For Today

“Keep us alive with three square meals.”
Mathew 6:11 MSG

Daily bread.

Daily strength.

Daily sustenance. 

Lord, give me what I need for today. 

Not what I needed yesterday. 

Not what I will need for tomorrow.

What I need today.

It will probably look different than I expect it to but it will do the job nonetheless. 

You are good like that. 

Thank you, Lord, for daily bread. 

Do What Is Best


Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below.  Matthew‬ ‭6:10 MSG‬‬

This is how Jesus said to pray. You may know this verse as “your kingdom come, your will be done”. 

Sometimes when you pray, you try to get the words right so you can get the situation right. 

Here Jesus is saying that is okay, even preferable, to ask God to do His will, His way by His power. 

To acknowledge that you don’t know what is best or how to make anything happen. To surrender and trust. To be humble and honest. 

Instead of praying for God’s power to help you do your best, what if you simply prayed for Him to do what IS best and give Him as much reign in your life as He has in heaven (total).

It’s a different way to pray.
Less stress, if you ask me. 

Maybe it looks like this:
“Heavenly Father, set the hurting world right. Set my personal world right. You have permission to do what You think is best (even if I don’t agree with it) and you have fully authority, full reign and full trust to do it.

How do you think God’s “best” differs from your “best”?

How does praying this way differ from how you normally pray?

What does it mean for you to give God full reign in your life…as above, so below”? 

 

Begin 


Today is a good day to begin.

Begin to pray differently. 

Begin to pray with open hands and open eyes.

Instead of praying with closed hands, holding on so desperately to what you are afraid to let go of, pray with open hands and let God be God. 

Present your requests, petitions, hopes and desires to Him and them let Him do what only He can do. Give them to Him and leave the results to Him. Release your expectations of how He should answer while at the same knowing that He will answer. 

Today is a good day to begin asking God to reveal Himself to you.

“(Pray) Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Matthew 6:9 MSG “

Instead of praying, “God, this is who I want you to be”, begin to pray, “God reveal who You are to me.”

It will transform your life.
He wants to.
He will.

Begin today to pray different. 

When was the last time you asked simply God to reveal Himself to you or in your situation?”

How hard is it for you to leave the results to God? 

What does it mean for you to let God be God in your life? 

Prayer Trumps Panic

Panic is defined as sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety. When you experience it, it makes you want to do something to solve whatever it is that is causing the panic. Very rarely is that action wise or right (unless it is getting you away from a dangerous physical situation and it gets you out of there). 

All kinds of things can cause panic to rise within you and when it does, I am going to ask you to wait. To breathe. To pray. To go to God first instead of trying to immediately fix it.

“This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. 

Matthew‬ ‭6:7 MSG

When you go to God with your panic, He knows what to do and what needs to be done. He knows how to calm your heartbeat and clear your mind. Why? Because He is your Father and He knows you. He knows why it is happening and why you responding to it that way. He also knows how to lead you down the right path, not just the first one that presents itself. He knows if there is a higher way, a better way or a healthier way to deal with it. 

Pause the panic and pray. 

It doesn’t have to a long prayer to be a powerful one. Your Father in heaven loves you and knows what even a one word prayer like “help” means. 

Prayer trumps panic every time. 

What is causing you to panic right now? 

What does pausing the panic and praying instead of reacting look like to you? 

He’s Got You Covered 

As you begin the week, I wanted to remind you that you have a place of refuge in Christ to live from. A fortress of strength to love from. A tower of trust to give from.  

Live from the truth of who He is and what He has done on the cross.

You are restored and redeemed.

You are accepted and forgiven.

Ypu are cherished and loved. 

When the strong sun of adversity beats down, rest in the Shaddai’s shadow. Tuck yourself into His side and remind your soul whose you are. 

“You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “GOD, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. 

His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. 

Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭91:1-6 MSG‬‬

When fear screams the loudest, run to the refuge of the cross. Jesus died for you and took the punishment of your sin so that you can have this: an unhindered relationship with your Father in heaven who has strong arms and strong love. 

Hide in Him. 

Fear nothing.

He’s got you covered.

The Reality


But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 
Matthew‬ ‭14:30 NIV‬‬

Here’s the thing about stepping out in faith with Jesus- you are human. It is scary, it doesn’t make any sense and goes against every natural instinct of self preservation you have. 

