Pearls of Wisdom: Expanding Your Capacity

Become larger to carry more. The idea of capacity may seem so obvious, but I find it often trips people. Growth comes through discomfort. Our capacity expands through deliberate stretching.

The Lord has shown me many pictures about this. The nautilus outgrowing its chamber. A balloon swelling, taking shape as breath fills it. A pregnant woman’s incredible transformation as she grows a new life. In all these examples there is effort, change, pressure, even labor to see the fullness revealed.

God’s primary goal is to breathe His life into us like holy balloons. He desires to expand in us, expand His love, His image, His creativity and wisdom. His kingdom.

Think of Joseph saving the nation of Egypt and even his own people. Mary delivering the Messiah. Peter addressing the Sanhedrin. They had to each be pushed out of their idea of enough so that He might reveal His life through them.

We must be willing to be uncomfortable so that He might increase. So when we see circumstances outside of our control, what is God expanding in us?


Faith instead of fear.
Worship instead of whining.
Healing instead of sickness.
Kindness instead of gossip.

Be mindful of obstacles that would deter this divine renovation.

People lose touch with God, or don’t experience His presence, because they have crowded their lives with “foreign wives.” Solomon was the wisest and richest man on earth, yet he lost his soul because “his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord” and he was led away by his foreign wives.

“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” 1 Kings 11:4

Make an effort to let go of lesser habits, affections, ideals to make room for greater revelation.  Then, allow God to heal and test the revelation. He wants to be sure we own it, to have authority in the revelation He has given.

Pastor Bill Johnson tells a story about repairing a flat bicycle tire. He explains the process of repair is to first hold it under water to find the hole. Once the hole is detected, the tire is taken out of the water, dried and patched. Here’s the kicker.  The tire is not put back on the bicycle. Instead, the tire is again held under the water. Why? To see if the patch held.

Bill says some of our circumstances reveal defects. They need to be patched. Some of our circumstances are us being held under the water a second time, as Bill says, “to see if the work of God held.”

It’s a valid question as you go through seasons of stretching to ask God, “are you repairing a hole in me? or are you testing to see if Your repair held?” It will help you so much to know that He is always working for your good. His main goal is that His life and Love will fill you and then flow from you.

We have to be fit to carry the Kingdom. We were born to become like Him.

I love this song as a great reminder. He is always working for us to be fully revealed in Him.

“C.S. Lewis Song” (click here to listen)

If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary,
then of course I’ll feel nude when to where I’m destined I’m compared

Speak to me in the light of the dawm
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan
as I wait for hope to come for me

Am I lost or just less found?
On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
is this a soul that stirs in me,
is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?

Cos my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
And avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become

For we, we are not long here
Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it

And I, I was made to live,
I was made to love,
I was made to know you

Hope is coming for me.
Hope, He’s coming

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Standing in These Uncertain Days…

ISIS. Torture. Beheadings. Martyrs. Burned at the stake. Crucified.

Persecution is not a new thing. More than twenty years ago,  as brand new believers, Chuck and I worked closely with the Voice of the Martyrs organization. We heard stories that  turn your stomach turn and test your faith.  But that’s not all.  I have read many history books. And, I have read the New Testament.  Often.

Remember? It is the stories of people who experienced  overwhelming love and utter sacrifice. Persecution is not a new thing.

So as we face the current onslaught, the alarm sounds for us to move deeper into the heart of God.  Just as  tornado warnings  blare out for us to “seek shelter,”  so we  seek the shelter of the Almighty.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.” 

Psalm 91:1-3

These are the days that separate true faith from religion. The sheep from the goats. Religion would make cowards of us all.  Social comfort zones, or playing church, do not provide a foundation worth dying for.  But “the love of God compels us” to stand against the evil of every generation.

I tell you in the Spirit, the days we are living in must produce  three things in every believer’s heart—love, power, and a sound mind.

Love will help you discern that the battle we are in is not against “flesh and blood but principalities and powers.”  (Ephesians 6:12)

Love— and I mean God’s real, relevant and consuming affection—  will help you abandon your life into His heart. That though you lose your life, you know you will save your soul. These are chilling questions but ones you must examine.

