Set Your Faith Thermostat ~ higher

 

 

Raise up your faith level…

This winter more than half the USA is in a deep freeze. Temperatures in many of the fifty states are in double digests below zero. This brought to mind an illustration about faith I’d heard Pastor George Pearsons of Eagle Mountain International Church give. He said that you have to set your faith thermometer higher. I think that is so good, especially if you were not born into a Christian home where they talked about faith on a daily basis. I was not born into a Christian home and, as an adult, had to first start learning about the wonderful gift from God of faith.

So, what exactly is faith. Well in Hebrews 11: 1-3 the Bible tells us exactly what faith is. In my opinion, the Bible is written to everyone, but it’s for Christians, and the part that is the Old Testament is also for Jews. It’s to everyone in a historical literature sense, you might say. You could read the Bible to find out how some ancient religious peoples lived and interacted with their God. And then you might wonder how this book, this Bible has impacted the world over the course of centuries. However, to Bible believing Christians, it’s so much more that that. It’s teachings are the way we live out our lives on a practical daily basis. It’s the ‘Owner’s Manual’. If you own a car and you want to know something about how the thing is supposed to operate, you turn to the manufacturer’s ‘Owner’s Manual’. If you’re smart, you do.

So, we want to know what faith is, and we turn to the ‘Owner’s Manual’ in Hebrews 11:1 to see what the Manufacturer has to say about it. This is our foundational Scripture for this study.

Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen. ~ Hebrews 11:1, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

There is so much in this one Scripture. First off, it tells us that ‘faith is’. Faith isn’t in the past or in the future. It’s now in the present. And it’s the present ‘certainty of things hoped for’. So, faith is the present certainty. So, as we believers raise our faith level, we become more and more certain of what we hope for. As we raise our faith thermostat, we become certain in the present that what we have hoped and prayed for is ours, as long as it’s within God’s will. We find out what God’s will in by studying the Bible.

And the Bible tells us we can hope for things because faith is ‘a proof of things not seen’. I like the NASB because it strives to be as close to the original ancient Greek language as possible. Some Bibles are translated to be easy to read. Some Bibles strive to use more modern vernacular. Some Bibles are not translations at all but are paraphrasing. I like the NASB because it is a translation following as closely as English can to the original Greek. It says, ‘a proof of things not seen’. So, for believers there could be other proofs besides your faith. You might have a godly dream or some other sign that your children have come to know God and are saved, or that you are healed, or that you have a new and better working vehicle, or a good home for your family to live in, or that your church has grown in numbers and in the faith. These may not be realities in the natural, but you see them as being, as existing in the spiritual realm.  These are all things. They are good things and they fall under the faith umbrella. All of the ‘things’ mentioned above are all things that according to Scripture God would not be against you having. These other ‘proofs’ might include another Christian having a strong inner witness to pray for your children to be saved, or your bills to be paid, not knowing that is what you’ve asked God for. This would be spiritual confirmation (proof) to bolster your faith and would help to keep your faith strong. Sometimes faith brings about the desired result quickly, sometimes it takes years. As we mature as Christians, we build the muscles of our faith when we have to stand in faith for a long time.

Getting back to the illustration of the thermometer. What we do is set our faith above what we naturally can achieve, or above what would be easy for us to achieve. If we can, at the snap of our fingers, achieve it, we don’t need faith. Is there a dream in our hearts that we feel is from God? Something we come back to in our imagination…in our deep desire? Pray. Seek the Lord, and if it’s from God, why not go for it. Raise the faith thermometer a bit. What is the first step?

Another Christian teacher I admire is Joyce Meyer. She says, “Put your big toe in the water.” Find out what you have to do to prepare, find out what skills you need and begin the process. Don’t jump into the pool over your head, but do put your foot in the water. And keep that faith thermometer raised above what you of yourself can easily achieve and/or obtain. If believers keep exercising their faith for what God has for them, then they will  have an exciting and fulfilling life. For certain, it won’t be dull.

 

 

FAITH IS LIKE ~ walking on water

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I can look back at a number of instances, since I’ve been saved (born again) and have come through a really bad circumstance, and go, “Yeah, that right there was God all right. Boy was that way cool! No mistaking that one. It was God.” But at the time it felt as if high water was beneath me. In fact, waves were crashing all around me. I trusted God, and He moved, and it was awesome. But at the time it was also very scary.

It was as if Jesus was saying, “Follow me in the midst. Walk with me. Take each step with me even if you don’t know where we’re going. Walk on the water.”

The Holy Spirit (Who I often think of as Jesus Unlimited On The Earth) knows where we are going, and all I have to do is follow. I have to fight and cast down my fear of the waves, and also of what might be under the waves and over the waves. I need to build up my faith in Him.

