Monday, September 22, 2014


Have you ever heard someone (ahem, perhaps yourself) say: "If only I had enough faith, then (such and such) would happen."  Or, "Lord, help my unbelief!"  If you've said or thought that, you're not alone.  I have too.

But I think this has gotten to be a religious ritual, err, scapegoat.  As an excuse for why things do or don't happen, we've just said "well, I didn't believe enough."  That's a sad gospel if it's true, my friends.  That is not good news.  Whenever did I have the faith on my own to believe enough?  Surely not before I knew God, and certainly not since I've known God have I graduated to a "do-it-yourself" faith.

2 Corinthians 11:3 warns us not to be corrupted from the simplicity of the faith.  So let's go back to the basics today on this issue of belief.  I submit to you there's no such thing as not believing enough.  There's only what I'll call "believe-it-or-nots."  You either believe it - or not.  Simple, eh?

If I told you the sky was blue, you wouldn't have to conjure up belief within yourself to ascend to the revelation that the sky is blue.  You would either believe me, or not.  Now you could argue with me about what shade of blue the sky is if you wanted, but the truth of the blueness of the sky would still stand.  The same is true with scripture.

You could read the verse "By His stripes I was healed." (1 Peter 2:24).  You could believe that, in fact, Jesus Christ bore your sins on the cross and by His wounds you were healed, that He took your pain so you wouldn't have to bear it.  You could believe that.  Or not.  Some people will flat out not believe it.  Others will be unsure.  This un-sureness will still manifest as unbelief, though, because he that wavers (doubts) is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed; that man shouldn't expect to receive anything of the Lord, for a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6-8).   So when you boil it down, you either believe it or you don't.

We try to religicize it and make whole doctrines diluting God's promises and elucidating why "this faith thing" just doesn't work, when, in fact, it's working all the time. 

For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not mixed with faith in those who heard.  ~Hebrews 4:2.

Are you a believer or not?  I'm persuaded that "unbeliever" doesn't mean someone who doesn't know God.  Unbelievers are people who have heard the Word and chosen not to believe it.  Unbelievers can profess themselves to be Christian, wear Christian badges, hold fancy titles, and even have seminary degrees.  Believers, on the other hand, need no introduction.  I don't need any glitz and glam if I believe God, because when I believe God the impossible manifests around me.  The fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, etc.) start sprouting up around me and within me when I believe God.  It's undeniable and unmistakable.  Newsflash, unbelievers:  it's undeniable and unmistakable, too, when you don't believe God.  Suddenly anger, bitterness, pride, evil speaking, and confusion sprout up around you and in you when you've hardened your heart against the promises of God.

Believe scripture?  Then, praise God, it's working!  Don't believe?  Praise God, it's still working and it won't profit you anything because it's not mixed with faith.  You get results either way!  

You don't have to confess scripture over yourself 100 times per day.  Only believe.  Jesus said: 

If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes.  ~Mark 9:23.

So, what are you waiting for?  Do you believe it?  Or not?

Sunday, September 21, 2014


"I'm not smart enough"

"I'm not pretty enough"

"I'm not good enough."

Chances are you think of these statements as self-deprecating, but did you realize these statements are actually pride in disguise?  Take a closer look.    

We normally think of pride or arrogance as thinking better of ourselves than we ought to think.  Indeed, scripture implores us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.  Romans 12:3 says: " For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith."

That's one form of pride.  The other form is a more subtle, inverse pride.  Sometimes we think too much of ourselves, but oftentimes, we're not thinking highly enough.  Really it's two sides of the same coin.

Either form of pride says "I got this."  Pride is all about me - what I can or can't do and what I feel.  Humility, on the other hand, says "I can do nothing without Him." (John 15:5).  Humility is submission to what God says about you.  If God calls me the "righteousness of God in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:21), then, by golly, that's what I am!  If God says "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength," (Philippians 4:13), then I can!  If God says that Christ in me can "preach the gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and set the oppressed free," (Luke 4:18), then, in Christ, I will!  Humility is not about what I've done or can do, it's about what He did.  

Humility is boasting in the Lord! (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Humility says:

"I'm smart, because God made me smart."

"I'm beautiful, because God called me beautiful."

"I'm wanted, because God accepted me." 

"I'm good, because God is good and a good God made me!"

Friends, we don't need faith to feel defeated.  Anyone can do that.  We need faith to simply realize what Christ has already done.  If we've been translated into the Kingdom of Light and we belong to the Body of Christ, then feeling defeated is a form of pride, because He has already given us the victory.  Who are you to say you are a loser?  Who are you to say you're unworthy?  Who are you to say your life is beyond redemption?  Who are you to contradict God?  The value of your life is not up to you; it, quite literally, is on Him.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. 

Christ has won you the victory!  He has snatched the keys of Hell and triumphed over death - for you - once and for all.  You hold the keys to your freedom because Christ gave them to you.  Stop snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory.  You are already victorious in Christ.  Rejoice!  Love has won. 

