Purposeful Faith

Category - Adventures

Moving Into The Scary

Moving Into The Scary

Do you trust yourself? I mean, really, trust yourself?

I have noticed a little trend in my house. My son asks me for something, I clearly say no and then he asks me again and again until I say yes. Feeling frustrated that I gave in, I ask myself, “Why can’t I hold firm?”

Underneath it all, I know it is because I doubt my decision. I fear that my direction is all wrong, that he will suffer as a result and that things will not work out in my favor.

This kind of thinking is not isolated to parenting. In many arenas of life, I ask myself:

Will people want to move with me if I am honest?
Will they get angry if I tell the truth?
What will they think of me if I am real to me?
How will things play out if I take a hard stand?

This gets me to wondering, what would happen if I happened to stand in the shoes of John the baptist, or rather, in the water with him? As I stood there, face-to-face with Jesus, looking into his eyes, him standing before me, would I repeat the same words as John?

“I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” Mt. 3:14  

Absolutely, I would!

But, the real question is-how would I respond when Jesus replied, “Let it be…? Mt. 3:15

Would I argue with him? “But Jesus,
I really am just this sinner who has no right to honor you in this way?”

Would I laugh and hand the baton to someone else saying,
“I don’t want to be responsible if things don’t go well”?

Would I baptize but be filled with grief
that I am not performing up to the standards of – ahem – God?!

Would I put his body under, yet miss the moment,
because I was filled with anxiety?

When we live unsure of our calling, we miss the chance to live it.

I praise God that John was obedient, submissive and honoring to the will of God, despite his flaws.

When we live questioning our abilities, we live by inability.

Yet, because John listened, Jesus was able to display incredible humility, submissive honor to God and a relatable human-nature that is touching to see.

When we letting our minds pull us around on a leash, we live chained like a dog.

John received an honor that no one in the whole world would ever have, only because he accepted.

Do you act decisively and accept the gifts of God
or do you run, skip and hike over them, landing on safer ground?

One who answers the call of God, has an opportunity to hear the incredible and sees the unthinkable. Taking a step towards his will, means taking a step towards his heart.

The result is sometimes unexplainable:

At that moment heaven was opened, and (Jesus) saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Mt. 3:16-17

Could you imagine the honor John must have felt to be a part of this extravaganza? Can you imagine the heart-pumping honor it would be to watch the literal presence of God, the Spirit, descend like a dove? Can you imagine the million little light bulbs that would be flashing in your mind as you heard the approval that God grants over his beloved children? 

I praise God that John basically said, “This is me. I am unsaintly, perhaps unsightly, unable and unworthy to have this honor, but if God is entrusting it to me, I will do it anyway.”

How often should we speak the same to our self? “This is me. I am unsaintly, perhaps unsightly, unable and unworthy to have this honor, but if God is entrusting it to me, I will do it anyway.”

What glorious unveiling may we be walking into-and not even know?

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Caution: How Not to be of The World (Part I)

How to not be of the world

We have a choice to make.  Do we believe the World or do we believe the Lord?  We have to live in this world, but we are smart to discover how not to be of the world.

Because the fact of the matter is that you can’t serve both.
You will either serve God or you will serve the world.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.  (Matthew 6:24)

The world tries to tell us that we need to be rich, powerful, successful, beautiful, funny, outgoing and (fill in the blank).

But, as Christians, the World is not our maker  – and it is certainly not our master.

Yet, sometimes we act like it is.  It tells us what we need to believe, how we should act and what we should say.  And we follow in step. Its words can become louder than the Word of God – especially if we aren’t taking time to hear the Word of God.

The world’s magnetic pull draws us close and we tend to get consumed us with its standards rather than getting consumed with the one who holds all life, all love and all power.

The truth is, we can’t focus on two destinations.  It’s impossible.   You can’t drive to two places at once.  And that is exactly what we are attempting to do.  We say we are driving towards Christ, yet that enticing off ramp pulls us off our course.

We continually get distracted when we take our eyes off the road leading to Christ.

We follow signs that direct us to pleasure and enjoyment – and we get sidetracked.  We see the stop sign that offers a perfect moment to look at our needs in the mirror – and our voyage is halted.  We see a billboard that advertises a perfect face of beauty, riches and power – and we get thinking.  Then, we get lost.

Let’s not set ourselves on a crash course.  In order to do this, we must think about what we are thinking about – and we must think about what we shouldn’t be thinking about.   Likewise, we have to look at what we are believing – and not believing. Because, we either have our eyes set on Christ or we are swerving down the roads of the world, ready to head straight into a ditch.

