New Life, Overcoming Difficulties

Becoming a Woman of Great Depth

Maybe you are searching among the branches, for what only appears in the roots – Rumi

 

Have you ever looked at a tree and thought, “Now those are some gorgeous roots”? Probably not, unless of course you are a dendrologist (a fancy term for someone who studies trees).  Generally speaking, we tend to focus in on the parts of the tree we can actually see – the leaves, branches and trunk. 

But did you know the root system of a tree is a key indicator of its overall health? Yes, long before a tree shows distress on the outside, its root system reveals the true story.   

For example, in a drought, the tree’s root system, which is typically found in the top 3 feet of soil, will begin developing new and deeper roots.  These tap roots, as they are called, will grow vertically downward going much deeper than the existing root structure. 

Depending on the type of tree, the soil it’s in, and the climate, tap roots can grow up to 30 feet in depth – that’s 10 times greater than the average!

When talking about trees, what’s below the surface is what really matters, and I believe it is very much the same way with us as followers of Christ.  The apostle Paul tells us this in Colossians 2:

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

A taproot’s ability to find nourishment deep below the surface will determine whether the tree will have what it needs to continue growing. 


Deep Roots = A Strong & Vibrant Life


Does your life seem really hard at this moment? Have recent days, weeks, or months brought challenges you’d never imagined? Have you found yourself wondering if things will ever get easier?

These times of distress, while never easy, offer us an incredible opportunity for rapid growth.  When we tap into our our Heavenly Father’s resources, we can thrive during these times of great trial.  How exactly do we do this?

John, one of Jesus’s most beloved disciples, gives us a clue in Chapter 7 of his gospel:

…Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39 (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him…

Tell me, are you desperately looking for comfort?  For answers to your pain?  Do you feel weary and exhausted?  Or completely parched and aching with the dryness of your own soul?

Have you tried filling your thirst with social media, Netflix binges, constant busyness, sweet treats, wine, excessive exercise, constant travel, business achievements, shopping habits, prescription meds, romance novels, constantly serving at church, striving for perfection, or the next big DIY project, etc… While temporarily fun and exciting on a surface level, all of these things will leave us woefully unsatisfied deep inside.

This is what Jesus himself had to say about our attempts at self-fulfillment:

13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:13-14

Wow, I don’t know about you, but I want to have that fresh, bubbling spring of abundant life within me me ALL THE TIME.  But how can we access it?  The obvious answer is Jesus, but drinking of his Living Water doesn’t begin and end with a one-time salvation experience.

If a tree’s tap roots stopped growing, then the tree’s ability to nourish itself would be limited.  It’s the same with us.  Our roots have to keep growing down deeper and deeper, searching out those pools of Living Water and tapping into them.  With every new difficulty, we must develop deeper roots.

So how can we as Jesus-loving women stay nourished and vibrant during times of great stress?  For starters, we can access our Living Water by spending daily time reading scripture.  We talk to him and invite His Spirit to nourish us.  We listen for what he is saying to us.

In order to access those deep pools, we must take the time to put down the phone, turn off the TV, and get into our place of quiet where we have room for our soul to breathe.  We must drink deeply of God’s Word, every. single. day.  We show up fully engaged, anticipating that something we read or hear will strike a resonant chord deep within our spirit. We hang on with him, waiting until we have it.

Then we apply what we’ve learned.  We let the truth’s in God’s word instruct the thoughts we entertain and the choices we make throughout each day.

We do this day in and day out.  We get up early or stay up late.  We use our precious free time because nothing will satisfy more than nourishment from The Living Water.


Much like the tap root of a drought-stricken tree determines its survival, our willingness to tap into God’s word each day will determine whether we can remain vibrant in the face of life’s biggest difficulties.


Is everything above your surface falling apart?  We can choose to see this difficulty as an opportunity to develop stronger, deeper roots.  As women of great depth, we will pull strength and courage and peace from Jesus, using it to rapidly grow in times of distress.  As a result our faith will be stronger, and we will bubble over with thankfulness.

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him… Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Are you becoming a woman of great depth?

 

For further study:  Throughout scripture the outpouring of God’s presence and blessing is often associated with pools and springs of water.  [See Psalm 107:33 & 35, Isaiah 35:7, Isaiah 41:18, Revelation 7:17, Revelation 14:7, Revelation 21:6]  Look up these verses and answer this question:  How can you create an atmosphere in your own life and heart which invites the blessings of God’s presence?

