Change my Mind

Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

I remember when this passage came to life for me. I typed it up and printed it so I could pin it to my ceiling. Every morning I would look up and see the words. I’ve since committed it to memory, and I am constantly reminded to apply it to my life. I often pray a simple prayer “Lord, change the way I think.” He has been faithful to make those changes, as I much as I submit to Him. I often times get frustrated because I still think certain way, and I wonder will I ever change. It is then that Jesus subtly reminds me of how much of my mind He has changed. I used to hate people for various reasons and now I don’t let my anger or frustration lead to hate. Instead asking how can extend love, how can I allow Holy Spirit to work through me? Unbeknownst to me the Father has been teaching me how to repent. A skill I misunderstood and many others may as well. A prayer I only began a short while ago is “Lord, help me repent.” The trouble was I would pray that after I would sin. To which the Lord would say “Okay I’ll help you.” then He would just let me go on my way. I never understood His silence after that until now. Repenting is not a post sin act, but a sin preventing act. It is stopping in your temptation and reconciling your thoughts. If I go down the path of sin I am denying my identity, but if I go down the path of life I am accepting my identity. Repentance is the self reminding of how you think as a child of God. For if I am a child of God I behave as such, therefore if I behave like the world I am identifying with the world. Repentance is proactive, it tears down lies and builds up truth in you mind.

When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are decedents of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgement is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” Luke 3:7-9

It is not enough to simple say I’m a child of God and not change your behavior. To blatantly continue in sin and proclaim I'm a christian is hypocritical. This is not about your security as a child, your inheritance has been set aside beyond the reach of decay. This is about your authority as a child. A repentant heart has power over sin. It's not simply not thinking about sin, but replacing those thoughts with truth. I am a child of God, therefore sinful behavior is unbecoming of me. And as a child of God I respond to the urge to sin by turning from it. The lie may be someone is purposely is against you. The temptation is to hate the person. The truth is that person’s behavior towards you has a myriad of reasons and they deserve your understanding. The response is to love the person without conditions. Repentance is choosing to see through the lens of truth. Viewing both yourself and others in that light. Seeing where you need to change and where others need your understanding. Jesus didn’t die on the cross just for my past sin, but also that which I have not committed. Thus a repentant heart does not simply look at its past and say “That’s bad I shouldn’t have done that.”, but looks into the future to choose which person to be. The child of God or the child of the world. Which will you choose?

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Rest in the Storm

IMG_2512One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!” 

 Luke 8:22-25

How often is it when we step in the direction we feel to be God and a storm immediately follows? More often than not it seems. But are these storms unavoidable or are they self-made? In either case, the storms have a tendency to wash away our expectation of what we thought the journey would be. We start off and see the possibility of a storm in the distance, but Jesus is still in the boat so we’re not concerned. Then the waves begin to lap over the edge some as Jesus lays down to sleep. “Uh Jesus…?” we say, but He starts to doze off. At this point begin to get concerned. My bank account says this, my work has layoffs coming, or this relationship is harder than I thought. The storm begins to rock the boat more than we like. “Jesus I have bills” and all we hear are Zs. “Jesus, can’t you see my storm?” more Zs. At this point, we’ve forgotten what Jesus said at the beginning, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” He didn’t say, “Let’s go to the middle and drown.” There is a promise of seeing this through to the other shore. The new job, the promotion, or restoration of relationship. He not just sleeping in your storm, He’s resting in the promise. You’re going to make it the other side. But we are so easily get consumed by the storm. What is it that consumes you? Things of this world, sin, doubt, lack of direction. The things of this world pass away, sin has no power over you, doubt is essential for faith, and Jesus is the way. When we realize that we are being consumed and we are in real danger, our cry for help is what wakes Him. He can immediately bring peace to the storm because he came from a place of rest. Authority comes from a place of rest. Until we can find rest in the storm we won’t have authority over the storm. How do we find rest in the storm? Trust in the one who made the promise, submit to His peace. Not every storm is avoidable, but you can find rest in every storm. If the waves listen to Him surely your circumstance will too.

