Part 3 Upstream Swimming: Compelled to live like Jesus here in the world

We are wrapping up our study on the concept of swimming upstream today with the most important concept of all…being compelled to live like Jesus here in the world.  We’ve looked at Daniel’s journey in the OT and Paul’s words in the New, now we are turning to the pages of scripture where specifically our Savior Himself teaches us how to live in this world.  I am praying that as you read these words you feel the strength of the Lord filtering down through every cell of your being.  He means for us to live victoriously, conforming to Himself, and He tells us how.  And just to re-cap the baseline concepts we began with in Part 1

Swimming Upstream: To opt for a difficult course of action when a simpler or safer alternative is available

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Non-conformist: a person whose behavior or views do not conform to prevailing ideas or practices.

It is counter-cultural and it takes a non-conformist mindset to obey Jesus’s commands to love your enemies,

and pray for those who persecute you,

to sit at the table with people whose sins are hanging out there for all to see,

to forgive someone seventy times seven.

We are all in equal need of Jesus, it’s just that some of us hide our need better than others.

Jesus never stood holding the stone. He went to the one in need and extending His hand of healing and forgiveness, He commanded in love that the life of sin be left behind. He did not accuse, He never used shame or guilt against someone, He loved and He gave them confidence that He would do the enabling.

The only reason that any of us overcome anything in our lives is because of His grace.

I want to be the kind of person that gives the magnitude of grace that I have been given. I want to have my security so cemented into my Savior that I can emotionally afford for people to have a bad day with me. Does that make sense?

I want for people to be able to act up, act wrong, act tired, act annoyed, act angry, you fill-in-the-blank with whatever behaviors get under your skin. How ever people behave around me, I want it NOT to send me into a sin of my own. <please note that we need extreme discernment to know if we are trying to be a person’s savior rather than pointing them to the ONLY Savior, and we also need extreme wisdom to know if we are in an unhealthy relationship that our God is telling us to flee for our lives, what I’m talking about here is a God-ordained place where He has specifically asked us to engage and love>

Because my security is found in Jesus, I can pray for that person, serve that person, love that person without expecting them to perform a certain way that I might deem them worthy.

Selah (pause and calmly think of that)!,”  as the Psalmist says.

Jesus deemed me worthy for Him to suffer and die on a cross. He died a criminal’s death while I was still a sinner. When He was on the cross, you and I were on His mind. And do you know what He decided? We were worth it to Him.

I wish I could tell you how many faces are popping into my mind of people that I have dismissed because I deemed them unworthy of my time or effort or love. Forgive me, Jesus. Help me see people like You do.

The pattern of the world says that there are throw-away people and throw-away unborn lives.

The prevailing mindset is that you scratch someone’s back only if they scratch yours.

The cultural norm is that you find people who think like you and look like you and do not disagree with you and do things the way you like them done and love those people because they love you back.

The simpler option in life is to go with the flow of the masses, who are walking the self-serving wide-open broad path that leads to destruction.

But none of this matches up with how Jesus taught us to operate.

Let’s look at 4 scriptures in particular, that I believe can open our eyes again to what God really wants from us…the upstream living that is true Christianity. I pray you’ll take the time to let these truths sink in, fight the temptation to read with familiarity. Let His Holy Word pierce your heart as you read like it pierces mine as I did.

Matthew 22:36-37

36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’

38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

When Jesus says that there are 2 commandments that stand above the rest, I think we ought to take note. How many times have we heard these truths? I would venture to say quite a few depending on how long you have been following Jesus. But, do His words hit us with the magnitude that they should? Do we feel His heart when we read them so strongly that it compels us to action?

John 13:34

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

He has loved us well, are we then loving others to that same degree? He came not to be served but to serve…do you and I come to serve or to be served?

Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.

44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.

47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.

48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

I can tell you that these scriptures provide me with the clearest look into my own heart. I know that I am guilty of playing favorites. It is easy to love people who are lovable, and Jesus says that is no credit to us.

But what about the ones who are difficult to love? Do you have anyone in your family who is like that? How about a co-worker? A teenager who is acting, well, like a teenager.   The supervisor who is hateful and rude. Or your toddler who decided he will pitch a fit in the middle of Wal-Mart? A husband who is being difficult to get along with, a sibling with whom you disagree, the lady from church who talks too much and who you really do not have time to stand and listen…Do we only love those who love us well or are we willing to love when it’s difficult?

Do we love when it makes us die to self?


In verse 47, Jesus Himself says that we are no different than anyone else if we are kind only to people we consider friends. The entire point of swimming upstream is that we are not like everyone else! We choose to live like Jesus and not like the rest.

