Full of...Something

If someone were to describe you, what words would they use?

And, if you were to describe someone, what words would you assign to him or her?

These questions have come to mind because over the last month, I have been in the book of Acts and a couple of repetitious words have crossed my path. Catch the words "full of" in these short phrases:

--the apostles were full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4)

--the religious leaders were full of jealousy (Acts 5:17)

--the seven chosen men were full of the Spirit and of wisdom (Acts 6:3)

--Stephen was full of grace and power (Acts 6:8)

--Dorcas was full of good works and charity (Acts 9:36)

Take a moment and ask yourself, what am I "full of"?

Be honest with yourself and with the Lord. It's okay to admit that you might be full of:

fear and doubt,

pride and anger, or

stress and anxiety.

When we admit the condition of our hearts to the Lord, and want to change our ways, God can do amazing things in us! I have seen this clearly in the book of Acts. The same disciples that fled on the night of Jesus' arrest and crucifixion (full of fear and confusion) are now, full of the Spirit, and are courageously turning the world upside down with their faith. It's like these men are an entirely different group of Jesus' followers.

The same can be true for us. Ask the Lord to help you right where you are. What do you want to be full of? God, through the Holy Spirit will help you.

A second question is this:

If you were to describe someone in an honoring way, what would he or she be "full of"? Is there someone that comes to mind? Maybe reach out to this person and thank them for just being who they are in Christ. It's never a bad idea to encourage or thank someone. So do it today; be "full of" gratitude and kind words towards them. it might just change both of your days entirely.

We're all full of something. We get to chose what that something is. The truth is, there is no better privilege on earth than to be full of the Lord.

Dear Lord,

Thank you that the characteristics of your Holy Spirit can be beautifully displayed through each one of us. May we be full of YOU, not only for our own benefit, but also so that we can be a blessing to all those we encounter. Amen.




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Tuesday, May 17, 2022
By Chris Baxter

Culture's Chaos vs. Mother's Day

How ironic that our country is in the midst of (another) whirlwind of chaos, this time about aborting Life, and Mother's Day is around the corner.

As I read the raging headlines, I'm also currently in my own quiet space, praying for 3 different women who are longing to be a mother. They are asking for the sweet gift of a heart to beat inside of them. Again, what a contrast to the world that is shouting the opposite.

Another interestingly-timed-project on my editing radar right now is my daughter's work of 36 prayers written for her baby in utero. Maggie has beautifully crafted one prayer for each week of pregnancy. The content speaks about the baby's physical development as well as his or her future well-being. They are share-worthy, so please pray that I can get these out there to those who want them week to week. (Maggie now has three precious ones, so these prayers have been lifted up again and again and again!)

Her prayer on week 6 reminded me once again of God's divine orchestration of an appointed life, the value of a heart beat, the hope of a future. Forgive us Lord when we play god, destroying what you have already called into being.

Here is my daughter's prayer:

 Dear Jesus,

Thank you for the miracle of life that is now making his or her presence known in my body. As I begin to experience more of the (unpleasant)symptoms of pregnancy, I have been struck by the fact that I am giving myself up/suffering for the life of another. This is just a small picture of what You did for me on the cross, and it fills me with awe of your love and sacrifice.

 The other fact that fills me with awe is that our baby's heart is beating 110 beats per minute! This is such a testament to your sovereignty and creativity - that a heart that is not my own is beating inside my womb under no conscious power or direction from me. I know that even though I can't feel or hear these precious heartbeats, You can. This gives me such comfort as I continue walking forward in this new, exciting, and sometimes scary season. I pray, spiritually, that you create a heart that beats for you in our child. I also pray, physically, for a healthy and strong liver, kidneys and lungs.

 I love knowing that his or her face is starting to form. Small dots on the tiny head will soon form the ears, eyes and nose. I can't help but think of the miracles that You performed during Your time on earth when you made the blind see and the deaf hear. You are working another miracle in my womb right now. May they open their eyes and unclog their ears to see and hear Your loving presence in their life.

 I praise You with great joy (and a little nausea)!

Amen

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Thursday, May 5, 2022
By Chris Baxter

Dis the "Dis"

I wish this was not true about me, but I tend to wrestle with discouragement. I make a plan in my head and think about it coming to fruition with hopeful expectation, and when it doesn't happen, ugh, I'm like a pouty two year old all over again.