Thoughts on Influence

The capacity to have an effect on, to shape change.

Take an inventory of the impact you may have made in the past year. Who has entered your life in the past nine months, three weeks, or 72 hours? How have you touched their life? Even if only for a moment, it may be all the time you have with them. In Acts 19 Paul so happened to find several believers. Not by chance, but by appointment that needed to be introduced to the Holy Spirit. Paul didn’t necessarily know they were believers when they met. How should I bring up what God might want to speak to that person, you might ask. I’m pretty sure Paul’s opening line wasn’t “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you first believed?” It more likely was “Hello, I’m Paul. Know good coffee shop?” He started a simple conversation that led to their discussion. Also, he didn’t wait to establish a history with them. Start simple conversations, they could lead to divine encounters. If you’re not investing into those in front of you, you’re not influencing anyone. No matter how persuasive you might be. Your friend from high school might simply reject your messages on Facebook. That’s okay, we’re not the ones to make them listen. Your influence might not reach all people. I wouldn’t get an aneurysm over those that aren’t influenced by you. There are two dangerous thoughts you might assume here. If they won’t listen to me, they won’t listen to anyone. The other is that God cannot use another person to influence them. Both thoughts are birthed from pride. Paul came against that pride in this passage, by simply moving his focus. Better to influence those you can, rather than be influenced by those you cannot. Your messages should not be based on who can I get to listen, but what truth am I supposed to be sharing? In today’s world, one might think that influence in measured by your following. Paul’s influence was not measured by a number of people that accepted him. True influence comes from the Lord. Influence is something that is given and cannot be earned. Your measure of influence is determined by the measure you share it. If your influence is measured by likes, then what you give is based on what people want rather than what they need. Influence comes when you have what people need. Someone needs what you have to offer. Don’t limit your influence by your amount of followers. The world measures influence by who you know and how many you know. But it’s not as simple as that. It turns out in this instance, in Acts 19, that their adversary knew who they knew. Walking in knowledge is very different than walking in authority. Believing in your knowledge does not hold the same power of believing in your authority. Jesus was tempted with influence and submitted to authority. Therefore influence should not be measured by volume, but by quality. You may have a million followers, yet are they being positively influenced. You will always be reflected by those that look up to you. What can you change in your life that will positively impact those influenced by you? First and foremost it should be the Holy Spirit that has the greatest influence in your life. In the Tree of Life Version, it says Paul resolved in the Spirit. This means that he had several options set before him, and he was able in partnership with the Holy Spirit to determine which one was from the Lord. Allowing that thought to take precedence and determine the next steps. When we become familiar with His voice we can learn how to direct our thought patterns. It also says that Paul gave direction to his assistants. They submitted to a Spirit-led leader in their life. We also need spirit filled leaders in our lives to help give us direction. Not so our life can be dictated by them, but to learn how we to can submit ourselves to the Spirit. Those we allow to influence us is who we become like. Now not all of our influences will be a leader directly over us. But they should still have a thriving relationship with the Spirit. There are a few instances of influence being used at the end of Acts 19. That of Artemis in a negative way, that which convinced Paul to keep his distance, and that of the mayor to the people. Each case affected the well-being of others. Influence is important because it can guide people in the right direction. Unfortunately, it can easily be used negatively and cause harm to those under it. Therefore we should always be aware of who is listening. When you speak you’re releasing either life or death. No matter how much you think you influence what you have to say matters. Invest in how you think, because how you think affects what you say, and what you say impacts what’s around you. You’re an influencer whether you believe it or not. I urge you to use it well no matter how many you influence.

