Key ingredient to deepening faith: the Holy Spirit

16 03 2011

I have been praying and thinking a lot recently about spiritual growth. Much of this thought relates to working through my own growth process, including my reflection and learning from times of stagnation. But I am also intrigued about how spiritual growth works in others, for the purpose of fulfilling the great commission through disciple making.

What God has allowed me to understand will likely not come as a revelation to anyone who spends time in the Word, and it was not a surprise to me — more like an “Aha! Of course!” moment. I have learned that spiritual growth — deepening faith — does not happen absent the presence of the Holy Spirit. Throughout my life, I have grown in head knowledge of the Bible, but lagged at times in corresponding spiritual growth. My mind goes to James’ warning to us that head knowledge is not enough, for even the demons believe that God is real, and they shudder (James 2:19). Just because I know things about God, doesn’t mean I know God (Matthew 7:21-23).

So what is missing when I experience stagnation or drifting away? There are many things that can be the cause: unrepentant sin, misaligned focus, selfish ambition, laziness in spiritual disciplines, etc. But the thing God has made me see recently is that, oftentimes, my stagnation or drifting away is due to the absence of the Holy Spirit in my life.

In Philippians, Paul passes along one of my favorite pieces of wisdom. Paul gives two instructions in closing his letter to the Philippians that are hugely helpful to me. First, Paul says don’t be anxious. Easier said than done. Just give me a few moments, and I can come up with an impressive list of things to be concerned, anxious or flat out worried about if I am looking from a fleshly perspective. But Paul says do this: stop, then pray — with thanksgiving, humbly make your request known to God. Once you do that, Paul tells us that something miraculous happens. He says that a peace that surpasses all understanding will wash over us. A peace that you were certain was not possible for you just moments earlier suddenly fills your heart. I love that, but that is not what caught me recently. It was the instruction that immediately follows.

Verses 8 and 9 are the goldmine here. Paul tells his readers to focus on the good and then to put into practice in our lives the things that we have learned and received and heard and seen in Paul. When we do that, the God of peace will be with us. So, if you’re stressed, stop and pray and receive peace. But if you want the God of all heaven and earth to be with you — to abide in you — then be intentional about how you live. Follow Paul’s example.

So, what does the Holy Spirit have to do with this? The Holy Spirit is who Jesus promised would come after He departed the earth. We are told that the Holy Spirit would take up residence within our bodies — that He would literally be with us. However, we need to understand that God cannot dwell where there is uncleanness. God calls for His dwelling places to be holy as He is holy.  Much like the Lord instructed Moses to put the unclean outside the camp because the Lord dwelt within (Numbers 5:1-4; also Deuteronomy 23:9-14), we should not expect a holy and perfect God to abide in us while we are actively or passively  missing the mark.

So, what this means for me is that I must be active in my faith in order to make my body a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. Working to live like Paul, who lived like Jesus (not forgetting that we are to model Jesus as well (1 Peter 2:21). When my life consists of obeying God, then my body is a suitable temple for the Holy Spirit to occupy. But when I fail to do those things that God commands of me, I drift away (Hebrews 2:1) and I become an inhospitable place for the Holy Spirit to dwell.

Caution here, however. I am not for a second saying that works lead to salvation and life. But I am saying that true faith is marked by obedience. I obey, God honors that obedience and abides in me via the Holy Spirit. Then the good that I do, I do by the power of the Spirit. It is by God’s power that all of this happens, but I must act. I don’t understand exactly how that works. But I am okay with that, just like Solomon (see Ecclesiastes 8:14-17).

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead (James 2:26).

So, here’s the crux of the matter for me. There are many times that the enemy convinces me that I am doing well. There are times that I go through the motions and increase my head knowledge, yet my heart is unchanged. The reality is that I am responsible for that stagnation. The call to follow is a call to action. Saving faith is not passive. I can’t be. If we believe what the Word says — if we really believe — we must act. When we act, we will grow. But not of our own action, rather because we then receive the Holy Spirit who changes us with His power.

It is not the obvious falling away that is most dangerous, but the slow and often imperceptible self involved move to head from heart. Failing to follow through and, therefore, falling away.





Got your blinders on?

