Do we kick them down? Do we help them up?
Recent series of events in my life have utterly confused me and I’ve been looking to see God’s purpose in them. Having seen the way God has worked other things in my life, I am convinced that these events have a meaning and a bigger purpose than me, though I have not figured it out yet, and they’ve really thrown me for a loop. I’ve been told to simply keep being obedient to what God is asking of me and it will eventually become clear. I am doing my best to be obedient, though, in truth, have sometimes failed.
For the past few weeks, our pastor has talked about knowing the will of God – how perfect under the circumstances (Coincidence?). Yesterday, we continued the series. There were several passages we explored, but overall, it was a light bulb moment for me. Here’s the crux of the message.
Seeking to do God’s will leads to Gods will being done in the lives of others, which leads to God’s will being done in the lives of others, and so on, and so on.
One of the passages we read was the story of the woman at the well. You can read the story yourself here: Woman at the well story but for those who prefer a summary, Jesus (a Jew) came into the town of Samaria and sent his disciples away to get food. In Samaria, at mid-day, he found a woman drawing water from a well and engaged in conversation with her – this was not socially accepted since he was a Jew and she was a Samarian and because she had a bad reputation, which is why she was drawing water at mid-day. Despite all of this, Jesus asks her to give him a drink of water, and tells her that and tells her that He can give her water so that she’d never thirst again. He asks her to bring her husband back and she replies that she has no husband. He tells her he knows she’s had five husbands and living with a man who is not her husband. She realizes he is a prophet and goes to tell the town she has seen the Messiah, and they begin to come out to see Him. Just then the disciples returned and asked Jesus what he was doing, and ask him to eat some food. John 4:34 Jesus replies, “My food is to do the will of the Father who sent me”.
In another passage, in John 9, Jesus heals a blind man, and his disciples asked whether it was his parents who sinned or he who sinned that cause his blindness.
John 9:3“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. “
By Jesus obeying the will of the Father, this man was able to fulfill the work that he was designed to do.
And in hearing this, I am more convinced that my purpose right now in several lives is to help them fulfill Gods purpose in their lives… “maybe that’s why the devil works so hard to keep us from it”
Wow. That’s heavy
I see my failures before me and know that the devil doesn’t want me to do God’s will because he doesn’t want God’s will to be done by others. I am laying all of it down at the feet of Jesus, asking for forgiveness for my sins, seeking His will in every aspect of my life.
I would like to ask all of you who are reading this blog now to pray for me and with me – for me to be obedient and to not allow the devil to confuse me and my purpose; with me for the people who God has placed in my life to guide, so that the will of God might be done in their lives also.
If you’re willing to pray with me and for me, please comment, or send me a message, text, etc, to let me know – I would really appreciate it. Thank you.
Hahaha. If there’s ever a time I begin to doubt what God is doing in my life, smack me upside the head.
My subscription to Audible provides one credit a month to purchase an audio book. I started listening to books about a year ago, while I drive or bike or other monotonous activities. I never quite know what to call “experiencing” an audio book – do you “read” them? not exactly… .do you “listen”? well, yes, but somehow that isn’t a complete description either… at any rate, this is where I have experienced Mark Batterson’s books. (In a pit with a lion on a snowy day, Lion Chaser, The Circle Maker, etc). I thought I had seen all of his titles, but when perusing the library this morning looking for a new book, I came across a new one, and it’s title captured my attention immediately. Soul Print. It reminded me of Erwin McManus book, Artisan Soul, which is another life-defining book for me. Since I have 2 credits right now, I looked for a second title and came across Francis Chan, Waiting on God, which I thought was appropriate in my year of WAIT.
As I climbed on my bike a few days ago, in my F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G cold garage to conquer some miles, I looked at both titles on my ap. In my head I was thinking, I really should begin Waiting on God, but for some reason, my heart was telling me to start with Mark Batterson, so I followed my heart.
How God knew I needed to hear the words penned by Mark is a testimony to what an awesome God He is. I wish I could simply post the entirety of Chapter 1 here, though I’m not even sure it would have the same impact on you as it did on me today. All I can say is. Holy. Cow. What a wonderful, wonderful God He is.
God is at work here, for a purpose that is soooo much bigger than me. soooo much bigger than you… sooooo much bigger. we are a part of it.
