Courage vs. Denial

Deuteronomy 31: 6

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

So, I’m working today and praying as I do and asked Father to give me a heart of courage that I may stand strong and confident during these trying times. He said to me, “Ivey, you have one of the strongest hearts I know. That does not mean that you don’t feel. There is a big difference between courage and denial.”

That was an eye opener for me, and I had to stop what I was doing and begin to write. He has told me before that I have the heart of a lion, but He has also shown me that I have a big heart. Are these congruous with one another? What’s more, over the last many years He has continually unveiled a tender heart within me. How does tenderness harmonize with courage? All of a sudden, I feel like the lion from the Wizard of Oz. Not so very brave and yet . . ..

A truly courageous person allows her heart to feel. Anesthesia is not synonymous with courage. As a young person I learned to be brave by anesthetizing my heart. To feel was to experience pain. Our Father had quite a job on His hands to get me to allow my heart to feel. I didn’t want to feel the pain, who does? Living without the ability to feel deeply and strongly is not the way. Learning to feel the full range of emotions and still stand confidently with the courage of a lion is the grown-up stuff of life and even (or especially) of Christianity. If your heart does not weep right now when you hear of the thousands of deaths around the world then you need God to perform heart surgery. The tragic circumstances should not cripple you though. Perhaps it brings you to your knees but in prayer rather than defeat.

As I have pondered this today, Father has shown me that the reason I am able to feel deeply and tenderly and yet be strong is because I have learned to turn to His presence within me. I do not meditate on negative thoughts or doomsday scenarios. I keep picturing angels with flame throwers. I seek God within me. I will tell you another truth. I do not inundate myself with press conferences or news. In fact, I try to stay far away from sensationalized broadcasts. Those people peddle fear and discord and I cannot afford to have those deposits made in my spirit.
Another thing I do is pray. I am praying more now than ever before. There have been seasons of prayer in my life previously, but I know that I need the prayer as does all the world. I am praying for you and every other person on this dirt ball that is hurtling through space. I feel the responsibility to pray but I also know that I am taking care of my spirit by praying. My own spirit needs more prayer and nurturing than normal.

Learning to be tough and tender has been one of the hardest lessons of my life. I am sure I am not where I need to be yet, but I thank my God for where He has brought me. I can feel the love and compassion of God and even express it, but I have God’s own strength to stand in a torrent and fight with conviction and vigor. I have finally realized that to be like my Father, I must be tender-hearted, allowing myself to feel things intensely, and yet be strong and courageous. Denial is not bravery. It is buckling to a lie, bowing one’s knee to cowardice. I will not buckle in this time of challenge. I will stand boldly, with you in, the name and faith of our Father. Let us, therefore, stand – shoulder to shoulder in compassionate courage.

If you need someone to talk to, you are welcome to call or email me. We are in this together.

Sharp & Strong

Isaiah 41: 15

Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; you will thresh the mountains, and pulverize them, and will make the hills like chaff.

God has made you something strong. You are no longer weak. Do you see who you are in His eyes? By and through Him, you are mighty and powerful. Is there a mountain looming over you? Well, God has made you able to demolish it so that it becomes little more than a memory. You will look around and say, “Where is that mountain that terrorized me?”

All that God is, all that Jesus brought and all that the Holy Spirit conveys, is alive and well on the inside of you right now. You are no little worm in the grass. God has made you the head and not the tail, above and not beneath (Deuteronomy 28: 13). You are an overcomer, a victor. Let the vision God has of you fill you from head to toe. Change your self-image to agree with that of the Father. Then speak to that mountain and watch it vanquish before you. You are a beloved child of the most high. Let his expression of love dwell richly within you.

The Weaker Sex

1 Peter 3: 7

Husbands, in a similar way, live with your wives with understanding since they are weaker than you are.

Happy Weaker Sex Day!! I hope you laughed when you read that. I have to laugh. You certainly wouldn’t walk through my YMCA and come away with the idea that women are weak, even physically. I look around the classes and the women are fit and strong. I wouldn’t like to be the person who walked into our Y proclaiming that women should bow to men because women are weaker. The person who does that better workout every day because at any time there will be dozens of women who can demonstrate the fallacy of that statement.

I watch these women walking into the Y with one child on their hip, pushing another in a stroller and with two bags over their shoulders. It is truly amazing. Then they go into class and press an impressive amount of weight and just leave you speechless. And this isn’t the rare case. There are dozens of women who are strong physically as well as emotionally and mentally.

