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Keeping a Focused Faith in a Frenzied World

 

leap-of-faith

 

“Am I over thinking this or are all of these valid points that should be explored?”

My husband has heard me ask this more times than he would probably like over the years, but, I can’t help it.  I’m detailed oriented.  I’m a list maker.  I’m a pro’s and con’s gal.  A “what if” thinker.  I must explore all of the scenarios of a decision before moving forward.  I can’t help myself.  But, I wish sometimes that I could.

I am in the midst of some decision making right now, like, some big decisions.  It’s important that I run down all of these details, right?  What if I mis-step?  What if I get ahead of God?

I’ve got to step out of the boat. I know it’s coming.

What about you?  What are you contemplating…what are you seeing come from a distance…that will require you to step out in faith?

*A new job opportunity

*A goal set to get out of debt

*Starting up a new business venture

*Re-dedication or renewal to your marriage

*Turning away from an addiction?

*Walking away from a toxic person or relationship

*Committing to mentor someone

What is it for you?

 

“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Matthew 14:28-30

 

Here’s what I’m learning in this stage of my life…sometimes you just have to jump!

 

Think about Peter in that boat.  In the dark.  He sees Jesus.  He asks Him to just confirm that he’s not seeing things and that it really is Jesus ON the water.  Jesus says “Come” and out of the boat Peter went!

Peter didn’t make a list of pro’s and cons.  Peter didn’t ask his friends in the boat if they thought it was a good idea.  Peter didn’t ask Jesus about the forecast.  He just went for it.

In that moment Peter had faith.

Fast forward a few moments later and Peter had doubts.

The Bible says that he saw the wind and became afraid.  If he saw the wind, that meant he wasn’t looking into Jesus’ face.  He averted his eyes. He let himself become distracted and the thing that was a distraction he saw a saw as a threat to his well being.

He immediately began to sink.

Now, I am in no way saying that there aren’t times to make lists and seek wise counsel.  Times to pray and wait.  Times to weigh it all out.

But, if we see Jesus in front of us with his hand outstretched telling us to “Come”…we best go.  And we best keep laser focused on His face.  And we better show a little self control when we begin to hear the wind with our ears and see the effects of that wind with our pereferial vision.

 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:33

This is so simple and yet I can be so bad at it.  When we seek something out we are scanning, listening and moving in a forward motion.  The bible tells us right here in Matthew that if we keep Him, His character, His spirit, His purposes, if we keep this first, these other things on our lists will be given to us.  Not handed over in a box with a pretty bow on it, but the things on our lists will be taken care of just as they should.

“in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:6

Here it is again in Proverbs.  Although sometimes we don’t like the word “submit”, this is actually where freedom lies.  In submitting to Him, we are handing over that thing that we think He may be calling us to do, we are handing our lists, our pros and cons and the opinions we retrieved from others, and trusting that if we are indeed following Him, He will take care of any consequences headed our way.  Any bumps in the road.  Any distractions or road blocks.  In submitting to Him, we are freely handing Him our doubts and worries and He is making our paths straight.

There’s a decision to be made or a change is coming and it’s got you all nervous, anxious, mind-blown, wrecked with worry, head spinning with “what if’s?” and crumbled lists in the waste basket.

Take a breath.  If He is telling you to “Come”, then go.

What an adventurous moment that must have been for Peter.  He walked on top of the water!!  I can’t even wrap my mind around that!

An adventure awaits you and me.  I’ve about made a decision I’ve been putting off.  I don’t know exactly how it will effect my husband, my children, my calendar, my chores, my friendships, my bank account, my sleep, my who knows what!  I’m nervous, I’ve got crumbled lists and I’ve about talked the ears off of my husband.

 

I’m about to exit the boat I’ve been in where there is security and predictability.

I’m choosing to stay focused on the One who is calling me out…at least for today.  Would you like to go too?

If you continue to read on about Peter you’ll see that when he began to sink, Jesus reached down immediately to rescue him.

If we begin to doubt, He will help us to re-focus, but we may wind up missing out on the rest of the adventure.

I’d love to hear from you.  What is He calling you out to do?  Do you sense Him saying “come”?