1 John 4:16-17

16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

Lord Jesus, we want to live like You here in this world…

Does it occur to us to hit our knees asking God’s mercy on our politicians who are making decisions of corruption and evil?

Do we grieve over the lost souls in ISIS who are persecuting our Brothers & Sisters across the world?  Are we asking God to meet them in the night with visions and dreams and for radical conversions to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?

Are we asking the Creator of Heaven and Earth to reveal Himself to the scientist in the laboratory using stem cells from aborted babies who are used as throw-away lives in the name of ‘good’ science?

I believe that we all have areas in our life where it’s become very, very easy and comfortable to settle in to our yachts of luxury riding downstream without any effort. That’s what the enemy loves, doesn’t he? If he can convince us that we aren’t really hurting anyone else by floating idly downstream with all the masses that must mean that everything is okay.

You and me, let’s get out of the boat and start swimming upstream to a life that is pleasing to our Savior. It’s a process. It takes time to create endurance and strength. If our muscles of self-denial and radical-obedience are weak, then it will take practice to build them up. No, upstream swimming is not for the weak, it’s for the weak who have been made strong. And, Sister, that’s us. Jesus means for us to believe Him and to trust Him and to take Him up on His offer for the abundant life. I’m in…are you? See you upstream!

Part 2 Upstream Swimming: It’s for the weak who have been made strong

Slide1Welcome back! As we pick up from part 1, where we talked about Daniel’s decision to live a faithful life in the face of a very unfaithful culture…I wonder what thoughts have come to your own mind about the decisions we make to conform or not to conform? Let’s revisit the 3 words/phrases that we began with last time:

Swimming Upstream: To opt for a difficult course of action when a simpler or safer alternative is available

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Non-conformist: a person whose behavior or views do not conform to prevailing ideas or practices.

Daniel’s faithfulness and trust ushered in an “on earth as it is in Heaven” event. Only God could have done that. And I KNOW that He can do that level of miraculous intervention with us, too! God ordained that you and I would live in such a time as this. We are not living in this age by some random chance. We were sent here to make a difference in our culture. I do not believe we are to just stand back with stones in our hands with clenched fists of malice and bitterness that the world is acting like the world, nor are we to ignore the world around us.

I feel so convicted by the Holy Spirit. My heart needs to be broken over sin and the desperate need of those without Jesus. I have Him and I am still in desperate need of Him every second of every single day!   It seems like as the Church in America, we’re collectively just holding on till Jesus gets here, and praying He’ll come just rescue us from all this mess. I hear Believers make comments often about how bad things are and how it’s so scary to raise children in this day and age. While I understand the sentiment, I respectfully disagree.

Yes, I disagree, even though I have been rocked to my core about reports of Israel being bombed repeatedly, by Believers suffering grave persecution in the Middle East, mothers watching their children die brutal deaths at the hands of radical muslim terrorists, church members risking life and limb to meet underground with only a single torn-out page of the Bible to memorize and study, and the list of atrocities goes on and on of reasons why it is a brave decision to be a Follower of Jesus Christ in the world today.

I was reading this last night in Ephesians 3, listen to what Paul tells the Christians in Ephesus as they grieved over hearing about his own persecution. (Please see 2 Corinthians 11:23-30 for a list of some of the things Paul endured which he references in this passage).  And Paul was only subject to these persecutions BECAUSE he was not conforming to the accepted ways, right? Everything he did was in direct opposition to the religious and political power holders of his day.

Ephesians 3:12 Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. 13 So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.

Could it be that we should take heart because of the trials our Christian brothers and sisters face around the globe? What if we felt honored because across the world our brothers and sisters are suffering for the very same thing we have freedom to express in America? My faith gets fired-up when I hear of those people who are staring in the face of death. Those who have had the option to take a sword to the neck or denounce their Savior, and chose to believe Jesus! Are you kidding me??? Praise God! Paul says to live is Christ and to die is gain. I am honored to call them my fellow soldier in the Faith. It makes our hearts hurt and we shed tears, but we do not grieve their hurts like ones without hope, do we?

There could soon come a day in America where we face the same dangers for following Jesus.

Upstream swimming is difficult. We have been called to a warrior life. But, have we forgotten?

We are more than conquerors,

Romans 8:35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[Ps. 44:22]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

We fight battles in heavenly realms and not flesh and blood,

Ephesians 6:10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

In this world Jesus told us there will be trouble,

And are we so comfortable and obsessed with staying comfortable that we’re surprised about all this?

See, what we’re forgetting is that He overcame the world. He won!

