Friday, January 30, 2015

Walk this Way week 1

Last week’s sermon on idolatry was great. I’m going to list the questions Caz asked for those who were not there, as they are so important to ask.

1.      Do I feel that I have enough money and possessions or do I feel that I want more?
2.      Do I feel that I have enough power and control in my life, or do I need more?
3.      Is there a relationship that I am so attached to that I have to have for my life to be meaningful? Is there a relationship that has unseated God?
4.      What am I willing to betray my values for if I don’t think I’ll get caught?
5.      What desire is so strong that it can warp my thinking; that it can cause me to engage in self-justification, denial and secrecy?

These questions I am sure remove any doubt that we are all guilty of idolatry. As believers we are all aware of the idea of putting God first, but it can be hard to know what that looks like.  I like that Caz pointed out that idols can’t just be removed, they have to be replaced. This is similar with addiction. Someone with an addiction can’t just stop the behavior, the behavior has to be replaced with something acceptable.

I can’t just decide that I need to be content without more money or control. But if I recognize that idol I can challenge the thoughts and not “agree” with them (to reference an earlier blog about “Experiencing the Impossible”). I can confess my shortcomings to God and ask Him to help redirect my thoughts and decisions.

I am excited about learning more about how to walk as a believer, and these questions are a great start. Consider the answers with me. What is your most insidious idol, and how can you drain its power in your life?
Beth Kropf


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

the agreement in a thought

I have always been an anxious person, and try to consciously focus on abiding in God’s peace.  In chapter 25 of “Experience the Impossible,” Bill Johnson put anxiety in terms I had not thought of before: “When we begin to live out of fear, we must return to wherever we left our peace. Losing our peace usually involves making a mental agreement with a lie until our emotions become captive to that lie. … The agreements made in those moments work against God’s purposes for our lives” (p. 86).
            Are we really making an agreement when we dwell in anxiety? Is it that willful? It sounds strange, but if we allow ourselves to dwell on a thought instead of casting it out, we “agree” with it. I always tell myself that I am anxious because God never promised that bad things would not happen. And yet, by dwelling in all of the possibilities, realistic or otherwise, how am I honoring God?  I’m fairly certain my anxiety (not common sense precaution like wearing seatbelts, but anxiety itself) has never prevented anything bad from happening. So why do I agree to rehearse tragedy in my head?
            I have a bit of a psychology background and I believe strongly in the power of thought. We have access to wonderful truths in the Bible and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. But most of the time we really have to choose to believe these truths deeply enough to impact our thoughts. Johnson says “living conscious of God’s heart for us keeps us in a place of peace. And peace is more than the absence of something like war, noise or conflict. Our peace is the presence of Someone. It is the actual atmosphere of heaven” (p. 86).
            Mastering anxiety involves changing our thought process and abiding in God. The word “abide” is literally translated to mean “breathe hard.” Our thoughts are like breath. They are constant. We choose, we agree with, what we dwell on. The choice has consequences. Let’s dwell on heaven and peace.
Beth Kropf


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

a tall order for 2015

I find it interesting that I read chapter 15 of “Experience the Impossible” so close to the new year. While it can be a great time to make resolutions and goals (although I believe a year when a child is born gets an exemption), it’s also important to think about what God might be asking us to do.  Johnson talks about miracles, and if we are supposed to passively observe God perform them (which is obviously sometimes the case) or be active participants, as the disciples were. Johnson explains “They [the disciples] were not commanded to observe the sovereign invasions of God into impossible situations. That is a given, and is the joy of every believer. But there remains a command that requires obedience and pursuit on our part” (Johnson p. 58).
            Isn’t this uncomfortable? What about the times when we ask for miracles like healing loved ones and he doesn’t? I don’t have a perfect answer, but Johnson’s closing thoughts are powerful. Whether you agree or not, I ask you to consider the implications of the stance. “…we should at least attempt to do what Jesus did- including raising the dead. The fear of looking foolish to others has kept many from responding to this command of the Lord. In addition, we might never do this assignment well. But that does not give me the right to change the assignment to what I do well, and then call that my ministry” (Johnson p.58).
            Does God call us to things we might screw up? Does God call us to things that might alienate us and bring criticism? How do we know if it’s acceptable to call what we do well a ministry?  
            By now you may notice a common thread in my posts: God asks us to do things that are hard. He doesn’t stop storms from coming, as Caz mentioned in Sunday’s sermon. But what will we miss if we don’t even try to do the miraculous, difficult things that God asks of us?
Beth  Kropf