Steps to your dreams

•June 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

  
As I was running up and down these stairs, Jesus started talking to me about this: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”

Of course, this shows the awesome partnership with Jesus, as he gives us the desires of our heart (Ps. 37:4), then he even establishes our steps. 

But as I ran up these uneven, rocky stairs, it wasn’t always easy to get a sure footing. And I realized the parallel, that many times we need to let Jesus establish one footing before we go to the next one. 

As someone who loves to dream, and will often see glimpses of the end goal, this is challenging. But letting Jesus establish our steps is crucial and actually essential. If we don’t let this happen, we’re really just wasting our time. “Unless the LORD builds the house, the work of the builders is wasted” (Ps 127:1). Wow, strong truth. 

For me, I’m asking Jesus, which step are you establishing. Make it clear so I can have sure footing to move to the next one. 

That will never happen?

•June 11, 2015 • Leave a Comment

“…that will never happen.”

So many times we will have thoughts and dreams, some even inspired by God, and our first response will be, “well, that will never happen.” This happened to me today as I was thinking and dreaming about how to better keep our family and extended family more connected. Instantly that phrase, “that’ll never happen,” popped into my head. I was given a choice right then.

You see, sometimes there are seemingly logical reasons to say this phrase: money, time, past experiences, and even resistance from others. But God sees things totally different. To Him, all things are possible (Mt. 19:26). He actually places these desires in us (Phil 2:13) and then gives us the desires of our heart (Ps. 37:14). He can make a way where there is no way.

We have a choice. Do we believe God or our current or past circumstance? For me, I took that thought captive and started to thank God for this dream and desire. I thanked Him that he will make a way because I know it’s His desire for our families to be close and to thrive. Instead of agreeing with what is not, I agreed with what will be.

We will always have contrary thoughts pop in our head. The key is what will we declare and agree with. What will we speak aloud? The power of life and death is in the tongue (Prov 18:21). What we declare matters because it releases agreement. My encouragement to all of us is to take those contrary thoughts captive and declare the truth instead (2 Cor 10:5). This agreement releases the power (grace) to make the desires He’s placed in us happen.

“bear fruit with patience”

•March 30, 2015 • Leave a Comment

  

“bear fruit with patience” This concept has challenged me over and over. 

If you look at the full parable, I think my life has reflected every stage before the seed (or word) was in “good” soil. Maybe it was always in good soil, but the seed just took a long time to die. ;). Either way, I’m still challenged with how to bear fruit with patience. I have a tendency to want to rush God and not “wait patiently for Him to act”; to not “strive to enter His rest.” 

What’s helping me today is “hearing the word.” This is not someone reading to you out loud ;), but I believe reading the word until God begins to speak to you through it. The word is actually a person, Jesus. When we begin to hear him, that’s when we receive the patience to bear fruit. For me, it’s like a nudge of emotion on my heart. When you think, that really “hits” me. 

Once I get to that place, I can then “hold it fast in an honest and good heart.” To me this is choosing to believe what he’s telling you through his word over your circumstance. It’s a choice. And when you hold it fast in the honest and good heart that Jesus has paid for us to have, then we bear fruit with patience. 

What’s he telling you to hold fast to?

#word #holyweek #jesus #easter

Conflict

•January 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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Conflict. No one really likes it, but it’s a reality of life. In any relationship and especially a marriage relationship, conflict is an invitation to deeper intimacy, if we let it. I’ve found this to be so true with me and my wife. When we address our issues head on, we eventually get to a place of understanding each other and grow closer. However, when we avoid conflict, we begin to sabotage our connection. I would even say the enemy of intimacy in relationships is avoidance. Nothing good ever comes from avoiding conflict.

Jesus addresses conflict really well in Matthew 18 in regard to someone hurting you. In fact, Jesus is so clear about addressing this, that if we follow this model we will not only see amazing freedom in our relationships, but will start to reflect and release heaven on earth. Wow! Read this:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭18‬:‭15-20‬ ESV)

Wow! There are amazing promises and power attached to doing conflict well.
From experience, my only caution to Jesus’ words here is choose your battles. Not every altercation is worth a confrontation. Sometimes I’ve realized I’m being overly sensitive and just need to let it go, giving them the benefit of the doubt. If I am uncertain about a situation, I will usually pray about it a day or two. If it still bothers me, then I know that I need to have a healthy confrontation.

Conflict is not always fun, but it can be your friend. Done well, it can bring you closer and build a deeper and stronger relationship. It even has the power to prove the world that we are His disciples. “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” John 13:35.

Jesus completely sympathizes with us

•January 19, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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Sometimes we think Jesus can’t relate to us. He can’t possibly understand how we feel or what we’re going through. The amazing thing is, he completely understands.