“Am I willing to die for Jesus?”  “Am I willing to lose all that I have, including my family, for Jesus?”IMG_4803

You can be sure that our brothers and sisters in the middle East live—and die— by their answers every day. We are not exempt from these spiritual siftings.

Jesus himself spoke of days just as these and declared that these things “must happen.” But his warning? He was concerned about our love. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,  but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24: 12-13 What is your love temperature?

It a sincere love for Jesus that motivates us to follow in His sufferings should that day come. You can’t fake Christianity for long when someone is a holding a gun to your head. Be diligent then in these days. Cultivate, nurture, prioritize your relationship with God now.

Power will equip you to wage war with “divine weapons” and demolish strongholds regardless of where the enemies are located.  (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Power comes when we understand that Jesus reigns. He is the King of all the earth. Period.  When we see evil on the rise, we must respond with even greater confidence and faith. And we must respond. In prayer, in action, in faith.  The great Light of God has come into the world, and the darkness cannot put it out. Not ISIS, not anyone.

Through him all things were made;

without him nothing was made that has been made. 

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome  it.”

John 1: 3-5

We don’t wring our hands, or fret about our way of life. We speak the kingdom of God into the darkest places. We declare the goodness of God to be manifested to those being tormented but also to the tormentors. We release the Scriptures like arrows. We stand in the Spirit against our enemy, we intercede for the suffering. Just this morning I prayed that the name of Jesus would “pour forth like ointment.” (Song of Songs 1:3)

We must rise up into the power and authority that Jesus gave us to advance His Kingdom.  It is time for the church to stop its petty territory games and “follow the leader” paradigms and instead start equipping the saints for the Holy War of Love.

A sound mind has a peace that  “will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:7

It is in the mind that your greatest victory is won. “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” ( 2 Timothy 1:7 )  A sound mind has already been given to you. Are you accessing it?  We know that in Him we are more than conquerors.  But so many of us live in a daily panic or state of “what if this happens.”

I challenge you that God knows your days.  He knows the hairs on your head. His job is to be God. Your job is to trust and obey. Trust His goodness, even in the darkest of circumstances, and obey His commands: Love God and love your neighbor.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

And what does the LORD require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

Which takes more faith? To freak out over every news report or Facebook post? Or, to love your enemies and to bless those who persecute you? ( Matthew 5:44) Our sound mind and steadfast faith releases the power of God into our lives and the world.

Perhaps, the greatest challenge we face as Christians is to finally learn the secret:  “Perfect Love casts out fear.”

Today. Tomorrow. Middle East. USA. War. Peace. Famine. Abundance. It is Christ alone.

I exhort you to examine your life. To purposely raise your spiritual expectations so that you live in the realm of Love, Power and a Sound Mind.  Then we might  truly see “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven.”



The More of Marriage: a mini-series, part 2

Marriage has shown me my lack of grace, my need for grace, and the reality  of God’s grace.

I have these random memories.  Like puzzle pieces, God put things into place long before I was even aware He was working on me.  One memory is of my arrogant self telling our supposed pre-marrital counselor (snort) that “I am a great catch. And I don’t need Chuck, but I choose him.”  (Poor counselor. Poor Chuck.)

Fast forward to somewhere around year 5 when a wise friend from church asked me what I would do to save my already suffering marriage. I said emphatically, “ANYTHING.”IMG_0972

“Would you quit your job?” he said looking me dead in the eye without flinching. He had nailed my pride,  independence, superiority.  Shocked by the suggested sacrifice, I had to sit squarely and solemnly in the reality of being a liar.  I wouldn’t really do ANYTHING.  I  only wanted to do enough to  make Chuck act better for me.  After a great deal of gnashing my teeth with God, I realized that He could and would do ANYTHING — if my heart was humble before Him.

So I did. It did. God did.   I quit my job and launched my marriage in a different direction.  God was up to something better for me, for us.  My marriage radically changed when I saw my lack of grace for Chuck and I acknowledged  my need for grace to let go of ideas and actions that were poisoning my marriage. It is one thing to say you’re committed; it is another thing to act committed —especially when those acts require sacrifice.  Jesus  knows all about the cost of sacrifice, and it’s why He offers us His loving grace to do it.

