Tag Archives: future

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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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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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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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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I’m Still Here, Keep Going

Yesterday I failed miserably. Before that I had many great successes, but still more blundering failures. Yet I am here today to tell the tale. Still the greatest thing I have to repent from is the comparison of my faithfulness to God’s. I tell God “whether you come through or not, I’ll remain faithful”. Then I turn my back on Him like it were a normal part of my daily life. In His kindness, He says “thank you” and actually follows through with His Word. I wake from my slumber and take another breath of the air that He has granted me. Often forgetting to thank Him with the very breath He put in my lungs.

Take a deep breath.

He can’t stop loving you. Imagine this. Your sitting in the Fathers arms. You crawled there from your latest stumbling. You look up, maybe expecting a scold. But all you see is a smile. “Wait, don’t you know what I just….” you say as you look back and see nothing there. Your past is gone. You can’t experience both Grace and your past. As you sit in His presence you begin to feel Him move away. He says “Come play, make, create. You’re not made for what you’re leaving behind, but for what I have set before you. Step into it. Get up again and again and again.”

Keep Going

Here I am saying these things, being the voice I was meant to be. I have many failures, but a bigger future. I must admit I was weighed down from my failing for a some time, almost enough to keep me from writing this. But God, in my greatest desperation says come on. Write it. Say it. Do it. You are righteous, and the righteous rise again. From the greatest defeat He rose from the grave, now in your failing you’ll rise again. Don’t stop to listen to your past. Listen to my voice and I will lead you the path of righteousness. I can’t help but give you hope. Take it with you wherever you go.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)

For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity. Proverbs 24:16 (ESV)

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 (NLT)

The Lord gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly. He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and merciful,slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. Psalm 103:6-13 (NLT)

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Master of Peace

Every step you take is a step into power. Can this be true? Can I really step out in faith and there be power behind it? The biggest deterrent to stepping out in faith is the doubt that it will even make a difference. The second step may be harder than the first. Every step you take in faith changes you and changes the world around you. We sometimes forget that we stepped out in faith, that is when our feet fail us. When Peter walked on water every step he took literally changed the physics of the world around him. We see Jesus out in a storm and everything in us says get out to where Jesus is. But we forget that Jesus is standing in the midst of a storm. We head His way and all is good, then we look around and think well….this is a storm. We expect Jesus to stop the storm before we make it out him, but He didn’t calm the storm until He was back at the boat. He took Peter through the storm before He calmed the storm. I hate that. I want to walk on water, but calm water. No one wants to walk through a storm. We often mistake the demeanor of Jesus as the condition of the call. In the same respect we should not let the condition of the call determine our own demeanor. We want our step to be what changes the conditions. Peace is the condition of your heart, a raging sea is only a condition of your circumstance. Jesus walked in peace, with every step He took He created peace. But walking in peace is different than walking through a peaceful place. You can walk in peace and be walking through a storm. Two interesting things about peace. One, you can’t walk in peace until you’ve walked through a storm. Two, peace cannot be walked through. Peace is a strong tower. Peace is authority. Peace cannot be shaken. Peace is a position we, as Christians, are entitled to. We are adopted into the inheritance of Christ, and He is the Prince of Peace. He has mastered peace, therefore we also should master peace amidst the storm.

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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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Joy Through the Promise

What does Joy look, sound and feel like? It’s not simply putting on a smile and singing happy songs. I can do that and still be depressed or bitter about one thing or another. Does happiness equal joy? I wrestled with this thought for awhile. I know that Joy is our strength, but does that mean we simply grin though trails? Whether that be temptation or painful circumstances. For Joy to get us through something, it has to be something tangible that we can hold onto. A strong point that we can tie off to when the winds and the waves come crashing in. The essence of Joy beyond the feeling of elation it is an unshakable trust. Trust is the backbone of Joy. Being able to rejoice in what is not seen. Everything we do and say stems from this core. What the enemy does is attack it with fear and doubt. Getting us out of alignment. When we are out of alignment we respond from a misaligned place. We respond through pain and not through Joy. We have to get ourselves back into alignment. Fear says you can’t and doubt says it wouldn’t matter if you did. The truth is you can and it matters that you do. Joy is not birthed from a the result of an action. Joy comes from being able to do what God is asking no matter the outcome. Not putting our faith in the outcome, but in the God who controls the outcome. Joy is knowing that you are delighted in no matter if you fail or not. Joy is a little boy walking up to a tee with the strut of a MLB player. He is not confident in his stats, he has none because he’s eight. His confidence is in his father that is sitting in the stands. He knows that no matter if he hits it out of the park or fouls it, his father is cheering him on. His dad is not delighted that his son performs well, but simply because he is on the field and he is his son. We put so much confidence in our performance that when we fail we think God is disappointed. We hide behind our stats, when they go down we think His delight in us goes down as well. Eventually it will take us out. We won’t even want to play anymore. 