12 01 2008

You know what blinders are, right? I searched the web for a concise explanation of why people put blinders on their horses. I got what I was looking for from www.answerbag.com.

“Basically, blinders are used to keep the horse focused on what is in front of it. Since the horse can’t see everything in it’s peripheral vision, it keeps the horse from becoming distracted or scared. You will notice that blinders are used in situations where there may be a lot of distractions, such as public places.”

Hmmm. There’s a practical application in there for Christ followers and for those who are seeking. One of the most commonly expressed reservations I hear from those seeking meaning and from those who are new to their faith is: “What about all those people who call themselves Christians and who…” or “What about Pastor __________ who did ___________?” [fill in the blanks here] or “You know, Jim [or Sue or Bob] says he [or she] is a Christian and I see how he [or she] lives outside of church.” News flash — people are flesh. If you are basing your understanding of Christianity on human beings, you are focusing in the wrong place. Since people are flesh, they will disappoint. Now, as Christ followers we are absolutely called to act in a way that shows Christ living in us. And there are countless Christ followers who truly let their light shine and live in a way that others can see Christ in them. This is the goal for each one of us. But the unfortunate reality is that there are many who identify themselves as Christians but still struggle mightily with their fleshliness. And it is this particular type of fleshliness that becomes a snare for many.

The Bible clearly calls us to develop our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and not through our pastor or our Christian friends and relatives — take advantage of your direct line to the One at the top. That is what I want to encourage you to do. In seeking to deepen your faith, take your eyes off the periphery and focus straight ahead. Dive headlong into God’s word, spend time in prayer and quiet communing with God. Put on your blinders (or noise-canceling headphones) and focus only on the Lord. Now, of course, this does not mean we should ignore our fellow man, we are certainly called to minister to the world around us and fellowship and accountable relationships are a very important part of the Christian walk. But be prayerful and mindful of how (to what extent) you view the world around you.  Though your feet are planted in this world, keep your eyes on Him. In Romans 12:2, Paul instructs us to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Being aware of your focus is an important step in a world filled with distractions.





What’s your sign?

24 11 2007

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This is the text of a devotional I gave on Thanksgiving to a group from our church while in El Paso. We were there on a mission trip to Juarez. What an amazing thing to see God work to bring people from churches all over to feed over 20,000 in the Ciudad Juarez area over just a few days.

What’s your sign?

Now, before you start to think less of me, I’m not talking about your zodiac sign. I’m curious about the one statement that serves as a reminder for how you will live your life each day.

Hanging at the end of the stairway that leads from the locker room to the field at Notre Dame’s football stadium is a sign that reads “Play Like a Champion Today.” Now, I know that Notre Dame football is not today what it was when Lou Holtz hung that sign, but my point – as you might imagine – goes beyond football success.

When Lou Holtz took over as head football coach at Notre Dame, he read a lot of books about the school’s history. In one of those books, he came across a picture of an old sign that hung in the Notre Dame locker room. He had a replica of the sign made and hung in that stairwell – then he asked all of his players to hit the sign on their way to the field.

Said Holtz: Regardless of the won-loss record, regardless of the problems you have, when you walk out on that field you have an obligation to your teammates and the fans to play to the best of your ability – to play like a champion and to think like a champion.

But, I also asked my players that every time they hit that sign, to think about all the sacrifices your family has made; your teammates made in high school; the sacrifices your teachers have made; and you also think of the thousands of people who would love to be in your position. Just think about how fortunate we are.

“All of these thoughts should go through your mind when you hit that sign – `Play Like A Champion Today’.”

In John Piper’s recent book, “Don’t Waste Your Life”, he writes of a sign that hung above the sink in his kitchen growing up. He reflects in the book that the words on the sign worked their way into his psyche during his formative years – so much so that the very sign now hangs on the wall by the front door of his house, where it serves as an every-day reminder.

The sign reads:

Only one life;

‘Twill soon be past;

Only what’s done

For Christ will last.

How about a someone from the Old Testament – Joshua? Joshua – whose name means Jehovah is his help; or Jehovah the Savior. Joshua was a mighty warrior for God. He was Moses’s successor – he brought God’s people into possession of the promised land. After bringing the people into the promised land, Joshua made it clear to the people that they had to make a decision. In Joshua 24:15, Joshua tells the people:

But if it doesn’t please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.