In the words of Nelson Mandela:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Wishful Thinking

(Editor's note:  Sometimes what we call "faith" isn't faith at all.  Faith is not a feeling; it is a Spiritual Force.)

The following account is true.

(A cold and snowy December night, 12:01a.m.)


Mom:  Hello? 
Me:     Mom!!!  Guess what?!!!
Mom:  What? ....  What time is it...? (sleepily)
Me:     He proposed!
Mom:  Who proposed?! 
Me:     Well, I just met him.  I don't really know him, but...he proposed! 
Mom:  What are you talking about?!!! (incredulously)
Me:     —And I'm actually considering it!!  (gleefully)
Mom:  What?!!!! 

And the sad news is: I did.  Consider it.  Briefly.  Well, for one week.  We broke up on Christmas Eve.  It was a hard Christmas that year.  It's hard to break up with someone you never actually dated, but I've proven it's possible more than once. 

My poor mother!  What could Mom see that I didn't?  I was suffering from a severe case of...

Wishful Thinking.

I confess I'm a hopeful romantic at heart.  Despite my lapses into cynicism over the years, I desperately hope that Love is real.  And not just God's Love, but true love between people. 

I've earned the epithets I've acquired over the years: quirky, an eternal optimist, delusional.  In different seasons these adjectives have painted an accurate portrait of me.  But today I want to trade all those epithets for this one: HOPE-ful.  I want my hope to be anchored in something real.  Let me show you what I mean.

My life used to be dramatic like this.  Apologies in advance for the graphic nature of this video...

"I will go down with this ship!"....glug, glug, glug.  Sounds noble, doesn't it?  Maybe.  But at the end of the day you're still sunk.  Today I would trade all the drama in the world for some authentic hope. 

If hope is the anchor of the soul, then wishful thinking is the leak that sinks the ship.  Wishful thinking doesn't even let you know you're sinking! 
Hope keeps you steady and afloat.  Hebrews 6:19 says: This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.  An anchor is a source of security and stability.  Wishful thinking is "the unrealistic belief that something wished for is actually true or will be realized."  The dictionary defines wishful thinking as "interpretation of facts as one would like them to be rather than as they really are; imagining as actual what is not."  Unlike hope, wishful thinking is an ever changing wind: unsure and untrustworthy.  Hope is based on truth; wishful thinking is based on lies.

Have you ever heard yourself say, "I hope ____ happens."  Or "I sure hope so!"  What do we really mean by that?  Hope literally means to expect with confidence.  Our translation of hope, however, is usually "that would be nice, but it's probably not going to happen."  That's one way we misuse hope.

Or even worse yet, sometimes we say "it's going to be fine" without ever evaluating the reality of the situation.  The scary thing is "It's all going to be ok" can look like hope fueled by faith!  Sometimes it is.  And sometimes this is wishful thinking, commonly known as "Denial."  Wishful thinking tells you "it's all going to be okay" when it's not.  

How are we to know the difference?

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:12.

In aviation the thought that "it could never happen to me" is called a hazardous attitude.  It's a dangerous thought.  This arrogance puts up blinders and gives pilots a false sense of security when real challenges lie ahead.  The cure for hazardous attitudes — in flying and in life — is humility and vigilance, seeking a deeper understanding of what could go wrong and facing head-on the real challenges before you.  It means being real about where you are and what you know; aware of the possibilities; living each moment as it comes; and making conscious decisions so those decision aren't made for you.

Hope is anchored in God's unchanging Word.  Wishful thinking has no basis other than a flimsy desire for something.  Wishful thinking is problematic because it is really disappointing when something you believed would happen doesn't happen.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. ~Proverbs 13:12.

Wishful thinking leaves you empty-handed, but Hope makes good on its promises. 

So what are you hoping for?  Good relationships?  Financial abundance?  Good health?  To know God more?  (3 John 2).  You don't have to sit there passively and say, "Well, that would be nice if..."  Go get it! 

Get what?  HOPE! 
Where?  In scripture. 
Why?  Because Hope is the first ingredient of faith!  Hope is faith's end goal.  There is no such thing as faith without Hope.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. ~Hebrews 11:1.

So what if you've been disappointed by wishful thinking in the past?  We all have.  Chalk it up to experience, learn from it, and move on.  

And if someone proposes to you on a whim: run, don't walk, to the nearest exit.  That's just wishful thinking.  I've since learned you can't have a relationship with someone with whom you don't have a relationship.  (Profound, I know, but very true.)

Dig deep into the scriptures and discover the One whose promises are sure.  Get to know Him!  He will fulfill the longings of your heart.  We don't have to go down with the ship.  We can anchor our Hope in something real.  And He won't disappoint.

"And now, Lord, for what do I wait?  My hope is in You." ~ Psalm 39:7.