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

Two Extremes

From our forth floor balcony at Panama City Beach, my husband, my daughter, and I watched the waves roll in and the waves roll out. We could have gotten mesmerized by the rhythmic sight and sound, but it was a different kind of evening on the white sandy beach beneath us. Several boats with blue swirling lights were driving back and forth in search of a young 20 year old who had gotten pulled away from his friends by a riptide. His panicked friends and accumulating spectators lined the shore in hope.

At 11 pm, the search was over, the young man was found. A thriving life ended, and inexplicable grief began.

Only 24 hours later, same balcony, same white sand, same rolling waves. Yet, what we witnessed on this perfect sunset-evening was a young man, dressed in khaki and blue who had set up a twinkling "marry me" sign in the sand. He waited for his sweetheart, and sure enough, she came. He bent to one knee and asked the question that young girls dream of. When they embraced, the condo balconies erupted in applause.

At 7pm, the search was over, the boy got his girl. His anxious thoughts stopped. Uncontainable joy began.

To be honest, I'm not sure what to make of the two extremes, the high and the low of it. I'm still processing the waves of emotion on both ends.

My only consolation with the young man who was swept away so suddenly is to think that Jesus himself was with him, saying, "Come with Me to a better place." There is a better place, I hope you know...maybe that's why I'm writing this right now...to tell you there is a better place than this life, and Jesus will take each of us there if we believe in him as our Savior. Yes, He saves us...from messes, from chaos, from riptides.

My genuine hope for this young, engaged, very happy couple is that they will walk with Jesus in the land of the living. Maybe that's why I'm writing this right now...to tell you that you don't have to walk this life alone, and that Jesus will help you in each moment and in every relationship. Yes, He helps...in the happy and in the hard.

We will always have the extremes...the high waves of over-the-top-joy as well as the low undercurrents of knee-buckling sadness.

Life and death and everything in between. The hope is this: Jesus is in the midst of it all.

Maybe that's why I'm writing this right now...to tell you that Jesus is in your midst...and to tell you to hold His hand in your extreme.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

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Thursday, July 15, 2021
By Chris Baxter

Living Out of the Tomb

On Easter Sunday morning, we as believers celebrated THE monumental day of our Christian faith. We woke up with joy, we sang songs of praise, we ate great food, we fellowshipped, we acknowledged our Savior to each other, and we felt hope in our unified proclamation.

And then... we went back to sleep.

On Monday morning as I rolled sleepily out of bed to start another week, I had this quiet thought concerning our day-before-festivities, "What does it mean to live 'out of the tomb'?"

For one, it means we can walk (and even run!) freely in Christ because of His amazing grace.

Let's recall the simplicity of the gospel: Jesus died for us, was buried for us, and rose again for us. He took our sins on his body, was buried with these sins, and then wonder-fully left these sins behind. He himself said, "it is finished!"

Why then do we keep some of sin's grave clothes wrapped around us as we "exit the tomb" with our Savior? Some entangling strips come to mind: unfounded fear, unnecessary worry, stiff-necked pride, wavering doubt, tight-fisted control, spit-fire words, bitter jealousy, unloving spirit, insatiable lust, meddlesome gossip. Yuck. Are any of these attitudes still wrapped around your shoulders like a stinky burial cloth? These things were meant to be left behind. The gift of freedom is for all; however, it's a one-time choice (salvation), but also a daily practice (sanctification) to believe and receive his offer.

Today, ask yourself, "What do I need to leave 'in the tomb'?''

Take the stench off. Fold it up and put it away forever. Of course, we cannot be sinless, and of course we will always struggle, but it's time to grow more aware and be more desirous of the glory-filled person Jesus longs for us to be.

He lives!

He lives... in you!

He lives in you... out of the tomb!

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

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Tuesday, April 6, 2021
By Chris Baxter

Daily Prayer

I have no one else like him

I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 2:19-21

Dear Lord,

Help us to take a genuine interest in the welfare of others. Forgive us when we fill our agenda with self-interests to the point where we don't have time or energy for anything else. May we be the person that sees a need and then responds quickly to fill it. Amen.