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Daddy Is Strong Enough

I was on the plane from Naples, Italy to Athens, Greece. I had the pleasure to sit next to a couple and their daughter who was about two years old. In the few minutes around take off she was a bit fussy. Her parents tried many things to calm her down. Soft words, toys, and whatever else they could think of. Finally, her dad said the, “I’m going wrestle you down (for the sake of her safety) and I don’t mind doing it because I am significantly stronger than you.” Thank you, Holy Spirit. This is what Daddy says to you, “I don’t mind loving you even if it is wrestling you because I am significantly stronger than you.” Papa doesn’t steer away from Love even at its hardest. Keeping you from what you want, to protect you from what is best for you. You may want to wander about the cabin, but when turbulence comes He knows you need to be in His lap.
 
I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him. Hosea 11:4 NLT
 
You might look back on your year with frustration. Have you gotten all that you desired out of the year? Maybe you got more turbulence than you expected. Though when you look back, you can’t help but see His faithfulness. What He has kept you from or brought you through, has it not been for your good? You have been lead by the ropes of His kindness and love. Even when it felt like you were being held back for no reason. We too often mistake His kindness for suffering. When we are being wrestled into the place where He wants us, rather than where we want to be. You can’t have it because He loves you too much. Either you’re not ready for it or it is not ready for you. This is why God requires faithfulness in little things before there is trust in greater things. Little things are made great through faithfulness. When something is placed in your hand it always feels small, because it fits in your hand. We mistakenly drop what is in our hands to go after the greater things, but miss the greatness already in our hands. Complaining about what is placed before you will keep you from seeing God’s faithfulness through it. He works everything out for the good of those called according to His purpose. (paraphrase Romans 8:28) We must not forget if we are walking according to His purpose for our lives. What is happening to us is good. His plans are for good. Whether it is to teach you something new or to help you align your desires with His. What happens to you is good, no matter how bad the world says it is. Yes, it sucks to go through, but the results are what matters. What He is doing in you is to draw you closer to Him. Closeness to God is the greatest good there is. Paul was made blind that he may see, the persecutor became that which he persecuted. Your perceived hindrance just may be your deliverance.
 
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:10 NLT
 
What you are going through or have gone through, is not painful for the sake of knowing pain alone. It is so God might be glorified in your restoration. To help you find where your support comes from. Ultimately it is from the Lord, but practically it is from the community. Those that stick with you through pain, will be the most cherished in the celebration. It is to strengthen you. Faithfulness in the small things is a principle for what you desire and the trail. Remember the next trail may be more difficult, but our God never changes. Neither does His faithfulness. Lean on Him now in this trail, and do the same in the next. When you lean on the faithfulness of God, He places you on a firm foundation. One that cannot be shaken. Suffer for this little while, and share in His eternal glory. Being with Jesus is what makes suffering worth while, it is not suffering that makes being with Jesus worth while. Suffering sucks, let it be what it is. But go through it with the hope of being with Jesus as your anchor. Suffering is not to glorify one’s self. It is to bring greater dependence on the sovereignty of Christ. Knowing that the majesty of being present with Christ will far outweigh your present suffering. You will stay in your suffering so long as you see it as greater than the sovereignty of God. When the glory of God becomes greater than your pain, you will have been faithful in much. Turbulence alway seems more dangerous to those that haven’t experienced it. Daddy is strong enough to get through any storm. Don’t wait for Him to wrestle you into His lap, rest there for the entire journey.
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OMG I Need Direction

On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it. But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. This was the regular pattern—at night the cloud that covered the Tabernacle had the appearance of fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. In this way, they traveled and camped at the Lord’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle. If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the Lord. Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the Lord commanded. Then at the Lord’s command they would break camp and move on. Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses. Numbers 9:15-23 NLT