He will lead and He will rescue you in your weak moments.

Reflect and Respond:

**What is it that came to mind as you read this? Where does your faith jump lead?

**What step do you need to take today?  Continue to pray…or jump?

Praying for you all,

Kellie

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Purposely created to BE, not to DO

quote-rick-warren-a-purpose-driven-life

 

“It’s not about you.”

Last week we talked about putting the mirror down and getting the focus off of ourselves.  Not the most popular line of thinking these days is it?  We love to talk about our issues, our challenges, our past…but for this series we are exploring why we were created in the first place.

Now that the mirror is put away, let’s talk about love.

Before I even get started, I bet I can read your mind.  You’re already thinking that I’m going to tell you that you were created to love others.  That we are here to lavish love onto those that are less fortunate and to give of ourselves until we are empty.  That in loving others, we will find our purpose.

Wrong.  And right.

Today we aren’t talking about our performance.

We are talking about being loved.

Love.

One of the most over used words in the English language.  One of the most weighted words in the English language.  One of the most desired titles in the English language.

Why a title?

Don’t we all want to be loved?  To be cared for and thought of?  Don’t we all long to have someone who is wise, caring, discerning, someone who keeps our best interest in mind, who is fair and gentle to love us?

I say yes.

Look around.

Television movies are always centered around a relationship where either love conquers all or someone is looking to be loved.

Authors make millions of dollars selling books telling stories of two people not meant to be together who find their way through every roadblock until they intersect in the last chapter and live happily ever after.

Women young and old let things go too far too quick in dating relationships hoping they will be loved in return.

Our culture is inundated  with stories and photos and music that awaken something deep within us that says “somebody love me!!!”?

Where do we think this desire to be loved comes from?

Why are we wired this way?

God.

He placed in each of us the desire to be loved.  He did that.

Why?

Because He wants to be the one to fulfill that longing.  He wants for me and for you to open our hearts up to Him to fill that hole.

 “How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”

Ephesians 1:3-6 The Message

Read this again.  Read it slowly.

“...long before the earth’s foundations…” He envisioned us.

“...he had us in mind…” He thought of us.

“…settled on us as the focus of his love...” He chose to make us his center.

“…adopt us into his family...” Before we were born he knew He wanted us.

“…He wanted us…” His mind was made up.

“…his lavish gift-giving…” He planned to demonstrate His love for us.

None of this has anything to do with our performance.

None of it.

One of the reasons you are here on this earth is for God’s pleasure.

So He can love you.

He takes pleasure in loving YOU!

It you are a parent, think of it this way.  Don’t you love your children just the way they are?  Especially if you planned on having them, don’t you cherish the fact that you have this child and that they are yours. They carry your name.  They resemble you in appearance.

What if they were laying in a hospital bed and were unable to do their chores.  Would you love them the same as when they could hold a broom?

What if they got caught up in the wrong crowd and went astray for a while.  Would you love them the same as when they were under your wings?

What if they lived their lives pursuing their dreams.  Would you love them any less if they did not?

That parental love…it’s not performance based.  It doesn’t come with conditions.

I John 4:8 tells us that “God is love”.  It’s His nature.  His character.  We were created in His image and that love resides in us.  Both our desire to love and our desire to be loved.

Let’s settle on this for now…you exist so that God can love you.

He loves you whether you want it or not.

He loves you whether you think you deserve it or not.

He loves you whether you are walking in His ways or not.

He loves you.  Period.

Like a loving father, even if you push back, run away or turn your back on Him, He still loves you.

He has since before the foundations of the earth were set.  Before.

So let’s rest in that.  Breath it in.  Believe it.

Reflect & Respond:

**Perhaps you were taught that the purpose of your existence is solely to please God through your actions.  Reflect on the scripture above.  Read it and ask Him to help you believe it.

** What’s your response to this good news?  I’d love to hear about it!

Praying for you all,

Kellie

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Put the Mirror Down

quote-rick-warren-a-purpose-driven-life

“It’s not about you.”

Ever heard of The Purpose Driven Life?  This is is the first line of the book.  Kind of a let down right?