Now, Joshua knew that the people needed to, had to, make a choice for God – Joshua was wise and he knew that they had to make the decision. Joshua knew that his knowing the right choice was no substitute for the people making their own choice. With that in mind, I think it would be good to see how that challenge played out…

Verse 16 continues… “The people replied, “We will certainly not abandon the Lord to worship other gods! 17 For the Lord our God brought us and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, the place of slavery and performed these great signs before our eyes. He also protected us all along the way we went and among all the peoples whose lands we traveled through. 18 The Lord drove out before us all the peoples, including the Amorites who lived in the land. We too will worship the Lord, because He is our God.”

Do you see the parallels here to what Christ has done for us? Brought us out of slavery, He protects us and has made for us a home – a home where we will be eternally safe and eternally joyful.

Continuing in verse 19:

19 But Joshua told the people, “You will not be able to worship the Lord, because He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not remove your transgressions and sins. 20 If you abandon the Lord and worship foreign gods, He will turn against you, harm you, and completely destroy you, after He has been good to you.”

21 “No!” the people answered Joshua. “We will worship the Lord.”

22 Joshua then told the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you yourselves have chosen to worship the Lord.”

“We are witnesses,” they said.

23 “Then get rid of the foreign gods that are among you and offer your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

I think it is important to point out that the Bible is the progressive revelation of God. There was a purpose in God’s approach to the Israelites in Joshua’s time. We are blessed to be able to look back at the cross. The Israelites in that time looked forward to the cross – but they had to make a choice, just like we have to make a choice.

I believe Joshua’s sign might read, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

As we’re about to embark on a mission trip, I thought it would be appropriate to look at what one of the first missionaries might have as his sign. In Acts 13, the Holy Spirit specifically calls Paul (who is referred to in this passage by his pre-Damascus road name, Saul) to missionary work. And we know that Paul traveled extensively for Christ – setting up many churches and witnessing to countless early Christians. In Philippians 3, Paul tells us about who he was before Christ – a connected and accomplished man by all 1st century standards. But Paul tells us that all that was a gain to him in his former life, he considered a loss because of Christ. In Romans, Paul tells us that if we will put to death those things that make up our former self, we will find life in Christ. Life through Christ. What is Paul talking about here? Is it WWJD? A conscious effort to determine what Christ would do as we go about our lives and then live accordingly. Sure, intentional living is important in our Christian walk. But I believe that Paul’s sign would signify more than that. I believe his sign would resonate the core of his belief.

Galatians 2:20 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. In Galatians, Paul writes to the churches in Galatia to remind them of the true Gospel. Paul says at the end of verse 19 – “I have been crucified in Christ.” Then in verse 20, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” I think Paul’s sign might say “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”

So, what does it mean to say that we no longer live, but that Christ lives in us? What does that look like on a practical level?

Very simply – it means that the you in the flesh – you without God – stops living. But by crucifying your old self, you get a life that is unfathomable in its depth and satisfaction. Christ told us that He came so that we may have life – and have it abundantly. Life with Christ is life.

In John 15, Christ tells us that if we abide (or dwell or live) in Him, He will abide in us. So how can we abide or live or dwell in Christ? It starts with simply asking Christ into your heart – every day, even multiple times throughout your day. There are many spiritual disciplines that you can live that will draw you nearer to God – prayer, daily quiet times spent talking to God, listening and reading your Bible, fellowshipping with fellow Christ followers, worshiping. But the message I want to convey in this devotional is very simple. Get a sign. Really. Put it somewhere that you will be reminded of who you are. You were bought with a price. God’s amazing love and grace has saved us. But we live in a fleshly world – a world where Satan exists. Satan has a simple goal – he wants to keep you from realizing the life that God intends for you. That life is yours for the taking, but God’s plan involves us living in our faith moment by moment.

So, to borrow from Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption – Get busy living or get busy dying. Pick your sign and then live your life by it – every moment of your life. Let God know you can’t live without Him in control. Tell Him you can’t. It’s that simple. You may be able to fake it for a while. Satan may deceive you into thinking you have things licked. But, don’t be deceived.