God calls us to focus.  To keep our eyes on Christ.
To avoid looking at what everyone else is doing, being, and saying – and to instead see Him.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God (Hebrews 12:2 The Message)

When our eyes are on Christ, they are not on the world.
And, when our eyes are on the world, they are not on Christ.

Lets fix our eyes on the One who provides all direction, all hope and all purpose by keeping focused eyes.

  • Focused eyes understand He is the One who provides all good things.
  • Focused eyes, let the world become blurry.
  • Focused eyes allow God to magnify the right ministry opportunities.
  • Focused eyes spend time connecting with God on the daily basis.
  • Focused eyes see those that need love.
  • Focused eyes are focused on the needs of others before themselves.
  • Focused eyes are not just focused on TV.
  • Focused eyes understand that God has big plans for them.
  • Focused eyes know that God is greater than any circumstance.
  • Focused eyes know that God has not forgotten them.
  • Focused eyes know that God is alive, well and aware of all things.
  • Focused eyes know God will rescue and restore.

Focused eyes do not veer off the road.  They steer clear of potholes.  They avoid dark areas.

The result is a life that is full of Christ, abundant in love, strong in purpose, weak in pride, engaging in relationships, authentic in grace and powerful in faith.  We all want this.

When we meet Jesus, we want him to turn to us and say, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21)

When our eyes are focused, we won’t miss out on what God has for us.  The opposite happens – we see ourselves and our lives with amazing clarity.  We receive the goodness, the peace and the love that God has in store for us as believers because we are not sidetracked.  We need not fear because the Lord will keep us safe.

how to not be of the world

Stay tuned for Part II where we will discover who we are in light of our God.

How to Run Hard for the Lord

How to run hard for the Lord

God doesn’t answer based on what we want, he answers based on what we need.

We may think we need peace and he says no, you need trials. We may think we need joy – he says perseverance.  We may think blessings – he says endurance.  We may think money – he says contentment.  We may think appreciation – he says love.

I was on the hunt for “encouragement”…

After my “big rejection”, an amazing friend who is wise beyond her years, strong in the Lord and faithful to his call, sent me this verse:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”  Hebrews 12:1

I think she wanted to encourage me in my race, to help me with endurance, but what God revealed was something far deeper and even more convicting.  Let me explain…

I love a good race.  I love competing and I love pushing through my personal barriers physically and mentally. I get the idea of running a race for the Lord.  Why?

I feel ready to give it all. I feel ready to explode off the starting line and to push no matter what my body feels.  I want to arrive at the gate of heaven and fall in front of my King with a fast beating heart, with sweat on my brow. I want to fall before him out of breath, knowing I gave it all.  I don’t want to have an ounce of push left.

I want this so badly.  But still, I get caught looking at the sidelines. I look at the crowds of people telling me to follow them, I look at my own inadequacies and I pump my arms with pride.

God knows this.  He sees this. And, as any fine coach would do – to make me the best runner for his kingdom – he trains me. He pushes me.  He sends me through hard training days; days with some pain – some trials. These trials serve to mold me into a champion runner for his kingdom.  They strip me of my own ways and the world’s ways – to make me more like him, the ultimate champion.

Even so, sometimes I wonder, despite all this, why I still slow down?

And, this was why Hebrews 12:1 was so powerful.  It was this part…“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.”  

God bugged me with this verse to see that: I can’t run loaded with weight.  I have a part in this race.

Sin weight slows me down.  It trips me up.  It keeps me from Him.

And, when sin is strapped on, its burden is heavy.  It’s consuming. It stops us in our tracks. It distracts us and trips us up.  We can try to pretend it is not there, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t.  

God is faithful to keep bugging us to address it.  When we do, we grow.  If we don’t, we fall.

I may have been trying to run a “victory”, but sometimes a “failure or a disappointment” ends up being the greatest “victory”. Why? Because as we fail, we can see our own faults and we hear him whispering, “Confess.”

I didn’t want trials.  I didn’t want pain.  I didn’t want rejection.  I didn’t want humiliation.

God said, “It’s not about you. Confess.”

I confess Lord, I have sinned.  I want all of you.  I can’t mentally pursue the race you have set before me when my mind is weighed down by my own desires and my own sin.

It is easy to want joy, peace, contentment and blessings.  It is easy to want encouragement and motivation, but God is operating from the throne of all knowledge, all power and all sovereignty.  In his seat, he sees yesterday, today and tomorrow.  He knows precisely what we need to finish our race. He knows precisely what will hold us back from finishing.

He wants us to be champions. He wants us to run with speed and power and strength.
He wants us to finish strong and joyful. 

We are more than just conquerors in Christ Jesus.

What baggage holds you back?  What do you need to confess?  What trials might God be using to train you?

When we confess, God has a greater gift in store.  The gift of speed and endurance that helps us run our race unencumbered.