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Under The Waves

 

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Over The Waves

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the truth is, it would’ve been even scarier without God. The situation was a challenge and without God there might not have been a satisfactory or triumphant ending.  Trials and tribulations come and believers have to make choices. Will we trust in God and follow Him not knowing how and where He will lead us out of the situation? Or are we such control freaks we must be in charge, we must know the battle plan?

How many times do we have to lose a battle, or have a much less than victorious outcome to admit we are not the Commander-in-Chief that God is? The scary part is letting go of the wheel and letting God take over. This doesn’t mean we do nothing. We get still and listen. We pray through. We do what we feel prompted to do by the still small voice. We MUST learn to trust that inner witness.

When we do step out in faith and let God run the show, the outcome may not be what we desire, but it will come with peace. And we just might be amazed how many times the outcome is so much more and superior to we could have imagined. Many, many believers will attest to this.

 

Awesome Time at the Kenneth Copeland NYC September 11th and 12th Victory Encounter

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I’ve just spent two days in a packed room with a few thousand believers at The Living Victory Faith Encounter in the Times Square Marriott Marquis Hotel. What a wonderful time I had.

On Friday night, September 11th, I was ushered up to the check-in counter with others who were pre-registered. The session opened with Lindsey Rae (daughter of Kellie Copeland Swisher and granddaughter of Kenneth and Gloria Copeland) leading the pre-service prayer. Lindsey is young, energetic, sweet, and has a heart for prayer. At the Saturday morning prayer, Lindsey chose from the crowd a person from law enforcement, a teacher, a member of the military, a pastor, a youth leader, and several others to lead us all in prayer, each of these praying for the group they represented. This became such a powerful time of prayer.

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The worship music was awesome and energizing. The lyrics of the worship songs were totally aligned with Scripture. I was delighted to get to hear Kellie sing.IMG_1801

 

 

The theme of the two sessions was: Living A Life of Great Faith. At the Friday evening session Brother Kenneth declared, “The body of Christ has no business with fear.”

Saturday morning opened with coffee, followed by prayer, then Brother Copeland spoke. He pointed out, “Grace is the overwhelming desire of God to treat believers as if sin had never happened.”IMG_1802

 

 

 

 

To Soar on Eagle’s Wings by Renee Blare ~ an interview

To Soar on Eagle's WingssI’m so happy to have Renee Blare visit the blog today for an interview and to talk about TO SOAR ON EAGLE’S WINGS. I’m happy when an author uses a new approach or has a fresh perspective. So, I was intrigued to learn the hero of this mystery was a game warden.

The novel in a nut shell…

Spring’s in the air. While the sun shines in Timber Springs, snow falls on the Snowy Range, and trouble’s brewing in the meadows. The area’s new game warden, Steve Mitchell launches his first wildlife investigation of the season but the trouble follows him—straight to town.

Rachel Fitzgerald’s on Spring Break. Or at least she’s trying. Between paperwork, and harassing phone calls, she may as well have stayed in her classroom. So much for relaxation. A ‘chance’ meeting with her brother’s old roommate offers her weary soul a shred of hope, but she discovers love, like life, isn’t easy.

He talks with the wisdom of the Lord but rejects the future. She wants to soar with the eagles but walks alone. And trusting God proves to be more of a challenge than ever before…

 

Interview…

Nike:  To Soar on Eagle’s Wings centers on a game warden investigation. Tell us about that. Is this a mystery novel?

Renee:  Steve Mitchell has recently moved to Timber Springs. He’s the area’s new game warden. During one of his routine sweeps in the mountains, he stumbles upon a lonely baby moose. But he finds more than he bargains for when he discovers the calf’s mama miles away, trapped in a muddy bog. Clues to her entrapment crisscross the snowy meadows, and he heads toward Timber Springs only to find the trouble has followed him home.
Like Beast of Stratton (my first book), To Soar on Eagle’s Wings is a romantic suspense with a blend of mystery. I write sweet romance, but the suspense keeps you turning the pages. Sprinkled within the book, the reader discovers—they may even be taken by surprise—an element of cryptic mystery and intrigue. I think there should always be a bit of revelation in a good tale.

Nike:  I love your blogs tag line, “Rugged Christian Fiction.” How did you come up with that and what does it mean to you?

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A range called “Needles.”

Renee:  It comes from several sources actually—my writing, my home, my life. I’ll address them in order, I guess.

How is my writing rugged? I wouldn’t necessarily call my “writing” rugged, but the people, settings, or lives within them are. They or the topics aren’t polished or pretty. They’re real. I don’t use profanity, erotic, or crude connotations to show the rougher side of life, but I get the point across. You see it.