Let’s look back at Lou Holtz quote about the sign at Notre Dame, but in a little different way:

“Regardless of your present circumstances, regardless of what others say or do to you, when you wake you have an obligation to your God and to your family to live your life to the best of God’s ability – to live a life that is Christ living through you.


“But, also every time you see your sign, think about the sacrifices Christ made for you; Christ left heaven for you – He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of man – He humbled Himself by becoming obedient – to the point of death – even death on a cross ; and also think of the millions of people who need at their very core to be in your position. Just think about how fortunate we are.

 

“All of these thoughts should go through your mind when you see your sign — ‘Live’.”

 





The toughest test of faith?

8 09 2007

>In this blog, I have focused on deepening faith by placing all trust in God. If you are like me, there are areas where it is relatively easy to let go of the wheel and let God take over. And then there are areas where flesh takes hold and makes it more difficult to let go and let God. Perhaps the toughest area for me involves those I love. I have a terrible tendency to worry about loved ones and take a tack that involves me trying to labor. I do pray for God’s will in these situations, but I find myself doing more than praying.

This is a particular issue with my kids. I deeply want only the best for them — the best experiences, good health, self confidence, success in school, athletics and life generally. And, most importantly, I want them to grow to love the Lord, and soon — without reservation. Too often, worry about my kids creeps in and I find myself working before praying – or simply focusing more on my role rather than giving my concerns up to God. It is all too easy to justify my fleshly approach because, after all, I am their dad. And this translates to any situation where my emotion drags me away from faith to flesh. It could be worry or anxiety, control, depression, secular fixes… Whatever, it is flesh and not faith. In these situations, I have to let go of the wheel, get out of the driver’s seat and trust fully in God.

But what does this really look like? It does not mean that you stop acting completely. That you stop teaching your kids or that you do not seek counseling or engage with someone who is lost. What it means is that you go to God first — and listen. That you do not stress over the matter. After all, a full faith in the Lord does not leave room for stress, anxiety or worry. Paul tells us in Phillipians: Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6, HCSB)

I recently came across an interview with Tullian Tchividjian, pastor and Christian author – and also Billy and Ruth Graham’s grandson (a link to the full interview is at the upper right of this page). Tullian is a committed man of God, but this wasn’t always the case. He went through a period of his life in which he wandered away from God and into drugs, alcohol and promiscuity. It was this question and answer that really hit home…

I’m curious—your grandfather, Billy Graham, is one of the most famous evangelists in history. And your uncle, Franklin, is not only a well-known Christian leader, but also went through a season of deep rebellion? Do you recall anything in particular that they said to you during your time away from the Lord?

Interestingly, because my grandparents knew that my parents had laid such a solid foundation, teaching me the Gospel from the time I was born, they never preached to me during my wilderness wanderings; they never sat me down and gave me a lecture. They always told me they were praying for me, that they believed God had his hand on me, and that if I ever needed anything, not to hesitate to let them know. Their unconditional love for me during that time was stunning. In fact, from a human perspective, one of the tools God used to bring me to himself was the attractiveness of my grandparents (and parents) unconditional love. Because of my upbringing, I had always known the content of the Gospel but it was the “preaching of the Gospel without words” through my parents and grandparents which helped me to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Can you imagine being in this situation (maybe you have been, or currently are, in this situation)? Seeing someone you love walking away from God and into fleshly trouble. Does anyone doubt how the enemy will work to try to derail a family that has committed itself to following God? I can think of a lot of things that I might do from a worldly perspective. Maybe working overtime to show the loved one the error of his ways, trying to convince. Maybe tough love. Maybe just worrying and feeling unease at my core. But what the Grahams did was pray and show unconditional love. Don’t be fooled, I don’t think they took this tack because they lacked concern or because they did not want to take the reins and muscle Tullian back to the narrow path. I think their approach shows a strong faith. They knew that Tullian was God’s son first. They prayed. They trusted that God was working in this situation. And, guess what, He was. Through their prayers and unconditional love, God impacted Tullian in a way that all of the muscle in the world could not have.