As we come into the new year it may seem as though everyone around us has such clarity of what this next year will look like. While you’re in a fog. The new year always brings some sense of hope, even to the most hopeless. A chance to start fresh. A resolve to make things right this time around. While at the same there can be a sense of uncertainty. But uncertainty does not have to be hopeless. We are able to go into the unknown without fear. Maybe you haven’t set your goals for the year or made a list of resolutions. Perhaps you’re at a crossroads, and you’ve been there a while. This entire season may be the culmination of your frustrations; waiting on a word from God to move one way or the other. He’s been telling you many other wonderful things…accept the direction you need to go. In this season the work in you is of greater importance than the work through you. If He hasn’t told you to move, maybe He wants you to dwell. The children of Israel did not move until first, the cloud moved. And when the cloud stayed, they continued their work or duty. Continue to be faithful in the work He has put in your hands. His silence is not His disappointment. He has not moved you into your desire because He is restructuring your desire. Your waiting on Him is an act of obedience. It says that you don’t want to be in a place that He is not. In this time are you waiting well; are you settling deep into His presence? Even though you want it to be a transition, are you allowing it to be a transformation? Until the fog lifts stay. Resolve to allow Him to change the way you think. Become the person He wants to move into great things. Be before you do.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:34 NLT

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

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Landing

I hate landing. Not because I feel in danger. Flying for me is a peaceful endeavor. I don’t have to worry about a thing when I fly. Whether or not I’m late it’s not in my hands. Plus they bring me ginger ale, unless of course you’re on an economy airline. Either way I know the flight will take off even if it is delayed, stay in the air and land. It is exactly the same every time. Some landings are more rough than others, but that is not why I dislike landing. Landing means coming to the end of this period of certainty. I have to step off the plane and into immediate responsibility. Going through customs, finding my bag, then further transportation. Suddenly I am responsible again. I wrote this poem on one of my flights.

Above the clouds there’s new terrain
Above the gloom and pouring rain
Here above it can I stay
No more sorrow and no pain
These powdered pellets begin to fade
As mountains rise into their place
Above the clouds I cannot stay
Into the grey I must engage
With the light I’ve come to know
Darkened skies will illuminate
As brokenness fades away

I hesitate to call it selfishness to get away from it all. After all we are commanded to sabbath, and God desires we seek refuge in Him. Where the selfishness might come in is our heart behind the matter. Are we getting away to hide from our problems or for rest to take on the daily once again. Personally it is hard for me to step away from my problems, I want to fix them so I can stop thinking about them. But I have had to learn to step back, relinquish control and rest. Take the time to allow God to recalibrate me and give me new ideas. The deadline will always be there, whether you rest or not it doesn’t move. It doesn’t make sense in the natural, but I always accomplish more in six days than I could in seven. The trouble comes in using the need to rest as an excuse to ignore responsibility. You have to go back to work. I remember when it shifted for me. I was working week after week longing for the weekend. Then it hit me, I can’t commit my work to the weekend. The weekend ends just like the week. I’ll never be satisfied with the weekend. Instead of working all week in hope of the weekend, what if we spent our weekend in such a way the we look forward to Monday? It never fails to come around, why not go into it joyfully?

I began my summer incredibly hopeful. I was coming in for a landing from a time of rest, yet I was naive enough to think it would go smoothly. Then I began to go through customs, what is your purpose in entering this territory?parenthetical I thought I’d get the girl, business would boom and life would be dandy. Nope, not at all. He stamped my passport, but the territory still needed to be fought for. More so in my heart than in any area of influence. You see, we are the customs agent in our heart. And it is still sometimes a long process for a citizen to enter their own country. But we keep giving visas to lies from the enemy. I began to ask why I was having such a hard time entering my own territory. I was reminded of this.

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the tongue’s answer is from Adonai. All a man’s ways are pure in his own eyes, but Adonai weighs the motives. Commit whatever you do to Adonai, and your plans will succeed. Adonai works everything out for his own purpose even the wicked for a day of disaster. Adonai abhors all the proud in heart. Be assured, they will not go unpunished. By mercy and truth is iniquity atoned, and by the fear of Adonai one avoids evil. When one’s ways are pleasing to Adonai, he makes even his enemies be at peace with him. Better a little with righteousness than much income without justice. The heart of man plans his course, but Adonai directs his steps. Proverbs 16:1-9 TLV

