Tag Archives: ambition

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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Persona and Platform in Perspective

I’ve had a few things come up recently that got me thinking. One was an interview of a guy, who had a popular show that I personally didn’t care for. In the interview I discovered that this guy has a tremendous Spirit filled relationship with Jesus. Instantly I became more interested in the show. Another was a TED talk from a guy who has a very different belief system than I do. He started his talk stating some parts of his belief system and how it pertained to his talk. I was very interested in his talk and it was very insightful. But I was tempted to dismiss what he had to say because of his first stated beliefs. Holy Spirit urged me not to dismiss or devalue what he had to say simply for believing differently. I observed these two instances in the midst of the @socalitybarbie increase of popularity. Authenticity and real community have quickly become the height of most conversations, and very much a part of my internal conversation. I viewed my interaction with these two guys in a very unique way.

In our nature we have the proclivity to judge people in one of two ways. We either judge them by their performance or persona, by the image they put out there. The other way we judge is by their beliefs. A persons performance is not necessarily a bad thing. It simply may be the image that the character they are playing has. Someone my host a show as a character and be a totally different person in reality. We see actors do it all the time, they play the role of the protagonist and we don’t hold it against them. The second is a bit more dangerous. We know their belief system and we judge everything they do or say through that lens. Whether or not what they have to say has value, we blow it off because what they believe goes against our beliefs. We let what we disagree with become the thing that comes between what we do agree on. As a follower of Christ, I believe certain things are sin that a non believer will not count as sin. Until they become a follower as well, I cannot hold them the standard I hold myself to. Are they still in sin, yes. Are they acting against their beliefs, no. My job is not to point out how bad their sin is, it is be kind and lead them to the Christ I follow. When someone begins to act against their belief, that is when we can call people out. Jesus didn’t go through a casino and turn over the tables, He went into the church where they were using religion to steal money. Stealing is wrong in both places, but one is structured around taking people’s money. Until the casino believes that taking people’s money is wrong it will continue to take it. Let’s be honest though, if a casino gets your money it’s your own fault. We’re getting into legal vs. moral issues now. The reverse is also true. Someone may present something we wholeheartedly believe in, but at the core you have very different beliefs. My warning is to not let the fact that someone is presenting a single mutual ideal lead you to believe that you are kinsmen. See people in their wholeness and their hurt. The masks that people hide behind are only a reflection of their pain. Whether you believe the same thing or not, don’t let it get in the way of enjoying each others company. Live by your convictions and lead your friends to Christ through your love for them.

This is where @socalitybarbie comes in. Her account is based on the following. Instagammers are posting photos that are or seem to be staged with tags such as #liveauthentic or #adventure. Her frustration, some of these grams are not authentic and staged. Her solution, call out the inauthentic by making fun of it and being exaggeratedly inauthentic. She now has the popularity of all the accounts she makes fun of thru this exaggerated inauthenticity. I ask this of @socalitybarbie, to steward her influence well. She is now heard, and what she has to say can either keep people in check or simply become inauthentic. She must remember her beliefs and why she started. She got me thinking about the point of all the social platforms. It reminded what exactly they are, social platforms. In the same way someone can have their own show or share a TED talk, social media is your platform to share your beliefs and your persona. The original intent of social media was to keep people connected, but is has become so much more than that. My human brain can only keep a handful of healthy relationship before some begin to fall off. No computer program can help me with that. No matter how much of someone’s status I see, our relationship is my responsibility. Relationships are maintained through communication not status updates. Social platforms really have very little to do with real relationships. They are the platform for which people watch their friend’s personas. If you stage a photo, this doesn’t mean your whole life is staged. This is the way you choose to use your platform. If you don’t share all your darkest moments, this doesn’t mean all your days have to be primrose and daisies. The greater your platform the more cherished your privacy. You’re not going to tell the world what you tell your closest friends. That comes against the intimacy needed for healthy relationships. Don’t let the fear of being inauthentic keep you from expression. Don’t live life through your platform, live life through real relationships. Use your platform to share what you love. Whether that’s pictures of your kids or of your Kinfolk magazine. Remember this, everything you do sends a message whether you share it or not. If you have 100 or 100k, people are listening to you. Jesus only sought to influence 12 men, yet He changed the world.

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Gifting Without Boldness

How often do we have the gift but lack the boldness to use it? We know we have gifts, but we don’t believe in ourselves enough to use it. Boldness is being able to put your gifting into action. There’s a big difference in having a gift and using a gift. It is like having a gift card and leaving it in your wallet. You know the value of it and what you can get with it, but unless its used it is just a plastic card in your wallet. The greatness that God has put in you is only limited by your expression of it.

Boldness does not come from training and education. The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 (NLT) Boldness comes from ordinary people who have been with Jesus. When we depend on training we will only do what we’ve been trained to. We will never innovate or do anything new, and when training fails us we will have nothing to lean on. When we lean on Jesus for the leverage we need, that is when breakthrough happens. We are able to push past the boundaries of the situation and allow Glory to shine on it.

Boldness is a necessity for growth. And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:29-31 (NLT) You may have to do something bold before you see any growth, by may I mean you will. Every breakthrough you have and will ask for is the conduit that God will use to have His Word preached. His Word is necessary for your breakthrough, in the same way your breakthrough is necessary for His Word to be preached. Without your breakthrough His Word is void, and His Word does not return void. Without your breakthrough His Word is not preached, for it is through the word of our testimony that the Word is spread. Through His blood and our testimony is the only way those around you will see breakthrough. We need boldness to share our testimony, that boldness comes from our breakthroughs. We so often expect God to stretch out His hand on our behalf when we have yet to stretch out our own. It’s a beautiful cycle. Be bold, God moves, in turn He gives us more boldness.

