthrough came when I quit trying and began leaning on the power of the Holy Spirit to produce joy in me. We are weak – He is strong.

You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit. – 1 Thessalonians 1:6

As this verse points out, Jesus not only modeled joy, He provides His supernatural joy by the power of the Holy Spirit (see also John 15:11). His type of joy is transcendent and not dependent on feelings, circumstances or medical prognoses. He’s never worried or bothered or upset.

But don’t mistake joy for giddiness or even happiness. It is deep confidence in a God Who is in absolute control and incredibly good. This is far from natural to humans in the midst of suffering – it’s supernatural.

Lord, teach us how to let go and rest with Your supernatural joy.

Five Life-changing Outcomes of Suffering

-Joe Fornear

Taken by itself – there’s no question – suffering stinks. I know this firsthand from my battle with Stage IV cancer. Fortunately for us, the Lord never meant suffering to be just a cruel and bitter pill to be dutifully swallowed. Suffering is a path, never a destination.clanking smiley faces w sad face

To understand the role of suffering, we must first recognize the illusion of control over our lives. Suffering shatters this illusion, creating deep-seated need. This need creates a thirst for something or Someone with more control than ourselves. Without this thirst, we may never truly seek or know Him.

So in light of its ideal outcome, suffering still hurts, but managing the pain becomes easier. Consider five life-changing outcomes of suffering (and there are more):

1) Suffering purifies us. (Purity brings the highest liberty).

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 1:6-7

2) Suffering sets us free from worldly values. (They’re vain pursuits after all).

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

3) Suffering causes us to depend on God alone. (The highest form of living is dependent living).

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead. – 2 Corinthians 1:8–9

4) Suffering equips us to help others. (Serving others sets us free from the horrible bondage of being exclusively self-serving).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

5) Suffering produces the supreme joy of being in love with Jesus. (Nothing compares to Him!).

And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. – 1 Peter 1:8

Granted, there are many wells that promise to satisfy the thirst which suffering produces. Many turn to drugs, food, entertainment, sex, pleasure, power – and the list goes on. Yet when we embrace these five life-changing outcomes of suffering, we’ll draw close to Him and not drift away from Him. He knows best how to satisfy this thirst – in this life and the next. Drink deep in Him, my friend.

Mountain Moving – a Shovel at a Time

– By Joe Fornear

Once there was a gardener whose daily job was to move a half ton of dirt. He was worn out at the end of each day, yet the load was manageable. Some days he was focused and peaceful even when he encountered obstacles. At other times, he didn’t feel so strong, he doubted his ability to keep on moving the dirt. The daily mounds began to morph together, forming an immovable and overwhelming mountain — in his mind.shovel - dirt - 2-6-14

He discovered the solution when he trained himself to approach his work…

  • One shovel at a time…
  • One wheel barrow load at a time…
  • One day at a time.

Sure, sometimes God will move our mountains in a flash. Yet sometimes a mountain of troubles is moved “a shovel at a time” by His enduring power through us. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the Lord promises all the coping power we’ll ever need to match our loads.

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

Keep in mind He only dispenses grace in real time – moment-by-moment. In other words, we won’t get tomorrow’s grace today. So don’t allow your daily loads to form a mountain in your imagination. Tackle each load with His power one day at a time, shovel by shovel. Jesus said it all in Matthew 6:25-34:

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Read Jesus’ words again – very slowly, applying His advice to every challenge you face. If He says there are no worries – then there must not be any worries! He’s got you in His grip.

Lord, we know You don’t always move every mountain, so give us the power to handle our trials today.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

– By Terri Fornear

Step 3 – We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

As a Christian, my first thought about this step is to “give my life to Jesus as Savior.” A one-time event! I did that and now I’m good. (More on how to know if you’re going to heaven). The second part of this step is to look at the God of our understanding! Wow! Take a peek at the “Jesus” of whom I’m letting go:to do list

  • He needs me to serve Him.
  • He needs me to be holy and perfect.
  • He needs me to save the world.
  • He needs me to be devoted.
  • He needs ME…

Religion is all over this Jesus! I am so important in “doing” whatever is needed to get His approval! I have His acceptance because of the cross, but gaining His approval is now my job if I’m to be totally right with Him. Yuk!!! Wait a minute – who is God in this scenario?

