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Entries in God's Power (5)


Three Steps toward Dependence

I've long admired Kathy Howard for her skill in communicating biblical thruth through creative Bible studies, and recenty she tackled a topic that is hitting many people where they live. In this Caregiving UPGRADE, she provides a fresh perspective for weary caregivers.

"Self-reliance and independence hinder our caregiving," Kathy says.

Didn't I (Dawn) say it is a "fresh perspective"? I've read many posts promoting independence for caregivers, but never one on learning dependence.

Kathy continues . . .

Caring for my aging parents demands more than I have to give. I remember one night in particular.

Voices penetrated the heavy shroud of sleep. I could hear the anxiety in Mom and Dad’s conversation, but I couldn’t make out the words.

I threw back the covers and stumbled across the hall to their room. Dad lay on the floor beside the bed. I managed to get him sitting, but I could not get his 230-pounds off the floor and back in the bed.

My husband was stirring in the other room, so I called for help. Together we got Dad back in bed.

Thankfully, the fall only caused a few bumps and bruises. But it dramatically reminded me of my limitations.

My natural bent toward self-reliance is reinforced by a culture that admires this quality.

Our culture teaches us that independence is good and dependence is to be avoided at all costs.

While true in certain instances, self-reliance and independence can hinder believers. When we face circumstances and situations we cannot control, change, fix, or conquer we are thrown off balance.

What do we do when we simply can’t do it?

There is nothing easy about caring for aging parents.

No matter how much we love them, the task demands more than we have to give—physically, emotionally, spiritually and relationally. We need help from family members, friends, and health professionals.

But even that won’t always be enough.

Soak in this glorious truth for a moment: Our deficiency is an opportunity for God to demonstrate His sufficiency. Our dependence allows God to prove Himself dependable.

Within ourselves, we don’t have what it takes to tackle life’s hardest challenges, but God has more than we need.

A passage in 2 Corinthians beautifully shows us how Paul depended on God to carry him when he couldn’t go on. Paul had encountered a situation in Asia so desperate, he saw no way out of it with his life (2 Corinthians 1:8). Yet, miraculously God delivered him.

When the situation was hopeless, Hope flooded in. And Paul learned utter dependence on the One who is utterly dependable (2 Corinthians 1:9-10). 

The passage reveals that God allowed this situation to happen so that Paul and his companions would learn to rely on God (2 Corinthians 1:9).

And Paul continued to depend on God. When God chose to leave the “thorn” in his life, Paul learned the sufficiency of God’s grace. In his weakest moments, God’s power was revealed.

Paul’s weakness became a stage for God’s strength.

God also wants us to trust Him with all the circumstances of our lives—including caring for our aging parents. He longs to show us He is trustworthy, reliable and powerful. So, how can we let go of independence and learn to depend on Him?

Let’s follow Paul’s example toward dependence in 2 Corinthians.

1. Reflect on God’s past provision.

Think about all the times in your past when God has worked. Remember the times He has comforted you, encouraged you, delivered you from danger, given you clear direction for the path ahead.

Reflecting on God’s past provision and faithfulness will strengthen your future trust in Him.

2. Contemplate the scope of God’s power.

Meditate a few moments on our powerful, almighty God. The God who created the universe is not weak or powerless. He heals the sick, raises the dead, and holds the stars in place.

He can provide what you need for your daily life. Even the hardest days of caregiving.

3. Sit quietly in God’s gracious presence.

The same God who spoke the world into existence is the same God who delivered Paul. And He is the same God who longs to fill you with His grace and strength.

Linger with Him today. Ask Him to give you an awareness of His presence with you.

When we depend on Him, our caregiving role is a chance for God to demonstrate His strength in our lives. Paul expressed this truth:

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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" (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).

Caring for our parents provides ample opportunity for God’s power to work in our weakness. For God to show Himself worthy of our dependence.

Depend on Him today.

What are some other ways you can purposefully work to foster dependence on God for caregiving today?

Kathy Howard, a Bible teacher and former “cultural Christian,” now lives an unshakeable faith for life and encourages other women to also embrace real, authentic faith. Kathy is author of 8 books, including “30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents” (May 2018). Get free discipleship helps on her website:

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Unclelkt at Pixabay.


Your 3:20 Life!—a Breakthrough to Gain God's Best

When I first saw some statements by mega-author Pam Farrel about something called a "3:20 life," I invited her to share the concept with us. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she suggests a simple habit that can change our entire perspective.

"What do you think might happen," Pam asks, "if you put feet to your faith and acted on the belief that God really cares about your hopes and dreams?"