It is now up to us what we do with the new found boldness. Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (NLT) We cannot leave breakthrough veiled, for that will leave hearts hardened towards God. We have to be masterful with our boldness. Using it to soften the hearts of men. Boldness without a breakthrough is false confidence and will hurt people. For you are not gaining boldness from a place of truth. When people push against your false confidence it will crumble and people will get hurt. It is cockiness birthed from pride. When boldness comes from a place of breakthrough, you understand what it takes for that breakthrough to happen. Boldness from breakthrough insights confidence to those that see it. They see that you understand what they are going through, because you have been there before. Don’t hide behind timid Christianity because of lack of confidence. Ask for the boldness to do what He is asking you to do. Christ came so that we can be very bold. Let us not deny the gift He has given us. Your gifts are what show strength and beauty at the same time. Be bold with who you are and your gifting will shine bright.

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Anchored to Set Sail

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭5-8‬ NLT)

We’ve all been there. The place that feels like you have to hear from that one person. Where seems as though everything hinges on whether or not they reach out to you. You feel like your swinging from a string and their response will cut it, how they do so determines whether or not you fall into a pit of despair or a pool of refreshing water. While you wait you’re swinging between emotions of hopeful bliss and doubtful despair. Will they offer a job after that interview or will she say yes to coffee/will he ever ask me to coffee? It’s the most natural of human responses to situations we’re not sure about. Yet the most complicated. If mismanaged can lead to some pretty dark places. We let this happen when pursue something out of ambition rather than faith. Decisions made out of ambition and not faith are destined to fail. Ambition is trusting in the plans you’ve made, faith is trusting in plans God has made. Both seem grand and quite impossible, but only one is able to be fulfilled. When you start to achieve ambitious goals your pride grows, when faith goals are reached you trust grows. 
Ambitious decisions will always cause a wavering soul. Using a perceived ability to achieve an unforseeable outcome. When we are anchored in our abilities and those abilities fail us, we are cast freely among the waves. You will never be truly trusted, because you will be known as ambitious and not faithful. Big things are not given the ambitious, but to the faithful. 

Decisions made in faith will always be solid. Using an unseen force to make up for your inability to achieve an unforseeable outcome. We know our abilties will fail, just as we trust God to make up for our weakness. Though at times we feel that the waves will crash over us, our anchor holds in Christ. A person that can be tossed about, and still trust God will be given a bigger boat. 
When we’re anchored in Christ, we move when He moves. Being anchored doesn’t mean being stationary. God is the master of the sea, the shore and the anchor. The sea is what is happening around us. It’s what we see when we cast our nets, the wind and waves. What people think and say about us while our nets fill up. When God is working under the surface, pushing fish beyond our capacity into our nets. The shore is our rest, it’s what we search for while at sea. The shore can be found two ways, by searching for it or crashing into it. The anchor is what we hold on to when the shore seems far and the sea is rough. 

Near the end of August 2014, I got a word spoken over me to not be anchored. Be mobile and ready to move, God is going to take you lots of places. You’re going to learn lots of things before you start your ministry. A few weeks before that I had committed to God, that I would stay planted where I am as long as He says so. Whether that’s two or ten years. As soon as I heard don’t be anchored, the little man inside of me that actually expresses excitement did a cart wheel. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to be where I was, but because I wanted to move. I wasn’t looking for a way out, but a way into obedience. 
Ever since then I’ve been very careful of what and who I anchor to before I set sail. As well as taking up anchors where need be. Through all this every song or scripture that has anchor in has stood out to me. I began to ask, how do remain unanchored while being anchored in Christ? I found that God was not saying unanchor from me, but from where you are. So often I would be tied off to a place that God did not want me to be. Not even necessarily bad places, just places where God already wanted me to move on. Faithfulness is not just staying no matter what, it’s moving no matter what. No matter how good it feels to stay, when God moves be anchored to Him not the situation. We want to be anchored in Christ, but when He moves we freak out. Because, God can’t move without our permission…right? We say things like, “God I’m not going to me till you move” when He has already moved. We fear our movement will somehow disrupt the shipping channels God has set up. The reality is we can go in any direction we want. So long as we stay anchored in Him, He will pull us back on track when we need to be pulled back. When we keep Christ centered, we can operate with in the radius He has set. Now here is where you think I should say, faithfully operate in a small radius and God will expand it. This is true only for the size net you can cast. The longer you operate within the anchoring of God, the more you learn how He moves and trust Him. Thus the smaller your operational freedom needs to be. Your freedom then is no longer based on your ability, but your trust. 
When I’m anchored in Christ and He moves, I’m just along for the ride. If I were to be anchored to something else as well, I’d be pulled two directions and one of the lines is going to snap. How much I hold on to one will determine the amount of pain caused. Also the one that doesn’t snap is the one I worship. If your line snaps to your anchor in God, the other thing you’re anchored to is not firm enough to hold you. It will not keep you safe from the storm, you are just going to drag it into the storm with you. When you lose hold of your anchor in God, I’m not talking about your salvation. Even though your line may snap that is tied to God, He is still master of the sea and the shore. He just may let you drift at sea a while, before you crash into the shore. Before Christ you didn’t even have boat to float in. You were just drowning. You can spend your life drifting in a life raft or you can learn to set anchor in the Lord. Where your anchor is where you place your trust. The stronger the anchor, the bigger the boat it can handle. Right now I feel as though I can barely handle a paddle boat, but God wants me to capitain a warship. I’ll never learn the open seas until I set sail outside the pond. My prayer is not necessarily smooth sailing, but an unshakable trust in a God bigger than the storm. 
Will you be anchored in your ambitions or your faith? 
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