My takeaway from this is that in every life situation, we have a choice. We can trust in God or we can trust in the world (whether ourselves or some worldly approach). We can worry or we can give our concerns over to an all-powerful God. In Philippians, Paul follows the verse quoted above by letting us know that when we turn our concerns over to God, He gives us a sense of peace that does not make earthly sense. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7, NLT)

Do you have a worry with a loved one (or anything else for that matter)? Go to God, give it to God — and know that His peace will wash over you. Still stressed? Still sitting in the driver’s seat? Stop. Go to God right now. He wants you to communicate with Him without ceasing. The Psalms are full of great prayers that echo this fleshly issue. Take a look at Psalm 40 for a start — meditate on God’s word and then use it as a you speak to God about your own concerns.





Faith and difficult social or relational situations

30 08 2007

>Are there relationships in your life that are, at best, difficult to maintain? But because of circumstances they are necessary for you to maintain nonetheless? I am thinking about acquaintances, co-workers, or even relatives. Or, do you have times that you have to interact with others but just do not feel up to it? Either I am odd, or this is something that we all deal with from time to time.

But what do you do about it? Do you suck it up and try to put a smile on your face, make small talk and get through it? Do you think…what would Jesus do? And then forge ahead once you’ve decided that Jesus would be cordial? How has that worked out? If you are like me, I bet not very well. I can think of times that I have not been up for social events, business-development events or even gatherings with extended family. The worst result comes from not giving thought to changing my attitude and heading into the situation. When I do that, I am miserable and the people I interact with know it. If I resolve to do what Jesus would do, I may be able to put on a better face (at least in the beginning), and others may not realize that I am none to psyched to be there — but I usually don’t feel much better.

What to do?

The trouble here is what’s inside of me. The trouble is in my heart, which in the biblical sense means my heart, my soul, my consciousness. The trouble is the hardness of my heart.

Proverbs 28:14 sheds some light on this:

Happy is the one who is always reverent,
but one who hardens his heart falls into trouble. (HCSB) 

Wouldn’t you like to be happy in those times when your flesh is trying to convince you that you are not? The concept of reverence used in the HCSB translation is translated as “fear the Lord” in other translations. The “fear” is not really what we would think of as fear, though. Matthew Henry, in his commentary, puts it this way:

Happy is the man who always keeps up in his mind a holy awe and reverence of God, his glory, goodness, and government, who is always afraid of offending God and incurring His displeasure, who keeps conscience tender and has a dread of the appearance of evil, who is always jealous of himself, distrustful of his own sufficiency, and lives in expectation of troubles and changes, so that, whenever they come, they are no surprise to him. He who keeps up such a fear as this will live a life of faith and watchfulness, and therefore happy is he, blessed and holy. 

That’s a fairly long-winded way of saying, live in faith and do not for a minute rest on your own abilities. God can, and wants to, change your heart. But you have to turn to Him to do it for you. So instead of using your own faculties to determine what Jesus would do and then setting your mind to doing it, ask God to change you from the inside out.

Here is a prayer from Psalm 51 that gets to this point. Note that the mention of “teach the rebellious” certainly extends to our actions and not just our words. When you’re in a difficult social situation, let God’s light shine through you and stand back and watch the impact on those around you.

God, create a clean heart for me
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not banish me from Your presence
or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore the joy of Your salvation to me,
and give me a willing spirit.
Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways,
and sinners will return to You. (Psalm 51:10-14 — HCSB) 





In what, or who, do you put your trust?

20 08 2007

>I was flipping through my Bible yesterday and landed on a passage that I set out in a box with a star next to it. I am not sure when I marked the passage, but it was perfect wisdom for the thoughts that have been on my mind.


Proverbs 3:5-6 says:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on
your own understanding;
think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you
on the right paths. (HCSB)

It is a pretty simple message, and one that I had cruised over many times before I set it out in this Bible. Life in the flesh is like that. For one reason or another, we cruise right past the signposts pointing us to better life. I was not consciously avoiding the lesson, but for a long time I missed it nonetheless.