Several years ago, I (Dawn) remember gazing at a wall in the Farrels' home that was covered with framed book covers of all the books they've written. I thought at that time they were already putting feet to their faith. But as Pam explains, God often stirs us up afresh, because He has new growth and new adventures in mind!

Pam continues . . . 

How would you live if you really trusted in the power of the God you read about in the Bible—but for YOUR life, on behalf of YOUR future? 

It was an ordinary day, but the extraordinary God challenged me in an unexpected way.

As I remember it, the Facebook post was simply a friend sharing that she was on her way to pick up her kids at school, and it was 3:20 and she was praying the verse her pastor had challenged their church to pray—Ephesians 3:20.

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us." (Amplified version)

That day, it was as if God pushed me off a high cliff and I dove into the deep waters of His Majesty with a rush of excitement.

  • Lord, what if I made the commitment to pray Ephesians 3:20 every day at 3:20?
  • And what if I put my whole weight into my commitment, and prayed believing for many of the hopes, dreams, prayers and secret longings of my heart that only You and I talk about?
  • What if I set my alarm on my phone and pray at 3:20—not matter where I am or who I am with?
  • What if I really took you up on your offer to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all I can ask or think?
  • How would my life change?

That was almost four years ago. At the time, Bill and I were in what felt like a deep, dark, endless, hopeless pit that was an excruciatingly difficult mix of an overwhelmingly heavy workload of responsibilities: ministry, traveling, writing and speaking accompanied with weekly commuting to care for ailing, aging parents which created a burden financially, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally.

I woke up daily dreading getting out of bed for fear of even more bad news. 

But this Ephesians 3:20 day, God was inviting me to become a more believing, praying adventurer with Him.

Too often we Christians allow the Word of God to become a nice book with a pretty leather cover that we might open for emotional comfort, or even for intellectual study. But rarely do we hunger for the Word to spur us forward in a “cattle-prod, get-out-of-our-comfort-zone, jump-from-the-plane-with-only-the-ripcord-of-the-character-of-God-to-save-us” kind of abandon. 

Seldom do we plunge head-first with only the bungee cord of the Word to rebound us to the safe center of God’s will.

It is an infrequent thrill to take the action steps of radical obedience when the full weight of your hopes, dreams and wild and wonderful imaginings will ONLY succeed if God shows up.

Powerfully. Supernaturally. Mightily!

So, what has changed in me and my life since I took God up on His offer to do “exceedingly, abundantly” more than this visionary, positive optimist can ask, think or dream?

First some things changed IN me.

1. Change in ALIGNMENT

Before you write this off as some “name it and claim it” prayerful magic pixie dust, dig a little deeper with me.  

The verse begins, “Now to Him who is able to do.” It is clear that I am NOT able—the power rests completely in GOD.One word that really wows my soul is the word “able” (dunamenō), because it is akin to the word we often use—DYNAMITE!

The power God will apply to your life and mine is EXPLOSIVE.

And it is CREATIVE.

God does the “do-ing”. The same Creator who designed and spoke the world and humankind into existence is the God who creates, manufactures, makes and produces His will in our lives. This spiritual “TNT”  is why Jesus can say things that make most of us very uncomfortable—but in a good way—like, Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20).

God wants to move our mountains. However, to see this kind of dynamite, earth-shaking power, it means me (and you) moving to see God clearer.

  • It is adjusting my sails to catch God’s wind.
  • It is aligning my heartbeat to match God’s.
  • It is putting on God’s spectacles to see my life from His heavenly perspective.
  • It is making the commitment to keep the defroster on and let the wipers of the Word keep the rain, fog, snow, and sleet off the faith windshield of my life so I have God’s vision for the path and plan ahead.

Praying Ephesians 3:20 keeps my heart in tune to God’s heart.


This Creator God then out does Himself when He promises to do “far more abundantly beyond all we ask or think.”

Get this: When God is trying to impress something on a soul, He repeats himself. That is what He does here—three times.

(1) “Far more abundantly” means superabundantly, immeasurably more. 

(2) “Beyond” is hyper, or to go above and beyond, or over the top for the benefit and betterment of another.

(3) “All” means “each and every part, the totality, the whole.” Yep, God goes all the way, gives the whole enchilada, carries the plan to the finish line, ushers us into the end zone, over the goal line and into the winner’s circle. God doesn’t pull up short on His plans for us.

Now we may not fully comprehend His timing or His methods but we can rest assured in His ability to bring victory in His way, using His methods, in His time.