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15

Not only was he tempted by the devil for 40 days, which by itself must’ve been horrible. He grew up mocked as an illegitimate child, was shunned by his own brothers and sisters, was constantly berated by religious people, and eventually dragged into unfair court and crucified. Yet, in all of this, he did not sin. This all means he knows exactly how you feel AND more importantly, he knows how to empower you and help you through any situation free from sin. That is amazing!

You also might think that Jesus doesn’t know how you feel after you sin because once you do, everything feels way worse. But the fact is, he understands this as well. Although Jesus never sinned he did experience all of our sin on the cross. He actually became our sin (including sickness and pain) so that we might becomes His righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). So in every way, every situation, every feeling, Jesus totally sympathizes with and understands you. But it doesn’t stop there. :).

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews‬ ‭4‬:‭16‬

Nothing can keep us from coming to Jesus for help. Nothing. There’s no barrier. We can go boldly. He will always help and give power (grace). He will never withhold. Wow!

This is more of a side note, but think I need to say it. We don’t need to experience sin in order to help someone to freedom. If you’ve experienced freedom in an area, you will probably have more passion and faith in that area for others to be set free. However, Jesus proves that we can set the captives free without having done what they have done. Don’t let your lack of experience hold you back from helping someone else. Jesus has it all covered. “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 Jn 4:17).

Stop the wrestling match

•January 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, you are a new creation; the old is gone, the new has begun” (2 Cor 5:17). As westerners, maybe all humans, we are challenged in living from a new place. Our tendency is to tack on new understanding to our old thinking, rather than living from the new paradigm. When we tack on, we create a bunch of tension in our lives, acting out of a wrong place and then being mad at ourselves for doing it. It’s like a phrase I heard once, we know enough about the gospel to be saved, but not enough to get life from it. This may be why Christians are often portrayed so cranky all the time… because well, they are. Probably should say “we.” ;)

The apostle Paul wrestled with this same thing: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (‭Romans‬ ‭7‬:‭15‬) So many of us stop in this place, in the wrestling match. Yes, you are saved, but what Jesus paid for was a “rich and satisfying life.” So what do we do? Paul actually gives us a great process in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 6: Consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. Mediate on this truth.

Romans 7: Be real. The battle is for your mind, your belief system. Know that your mind is being renewed to your new reality. The enemy will continue to try and put you under the old. We acknowledge the tension, but we rest in the truth. Don’t let yourself stay in Romans 7, in the wrestling match. Jesus didn’t let Paul stay there.

Romans 8: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”(‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭1-2‬)
It doesn’t get better than that. Mistakes happen. It’s not to belittle the consequence of a mistake. Some are really bad, I admit. However, the cross changes everything. Changing your mind (repentance) is as simple as, “I’m sorry Jesus, that is not who I am anymore. Thank you that you have made me a new creation. Help me live from that reality.” We must stop condemning ourselves for hours and days. Do you follow Jesus? Comdemnation-free.

We also have to realize this whole process is relational. Paul came to this place out of relationship with Jesus. My prayer for myself and others is that we can stop the wrestling match and show the world the good news through our lives. It’s not living in denial, it’s living out of faith in what Jesus has really done for us. Believe. Jesus can and will bring you to this place. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (‭Mark‬ ‭11‬:‭24‬)

Walk in your calling

•December 31, 2014 • Leave a Comment

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Calling, or you could even say vision, is so important in your life. It points to why you’re here on the earth, and looks to how your life will make an eternal impact, not just an earthly one. Ephesians 2:10 is so powerful in this: “For we are his workmanship (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Even before we were made, we were created for our calling or “good works.” Even more, we were created for good works in Christ Jesus, in partnership with him. Also immensely important to see what comes first; that we are his masterpiece!

This is why I believe the enemy works so hard to get us to doubt our calling. If he can get us to doubt it, we’ll never fully walk in it because we’re not even sure if it’s for us or not. When we doubt we become afraid to go after it: we fear rejection, that we’re not capable, or fear that we’re being prideful to be so confident in our calling. Confidence and arrogance can often look the same initially.

So what do we do about it? Humbly declare your belief. Take your calling, the words spoken over your life, the scriptures God has highlighted to you, and declare them over your life. Not with arrogance, but with confidence. “Lord, this is your calling over my life, this is what you made me for, that ‘I should walk in it!'” Paul thought this was very important: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience…” (Eph 4).

For Paul (and Jesus, of course), it is crucial that we all walk in our calling, what we were made for. What’s your calling? Do you doubt it? Who do you think is the author of that doubt? You’re God’s masterpiece, and you were made to for great things here on earth!

 
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