I’ve been thinking about what to study next, and thinking about how many things I’ve messed up on in my life, just like David, who God calls a man after His own heart. One thing that I’ve noticed is that the Bible is full of people who have screwed up royally, but God uses in powerful ways to further His Kingdom and His Sovereign will. I’ve decided to begin to study more about the life of David and his Psalms to understand how he could have messed up so badly, yet God loved him so much and used him so much. I haven’t started yet. Woven throughout the book, Soul Print? Stories about David – the things he did well and the things he didn’t. How funny is that?
For me, starting this book is affirmation that God is leading… I am following. I truly love God and want to do what He wants. I’m laying my entire universe at His feet right now, trusting in what He says!
I mentioned the phrase that I’ve read in some of Batterson’s other books in my previous post – that God wants to get us where God wants us to be more than we want to get where God want’s us to be.. and it was repeated several times in Soul Print. However, in addition, Mark added a new phrase that stood out to me in this book: God will not put us where He wants us until we have become who He want’s us to become.
“Your uniqueness is a testament to the God who created you. There is nothing that God cannot do in you and through you if you simply yield to Him.. All of you to All of Him. You were created to worship God in a way that no one else can, but living a life that no one else can.. You play an irreplaceable role in God’s destiny – but it starts with understanding your true identity. Our true identities get buried under the mistakes we’ve made, the insecurities we’ve acquired and the lies we believe. We’re held captive by others’ expectations and spend too much energy trying to be who ewe are not.. and we forfeit our spiritual birthright. It’s not that we are lying to ourselves; somewhere along the way, we lose ourselves… if you are still breathing, God has not given up on you yet, so don’t give up on yourself. It’s never too late to be who you might have been. ”
“The key to fulfilling your future destiny is in understanding your past…. while you live forward, God works backward… all of your days are ordained by God and it’s your responsible to discover your God-given destiny.. despite humble beginnings and huge mistakes, David fulfilled his destiny. … in the pages that follow, we will dissect David’s life in such a way as to help you find your destiny.”
“I don’t know how long you’ve been stuck, but I know that God wants to move you. We are held captive by so many things… by our imperfections and insecurities, guilt and anxiety, expectations, and lies, and mistakes. Jesus dies to set us free from all of the above, not just to set us free from who we were but to set us free for who we were intended to be.”
“God’s primary concern is who you are becoming – the character of Christ being formed in you until you are more like Jesus – as a revelation of who God is. You won’t find yourself until you find God. You are made in His image. To become like Christ is to become unlike anyone else.”
Mark Batterson, Soul Print
I’ve finished listening to the book (the advantage of spending hours on a bike and in a car this week!). I’d encourage you to read the book – you can find it here… Soul Print
Be blessed, my friends!
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Copyright 2019 Journey For Life. All rights reserved.
A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook the other day – it was the picture and caption that first caught my attention – it said, “I quit Christianity when I found out my pastor was banging his secretary and stealing money.” Of course, that intrigued me to read more… it went on to talk about all of the judgmental Christians who had tried to impose “rules” on the author – and very often those who were preaching it were not infallible, and, in fact, had committed some pretty big sins even by non-Christian standards.
It went on to talk about how he then met two individuals who changed his opinion forever – people who weren’t afraid to be real about their struggles and their failures and didn’t pretend to have all of the answers. When he saw their authenticity, he wanted what they had…. not a perfect life, but a relationship with a loving God who loves them 100% where they are and is patient with them as they fail time and time again. My favorite quote in his blog was this: “So why am I a Christian? Because I know I’m a train wreck in a dumpster fire. But I also know that God loves me 100% as is, right now, in the midst of the burning carnage that is my life….. God is cheering for me as I get better and especially when I fall down. Where I see failure, He see’s an opportunity for growth. Where I see addiction, he sees an opportunity to take a step. Where I’ve given up, he whispers, “you can make it'”
One of the things I’ve been wrestling with lately is living up to expectations… in my year of WAIT, I find myself going over and over in my mind the many times I have failed and sinned… and think about the burning carnage that is my life. Sometimes I think about how ill-equipped I am to work with others to show them Jesus when I’ve failed so many times myself, and then I remember that is precisely the reason God send Jesus to us, and I feel like the Christian in this article.