My friend, Ann Musico (author of Today is Still the Day), said recently that women are the ones who typically suffer from adrenal failure because they are so over-extended. Women take care of their children, husbands, parents, husband’s parents, and the home. Besides that, they work and volunteer at church and with civic organizations. They are the people volunteering to help with special events, committee work, prayer teams, the kids’ soccer league. It’s practically endless. In fact, I think sometimes women do too much and that is what Ann was eluding too. It can compromise one’s health. Then some idiot says, “See there, women are physically weak.”

We have all heard the “weaker sex” banter but by now all but the really obtuse realize that women are not the weaker gender. Some men can lift more weight than some women, but I would not even make a blanket statement that men are physically stronger than women, especially when it comes to leg strength. Physically, women’s endurance is phenomenal. I watch these mother’s work night and day taking care of everyone else and still make time to get in their workout. I really don’t know how they do it and it is exhausting to even think about.

The real point is that today’s verse was an admonition to honor women though it has been used to abuse them so, let’s make sure we get this right, once and for all. You only have to read a few translations to see what this verse was meant to say. I picked a translation today which got it wrong.  Others do a much better job with this verse.  Some, like the Complete Jewish Bible make the distinction about the physical strength disparity between men and women but, at the same time, minimizes it, “Although your wife may be weaker physically, you should respect her as a fellow-heir of the gift of Life. If you don’t, your prayers will be blocked.” The point which is made in all the versions is that husbands should honor their wives. The failure to do so will inhibit, even block their prayers. That is a huge deal, but we haven’t heard this verse taught this way very often. We hear a nauseatingly huge number of sermons about women being submissive to husbands though. Peter made it very clear that women are joint heirs. As joint heirs they should be treated equally, one translation says, or better still with honor. That is the point.

Women are strong. Don’t be fooled. And they are worthy of honor. And so, with that on my mind I say to all of you mothers, Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Sell Out

2 Chronicles 16: 9

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

Do you ever wonder what God is up to? What is he doing with His time? Now you know. He is scanning the whole earth looking for those he can support and strengthen. God wants to bless us. He wants to uphold us by His strong right arm but the truth is that we won’t let Him because we don’t allow ourselves to receive from Him. Some of us lack belief, others lack expectation. Still others of us don’t appreciate His goodness.

Being blessed is a process of teamwork. The first part is that we must be dedicated to God. Do you see that He scans the world looking for a heart He can work with? Those are important words and if we are not living in the blessing as fully as we think we should be, then this is the place for us to begin our analysis. We see that God wants to bless us. He wants to support us in all we do. He is just looking for someone who will cooperate with Him. His eyes constantly search for someone who is wholeheartedly in for Him. Is that you. Is your heart for God? Are you completely sold out to Him?

If you answered, “Yes,” then God is all in for you too. My next question is, “Will you allow yourself to be blessed?” Some people have difficulty receiving. It begins with believing that God wants to bless His people. Hebrews 11: 6 reads, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” We have to believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. So, He is searching the earth for those whose hearts believe that He is and that He is a rewarder. You see, you are not sold out to God nor wholehearted towards Him if you don’t believe His word and even specifically this verse from Hebrews. He is looking for someone who will believe that God is for them in every way. He wants us to lean on the expectation of His strong support.

That brings up another point from today’s verse. God isn’t looking just to sprinkle you with blessing or just give you a small step up. He is a big God and wants to show Himself strong to you. He wants to “strongly support” your dreams and goals. That means that not only is He in your corner, but He is the loudest cheerleader you have. He wants to give you all He has. That ends up boiling down to all you will receive. He isn’t trying to be a subtle encourager. He wants to get loud and flex His muscles with strength.

I think if you will mediate on this verse, you will find more here than you have previously considered. I hope it blesses you from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet. Get your heart fully committed to the Father who loves you and who wants to be your supporter. Be sold out to Him. Believe Him and let Him help you.

Feeble? NOT!

Joshua 14: 10 – 11

Now behold, the LORD has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in.

I have told you how Moses accepted his divine calling at age 80, led the children of Israel for 40 years and then at 120 years of age, climbed Mount Nebo. Of course, you already know about Abraham and Sarah. Now look at the words of Joshua.