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Mt. Moran

My home’s just as rugged…it’s Wyoming. Oh, we have running water and electricity, but there’s a reason I have a Subaru and Jeep. Let’s say it’s not because they’re cool or fun.

As for my life, I praise the Lord for every mountaintop and crevice on this rugged path. It hasn’t been easy. It could be much harder. I’ve been asked many times, “how can you do the things you do?” In other words, how can I accomplish everything I need to do in a day or week or month? Or overcome an obstacle and press on to the goal, given the challenges I may face at any given moment. Seizures, migraines, school, surgeries, work, writing, marketing, friendships, family, etc. The list goes on…and on. I only have one word for them. God.

Nike:  Which authors have influenced you?

Renee:  The biggest influence on my writing has been Rick Joyner. After I read his book, The Final Quest, I could never look at a book the same way again. That book did two things for me. Spiritual warfare was now real. A book became something more.

Other influences have been Lena Nelson Dooley, and many other ACFW writers…they’ve taught me more than I could ever repay.

Nike:  Do you read exclusively in your own genre? Tell us who and what you enjoy reading.

Renee:  Frank Peretti, Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins, Rick Joyner, Robin Cook, Arthur Hailey…I love to read suspense, mystery, and about spiritual warfare. Most of all, I love to see it. I can do that with these authors. Give me a good historical too, and I’m happy!

Nike:  What motivates you? Not only in your writing, but in life?

Renee:  Well, I have to say…faith and hope…in the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s what keeps me going even when I think I can’t take another step. And believe me, there are times I feel as if I can’t. Why do I write? To spread the truth of His message and offer hope to a dying world.

Nike:  Where do you see yourself in five-years time?

Renee:  That’s a hard question. Why? Because I don’t spend much time worrying about tomorrow. I have way too much on my plate today. I guess if I was to make a goal for five years down the road, it would be to have my series published. There are seven books planned. I have two written, one published, and one researched. I’ll start writing the third one soon. So…I have five more to write, four to research, and six more to publish in five years. What do you think?

Renee Blare Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, Renee started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and she’s been counting pills ever since. While writing is her first love, well, after the Lord and husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar. Nestled against the Black Hills with her husband, crazy old dog and ornery cat, she serves the community of northeastern Wyoming as a pharmacist and pens her Christian stories, keeping them interesting with action and intrigue, of course. She loves to interact with readers and invites you check out her website, Rugged Christian Fiction and her group blog, The Diamond Mine of Christian Fiction.

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“Perfectionism” ~ Not in My Blessing Jar

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Last year, I resolved not to make any New Year’s resolutions. I’d heard about “blessing jars” and I had this old tin I liked a lot and had kept that originally housed Russel Stover caramels. Artistic and crafty types often use a mason jar with a nice, big, pretty ribbon around its neck.

There are several ways to work with a blessing jar, but the way a writer friend told me she did it appealed to me. 1) Write a short, focused list of blessings I’m believing God for and put it into the jar. 2) Write down a few Scriptures that support those blessings and toss them in.

One of the things that did not find its way onto my list last year or this is the notion of “perfectionism.” In fact, this is as good a place as any to make a public confession. Those are quite popular, I hear. So, here is mine. I have never struggled with perfectionism. Just ask my critique partners. They will tell you, I’ve never seen a comma I liked, and I’m the schpelink queen of Brooklyn.

My husband, who’s a bit of a perfectionist (one in the family is enough, thank you) and a psychiatric social worker, tells me perfectionism is often the root-cause of such mental illnesses as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. This makes me feel smug and fully justified in embracing a more laissez faire life-style. A fav motto of mine is: don’t sweat the small stuff (and so much of it is small stuff).

So, I was filled with excitement thinking about creating the things to go into my blessing jar this year. But the best part was reading what I had in there from last year. It was like a one-year spiritual time capsule. Looking at the list of things I believed for last year, I saw what was important to me then and how I had moved on, past many of them…how I had grown.

Several items I had on last year’s list had come to pass, but not all. I pulled out several Scriptures that had presented themselves to me with such force during 2013 that I’d written them down and put them in my tin. I took a moment to ponder them and to consider why they had spoken to me so forcefully last year. One of the sweetest things was looking at the names of people I’d written down who I prayed for during the year. I prayed for many, many people last year, but it was interesting to note which ones had found their way into my blessing jar/tin.

Our family had a lovely Christmas. However, with the extreme cold and the dreary rain we’ve had in Gotham the past week, I haven’t gotten my outside decorations down yet…but I’m not sweating it.