His plans will be better, greater, and more wonderful than anything I can ask or request. His ways will be so much more than I can think, consider, ponder, perceive, or dream up! (And if you ask my husband, I can dream up A LOT!)

God is just infinitively, wiser, smarter, and grander! While I can create hopes and dreams, God can turn hopes and dreams that line up to His best for us a REALITY!

Praying Ephesian 3:20 keeps me living in humble awe of the God who elevates and lifts us to His best for our lives. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:6).


This creative power to make hopes, dreams and awesome imaginings come into being is done “according to His power that is at work within us."

This dunamis power is the miraculous, marvelous, might of God that works within us. If we peek forward, we see that God’s ability and strength is given for our good (v 20) and for HIS glory (v 21). “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  

This dunamis term for the power of God is repeated 120 times in the New Testament. God weaves Himself and His power into our lives is through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:8 explains, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…” While I have always sought to walk moment by moment in step with God’s Spirit, praying Ephesians 3:20 has kept me ultra-sensitive to the tiniest whisper, course correction or prompting to pursue an opportunity.  

If we picture this God-powered plan in human terms, God builds our elite race car (us and His plan for us); He is the rocket fuel propelling us forward; and we are in the driver’s seat with the Spirit of God inside steering and guiding us in the most exciting race set out before us (Hebrews 12:1).

Our biggest (and sometimes the hardest) job is to yield enthusiastically to God’s leadership in our heart and life.

Praying Ephesians 3:20 allows God to live His best life:

  • FOR us
  • THROUGH us
  • to BLESS us
  • and BUILD us,
  • and to bless others through us.
  • and build His eternal kingdom using us

So, this is what God changed IN me.

What did God change FOR me in the process?

  1. God gave us the courage to sell our home. (It took about 18 very long months to prepare and find God’s buyer—a church planter and his family!)
  2. God challenged us to be compassionate enough to move nearer Bill’s parents (one frail of body, the other frail of mind), and be bold enough to sell and give away 90% of our belongings to move on to a live aboard boat!

The 3:20 life was very rigorous in getting us to this space where we are moored in a lovely marina, but God and His dynamite power was WITH us each step along the way!

We watched miracle after miracle unfold as God knocked down obstacle after obstacle.

We LOVE our simple beachfront 3:20 Life—teaching #biblefromtheboat, living a healthier pace while embracing a more physical active life where we kayak to get our mail and enjoy breath-taking sunsets of over the Pacific Ocean.

My husband, Bill, and I are writing a soon to be released workbook: Your 3:20 Life: Breakthrough to God’s Blessings to help build a life to look forward to living.

Are you ready for God’s 3:20 life for you?

Pull out your phone, set the alarm to ring at 3:20 each day; and if you are like me, you will wake up each day looking forward to the “exceedingly abundantly” moments God has in store for you!  

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of over 45 books including bestselling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and her newest Your 3:20 Life (both co-authored with her husband, Bill) To learn more about Pam and Bill Farrels ministry and how they can help you live Your 3:20 Life, go to

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pixabay.


Trusting the Trustworthy God

Rhonda Rhea is just plain funny. Until she's not (on purpose). Rhonda's spiritual depth always amazes me, like when she's sharing about the character of God and how we relate to Him, as in this Spiritual Life UPGRADE.

"Sometimes people agree with me without even thinking it through," Rhonda says. "Of course, let’s face it, that shouldn’t happen all that often. Still, when something happens only occasionally, it makes every occurrence that much sweeter."

Have you ever had anyone trust you that much? I (Dawn) have, and I can testify how sweet that is!

Rhonda continues . . .

When someone agrees before even fully knowing what I’ve said, it makes me feel like I’m sort of the “terms and conditions” of people. Oh, the power.

Basically I’m letting you all know that you can trust me. At least part of the time. I’ll be honest and tell you that you still wouldn’t want to leave me alone in a room with your nachos.

But other than that, trust.

The trustworthiness of a promise always depends on the nature of and the power held by the one making that promise.

Let’s get real, once someone adds a layer of melty cheese, if you trusted me, I would question your trust-judgment. But our God? The very essence of who He is in nature is flawlessness. The power He holds can’t be compared to anything or anyone else. He has it all.

Paul said in Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (ESV). So Paul is talking to us as believers here when he says in the next sentence, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (vs. 23).

It makes sense to have faith in the One who is faithful.

It makes sense to trust in the One who is trustworthy. His record is clear. He has never failed to deliver on a promise. Never.