New Life, New Year

What Could We Say in 2019?

Do you have a word for 2019?  The trend of finding a term of unique and personal significance for each new year has been increasing in popularity.  My social media feeds this week have been chock-full of pithy expressions my friends have adopted as their 2019 mantras of choice.

While I do love the idea of choosing an inspiring new word upon which to focus our energies, goals, and hopes for the next 365 days, as 2018 drew to a close, I was in the grasp of an entirely different perspective.

What if in 2019 I were to focus on ALL of my words?  Well, at least the ones I speak aloud…  I know this must seem like massive overkill for a New Year’s resolution, but hang in there with me while I explain.

In recent years, I have come to believe that the words we speak aloud (even in passing comments) have tremendous influence on our lives and the lives of those around us.  This is not some hocus-pocus or name-it-claim-it nonsense.  This idea is supported by the entirety of scripture in both the Old and New Testaments.

While I don’t have the capacity here for an exhaustive journey into every book of the bible, I do want to give you enough to show this philosophy is firmly rooted in the bible.  We will start at the very beginning – it is, after all, a very good place to start, especially since it’s a brand new year.  😉

1. How did God create the world?

Genesis 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 

Genesis 1:6-7 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters”… And it was so.

Genesis 1:9 And God said, …. And it was so.

Genesis 1:11 And God said, … And it was so.

Genesis 1:14 And God said, … And it was so.

Genesis 1:20 And God said…

Genesis 1:24 And God said, … And it was so.

Genesis 1:26 Then God said…

You get the idea here.  As you read the account of Creation as found in Genesis 1, you can see that God spoke our entire universe into existence.

The New Testament also supports this: Hebrews 11:3 tells us, By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

God spoke all of Creation into being.  He made the heavens and the earth and every living thing from His spoken words.

2. The Exact Same Spirit of the Living God (who created the entire universe by speaking) lives in us.

If you are a child of God, having believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation, the bible tells us that the Spirit of the Living God lives inside of you.  We commonly refer to Him as the Holy Spirit.  Here are a few references about this:  Romans 8:11, John 3:5-6, Acts 2:38-39, Matthew 28:18-20, John 14:26, John 16:7-15, Titus 3:4-8.

3.  Therefore, as believers, the words we speak aloud have tremendous potential to create or destroy.

The tongue can bring death or life; Proverbs 18:21a

And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire.  It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body.  It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. James 3:6

From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good.  Proverbs 12:14a

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18b

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11

Whoever desires to love life, and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 1 Peter 3:10

4.  Choose to Focus on the Positive.

In the past when I read bible verses about the tongue, I always processed them through my “Thou Shalt Not” filter.  You know, it’s that way of thinking that says:  Don’t lie, don’t gossip, don’t slander, don’t exaggerate, don’t be unkind, etc…  I only ever focused on what I should NOT do with my words.

If speaking evil and deceit can bring bad days and result in a hated life, then speaking good and true words will result in a life well-loved and well-lived, filled with good days.

So what if we were to view all these verses about our tongue through a “YES, PLEASE DO” filter?

Do you have a seemingly impossible situation in your life?  Instead of constantly bemoaning the crappy circumstances that seem completely insurmountable, YES, PLEASE DO speak life-giving words over it.  Ask God to accomplish the impossible, believing He will, and then thank Him for doing it.  And keep thanking Him for His miraculous provision and grace in that situation.

Do you have a close friend or family member walking through a time of deep darkness?  Maybe they are dealing with addiction or mental illness?  Instead of rehearsing all the various medical or psychological nuances of their addiction or illness, choose instead to speak positive and healing words aloud continually about that person.  Then YES, PLEASE DO thank God for the miraculous and complete recovery in this person.

Do you have a relationship with ongoing or unresolved conflict? Instead of constantly venting frustration and anger about this person, YES, PLEASE DO ask God to bring restoration, unity, and mutual understanding, then thank Him for it.  YES, PLEASE DO thank God for what this person has come to mean to you and how well you get along together.

5.  Start With a Thank You.

A wise friend gave me the most beautiful illustration of Psalm 100:4 which says:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, go into his courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him and praise His name.