The link between the words “old” and “feeble” needs to be severed. The Bible says when Moses led the nation of Israel out of Egypt, “He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes,” (Psalm 105: 37 KJV). You know there were old people in that group. It was the entire nation of Israel. None the less, there were no feeble among them. We need to let that revelation sink into our brains and our hearts.

Romans 12: 2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Let me translate this for you, applying it to today’s message. You can either listen to and think like the world and be sick and feeble or you can be transformed in your thinking and live a long, healthy and prosperous life. Which do you want? You cannot listen to the “wisdom” of the world, which is constantly telling you how your body begins to fall apart at age 40 so they can sell you some drugs, and be youthful and vital. You’ve got to turn your ear to God. Your thinking must be transformed into God type of thinking. We need His mind on these things. Am I saying the world is wrong, that many doctors are wrong? Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. However, it will be true for you if you believe what they preach. Why don’t you show them a different model? Be the Joshua of your group. Climb mountains like Moses. Let the people in your church see what happens when someone dares to believe God.

I believe in doctors. I think God blessed us with them, but He never meant for them to take the place of Godly wisdom. Be wise, be strong, be youthful. Live immersed in the grace the Lord has given to His beloved kids.

God’s Success System

Joshua 1: 7 – 8

Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 

Here is a success kit. All you have to do is cut and paste this into your life and success will have to follow you. God’s word cannot be denied and here is His word on success, loud and clear. Perhaps we do not know how to believe as we should but we are all changing that day by day. But, God’s word works and it works all the time. We have lost the ability and or knowledge of how to receive in this country. Maybe it is because we have so much and really have not had to rely on God for our basic needs. In other countries, amazing miracles are taking place. We need only to put our faith back in God’s word and believe that what He says will come to pass. Then we meditate on it, we speak it out of our mouths and we do according to all that is written there. When we do that, we cannot fail. All that you want, and or need, is sure to follow.

Human Sacrifice

Romans 12: 1

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

This passage is so familiar that we often fail to look at the words. This isn’t just a call to present your body to God. There is more to it than that. This is a form of worship. It is part of our service to God. Note how urgently Paul entreats his followers. He seems to think this is very important. He tells us to present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice. If I sacrifice my body to God’s service then that must mean that I am giving up some level of control. My body is no longer my own. Isn’t that right? We are no longer our own. We have been purchased with a price, the blood of Jesus (Revelation 5: 9). Further, this offering is meant to be a sacrifice which is acceptable to God. What does that mean? People have many answers to that question, you hopefully will find your own, but one way to think about it is that I will not take God’s body anywhere I should not. It also seems that it would mean that when I use this body, I use it in ways that are consistent with the Word of God. And I would mention that when we present our bodies to God it means that we give each part, all members of our bodies to God. That means even our tongues. What we say ought to edify the Father and His children.

I wish to give you one other perspective on giving your body to God. I recently made a long bike ride. In the last eight miles it started getting tough. Well, the Father and I have a running deal that the last three miles are His. He helps me through all the other miles but that last three are His alone. Well, with eight miles to go I started praying. I said, “Dad, it looks like you are going to have to take the last eight miles today.” That presented no problem to Him at all. I started releasing everything to Him and then I said, “Father, I give you my legs.” Wow! An epiphany went off in my head. I received a revelation of God’s healing and energizing power flowing into my legs and of Him using my legs to power that bike. I tell you I am getting thrilled again just writing to you about it.

When we present our bodies we need to present each and every part. Don’t just present your body as a whole. Give Him your eyes and then look out through those eyes with Him. Look at your hands and give them to Him. How does your back feel? Give Him your back. Give all to Him and what you will find is that He just multiplies your sacrifices and offerings back to you a hundredfold. I don’t know when we will ever let this hundredfold return on our offerings really sink in but it is right there in our bodies as well as our pocketbooks. Every time Dad demands an offering or a gift it is because He wants to do something for you. If you will give Him your body you will receive it back in much better working order. He has healing in His hands so whatever you put into His hands comes out with healing in it. Hey, that wouldn’t be bad for our pocketbooks either, would it?

Well, the moral of the story is that I had a great ride. I completed my first 50 mile bike ride ever and my average speed was as high as for a 25 mile ride. And that is not all. The next day I was not sore at all. In fact, I walked on the treadmill the next day. It wasn’t in my strength but, hallelujah, when I am weak, then I am strong. Think I will give the sacrifice of my body on the next ride.