As I grow in knowing the real Jesus, I detach from religion and attach to the God who speaks His love into my understanding! He promises I will reign in this life if I decide to be a “receiver.”

Much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:17

So I must daily decide to “receive” two gifts– “the gift of righteousness,” and, “His abundance of grace!”

Sounds easy! It’s a surrender that let’s go of my own righteousness, my own looking good, my own ways of pleasing Him — and man! This step is the cornerstone that makes the rest of the steps of life possible.

I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:7

Paul had to let go of “the God of his understanding” too. He let go of religion and trying to make himself righteous. Only then did He begin to know the real Jesus. I’m deciding to give my will and life over to Him, to His “gift of righteousness” and “His abundance of grace.” Don’t let religion steal Jesus from you!

 

Power Napping

– By Joe Fornear

I hear it often when talking with people fighting cancer. “I don’t know how people do this without the Lord.” Indeed. In actuality, nothing in life was intended by our Maker to be “do-it-yourself.” We were designed for deep, constant connection with Him. So as you work your plans to fight cancer or navigate any crisis, are you taking full advantage of a relationship with Him? (clisleep - 9-25-13ck here on starting a relationship with Him).

Wise King Solomon knew a little about developing and carrying out a plan. He built one of history’s most successful and prosperous kingdoms. Yet in Psalm 127, we sense his frustration about his journeys into independent living.

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” – Psalm 127:1-2

Solomon advises us to look to the Lord in three of the most vulnerable aspects of our lives – building our household, guarding our lives, and finding provision. Well, he has my attention! When I’m in a jam, my first inclination is to double down on self-effort, thinking I’m doubling my chances of success as well.

What about you as a patient or caretaker? Do you lay awake all night plotting your next step if the current treatment plan doesn’t pan out? Do you scour the internet at all hours to find the latest new trial? Are you constantly and frantically spinning over your financial situation? Solomon has a word of advice for us – relax!

Now, Solomon is not recommending we be lazy or irresponsible, and no one is suggesting your situation is not incredibly challenging. Still, we’re so limited and powerless over so many things. And there is much freedom in admitting our limits. Then, we can be encouraged, because there is One who “gives to His beloved even in his sleep!” Talk about a power nap!

So don’t wear yourself out or drive yourself crazy, “For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’” -Isaiah 41:13

Lord, help us relax in Your constant help, protection and provision.

Lighten Your Load in 2013

I’ve got a bad habit that I’d like to break in 2013. When I return home from grocery shopping or errands, I try to carry too many items fromiStock_000000478647 - woman multi-tasking the car to the house. I’ll stack things, squeeze them under arms, and grab as many grocery bag handles as possible – just to save a minute or two.

This habit has proven costly. Recently my cell phone squirted out of a pile, flew through the air and landed squarely on the pavement. The screen was hopelessly shattered. I need to let the lesson sink in – there are limits to how many items one can carry.

What is true for physical limits “carries” over to spiritual and emotional limits. We can only haul so many burdens before control squirts out of our hands. Nerves shatter. Tempers are lost. We stumble under the weight.

As usual, the solution is simple, yet profound. There is a loving, very capable God Who can carry ALL of our burdens.

“Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”  – 1 Peter 5:7

Our imaginations, insecurities, and internal and external voices may seek exceptions. I struggled with eliminating exceptions during my battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma. Yet there is no circumstance the Lord cannot handle. It truly is easier than we think – when we let Him carry the load.

Lord, give us eyes to see how much bigger You are than our problems.