Category Archives: Strength

Fragrance of Faith

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.  II Corinthians 2:14

For centuries, people have adorned themselves with fragrance to bring a sweetness to the air they breathe and a fresh and delightful aroma to their presence with others.  Not much has changed as our culture is no different.  A billion-dollar industry, perfume and cologne play an integral role in social awareness and relationship building.  Sometimes overused, it can throw a room of people in a tail-spin.  But when used in moderation, it can unite and welcome even the least known.

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a family member while getting ready to head over to a friends house.  Getting ready and going alone, I made a comment as I dashed some cologne on my wrist.  I felt it was a waste of some good cologne to use for such an occasion.  But upon reflection, I realized it was as much for me as it was for everyone else.  Today I smell nothing — good or bad (thank goodness!).  Why you may ponder?  Well, I didn’t dash the cologne.

In Christ, I possess a fragrance that need not be applied every day.  However, it is one through faith, I must choose.  I must meet each day smelling of the fragrance of His triumph!  It is a fragrance of faith and victory that gives strength and power unlike anything on earth.  But when the prince of the air deceives my heart with lies and wages war in my mind, the aroma of His triumph is stifled by the smell of garbage, if I believe it.

Consenting without a single protest is easy to do.  It comes at a great price, but often, like a fox, sneaks it’s way through.  But the battle that wages for my mind is not one that I am incapable of taking captive.  Then, and only then, can I take a step back and allow my Champion to win!  This requires a trust and belief that exercises my faith to a level that surpasses understanding at times.  It’s big, but it’s awesome!

So, with my everyday choices that come sometimes in triplicate, I stand to choose with what fragrance to meet each day.  I choose, this day, to surround myself with the cologne of Christ and become a fearless fighter and soldier.  Through this Christ can, and will fight for me and through me!  Amen!

. . . then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . .  Joshua 24:15

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Badgered and Belittled, but Beloved and Blameless

About Benjamin he said: “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders. “. Deuteronomy 33:12

Running a marathon takes incredible sacrifice, discipline and personal motivation. It rarely comes natural and most always requires an extraordinary amount of strength. Far above it all, running a marathon requires the belief in knowing you can do it.

See, believing in the truth of who you are changes everything. However, Satan deceives us into believing different. For to believe that I am a “saint” would mean living Christ in me. Satan’s main objective is to thoroughly convince me that I am not a righteous saint after all.

To do this, Satan continually badgers, belittles and blames me for offenses against myself. It’s not a life of freedom in the redemption of Christ. Instead, it’s bondage in the illusive nature of nothing but lies. Like the string on a kite, my emotions and thoughts were used against me, to control me in persuading me that life in righteous victory was merely a dream.

But, a dream it is not! Praise the God of Heaven and Earth that I know Him fully and know the power of His resurrection. How do I know? I’ve seen it! I am a saint! I am clean and forgiven! Hallelujah! Amen!

I am accepted by the Beloved and in the Beloved! I am a new creation in Christ! I may have been badgered and belittled, but I am complete and blameless!

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My Personal Strength – God’s Enemy

Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—guilty men, whose own strength is their god.” Habakkuk 1:11

From Superman to Thor, strength is and perhaps always will be a characteristic of valor and self-sufficiency in our society. After all, we perceive the strong as powerful and without the need of others. But sadly, we see the less than strong as less fortunate and in greater need for others – weak.

Let me tell you what I know of strength, as I chuckle. Allow me to reflect out loud – and feel free to laugh with me. Let’s see, hardly weighing in at 145 pounds, a junior in high school, attempting to bench press the bar drew an undesirable amount of attention. And now, many years later, many pounds heavier, I’m doing an intense cardio workout series. Strength is not my strength.

God sees strength a bit differently however. My understanding of my own personal strength, physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially and mentally is critical in the intimate relationship between my Lord and me that He longs to engage. It is every bit of what it means to live through Him. The belief in my strength to carry me through life shelves His strength and keeps me from the fellowship He desires. My self-sufficient strength stands in the way of His strength in me. My strength is not His friend!

The irony is that even in my weakness, I am guilty of believing in my own strength – my ability to exercise my own self-sufficiency to live. This, my friend, is not how it is supposed to be. God wants me to deny myself, walk and talk with Him, build our relationship moment by moment, create memories together in true intimacy. He wants me to turn from whatever strength I think i might have, call it what it is and welcome the strength and full power of the God of the universe to live through me!

Lord Jesus, so it is with this understanding that I realize how much you love me. It is through this understanding that I long to fellowship with you in all things. As I shop, sip coffee, contemplate, discover, explore and rest in your arms each day, I draw on your strength that lives in and through me. In life I can barely bench press that bar, but you, my friend, can move mountains!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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Vine Life

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Yesterday I was overwhelmed with the realization of so many people walking, driving . . . living, in circles around me. I know what you may be thinking. Something to the effect of . . . “Duh!” Ha, I had the same thought actually. But my realization came in asking the question of how many are actually living a vine life – a life that we live when abiding in Christ?

This realization brought about some emotions I had not truly experienced before. The idea that I was the only one trying to live a vine life struck me as rather exclusive and well . . . only. But I was reminded that even if I were the only one on earth to be living a vine life – and I’m not – there is another who lived such a life. To live a vine life means to live as Christ lived.