It was written by Rick Warren in 2002 and sat on the New York Time’s Bestseller List for over 90 weeks!  That’s nearly 2 years!  That’s a lot of people seeking to find their purpose.

Ever heard of What On Earth Am I Here For?  It’s an updated version of Purpose Driven Life released to culminate the 10th anniversary of Warren’s best seller.

The first line in the new book?  “It’s not about you”.  Seems things haven’t changed.

 

We have been enveloped with ads and quotes and books and commercials that keep our eyes on ourselves.

You need this phone so you can stay connected to the world.

You need this nutritional plan so you can stay focused on your health.

You need this car so you can impress your coworkers.

You need this line of credit so that you can purchase your dream boat.

You need …

“It’s not about you”

Why would Warren open with such a statement?  Does it make you want to keep reading further?  To be told that maybe we’re not all that important?  That maybe our lives don’t really matter?

Isn’t there a small part of us that thinks “really?”  If it’s not about me, then why am I even here?  What’s my purpose?  When is it going to be about me?

When someone hurts us we ask “what did I ever do to you?”

When a loved one passes away we ask “why is this happening to me?”

When we lose our job we say “what was the point of that?”

When someone else gets that promotion we ask “when is it my turn?”

I.  Me.  My.

 

”  It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

  The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal…”
John 13 1-4a

 

This passage gets to me.

The scene here is that Jesus is at what we call “The Last Supper”.

Jesus knows that the hour was here for his death.  The hour.

He knows that the devil has already spurred Judas to betray Him.

So, Jesus gets up from the meal…

I stopped the scripture here because I think we should pause and ask ourselves what we would be doing if we were in Jesus’ place.

Would we get up and make an emotional speech about how we were about to die?

Wouldn’t we want some sympathy or for people to know what a martyr we were about to be?

Wouldn’t we want to stand up and point at Judas and let everyone know that he was about betray us and so “ya’ll make sure he gets what’s coming to him!”

What does Jesus do here?  Let’s pick up where we left off…

“4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

John 13:4-7

My goodness can you see it?  Do you feel it?

I would be trembling too hard to tie anything around my waist and pour water into a basin and kneel down so calmly.

I would be nauseated with fear of what was coming.

I would be busting at the gut to tell everyone what was about to happen.

But if I did, all eyes would be on me.  All compassion, sympathy and protectiveness would be centered on me.  Feel sorry for me.  Look at me.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:45

It’s not about me.

It’s not about you.

Everything Jesus did while he walked the earth was at the direction of his Father.  He knew his Father had a good plan, that it had a purpose that would make an eternal impact on lives until the end of our time here and he knew that we would be better served if he pointed us all to his Father rather than to his own life.

Everything.  All of it.

Jesus didn’t hold a mirror.  He didn’t keep glancing at his problems and his frustrations and the unfairness that kept coming his way.  He didn’t lean in to his own reflection (like I’ve done so many times) and question over and over again “why me?” or “what now”.

Jesus didn’t gather his friends around and ask for their pity.  He didn’t manipulate others into constantly asking him if he was ok.  He didn’t.  It wasn’t about him.

It’s not about us…the question is, do we understand that we still have purpose?  That there’s a reason we’re all here and breathing?  That we are a part of God’s divine plan?

We have purpose.  We are important.  We are so loved by the Creator that He chose to demonstrate that to us through the sacrifice of His son.  His beloved.

Let’s follow Jesus’ lead and serve others without the expectation of return service.

There was purpose in the life of Jesus.

There is purpose in the lives we lead.

I’ll say more about that next week.  But for now…let’s just put the mirror down.

Reflect & Respond:

**Do you ever find yourself so focused on your own life that you almost nauseate yourself?  I have.  Examine your more recent thoughts and turn it around if necessary.

**Serve.  Be intentional and do one thing every day to serve someone unselfishly.  Let’s see if our problems start to shrink as we put that into practice.

Praying for you all,

Kellie 

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The Choice is Yours

 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. “
I Corinthians 10:23

 

When my children were really small, they had to do whatever in the world I told them too.  Get in the car.  Get in the bath.  Stay out of the refrigerator.  Bring me your book bag.

 

There came a time when one of my sweet children (who shall remain nameless) began asking me after my directions “what will you do to me if I don’t do that?”