God’s Word is filled, cover to cover, with one blessed occurrence after another of promises kept.

We have His nature as the basis for our trust in Him. We have His power, knowing He is fully capable of carrying out His promises. And if that’s not enough—which it certainly is, but still—we have His love for us to top it all off.

You can trust the One who loves you without limits, without reserve. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV).

Our Lord loved us all the way to the cross. His love is perfect. And that leads us to trust Him without the slightest apprehension. Our faith is well-placed. “But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth” (Psalm 86:15, HCSB).

David wrote also in Psalm 143:8, “Let me experience Your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in You” (HCSB).

Love leads to trust. And trust leads to love. That is perfect!

Anytime you encounter a challenge, difficulty, doubt or question, it changes how you see that struggle when you remember that Your Father is trustworthy. Not part of the time. All. In every room. He is perfect, He is powerful and He loves you with a lavish love.

Those are His terms. Those are His conditions. Oh, the power!

What encourages you to trust God the most: His nature, power or love? Can you thank Him today for being your trustworthy God?

Rhonda Rhea is a humor columnist, radio personality, speaker and author of 10 books, including How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person?, Espresso Your Faith - 30 Shots of God's Word to Wake You Up, and a book designed to encourage Pastor's Wives (P-Dubs): Join the Insanity. Her new book, Turtles in the Road—coauthored with her daughter Kaley (another UPGRADE blogger)—is releasing soon. Rhonda, a sunny pastor's wife, lives near St. Louis and is "Mom" to five grown children. Find out more at


Do You Believe God Is 'Almighty'?

Our beliefs, Dawn Wilson says, motivate our actions. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she challenges us to think about what we sing and say regarding God's "might."

Ever have a song get stuck in your brain and you ended up singing it all day long? That was me with the hymn, "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty."

As I sang about the God of Creation who "wondrously reigneth"—the One who by the power of His might uplifts and sustains all He has made, the One who prospers our work and defends us, the One who deserves our praise and adoration forever—I suddenly stopped singing.

"Do you believe that?"

Now I'm not sure if that voice was the Lord asking me about the strength of my faith or the enemy tempting me to doubt God's nature (maybe it was a bit of both), but I knew I couldn't ignore that question. What we believe motivates our actions.

So I started thinking about God's might, and opened my Bible because I want to base what I believe on solid truth. Here are some things I discovered.

1. God the Almighty has the ultimate power over all His creation.

He created all things (Genesis 1:3). Everything from the tiniest organism to the largest whales, from a grain of sand to the expansive universe. He made and sustains everything through His power and might.

The Lord first shared His name, "God, the All-powerful One," (El Shaddai) with Abram in Genesis 17:1, saying, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless." We see the name again in communications with and between the biblical patriarchs (Genesis 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3; and 49:25).

God wanted Abram and his descendants to know He is not at all like the gods of the nations surrounding Israel. His power is beyond all other powers in the great universe He created. His power is unlimited and great (Job 37). 

He does as He pleases because He is the sovereign God! (Psalm 115:3; Isaiah 46:9-10; Daniel 4:35) His purposes cannot be stopped. He is eternally good and just and we have no right to accuse Him when we don't understand His ways (Job 40:2; Romans 9:20-21).

We can take refuge in His strong love and protection (Psalm 46:1; Proverbs 18:10).

2. God the Almighty performs wonders and miracles.

The Lord does "marvelous things beyond number" (Job 9:10). He can do more in and through us than we can ever think to ask or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20). This should inspire us to come boldly to the throne of God and ask for great things (Hebrews 4:16), because God may want to give them to us for our good and for His glory.

Sometimes, I think, God even more honored when we don't know what to ask — when we simply see where He is working and hop on board. It's not our agenda we ask Him to bless, but rather His mighty plans, that He may alllow us to participate in with joy.

God is working in powerful and mighty ways. We just need to be alert to see Him at work!

3. God the Almighty is awesome and great.

Moses described Him as the "God of Gods and Lord of Lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God" (Deuteronomy 10:17). When we come to the Lord, we must come with a sense of awe, wonder and holy fear.

The name "God Almighty" should inspire us to revere Him and give Him the glory due His name (Psalm 29:1b-2; 1 Samuel 12:24). His splendor is beyond our comprehension.

Just spend some time looking at the stars to get a tiny glimpse of God's might and majesty.

The heaven's declare His glory, and all things He has made are evidences of His "eternal power and divine nature" (Psalm 19:1-3; Romans 1:20).