As we boldly approach God’s throne of grace in our time of need, let’s stop at the entrance gates to give the password – which is “Thank You.”  Then we can proceed into the King’s outer courts with praise, before then entering the throne room itself and voicing our concerns and needs.

By starting with a posture of thanksgiving, we are verbally expressing our faith.  We believe in advance for what we’ve asked.  We are thanking God as if he’s already completed it.

We aren’t manipulating God into doing anything that is against his will.  He isn’t some earthly ruler to be controlled by human words, but when we have the faith to believe he will accomplish something we are releasing the power for His “will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

This phrase “may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” was used by Jesus himself when he was demonstrating how we should talk to our Heavenly Father.  Matthew 6:5-13

I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard see, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move.  Nothing would be impossible.  Matthew 17:20.  See also Matthew 21:21 and Mark 11:23

How did Jesus say these miraculous things would happen?  Through the power of our spoken words.

Do we have faith big enough to speak words with a crazy-bold defiance of the reality of our physical circumstances?  Do we have a desire to see what is seen come from what is unseen?  Are we willing to thank God in advance, believing He will accomplish it?

If you feel lacking in this area, no worries!  We can ask for help much like the father of a demon-possessed son in Mark 9:24.  “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief.”

2019 is like a brand new notebook, full of blank, white pages.  Our tongues are the instruments through which our stories will be written.  Our words are the ink; they will become the very substance of our lives.  What will we say in 2019?

 

New Life, The Very Good News

What does Easter mean to me?

Many in the Christian community have taken to calling it Resurrection Day.  This re-branding is fine with me, as it places the focus for this holiday exactly where it should be: on the risen Jesus Christ.

So what does Resurrection Day mean to me?  Honestly, I have struggled at times to have fresh eyes for this nearly two-thousand-year-old event.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not downplaying its importance.  I know that it is essential to my entire faith.  If not for the Resurrection, Jesus would have been one of the numerous other good teachers with a following who lived and then died, end of story.  No power. No glory. No hope.  My faith would be dead and powerless.

So, I’m not overlooking the fact that this event is integral to my faith.  But after 39 years of celebrating this day, 33 of those years as a believer, sometimes you just need a fresh perspective and a newness of joy.  I want to experience this holiday, as if for the first time.  Is anyone with me on this?

I don’t want to simply go through the motions of this day, its significance lost in the rote-ness of the familiar.

So I got up early this morning, not to iron my daughters’ Easter dresses or to make from-scratch cinnamon rolls.  Instead, I spent my quiet early-morning coffee moment asking the Father for a fresh view and a personal encounter of the Resurrection’s relevance for me TODAY.

What He gave me is worth sharing.  May it encourage you, like it did me, to walk in freshness, rather than familiarity.  May you experience vibrance, rather than boredom.

It’s brief, so I promise that you’ve got time for it on this day (or any day) overflowing and bustling with activity.

___________________________

Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, wasn’t the only one raised from the dead that day.

Romans 6:4b says, “…Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

You see, this is our Resurrection day too.  We, too, are being called forth from our tombs.

A tomb is where we put dead things.

Do you have any dead areas in your life?  Any departed dreams?  Lifeless relationships?  Messed-up messes?  Worn-out approaches?  Unresponsive situations?  Hopeless circumstances?  Exhausted emotions?

I’ve got news for you.  You are NOT dead, and your circumstances are NOT beyond the reach of the glorious power of the Father.

You are being called forth into the newness of life.  Are there any areas in your life that need refreshing?  Or re-making?  Or resurrecting?  Or maybe, like me, you’ve got an area where you’d like to see a complete do-over.

The VOICE translation says it this way, “…just as God the Father, in all His glory, resurrected the Anointed One, we, too, might walk confidently out of the grave into new life.”

So my friend, where can you walk confidently out of the grave into new life?

I feel like our Heavenly Father is saying to us:

 Give me your weary, worn out, tired, hopelessly dead places.  Toss away those grave clothes.  Confidently walk out of that tomb.  Break forth into newness of life and embrace MY Glorious Life for you.

May you let Him resurrect you today and everyday.  May you let His glorious power and light enable you to break forth from what holds you back.

And as a bonus, here’s a little song that goes right along with my musings.  It came to my mind as I was singing in the shower this morning.  Blessings!