Last week in our youth group we studied the passage in Matthew 18:21-23 – Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘How many time should I forgive my brother or sister who sin against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, “I tell you not seven, but seventy times seven”
His answer wasn’t a literal 490 times, but figurative to mean that we are to continue to forgive those who sin against us just as God continually forgives us who sin against Him. Being a Christian doesn’t make us perfect – not by any stretch of the imagination – it only makes us forgiven. Sure, we try to live a life that is pleasing to Him, but He already knows we are imperfect, and loves us every time we fail.
Every time we fall down, He is there to pick us up, dust us off and say, “let’s try this again”
For me, that is the picture of Christianity I want to follow – i have messed up plenty. His grace is greater. I am forever thankful for a God who has never given up on me… and will never give up on you.
Blessed beyond words,
You can see the whole post here:
Years ago, I shared a life-goal with a friend of mine. A lofty goal and a seemingly crazy idea, I dreamed the dream and quickly dismissed it – only to have the idea resurface many times over the past ten or so years. Last year, in a flurry of activity that could have seen my dream realized (at least partially), I reached out to that same friend to get his opinion on some of the things that were going on, partially to validate my thoughts and partially to have someone objective evaluate the circumstances. His response to me was this:
“You are a lion-chaser”
I wasn’t sure if it was a compliment or not. He recommended a book to me, called, In a pit with a lion on a snowy day. At first, I thought the title ridiculous, but bought the book anyway. After the first paragraph, I was hooked. Since that book, I’ve probably read seven or eight more of Mark Batterson’s books, including The Lion-Chaser, The Circle Maker, and Whisper, among others.
In a Pit starts with a reference to an obscure passage of the Old Testament, 1 Chronicles 11:22, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done mighty deeds, he slew the two’sons of Ariel of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow.”
Mark Batterson describes in detail the courage and tenacity Benaiah had to chase a lion into a pit. He drew it out with tremendous suspense the way a great author would, leaving the reader feeling like they’re watching a suspenseful movie, anxiously waiting to see who emerged from the pit, cheering loudly when they see it’s Benaiah. The subtitle of the book is, “How to survive and thrive when opportunity roars” Most of Mark’s books deal with having Jericho sized dreams and seizing opportunity to achieve them.
Here’s an excerpt:
“God is in the business of strategically placing us in the right place at the right time – a sense of destiny is our birthright as followers of Christ; God is awfully good at getting us where He wants us to go – but here’s the catch – the right place often seems like the wrong place, and the right time often seems like the wrong time”.
“God is always using past experiences to prepare us for future opportunities, but those opportunities often come disguised as man-eating lions – how we react to those lions will determine our destiny – we can cower in fear and run away from our biggest challenges, or we can seize our God-given opportunities. The greatest opportunities are the scariest lions. “
One of my favorite lines from his book – and I believe it’s been repeated in several of his books is this: “God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than you want to get where God wants you to go.” It sounds like a strange statement, but when I step back and look some of the experiences I’ve had, and experiences that friends of mine have had, and realize the wisdom gained from those experiences that wouldn’t have been gained without going through them, I can see God strategically working things out, opening and closing doors, to get people where they need to be.
It is exciting. And terrifying. And fun. All at the same time.
I’ve thought long and hard about my friends’ statement over the past year. I decided it was a compliment to be called a lion-chaser, and believe there is some truth in his statement; however, there are a few things in my life holding me back just a bit from being “all in”. Some of those things I’m able to articulate, and some I’m still discovering. Risk is a lot easier to take when you’re the only one involved – but I’m in an interesting life-stage right now with both children and parent depending on me – most practical people would say now is not the time to take a risk – but maybe in a few years when two of the three kids are out of college… and then I re-read the quote above (“the right place often seems like the wrong place and the right time often seems like the wrong time”) and I wonder if I’m missing the opportunity.
Last spring, as I was reading Mark Batterson’s books and working through some of my details, I sent an email to Mark Batterson to thank him for writing the books he had, never expecting to hear anything back. To my surprise, I had several email exchanges with his administrative assistant in which I shared some of what I was going through – she put me on the prayer chain of NCC Church in Washington, DC, where Mark pastors over 6,000 people, and has reached out several times since just to check how things are going. What an incredibly humbling experience.