This does not mean that I failed to understand what the verses were saying, but I failed to grasp what they were saying to me. Does that make sense? I hope so, but let me explain.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. According to the Bible, the human “heart” is not only the center of all spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life. The “heart” in the Bible is more than an organ that involuntarily (that is, you can’t control it with your will) pumps blood throughout your body. The “heart” is the seat of the conscience (Romans 2:15). If we are to trust in the Lord with all our heart, that seems to say that there should be no room left in our heart for trust in other things at the same time. That means we are to port over our trust in other things and people — to move them over to God.

There is no room for you to trust in your own abilities, no room for you to trust in self-help books, no room for you to trust in your spouse, no room for you to trust in your investments, no room for you to trust in your pastor…

That sounds harsh, right? But it isn’t. Removing trust in the ones you love does not mean you stop loving them, or even that you stop trusting them. But you stop trusting in them. There’s a difference. All of your trust for your life – every aspect of it – must be placed with God. If you are trusting in anyone or anything other than, or in addition to, God, then you are relying on your own understanding, which the verse tells us specifically not to do. Why? Because when you decide to trust in something other than God, you are making a determination, and you are flesh. If you’re like me, there’s a pretty high likelihood that if you’re deciding, your flesh is going to get in the way and you are bound to stumble.

But what if you place all of your trust in God? What if you think about God in everything you do? The Hebrew word that is translated “think about” in the verse is “yadah”, which means “know him.” The word includes both mental awareness of God and submission to God. The idea, I think, is trusting in Him for every event in your life and relying on Him for guidance in the way to go. So how do you know the way to go when you are in that kind of a relationship with God? I think in some ways, you just know. I also think that the more you come to know God through His word, the more you know the right way to go — you become more and more obedient because you know His desire for you and you desire to travel that path.

Start today. Ask God to be your rock and with your words place your trust totally in Him. And as you go about your life, involve God in all of it. He has numbered the hairs on your head, He cares about the small stuff. Set your mind upon building a relationship with Him and your faith will be deepend from within, from Him.





Lessons from lifeguarding

17 08 2007

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When I was in high school, I spent my summers coaching a swim team and working as a lifeguard at the neighborhood pool. One of the prerequisites for those jobs was that I be certified as a lifeguard, which meant taking a lifesaving course before the summer started.

As part of the course we were required to perform mock rescues of fellow participants. One of the things the instructors tried to get across was just how much more difficult it is to save someone who can’t swim but is flailing around trying to save themselves. In the drill, the instructors encouraged the person being rescued to thrash around at first. So you swim up to the “drowning person” and try to get them to calm down and trust that you will get them to safety. If they calm down and let you work, you can pretty easily employ the proper techniques and get them to the side quickly (even if the person is substantially bigger than you). But if they continue to struggle, it becomes much more difficult, and sometimes impossible, to save the person. In fact, part of the technique that is taught is to push away from the person if they are thrashing around so much that they are bringing you down too.

You can probably see where I am going with this. We are all drowning in this life. We were born into sin and we face constant battle from Satan, who rules over this world. We have a choice to make, we can work really hard to try to save ourselves or we can let God do the work. The Bible is clear that the only way that works is the latter. And I think we all understand and agree when we are talking about eternal salvation — that only faith in Jesus Christ can save. But what about being saved from this world every day? What about increasingly living a life that is fulfilling and bears fruit?

The first step to living a truly fulfilling life and bearing fruit for God’s kingdom is to acknowledge that you do not have the power to do it. But God does, and He has promised that power to us if we will stop fighting and turn everything over to Him. The more you turn over to Him, the more His strength begins to flow through you and out into others. But you have to stop thrashing around trying to do it yourself — you can’t swim in these waters. This is easy to do, but hard to remember to do. Just like the person who is drowning, if they were standing on the side of the pool looking on, I am certain they would agree that they should stop thrashing about and let the lifeguard bring them to safety. But there in the middle of the pool, their thoughts do not work the same way. We are like that in our life. As you read this, I am sure you are saying, “well, duh.” But the key is to keep this in mind when you are faced with matters of this life. Want to inoculate yourself? When you pray, make it a regular part of your conversation with God to turn your hands over and say, “I can’t do it God, any of it. And I ask you to take over for me and guide my thoughts, my words and my actions in all that I do.” Stop thrashing about and let God take over.