THANKFULLY, I know this not-so-pretty-truth about myself so my pity parties are not as long as they used to be. God is growing me up.

Lately, I've decided to "dis" each "dis" that encroaches my thoughts. Words like "discouragement", "disappointed", and "dissatisfied" need to be disarmed, and the quicker I do this word-slicing, the better.

I decided to look up the prefix "dis" just to get a better idea of its meaning. Here it is:

"dis"

1. expressing negation

2.denoting reversal or absence of an action or state

One of my goals in life (on a daily basis) is to NOT be a negative person! Just call me "No-Dis-Chris"!

So I must fight the negativity that creeps in every day! With God's help, I can change my mindset.

For example, for you and for me, let's look at these words I mentioned above:

Disappointed. Take out the "dis" and the word becomes "appointed." Have you ever gotten passed over for a job that you really thought was supposed to be yours? Can you believe that God, in his full-knowledge, has something else in mind and that you are the one he has appointed to do it?

Discouraged. Take out the "dis" in this word, and we see the root word "courage." Have you been knocked off your feet due to things not going your way, in your job, with your health, in a relationship, or with a personal heart's desire? Are you weary of the struggle? I get it. I encourage you to get back up and know God IS at work in a way you can't quite yet see. Let him fill you with renewed courage to keep walking by faith.

Dissatisfied. Take out the "dis" and the word becomes "satisfied." This is a hard question: can you be satisfied with the plans God has for you more so than the plans you have for you? The truth of the matter is that sometimes my plans are just that, MY plans. When I let go of my narrow-minded expectations and allow the Lord to broaden my thinking into what he has in store, I'm not only satisfied, I'm excitedly content. And being excitedly content in the Lord is a beautiful way to live...MUCH better than living like a pouty two year old!

Practice dis-ing the dis today: be appointed, full of courage, and satisfied with HIM. Change disoriented to "oriented--in Him". Change disapproved to "approved--by Him." Change disadvantage to "advantage--because of Him." On and on.

Take out the dis and replace it with HIM.

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Saturday, April 9, 2022
By Chris Baxter

A Specific Prayer for a Broader Purpose

A very long time ago...about three and a half decades to be exact, I was a competitive swimmer for the University of Texas. Even though I had disappointments scattered throughout my career while there, I can also say that being part of three national championship teams was a privilege that I'll always cherish.

Back then, the rules were clear. The playing field was even.

However, not so today.

The women's NCAA swimming competition is currently being held in Atlanta Georgia. The pool is 25 yards for everyone, the starting blocks are all the same size, and the lane ropes are all equidistant from each other. Every swimmer there has trained more hours than anyone would want to count. All competitors have set both personal and team goals. It is an honor to be present on the pool deck.

There is one difference that has changed everything, however, and it is this: transgender swimmers will be diving into the water, racing next to women. I'm thankful for the people who are making a stand on this topic, using their immense knowledge and unique platforms to implore fairness in women's swimming, as well as in all of women's sports.

My skill set concerning this current agenda is prayer. (After all, I learned to pray as a swimmer. There's nothing quite like swimming back and forth, back and forth, moving with the rhythm of the water, pouring one's heart out to the One who listens...and cares...and answers.)

So, as these highly trained athletes are competing in Atlanta, I'm here in my den in Nashville, sitting quietly, tapping on my key board, lifting these swimmers up to the Lord.

Read this prayer, and if you believe it, pray it with me. You may not have any interest in swimming, but I would ask you to use this specific prayer for a broader purpose. It's about each one of us: God's desire is for our hearts to change, to follow him fully, and to be blessed in his truth.

Dear Lord,

You are Maker of heaven and earth.

You give life and breath. Our hearts beat and our minds think because of your permissive love. Thank you.

You don’t force us to follow you, rather you invite us to. Forgive us when we refuse.

We are living in a time that calls “wrong right” and “right wrong.”

You ask us to live by your wisdom because you know it is best for us, individually and collectively. The wisdom of the world only brings disorder and confusion, again, individually and then collectively.

Help us to realize that you alone are the soul answer to what we really desire; nothing else will suffice. Forgive us for seeking outer measures to gain inner peace.

You ask us to pray about everything and also to be fervent and specific when we talk to you. Thank you that you are not a God who is far away; rather, you are as near to us as our breath. You care deeply about our circumstances, individually and collectively. You want to work in ways that only you can so that people are drawn to you.

