Push Through

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God doesn’t want you to have a life that looks good. He wants you to have a life that is good.

That means facing the challenges, sticking it out through the hard stuff to learn the hard lessons.

The hard lessons are the ones that give us the truths (and strength) to live a good life.

Your identity is in Christ, not a title, a position or job.

Your worth is who you are, not what you have (or don’t have).

You are loved completely, endlessly and for all eternity because you have been embraced by God.

You were made for more than just an easy life.

You have been made to live a God-ordained, Christ-centered, Holy Spirit powered good life.

Push through the hard stuff to get to the good stuff, to the peace that passes understanding and the faith that does not depend on circumstances.

I know it is hard.

With Jesus, you can do the hard stuff.

One Tree At a Time

“LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭16:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In California, we lived in valleys that were surrounded by mountains. Here in Florida, we live in flatlands that are surrounded by tropical jungle. Dense and dark looking (at least to this city girl’s eyes) and I shudder to think of what lives there.

The first month we were here I got the opportunity to watch a plot of it being cleared. What seemed impossible slowly materialized before my eyes. Every time I drove by, a little more of the jungle had been cleared, a few more palm trees pulled out. By three weeks into it, it was a bare scarred piece of land that had been stripped clean and was now only walled by the jungle on two sides. It rains every day here in the summer and less than a month later, grass was growing in that empty lot and the land looked as if it had never been a jungle at all.

It reminded me of what my friend, Rene wrote me after she moved to Tennessee:

“I was looking out my back window into the forest, thinking how beautiful it was. I was also looking at how dense it was and that I could not see my way through. It made me think of how often we can not see a way through, but God can. We don’t even know what is on the other side. Is there a cliff, an ocean, a valley?

That day in Streams in the Desert, the verse was Joshua 17:18. “The forested hill country will be yours.” All I could think about is how? It said, “God instructed them (the tribes of Israel) to clear the forest.” It also stated, “Gain wealth from the terraced slopes that are now hidden by the forests.”

I realized that God was saying to clear the forest it needed to be tree by tree, action by action. I also loved that by doing this God will bless you with the territory you are discovering.

To gain His will it is tree by tree.

I have been waiting a lot. So, for me, it meant to take action. To do! I can not stay in my camp among the forest waiting while I tend to that.

It is time to knock a few trees down, and as I do, I also realized things will become clearer. God is going to show me the way.”

Maybe today you feel like the territory God has given you is lacking room to grow in or that it is as uninhabitable as a dense jungle or forest.

I want to encourage you to take hold of the lot you have been given and begin to clear it, tree by tree by God’s strength.

You don’t have to do it all today.

Just tackle the tree that is right in front of you.

Deal with one issue at a time.

Reconcile one relationship at a time.

Be obedient to Him one day at a time.

Trust Jesus to make a way where you can see no way.

It is time to grow. To do the next thing and begin to tackle the land God has given you.

God has already given you what you need to do it.

Unless

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You can rise early with worry and go to bed exhausted.

You can carry the weight of the work you do, the life you live and carry it squarely on your own shoulders.

The more you do, the more that must be done. The more you succeed, the more you must succeed. The best you did last week pales in comparison with the best you must do this week to keep your head above the water of whatever sea you are sinking in.

“Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.”

‭‭Psalms ‭127:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Unless the Lord builds the house….”

Unless the Lord builds the marriage, the ministry, the job, the life….

How does God do this?

A better question is “How can I stop building my own kingdom and allow God to build His through me?”

For me, the answer involves surrender, obedience, getting out of the way and asking God to show me a new way to build. A new way to live. A new way to love. A new way to lead. Not the world’s way, not the ways I know from experience but His.

I ask Jesus every day to show me the way He builds lives, the way He loves and the way He leads.

Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭MSG‬‬

May you get out of your own way today.

May you surrender your “this is the way I’ve always done it” for “Jesus show me a new way”.

May you obey and put into practice whatever God shows you.

May today be the day that you love a little bit more like Jesus, lead a little bit more like Jesus and rest a lot more in His grace as you do it.