4. God the Almighty will righteously judge those who reject Him.

We don't like to think about this aspect of God's might, but it is true. Revelation 19:15 describes the "recompense" of God—the "fury of the wrath of God the Almighty."

The Lord desires for all to be saved, but some will not believe the gospel of Christ (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:8). (The Apostle Paul recognized the importance of praying for and evangelizing the lost, because we do not know the hearts of men.)

He is the Maker and the Master! Someday every knee will bow before Him (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10).

5. God the Almighty draws us into a personal relationship.

God said to Moses, "...I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them" (Exodus 6:2-3).

It is this aspect of the Almighty God that most touches my heart.

When God the Son came in the flesh to die on a cross so our sins could be forgiven, the true wonder of His might was made manifest in our hearts. Jesus died to redeem us, reconcile us and  restore us to the Father. 

Anyone who trusts in this provision by the Almighty One will find sweet refuge (Psalm 91:1-2; Proverbs 14:26).

God, the Almighty, protects His own. This does not mean we will not suffer—maybe even a martyr's death—but that our refuge is in Christ forever. We are rescued and we will not perish (John 3:16-17; Romans 8:31-39). The Lord is "mighty to save"! (Zephaniah 3:17)

6. God the Almighty evidences power in His children.

One of the blessings of our restored relationship with God is His power working in and through us.

" strong in the Lord, relying on His mighty strength" (Ephesians 6:10)

"...The people who do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits" (Daniel 11:32).

The hymn encourages us:

"Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, if with His love He befriends you."

Do you believe God is Almighty? How does believing that motivate your life? Are you seeing God's power manifest in your life and ministry?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is contracted researcher for Revive Our Hearts and a writer for She and her husband Bob have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.





How to 'Suit Up' with Courage

Are you a courageous woman? I am turning into a courageous woman; it doesn’t come naturally, believe me!

I have to “suit up” for it. And so can you.

Here are some of the spiritual gymnastics I go through in “scary” times—what I remember:

1. Courage speaks up and acts. Look at life through the lens of God’s calling, promises, and strength. Move beyond fear. driven by the plan of God and a cause greater than yourself. Courage speaks up: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so” (Psalm 107:2a). Like Queen Esther, courage sees the bigger vision and steps forward to do her part (Esther 4:13-17). Courage embraces the solid hope that God can redeem any situation.

2. Courage isn’t afraid to be different. Author Leslie Ludy said (Set-Apart Femininity, p. 89) she read a speech given by a Jewish father at his son’s bar mitzvah. He told his son not to apologize for being Jewish, but rather, to embrace the holy calling of being a Jew. "To be holy is to be different," the father said. "That which is holy is set apart.” Ludy makes this application: “A set-apart young woman has the courage to be different." *

Did you ever sing this song? "Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known!" ** Daniel knew who he was, even in a pagan culture. His significance and purposeful choices were wrapped up in God and reflected his commitment to the Lord (Daniel 1:8-16).

3. Courage counts on God’s presence and power. “Don't be afraid. The Lord will be your helper and never leave your side” (Hebrews 13:5-6). Pastor Bill Elliff wrote, "Everything flows from the presence of God." Everything you and I will ever need – including courage - comes from the God of power, provision and peace. Count on the ever-present Spirit of God (Acts 1:8; 4:29-31; Romans 15:13; Ephesians 3:15-20).

4. Courage is born in faith. The scriptures advise us strongly to "Be on your guard; stand fast in the faith; be courageous, be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13). Paul's words echo God’s command to Joshua: "Be strong and of good courage ... very courageous" (Joshua 1:6-7). I can rest in God, knowing He is working behind the scenes and His plans cannot be thwarted.

5. Courage counts the cost. A woman of courage thinks before acting. Jesus’ invitation to follow Him came with the promise of tough times and a personal cross (Matthew 10:34, 38-39; John 15:20; 16:1-2). Paul warned that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus”—and that takes courage in our wicked culture—"will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12).

Courage might mean speaking up to a store clerk at the Holy Spirit's promptings, or it might entail taking a stand against an evil cultural trend. Courage obeys God in spite of the results or  man's responses (Acts 5:29). 

6. Courage suits up for battle. We need spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:11) because there is a battle! A relentless, set-on-our-destruction enemy has stepped up his tactics in these last days. We must be vigilant against him (1 Peter 5:8).  

Which of these aspects of courage is toughest for you when God asks you to do “scary things”?

Dawn Wilson is the founder of Heart Choices Ministries and creator of Dawn's ministry encourages, edifies and energizes women with the truth of scripture so they can better enjoy life, bless others and honor God.