From years 10-15,  there are lots of memories and  journal entries of “when Lord, when” or “why Lord why” or “help, Lord help.”

Funny now to think of it all.  I don’t how God carried us, but He did. Every day.  8030 days.  Sometimes we walked with Him. Sometimes He carried us in His arms while we were sleeping, or weeping, or too sick to walk.  Sometimes, He pulled us along,  His firm hand clamped around ours, as we kicked and screamed down the road He had determined. But He was there from the start in all the chaos, dreams, and questions. From the start He was planting life and hope and renewal. And as we went along He whispered…

“Trust Me.”

“Look at Me.”

“Expect Me to Change Things.”

“Believe for Good.”

I know folks married 30 – 50+ years are laughing at me.  In that world of marital staying power,  I am only a youngster.  But if you are under the 20 year mark, you need to know that God’s grace really is yours. It’s not a  pithy church statement. It is a divine fact, a gift, an investment.  He pours in to us what we cannot manufacture on our own. He never gets tired, frustrated or quits. We might, but Jesus doesn’t.

His grace is always available, and it comes to those who know they need it. Chuck and I have grieved over our hard-headedness and hard-heartedness. Why did we wait so long to humble ourselves before God and before each other in so many sticky places?

Our goal now is to shorten the recovery time.  After this many years, we are learning to bypass the manipulation by silence or anger or emotional explosions. We are more eager to get to the heart of the matter…. Really, the Heart of the matter. God’s heart. Chuck’s heart. My heart. “God what am I missing here?  I am committed to this person more than I am committed to being right, so give me grace to see what you see.”

Even in those times when one of us was more eager for health than the other, Grace happens. I have found that many times the only reason ONE person is still holding on, is because God’s grace is at work.  With so much marital collapse all around, we shy away from clinging to His grace and our vows.  Yet I believe it is a sure promise for those who desire to cross the finish line.

Truly, His Grace is all sufficient. For every need, He is there.

Believing is Seeing

Just got this blog post from my friend.  And I think it is really profound because I am myself amazed at the quitting, disbelief, and negativity all around. I am a Depression grandbaby.  My grandmother and parents lived through the Great Depression and I have learned much from their stories. They believed in a something greater than the moment. They believed in the human spirit to overcome.

Now that I am a Christian, I see there is something in us, the Spirit of God that helps us overcome. Read this and see where you are in it. Then ask the Lord: Help my unbelief.

…Writer Paul Miller describes cynicism as “the spirit of our age” and sees it as a natural reaction to baseless and naïve American optimism’s failure to survive life’s difficulties. Dreams based on people, money, our health, our work, our church or government ultimately disappointment us because they are all transient, flawed foundations for hope. As Miller says, “Weariness and fear leave us feeling overwhelmed, unable to move. Cynicism leaves us doubting, unable to dream. The combination shuts down our hearts, and we just show up for life, going through the motions.”

What’s the basis for a realistic optimism?

So, what’s the basis for a realistic optimism that won’t be undone by life’s difficulties? Ironically, we may need to look back to the past and ask how our predecessors were able to withstand far more harsh life events than ours and still remain steadfastly, if grimly, optimistic? The answer is their faith in something that they understood to be benevolent, unchanging and ultimately trustworthy.
I can hear some of you saying, ” He’s talking about God”, but even many of my religious friends appear to be captives of a nagging cynicism. I see people of all stripes finding themselves bereft of real hope. My friends who view God as nonexistent, my friends who view God as indifferent and uninvolved, my friends who are religious but functionally atheistic (God exists and cares, but I am ultimately the master of my own fate), and even my friends who are devoutly religious – all struggle with questions of whether anything in their lives will ultimately prove to be worth their trust and hope.

So, how do I maintain my optimism for my clients?

In a pivotal moment of the film, The Polar Express, the main character is told that contrary to the adage (and cynic’s creed) “seeing is believing”, one must first believe and then the evidence to support belief becomes quite clear, “believing is seeing”.  “Seeing is believing” requires evidence before trust – a typical cause and effect relationship, but “believing is seeing” says faith makes something non-linear happen because we place trust in something/someone not-of-this-world first.

Excerpts from Dr. Jim Bailey’s newsletter at Directions Consultation