Little White Lies

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Little white lies.

Big unsaid truths.

Smoothing it over by telling someone what they want to hear.

Avoid confrontation at all costs so you won’t be rejected.

We rarely do these things because we don’t like someone, in fact, we do them the most for those we love.

Little white lies can slowly become the language of our relationships as well as we try to protect our most tender selves.

15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. ” Ephesians 4:15 NIV

“Liars hate their victims; flatterers sabotage trust.”  ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭26:28‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Words are powerful and all deception, whether it is big or small, deteriorates relationships.

It doesn’t matter if it is a negative slur or positive flattery.

If the words you are speaking are not true, you are not really loving who you are speaking to. Deceptive words will cause ruin whether you want them to or not.

If you love someone, tell them the truth. It doesn’t have to be brutal or mean, but it does need to be spoken.

This isn’t a challenge to suddenly verbally vomit all your pent up, stuffed down and swallowed words on the ones you love. This is a loving reminder to examine your words and the state of your heart.

I want to encourage you to ask God to show you why you are stuffing, swallowing, avoiding and not speaking the truth.

Can I tell you the truth?  With all the love I have in my heart hear this: it probably has more to do with how you see yourself than how you see others.

When you discover why you are lying and unintentionally ruining your relationships, you will uncover a place that God wants to heal.

Jesus will give you the courage to boldly look at your underlying motives and begin to speak the truth in love.

Speak the truth in love.

Face the fear of being misunderstood.

Ask God to begin to heal the broken parts in you so that you can have healthy relationships with those around you. 

A Seed

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We try to hold it all together and hold on to our lives so fiercely when the very best thing is to let it go.

Let it change.

Let God have it all to do with as He wants.

We try to avoid situations that crush us but God will use those very things to unlock the amazing potential that He has put there.

He will use it to loosen our grip on this life and show us that there is so much more to life than we can imagine.

Seeds are made to be planted, crushed, broken and nourished to grow.

So are we.

“I tell you the truth unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.

Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.”

‭‭John‬ ‭12:24-25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A seed is a small packet of untapped life that will stay small with unknown potential until it is buried in the dark earth, crushed by the weight and broken open. Only then does the life within it break free to grow into what it was originally intended to become.

It goes against what we think of Christianity until you look at the cross.

Until you look at the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. His glory wrapped in flesh, his body broken and crushed by our sin, three days in the dark grave only to rise and change the course of history. To redeem humanity. To rescue the drowning and restore fallen mankind to God.

In our attempt to hold onto “our” lives, we may miss the great blessing of them. We may rob others of the impact Christ can have through us because we want to live our life, our way:  safe, secure, planned, ordered.

But the moment we give our lives to Christ and He becomes Lord, it changes. It is no longer our life but His. No longer our ways but His. Not safe, not secure, not planned but we are planted, crushed and broken. Then nourished to break through and become all Jesus has made us for.

This thing that is crushing you just may be God’s way of planting you right smack dab in the middle of His plan for your life.

Let go of your plans and hold fiercely to His love.

The very best is yet to come.

Have an amazing Monday my friend.

Prepared to Be

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Prayer is what makes a difference in you so that God can make a difference thru you.

When you pray for others, you will begin to see them from God’s perspective, no matter who they are.

God has placed you where you are, for however long, to make an eternal impact.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”

Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭8-10‬ NIV

You don’t have to know how God will use you, you just have to know why: to love.

Pray for those God has put around you and love them.

Live as a child of the Light where you are.

Put yourself in God’s Hands and let Him take care of the rest.

You Are Blessed

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The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Numbers‬ ‭6‬:‭24-26‬ NIV

Blessed.
Your greatest blessings are often found in the midst of your greatest struggles.

Kept.
Because God is holding onto you.

Grace.
Not deserved or earned but lavished on you nonetheless.

Peace.
The peace that passes understanding and does not depend on outside circumstances.

The peace that comes from taking refuge in God’s embrace and letting Him fight for you.

May your eyes be opened to the blessings you have, to the security of belonging to God, to the truth of His grace upon you and the filling of His peace within you.