John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

What if you and I would begin to operate from the FACT that we are fighting from a place of secured victory and not fighting for victory. Overwhelming victory is ours.  (note: In Romans 8:37 Paul said  *IS* ours, not “will be” or “may someday be if you are really good or really lucky, etc.”  IS. CURRENTLY.  OURS.)

Did you catch that? We are fighting from a place of Victory. It’s already finished! It is already ours. He did the overcoming and it was enough! But, we get caught in this trap and believing the enemy’s lie that we are fighting for victory which unavoidably leaves us with the chance of being defeated. No. Read His words again and again. He meant for us to live the abundant life of victory and for the things we struggle with to make us abound in His strength instead of crying about our own weakness and giving in and swimming downstream. We have been given power from On High, the question is: Do we live in power? Do our lives overflow with the fruit of the Spirit? Because Jesus ascended so that The Helper could come!

I think this is what Paul meant when he talked about boasting about our weakness because that is what magnifies God’s strength in us. He was dealing with a messenger from Satan sent to keep him humble. Sometimes in our own difficulties we feel like that, don’t we? Like the devil himself is attacking, and in many cases he is! Because if the accuser can get our focus onto our pain, our hurt, our busy-ness, our insecurities, our troubles, our responsibilities, our losses, etc…then he has convinced us we have no chance to live out the things Jesus told us in those scriptures we just read!

2 Corinthians 12:8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Upstream swimming is not for the weak. It’s for the weak who have been made strong.

Hebrews 11:34b Their weakness was turned to strength.

In Hebrews 11, I counted twenty-one people or people groups who are commended for their great faith and every single one of them swam upstream. They did things differently. Their lives looked different from the rest of their generation. And that is what made them uniquely fit to be listed in Hebrews 11. Not that they deserved commendation, but that God’s power on them was so evident that He could use them as examples to us.

You & I are faced daily with decisions to go the way of the world or to take the narrow path. And we can take pleasure in those choices! We have the right to exude love. And joy. And peace. And patience. And kindness. And goodness. And faithfulness. And gentleness. And self-control throughout the process of choosing the narrow path.

I posed the question in Part 1 of this post, in what areas of life is God asking you to swim upstream? I had promised to share what mine are here in Part 2.

I want possibly as much as anything to be useful to my Savior, my mentor once prayed that we would be easily-orchestrated by the Lord. And I’ve heard Beth Moore say, “We cannot do 1,000 things to the glory of God, but we can do a few.” We need to know what our few is…Amen?!

I know that I am called by God to teach God’s Word. Mostly that means that I love to study and learn and listen. I really do dearly love a commentary and the lexical aids like y’all have heard me share on here before. Right now, that means blogging about the things that God is teaching me. What that means in the future, The Lord knows. And as a wife who helps her husband in his work, a mom of a toddler, a business-owner, a doctor, and a wearer of many other hats just like you…that means I have to be diligent in my use of time if I want to be alone with Jesus. I swim upstream.

On my mission-field of my chiropractic practice, God has called me to another upstream swim. I am fighting the good fight for parents to know their rights and their options in the world of vaccinations, food, and true healthcare (as opposed to the sick-care model that is currently being called health-care in America). I am resolutely in favor of people doing their research and consulting the Heavenly Father to find out what they need to know to make informed, right decisions in regard to their body, mind and spirit. In other words, I do not believe that people should blindly follow what big medicine or big pharma or big government says or even regulates.

The Only One Who deserves that kind of faith is Jesus Christ. He is the One Whom I will follow without asking any questions (Lord, help me live that out!), because He, my friends is trustworthy. The three entities I just listed cannot be trusted. I assure you. My entire calling in this area is to share information with those who are wanting it and desiring to know their options. My calling is not to change minds or promote my opinion. For our family, for many many solidly-founded reasons (scientific, biblical, ethical and common sensical (that is my own word, by the way)), we do not and would not allow a vaccine in any of our bodies. And that alone, my friends, puts us into a non-conformist category of which I am happy to be a part.

It has become my joy to swim upstream, and I know that God is pressing in other areas of my life, too.  The beautiful thing is that trusting Jesus is worth it.  It’s worth dying to self and world in order to live the fullest life He has for you.  I continually pray for a hearing ear because I want to be tuned-in to what the Spirit is saying to me at any moment of the day, don’t you?  I’ll pray that for y’all as well.  Hearing ears for everyone who wants them, yes Lord!

In Part 3, we’ll discuss the ways Jesus asked us in His own words to swim upstream, how we are to love, and what should compel us to conform to His will and not the world’s!

How does the concept of feeling honored and taking heart when we hear of Christian persecution around the world hit you?

What areas do you believe the Lord has given you a grace for more power to live FROM a place of victory instead of feeling like you have to constantly fight FOR victory?