Often we try to avoid the juggling act. We want to keep everything up in the air and balanced. But we miss understand juggling. It’s not an act of keeping things in the air, but throwing things up and letting them fall. It’s the rise and the fall that gives the illusion of things suspended in the air. We expect everything to stay up, that is why we fumble. We want it all to stay up, we throw it all in the air expecting it to stay. When it falls we frantically try to pick it up and in that process everything else falls. Then we say, let it all fall and God will take care of it. I just won’t even try to juggle. Stop, just stop. Letting things fall apart is not trusting God. Trusting God is being unafraid to catch what is coming your way and unafraid to let go of what needs to be tossed to God. Juggling is misunderstood because we think we have to keep our eyes on our hands to be successful. In actuality you have to keep your eyes up to juggle well. Knowing where your hands are you see the ball at it’s peak and you know where it will land. An awareness of where everything is. If we were to translate this into our lives. One hand would be you and the other God. The ball would be trials, opportunity, or blessings. Know where you are and know where God is, and keep your eyes on eternity. See what God is tossing your way and how it affects eternity then catch it. The most important part of catching is having an open hand to do so. To have an open hand you have to release what you’re holding on to now. Toss it up, watch as it arcs across your eternal perspective. But when it leaves your line of sight, trust that God is going to catch. So often we perceive God through our mistakes, if I fumble the ball surely God will fumble it too. We have it backwards, we are made in His image not He in ours. We need to perceive ourselves through His perfection, He doesn’t fumble the ball so I am capable of not fumbling it. We try to watch it all the way into God’s hand to see what He does with it and we lose perspective. When we lose perspective, things seem as though they fall apart.

So much I’ve tried to figure out. How will this journey end what will it look like? What am I missing trying figure out the future? We often step out in faith with this big picture in mind of what God is going to do with this step. Mid way through it the questions begin. If we were to put a twist in the juggling analogy for a bit, and say that the ball is our perspective. We are nestled in God’s hand and He whispers, “Hey I want you to do something great.” Then we step out in faith, He tosses up. At the peak of the arc we see the big picture and become filled Joy for what He is going to do. Then we catch the ball, we are walking out what was asked of us. But where is God, what is He doing? We want God to be doing the big picture things right now, right in front of us. Well He is doing those things, maybe not right in front of us. This is where Joy comes in. Being able to trust what God is doing with what you have let go of. Remembering the elation of being in His hand. Avoid being caught up with the results or the stats. So often we search for the results of the promise given and we forget the one who gave the promise. Even the greatest examples of faith didn’t hold onto what was promised, but who promised. All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. Hebrew 11:13 Long for heaven but don’t long for the end. Welcome the promise, don’t worship the promise. Want for God, not what He can provide.

Will we be like Abram and try to conceive the promise through his doubt. Which has caused much turmoil for many generations. The size of the promise will be the size of the problem if we try to conceive it in our own time. Or will we be like Joseph and trust the promise is coming, outside of his timing inside a prison. I’m sure Joseph had his doubts, the difference is he never acted on those doubts. Rest assured that no matter how we wait on the promise or what doubts we act on, God always comes through. God gave Abram a new name and followed through with the promise.

He’s preparing us for the promise: Joseph learned the Egyptian language and how to manage both a household and a prison.

He’s putting purpose to the promise: Joseph came to terms and forgave his brothers, and saved his nation.

He’s pulling our pretexting from the promise: God showed Joseph his dreams were about more than being worshiped. 

Let’s get back to tee ball. Your Father wants to see you on the field. Whether you hit a home run or strike out, He is there to cheer you on. Your performance doesn’t change the outcome of the game. We are playing in a game that has already been won. How much we win by is up to us.

(Don’t take this as me advocating the “everyone’s a winner” philosophy. Every game has a loser. It’s just not us when it comes to eternity)
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I Am Flawed, He is Faithful

My first car was a Mercury Grand Marquis. I had big plans for this car. My granddad gave it to me, it was light blue and got terrible gas mileage. My first project was changing out the stereo to a retrofit iPad stand, to eliminate the need for the cassette tape to aux cord convertor. Sadly, just before I was to get this started I totaled it. To testify to the beastliness of this car, it damaged the three cars in front of me. Its safe to say my insurance rate never got very low after that. Yet, this was not the first of my many accidents. My first accident was immediately after I got my permit, due failing the driving test. We won’t go into that. After getting my permit we went straight downtown, my mom thought it would be a great idea for me to parallel park. I must admit that I was fairly confident in my ability to do this, also I’m very proficient at it now. In the middle of my 7th or 8th point in the turn a bicycle cop tapped on my window. I rolled down my window *gulp* me:”Yes sir?” Cop:”You know you just hit that car in front of you?”. Luckily he just had me leave a note on their car since they were from out of state. Out of my five years of driving, I’ve had at least 11 wrecks. From small bumps to total losses. A majority of which were in my latest vehicle, a 2005 Ford F150. It was the work truck of all work trucks. It goes without saying that I desired something better. I wanted power windows and locks, and just maybe an aux cord. Thru out my ownership of this truck I had this verse come to mind multiple times. If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. Luke 16:10 NLT  To be honest I would beat myself up about it. I would see how other people would take care of their vehicles. I would compare myself with them and I would fall short. I wouldn’t keep my truck as clean as theirs, or keep my bumper on for as long as they would. I would disqualify myself for God to trust me with more. I replaced faithfulness with comparison. I wasn’t being asked to keep their standard of faithfulness. My truck totaled a Ford Ranger and a Honda Accord before it was taken out. This was my first accident to be determined not at fault, I sense I’m turning a new leaf. As I waited to hear back from the adjustor, God whispered two things to me. God’s faithfulness is not determined by my faithfulness, and faithfulness is not flawlessness. He showed me how He cares for me no matter my performance. Also He began to show me where I was faithful with my truck. I kept the gas tank full and kept up with regular maintenance. It was used on many outreaches and helped several people move. In the end insurance paid out 87% of what I paid originally for it and 33% more than I could have sold it for. God was faithful thru all of my shortcomings. I am now able to use the money from my truck for what God has trusted me with next.

What has God trusted you with, that you have set a man’s standard of faithfulness for?
What effort have you put towards pleasing man, where God has only asked you to trust Him?
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