The New Living Translation says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” To often we commit our plans to the Lord, and expect Him to work in our life. I had to repent, I wanted my plans established right then. I had pride in my heart. My plan was flawed, but I couldn’t see that. In the end the Lord determined how my summer has gone, and where it will go. He kept me from some hardships and walked with me through others. I came to the beginning of a project and I prayed this, “Lord I submit my plan to yours and I commit all the work I am about to put into this project to you. This is how I will glorify you and worship you.” There were some frustrations with the project, as with any project. But in the end I spent less hours than I planned, finished on time, and I was able to do additional pieces. In reality His plans are better than mine, so I plan to make His plans for me my own. Purpose is found in giving into what He has for you. As you commit your work to Him, His plans will come into view. Your job is dull not because it’s boring, but because you haven’t invited Him into it. You will begin to see Him working through what you put your hand to. Your purpose is in His plan, and that cannot be established until your work is committed to Him. Faith without works is dead, so is works without faith. God is moving in way unknown to man. If this generation will lay down their idea of purpose and pick up His, we will see mighty moves of God. This requires a commitment to Him. Not just “I’m a christian and I’m in the workforce.”,  but “my life and work are committed to Adonai.”

James 2:20

I Want Out but There’s No Bench

I was on the road home from the shop talking to God about my business. The stresses of paperwork and accounting mostly. To some that may be a piece of cake, but for me it takes tremendous effort. “Father can I just give it up? Take a tent into the woods and be a hermit for the rest of my life. To permanently assume the fetal position.” To which He responded with a no and the quintessential affirmation that I am His son. It was in that moment I realized that I had been under spiritual attack. And I was allowing myself to lose. Anytime I have desired to assume the fetal position I have heard God say rise and walk. Most would say when you feel that way you should crawl into the Father’s arms and be loved by Him. Yet we are told to enter boldly into His presence. When we feel this way is when God goes into “tough love” mode. When He pours out identity on you, and you are forced to believe it or drown with what you’re holding onto. The Father’s arms are a place for comfort and rest, but He loves you too much to coddle you through life. He will not keep you from growth. These are also the times when the enemy is most prevalent in pouring out lies. Like “God is not with you through this.” I was reminded of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and my eyes were opened to the greater application than just a children’s story.

Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire. Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy.So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.”So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius!We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions. Daniel 6:3-7 NLT

Even though he did he everything right and had incredible character traits, his enemies found reason to hate him. And perverted the law to kill him. There will soon be, if not already, laws like the ones that these administrators and high officials made. Designed solely to find you at fault for your faith. This will not be a time where we need to be coddled in the Father arms, but a time to stand in confidence of who you are. Remember this, Daniel did not search for a way around the law of the land. He continued in the discipline of his relationship with God. Seeking His guidance, while not hiding to appease the law.

But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Daniel 6:10 NLT

Why did God not honor Daniel’s faithfulness and not allow him to go to the lions den? We often highlight the end of the story of Daniel surviving the lions den. But we forget that Daniel still was put in a lions den. We believe God will save us from the lions den, yet when we get in it we get devoured. Forgetting the faith we had to be saved from it to get through it. We try to bend God’s will to our circumstance, rather than our circumstance to God’s will. We want to be saved from the very thing that will strengthen our trust in God. A hypothetical faith that has not been tested cannot be proven. A faith that says you will be saved from every storm is no faith at all. But a faith that says that God has complete control through the storm is mighty.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT

God is not the author of bad things. The administrators and high officers authored the law that put Daniel in the lion’s den. You see Daniel’s purpose was greater than his circumstance. This is how we must face every lion’s den, with the purpose God has set for our lives. You wonder why you keep getting devoured in the den. When you let the den define who you are then the den determines the outcome. But when you let your purpose define who you are then the den has no power. God used Daniel’s den to expedite the purpose He had for him.

Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you! “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God, and he will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end. He rescues and saves his people;he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel 6:25-28 NLT

So often we are unwilling to walk through the den to the miracle. As I titled this, there is no bench in this life. You can either walk in such a way that you avoid the lions dens of this world and see very little miracles, or you can charge forward into the dark places and see miracles illuminate your path?