Living a vine life comes more in the mini-moments of life – not exclusively within those more grandiose moments of life (although very present there too). It translates into the moments of life when Christ participates in my doing. It’s a conversation, a fellowship, a dialogue, an inclusion, a consideration, an involvement, a credit, a reference, an engagement.

In this life, I live not of myself, but through the source of life that gives me strength. It means doing the impossible, loving the unlovable, moving the unmovable, reaching the untouchable, believing the unbelievable and living the new creation I am because of the unthinkable of the cross.

Lord Jesus, wow! A vine life – your life! For those moments when I am traversing life single-handedly – tap me on the shoulder!! Whisper in my ear!! Remind me to ask you about what I’m doing because you long for this sort of fellowship. You long to create memories with me!

Men will dwell again in his shade. He will flourish like the grain. He will blossom like a vine, and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon. Hosea 14:7

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He Never Taps Out

He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:3-4

Change is excruciatingly painful. It is extremely undesirable, yet somehow necessary. Life rarely, if never, flows down the same channel or at the same pace or taking a familiar shape. It is liquid and with it, seeks to demand conformity. What makes the difference with change is not its inevitability, but more so the strength and nature of ones response to such changes.

But what happens when change seems to completely sap one of every bit of energy and motivation, sending you spiraling through an ultimate need for renewed strength and fortitude? It can be immobilizing!

Precisely! This is a job for our Redeemer! The God of whom the Psalmist speaks who never sleeps nor slumbers. God never takes a break . . . He never taps out! (I found this to be a good place to take a deep breath . . . Inhale big . . . Exhale big — it helped me!)

God’s strength endures forever – a mighty and strong hand He extends to the weary! His truth never fails — He is the solid rock on which to stand forever – never shifting! Isaiah 40:8 says,
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. “

Thank you Lord Jesus, that when the tides of my life, the swift currents of my day change the shores with which I’ve become far too familiar that I can fix my eyes and my heart on your never changing Lighthouse!


But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. Psalm 59:16-17

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Are We There Yet?

It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.  Deuteronomy 1:2

Every parent can relate to that ride from home to somewhere that received the inevitable, “Are we there yet?” from the backseat.  Maybe one time would have been acceptable, but for some reason, this question echoes for hours until arrival.  Words that come to mind are patience, patience, patience.  But, because it compares greatly with running your nails across a chalkboard, the likely response is something like this . . . “We’ll get there when we get there!”

I can’t imagine how much of this Moses had to endure!  Forty years of wandering in the wilderness in pursuit of the Promised Land with millions of Israelites.  It was a journey that could have only taken eleven days.  Getting to the Promised Land took more than you or I would perhaps ever truly understand.  But one thing is for certain, it required  a focus, a direction, a compass that pointed and motivated them contrary to their circumstances.  It took a level of faith unlike anything they had ever encountered.  More importantly, it required of them a fix on God . . . and as their minds were no longer experiencing the faith of deliverance into the Promised Land they continued to wander.

Life can often find us circling this same mountain — especially in the midst of crisis, pain or hurt.  Healing and deliverance is desired quickly and all attempts are taken to make it so. But God’s time is so different.  He sees, answers and moves in ways so contrary to our understanding that we find ourselves buckled in the backseat asking over and over again . . . “Are we there yet?”  And from the front we don’t hear . . . “We’ll get there when we get there!”  Instead, we hear Daddy say, “No, we’re not quite there yet, but I can’t wait to show you what I have prepared for you!”

I just know in five minutes I’m gonna ask Him again!

Lord Jesus, I know I’m not there yet — but I can’t help but ask you over and over.  In the midst of my life I know I need to keep fixed upon you with my eyes, heart and mind on you at all times.  Maybe one day, I’ll stop asking if we’re there yet.  🙂  But for now, my faith is strengthened in knowing you are in control and that I’m resting in the knowledge of your sovereignty.  You never cease to be there all the time!

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.   Colossians 3:1-2

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Toxic Heart

Resentment kills a fool, and envy stays the simple.  I myself have seen a fool taking root, but suddenly his house was cursed. . . . But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him.  He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.   Job 5:2-3,8-9

I’m finding that I am holding resentment in my heart.  There have been at least 4 different occasions  in the last week that I have heard the topic spoken in my presence by someone.  When this sort of thing happens, I know God is trying to tell me something so I begin to really examine my heart.  In most cases like this, I stumble to find the clues, but this one might as well be like a zit on the tip of my nose.

I know this is about me and God.

Resentment is a poison that courses through the veins of the soul and eat away at the heart.  It will, single handed, destroy whatever remains in relationships.  When resentment hits home and is identified, the healing begins.  And, the nectar of resentment tastes oddly sweet, but breeds bitterness and hate.  Love is the antidote!

Far from affection, love translates into seeing and living your true identity found in Christ alone.  It is critical to live your identity toward those whom you find resentment and in that love be set free!

Lord Jesus, thank you for being persistent with me this past week and showing me what my heart looks like right now.  It’s clearly time for some spiritual spring cleaning!  Show me today what love requires of me!  Thank you more so for the power in the wonders you perform and the many miracles you display!

© 2012-2013 Mark Cruver. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced, displayed, modified or distributed without the express prior written permission of the copyright holder.

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