So today, we lift up every swimmer, coach, and official at the women’s NCAAs in Atlanta GA. You are there too. You know each individual by name, and there is not one person on the pool deck that you don’t love. Understanding your personal love draws our hearts to want your protective ways. You know how to make this situation right. We ask for your good and right way to prevail. Pour your divine peace into this human confusion. Use this swimming meet to launch what is right and just for all, specifically women's athletics. Make people courageous to fully follow your paths and speak about it. Bless those who are committed to you.

Your way is pure, not skewed.

Your truth is freeing, not binding.

You desire heart change for all of us.

Turn us back to you.

We ask this in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.

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Friday, March 18, 2022
By Chris Baxter

What is Faith?

I chose a word for 2022...better yet, a word actually chose me. After seeing it, hearing it, and randomly thinking on it at different times prior to the New Year, "faith" was no doubt the word for me.

Hmmm....my first thought was, "Well, now that's a big, broad word to grasp?"

And then these questions:

"What does God want me to learn about faith?"

"How does one really 'walk by faith, not by sight' (2 Corinthians 5:7)."

With listening to the bible chronologically so far this year, and then combining it with my word for 2022, I've discovered some things about faith from the biblical characters I've encountered thus far:

Faith is...knowing that you are created and that you have a purpose on this earth (Adam and Eve).

Faith is...offering a gift to God with reverence (Abel) rather than with "rote-ness" (Cain).

Faith is...walking with God, day in, day out (Enoch).

Faith is...obeying God even when it seems crazy (Noah).

Faith is...believing God even in the depths of despair (Job).

Oh wow, I'm only 2 weeks into listening to the bible, and I've been given so much to think about already! What are the next 351 days going to bring?

What is faith?

Faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen. For by it the people of old gained approval. Hebrews 11:1-2

I believe God was personally and powerfully present in the lives of these "people of old."  I believe he molded Adam and Eve, he smiled on Abel, he disciplined Cain, he walked with Enoch, he directed Noah, and he had compassion on Job. Likewise, he is present in my faith-walk and yours.

I want to mimic all the faith-qualities of these biblical heroes. With God's spirit in me, grooming me and growing me, I can.

Let's choose to walk with God this year. We may not be able to see him, but through the pages of his living book, we can certainly know him.

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Thursday, January 13, 2022
By Chris Baxter

Who are you going to Listen to?

On January 1st, I started listening to Genesis chapter 1 with the goal being to follow along the storyline of the whole bible throughout 2022. In doing so, I'm also trying to have a "take-away" each day.

When I got to the encounter between the serpent and Eve (with Adam too) in Genesis 3, I asked this question to myself:

"Who are you going to listen to?"

Just like Adam and Eve, we have one of two options.

One, we can listen to our Maker, who is the God that created everything good and perfect and beautiful. He is in all and through all. He is the author of light and life and love. He is all wise and knows the inner workings of each one of us. He is holy. He is glorious. And amazingly, he offers his glory to us!

Or two, we can listen to the enemy of our Maker. In Genesis 3, he is the serpent in the garden who is more crafty than any other beast of the field. Elsewhere in the bible he is referred to as the deceiver, the accuser, and the father of lies. He lied to Adam and Eve back then and he lies to us every day. He twists God's truth. He tempts us with lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).

Sadly, Adam and Eve pushed away God's clear direction and gave into the serpent's deceiving words, and therefore, we have this ongoing wrestle today.

But the good news is this, our Savior Jesus has come! We have his living word and we have his abiding Spirit!

With the Helper, we can wisely discern and powerfully overcome the tactics of our enemy.

In 2022, how about we choose to be in the word of God?

His word will guide and direct us. His word will help decipher truth from lies. His word is our greatest weapon as we walk in this fallen world.

Who am I going to listen to this year? Who are you going to listen to?

Each one of us has one of two options.

Maker of heaven and earth, God of glory, Holy One, Author of Love, Giver of Life, help us to listen to YOU!

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Wednesday, January 5, 2022
By Chris Baxter

Daily Prayer

Trying times

Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him (Stephen). But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.  Acts 8:2-3

Dear Lord,

We lift to you the people in this world who are being fiercely persecuted for their faith. Surround them as a shield; protect them from evil. Give them peace in the midst of uncertainties and assurance of your presence. Strengthen their faith in these trying times. Amen.