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Easter the Great Love Story

“Dad, I’m in love and I want her to be my bride.” “Tell me about her.” I remember the first conversation I had with my Father about you. It’s a moment that has never diminished in excitement for me. I look back and laugh at the fact that I am more in love with you now than I was then. “Well Dad, I must admit she’s not perfect. Actually, she’s dying and will never be able to reach me. But I can’t stop thinking about her. The very thought of our separation consumes me. How do I win her over Dad?” “I know who you speak of, they are as dear to me as they are to you. There is only one way. You have to bear the very thing that is separating the two of you. You have to give your life in place of their’s. Son, to take on all of this mean to be separated from me.” When I heard these two things I realized, the breadth of this task and that you were worth all of it. To be separated from my Father. I always knew what this meant, but the reality of the agony is beyond comparison. Even greater was this pain to being beaten. You have to understand the intimacy of my Father and me. I have be with Him from the beginning, when He started I was there, and when He finishes I will be there also. We never do anything apart from each other, and I had to be forsaken by Him. The one thing that got me through it was the thought of you. I look back on those three days with pure joy, because I knew that I would be able to invite you into what my Father is doing. That you would be able to do greater works than I ever could. “Son, the only way for this to work is for you to overcome death.” “I know. I have a plan for that too.”

Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning,just at sunrise, they went to the tomb.On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” Mark 16:1-3 NLT

The plan to win your heart has been in place for eons, and it’s never changed. To become everything that is keeping you from His Love. To take what you deserve and replace it with what you can never earn. Today you may feel the Jesus wooing your heart, but there is something in the way. Here is the truth when they went to the tomb, they also wondered who would move the obstacle in their way. Just as the stone was rolled away for them, so also is anything you may feel is in your way. You don’t have to be good enough or straighten up. This is Love, ready to fight for your heart before you have reciprocated. He is inviting you in. Not into just an empty tomb, but resurrection power. All you need to do is invite Him in. Admit that you have a sin in your life and repent. Believe that Jesus is your savior. Confess that He is Lord of your life. Don’t worry about the all rules. Love and be loved, and listen to His voice and obey it.
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Patient Bravery

“Do you trust me?” Those seem to be my waking words from God lately. I answer yes, but I still question my answer. Of course I trust God, where else can I go? But do I enough to deny the premature fulfillment of the promises of God from an enemy who can’t fulfill them? I’m not even completely sure if I’m in a place to write about trusting God. Then again where there is the greatest potential is where we are attacked the most. In my weakness He is shown strong, and my weakness brings Him glory.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27:14 NKJV
 
Wait patiently for the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14 NLT
 

I read this passage first in the NLT and it hit me. Patience takes courage. My steps toward the promise are no more powerful than my waiting on the promise. I am believing for a promise right now. I have taken what I thought would be smart moves toward it, but have yet to make any significant headway. Have the steps hindered progress, I doubt it. Here’s why, my belief is not in a promise being kept, but in the keeper of the promise. He is faithful to fulfill all that He promises. If the outcome is not what I perceived it to be, it is not because I screwed it up. For if I could screw it up, I would be able to make it right. So if things are not turning out the way I believe they should be, there are two possibilities. The promise I’m believing for is a pose from the enemy, like when satan tempted Jesus with the nations. Or I am not yet prepared for the promise. Believe in a big God, not just for big promises. When we put Our faith in God and not the promise, we give the enemy less room to work with. We put our faith in the promise and the enemy comes in with options of fulfillment. “Surely you won’t die, God is keeping this from you.” But when we put our faith in God the enemy has one option. “God is not God.” If your faith is in God then there is no power in this phrase. Sadly this does work on many people. Maybe not the same words. It could be “God is not listening” or “God doesn’t care”. Which are all lies. We need to find the agreements we have made to allow us to believe those lies. God is God, and He cares, He listens, He sees, and He moves on our behalf. Trust in Him, He is faithful to fulfill all that He promises. In writing this I read the passage again in the NKJV, He said to me I strengthen the heart of those that wait. Again I say it is our weakness that brings Him glory. I must admit that in my waiting I have not been strong, and Holy Spirit gently reminds me. “I am strengthening you to hold the promise you are waiting for. My promises are unbreakable, but they can break those that aren’t ready to hold the fruit. The purpose of my promise is to build you up and for you to stand on. Stand on my promises and you will see the fruit that you are believing for.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about myweaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