What??

This child was weighing out the consequences.  They were deciding whether it would be worth the adventure to just flat out do it their own way and take the punishment rather than obey and keep peace in our little family.

The reality is, that child could literally choose not to get in the car, get in the bath, stay out of the fridge or bring me said book bag.

It was their choice.  They had the freedom to choose in those moments.

 

I wasn’t delving out instructions because they needed to know who was boss.  I didn’t take pleasure in pointing my finger with “go here” and “sit there” and “do it now”.

 

Everything I told my kids to do was in their best interest.  Whether short term or long term, it was to their advantage to just obey.

 

Loading up in the car was the pathway to school or Mimi’s house, a bath kept them clean, unnecessary trips to the fridge would spoil their dinner and there were things in the book bag I was expected to sign and initial or else my children would suffer consequences the next day from their teacher.

 

You see, it wasn’t always about right and wrong and being bossed around, it was about knowing what was best for them and keeping them on the right track.  A track that would ultimately be for their good.

 

Today we have laws and rules and convictions we are told to follow, but like our children, we are tempted to do things our own way.

We like to question.

But, there is an authority who knows what’s in our best interest and we’d be wise to listen to Him.

Very wise.

 

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

I Corinthians 10:13

Whenever we are tempted to take action that contradicts with His word, He helps us to flee from that temptation.  That is great news!  Temptation is going to be a part of life.  He calls us to lean into Him during those times and ask Him how to escape that thing.  Whatever it is.

Here’s what I know, the directions He gives to us are for our benefit.  It’s not to restrain us from becoming  the “real us”, it’s to keep us away from the things that will keep us from becoming who we were made to be.  We are His creation.  He knows what’s best for us.  He knows what’s coming around the corner of our lives.  He knows how we need to be prepared best.

But alas…

I’m free to stand on railroad tracks.

I’m free to drive at high speeds.

I’m free to walk across a busy highway without looking both ways.

I’m free to view pornography.

I’m free to charge up my credit cards.

I’m free to gossip.

I’m free to yell at my husband and children when I’m angry.

 I’m free to ignore the Holy Spirit when it nudges me to do something.

I’m free to stay away from church.

I’m free to cheat on my spouse.

I’m free to lie to my boss.

What is it in God’s word that you struggle with the most?

freedom

 

What if we stopped looking at God’s book as a rule book and instead looked at it as a play book?

 

Like a coach teaching and training their team, when the players execute the plays as they’ve been taught, more ground is gained and the coach is pleased.  The team is heading in the right direction.

Doing things God’s  way won’t come without obstacles and challenges, but it will produce more wins than losses.

 

He gives us the freedom to make our choices, just like my children had freedom.  But, the consequences are never worth the rebellion.  Never.  Trust me.

I’ve heard the Bible referred to as a “book of instructions” or an “owner’s manual for life”and those labels have some significance to them.  But, the difference in using the book as just a manual or instruction book and reading it for it’s overall purpose is very different.

The One who wrote the book…He is the book.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

John 1:1

When we read and study the Bible, the best part of our learning isn’t in the rules or commands, it isn’t in the answers we’re looking for or the list of do’s and don’ts we may find.

It’s in those pages that we see who God really is.  How He loves us.  His character.  His heart.  The motivation behind Him giving us those commands.

Mama’s have their children’s best interest in mind when they teach them.

Coaches have their team’s best interest in mind when they instruct them.

God has our best interest in mind when He gives us wisdom through His word to help us make wise choices.

We make our own choices but then our choices make us.

Let’s be careful.  Let’s be teachable.

Let’s be grateful for the freedom to choose and the knowledge that the One who helps us to make our choices does so out of love.

 

 Reflect and Respond:

Have you always seen the Bible as just a book of rules?  Do you imagine God pointing His finger with a never-ending list of to-do’s? I challenge you to turn your thinking around and see it as a play book.  A book with direction and wisdom meant for your benefit.

Are you curious when you see Christians study the Bible?  Are you wondering where the freedom is in that?  Ask someone you know to help you understand why.

Praying for us all to to rest in the security of His Word,

Kellie