When God asked me if I was willing to tell my story (summer of 2017), I immediately responded with, “Of course, I am – but wait, what story? I don’t really have a story.” Since that first step of obedience saying I’m willing to share my story, I believe He is giving me a story to tell. It’s not quite done yet. But one thing’s for sure – it will be amazing when it is..
I truly believe that when God sees we are willing to step out in obedience to Him, he blesses us in ways we could never, ever, imagine in 100 million years. I am living proof of that. I am 100% confident that God is still in control and He is preparing some wonderfully crazy things for my life and the lives of those who love Him. I’m learning to enjoy the wait. (ok, “enjoy” might be a strong word…. how about “embrace” the wait… ?)
Be blessed, my friends, be blessed.
Thanks for stopping by!
Find your Phillip… be a Phillip… show someone the way
Acts 8: 26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,so he did not open his mouth.33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.Who can speak of his descendants?For his life was taken from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [37 ]38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
Acts 8:26-39 | NIV
Several years ago, our pastor gave a sermon in the above passage. The points of his message were that we are called not only to be disciples of Jesus but to make disciples of Jesus and help to explain what we know to people who don’t know… not that we are anything special by what we know, or that we know everything, but to be open to being used by God to shine His Light on a dark world.
Later that afternoon, I got a text that simply said, “you are my Phillip”
What a humbling accolade. I was awestruck that anyone could feel that way about me, and I was honored and humbled at the same time. The awesome responsibility that comes with someone looking up to you weighs heavily, as I have many, many faults and fissures. I have made plenty of mistakes in my life. I have found, though, in both parenting and mentoring, it’s best to be honest and transparent about my shortcomings which creates trust, and an element of learning together that builds relationships. It is in the muck of relationships that hearts are won or lost. I am thankful to have continued that connected relationship for we have taught each other many things over the past few years.
It is important, too, to have our own Phillip to help guide and mentor us, even as we guide and mentor others. I have a Phillip (actually several if I’m honest) and reach out to them for advice from time to time.
Who is your Phillip? If you don’t know, keep your heart and mind open for them and ask God to show you. Find a Phillip who can help you navigate life’s toughest terrains, and be willing to be a Phillips to someone who needs you.
Copyright 2019 Journey For Life all rights reserved
My dog and I have been at odds for the past few weeks. He’s on a kick where he will wake me up multiple times throughout the night to go outside. It’s truly worse than having a newborn baby in the house. (Ok, maybe it’s not, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had a newborn in the house).
At any rate, last Saturday, we had fallen asleep with the TV on as we often do, when, at 1 am, the dog woke me up. As I returned to bed, I heard the familiar voice of Andy Stanley giving a message on getting what you want. In my year of WAIT, my ears perked up. I stayed awake long enough to hear the message and thought I’d remember to look it up to listen again. The next morning came and went and I forgot all about it.
This past Saturday, same thing. Exactly at 1 am, the dog once again woke me up, and we returned to bed to hear the second part of the series that had started last Saturday. Coincidence? Or Godincidence?
The series is entitled:
Turns out there’s an app for it also, so you can watch any series he’s had. I’ve long been a fan of Andy Stanley, not only as a spiritual leader, but just a leader role model in and of himself. I’ve read several of his books on leadership and attended the Catalyst Convention several years ago. One of the things I appreciate most about Andy is that, although he is an Incredible leader and spiritual mentor, he comes across humbly, as someone who also struggles with temptations. He is real. Genuine. I appreciate that, as someone who struggles sometimes to live my life faithful to what I’ve been called.
Similar to stopping when I heard Renner a few weeks ago, I stopped to pay attention. I believe God allows these kinds of thing to happen to get our attention.
English Standard Version
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)
He started his message with the Apostle Paul saying “why do I do the things I don’t want to do and not do the things I want to do?” Andy’s message was essentially this: Don’t trade what you ultimately want for what you want immediately. Don’t be deceived. Don’t be deceived. Don’t be deceived into thinking what you want in the immediate is what you want forever. Following Jesus will make your life better because He will point you to Ultimate instead of immediate, valuable instead of natural. We will never get what we really want until we understand what we really value, and when we understand our value in Christ Jesus.
I’ve got the app now and am hoping my dog sleeps through the night on Saturday, but know I can still catch the message!