Genesis 3:1-7 The Fall of Man
Matthew 4:1-11 The Temptation of Jesus.
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Open Letter to Singles

Stop writing open letters to your future spouse. You marry the person so you can share things that you can’t share with the rest of the world. If you’re willing to share these thoughts intended for your future spouse with the world, what else are you willing to share? As we wait on the gift of being able to share here’s is how I would aim to be single. There are two types of single people. Single and loving it or single and hating it. If you’re single and loving it, then I write to you in hopes that you’re loving it for the right reasons. If you’re single and hating it, then I write to give you hope. You are single for a reason. Learn that reason and have a happier life. There is selfishness in our life that we tend to ignore. We don’t want to let those parts of our flesh die. What I’ve learned from being in relationships (dating, post-dating, friendship and family) is that they will draw those things out of us. In a healthy relationship, those things get called out of and you have help in the battle. Your selfishness will kill your relationships. This is especially true with marriage and children. Now my point is not to make your goal in life to be “marriage material”, but to live up to who God has called you to be. Yes, singleness is a gift, but it’s not an excuse. If your friends have seen your worst and not called you higher, then you need better friends. They are not being friends, but being tolerant. If you feel called to be single, be willing to make people jealous of your singleness. Be a great example to others of how to love well. Jesus was single, but He was also desirable. He is the greatest example of who a husband should be. Clearly He knew how to navigate thirsty people without hurting them. There are wells inside each of us that need to be filled. There is one that thirst for eternity and Jesus is the living water that satisfies its thirst. But there are other wells for relationship and purpose. The well of purpose is only filled by you doing what you’re designed to do. The well of relationship is filled with friendship and family. And a well especially to be filled by your spouse. The depth of these wells are up to you, and being single is your chance dig deep the well of your marriage’s beginning. As unmarried christians we tend view singleness as the season of finding the right person. A wise man told me that dating without intent is practice for divorce. Without intent you get together until the benefits run out then you go your separate ways. I would add that dating with too much intent is practicing for divorce as well. I was ready to marry every girl I was interested in. I thought I was being honorable in doing so. Honorable to the girl, maybe so. Honorable to God and the call He placed on my life, not so much. I was fully committed to girls that I was not supposed to be committed to. The gift of singleness is not happiness up until you find a date or marriage, but to fully engage with what God has placed before you. It is being able to go to coffee without planning the wedding. It is being able to lead and serve without expectation. It’s being able to genuinely tell the opposite sex that you love them without them thinking it’s weird or you want something. Where the motives of your actions come from love and not manipulation. You don’t need to impress someone for them to really love you. Dating should be an invitation to join with you in what God is already doing. Willingness to risk rejection to make the invite can only come from the security of sonship. Don’t wait until you’re married to stop being selfish. Who you are before marriage will be who you bring into it. The truest gift of singleness is preparation for marriage, whether on this side of eternity of the next. The gift of singleness is not a ticket out of marriage. Don’t miss your opportunity to get yourself together before you multiply or step into eternity. The gift of singleness is something you offer your spouse at the altar. What have you saved and prepared to offer them, and ultimately Jesus. Thus the gift of singleness is the sacrifice of marriage without the benefits. Do you still accept this gift? What we need to be asking ourselves daily is, how can I be a living sacrifice today? Blameless and holy, worthy to present myself at the altar. We will all present ourselves to Christ, but some will also present themselves at the altar to a spouse. I know what I offer will never measure up to what I receive, but all the more I will cherish the gift. For I aim to offer my very best. The best I have is all of me, seeking to become more like Christ.

1 John 4:10
1 Corinthians 7:7
Ephesians 1:4

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