You take the first step and think, “Wow, look at me, I’m doing it! I didn’t die and I maybe awesome!”

As the spiritual adrenalin begins to subside and you take the next step, your eyes drift away from Jesus to the wind and it takes your breath away and the rain beats against your face. You look down at the water and have a moment of sheer terror. Now your thoughts go more like this: “What was I thinking? I can’t survive this. It is actually way worse out here than it even looked. I can’t do this! I am going to die!”

You begin feel yourself sinking. The water is rising quickly and you cry out, “Dear God, I was wrong, I am an idiot and shouldn’t even be here- help me!”.

And He does. 

“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.”
Matthew‬ ‭14:31‬ ‭NIV‬‬

You are relieved and at the same time mortified. You wanted to be perfect. You wanted to run across the water triumphantly declaring God’s awesomeness. Instead you sunk and cried. 

What happens next is unexpected. You are expecting a rebuke, a sit down, a shaking finger Jesus who is so disappointed that you didn’t have enough faith. Sigh. 

“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:31‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Stay with me. I know you think that IS what just happened and so did I, until I checked the original Greek and read a commentary or two. The phrase “You of little faith” is actually only one word in Greek and a commentator insinuated that it was more like a nickname than a set down. 

What if Jesus caught Peter as he fell and with eyes full of love and a half smile on his face said, “Little faith, why did you doubt”? What if it was said more as rhetorical question and a reminder from Jesus that He had him. 

God’s got you. 

It is scary. It is hard. You do have little faith but all you need is just enough faith to step out, to obey and then when reality crashes in and you are sinking, cry out for help.

Jesus is your refuge. He is your very present. You can trust Him. You don’t disappoint Him when you get fearful or let him down when you cry out to Him. 

Immediately Jesus is there. It doesn’t make sense and you don’t deserve it but it is true nonetheless.

This is grace, this is salvation, this is the reality of following Him. It is impossible, it is by His power and He is constantly rescuing you. 

You are human. 
And He still loves you. 
And still invites you to walk with Him and do impossible things. 

He is the reason you got out of the boat in the first place. 

Trust Him.
Cry out when you need to.
Rest in His Grace. 

It’s Impossible


Peter didn’t want to just walk on water, he wanted to get out of the boat and be where Jesus was. 

He had just helped feed over 5000 people by simply doing what Jesus told him to do: pass out the bread and fish. 

Neither miracle came from Peter’s faith but from Peter’s focus. He was focused on following Jesus, on being where Jesus was and therefore ended up doing impossible things.

 “Come,” he said. 

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”  
Matthew‬ ‭14:28-29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It is impossible to walk on water. 

Sometimes getting out of bed seems impossible, going to work feels impossible, being nice to someone seems impossible, forgiving someone feels impossible, letting go of fear seems impossible.

Sometimes beginning again seems impossible.

Jesus will invite you to do the impossible without expecting you to do it in your own strength. He knows you can’t do it without Him. He fully expects you to depend on Him completely. 

That is the point…depending on Jesus completely. 

When you follow and obey Him,  you will end up smack dab in the middle of a miracle because of who He is (not because of who you are). 

Whew, that is a relief. 

What is Jesus inviting you to join Him in right now? 

Instead of fixating on how impossible it is, just admit to yourself that IS IMPOSSIBLE and that without God there is no way you can do it. 

Then say yes, get out there and obey. 

 

The Irresistible Invitation

Sometimes where you are must get so uncomfortable, so unbearable, so not okay, that changing becomes preferable and therefore possible. 

We tend to stay where we are in our relationship to God, our relationship to eachother and even our relationship to ourselves until we are challenged to change by circumstance or when we receive the irrisistable invitation from someone who is “out there” somewhere we want to be. 

In Matthew 14, Peter was tired of where he was. He had been battling the winds and waves all night. His very own comfort zone, the boat, had been violently tossed about and though he exerted all his effort, he just wasn’t getting very far. 

At first, Peter was terrified when he saw the man calmly walking on the water out in storm. But when he heard him shout “Don’t be afraid”, Peter recognized the voice, trusted and responded in a moment of faith. Of hope. Of belief. 

““Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. 
Matthew‬ ‭14:28 NIV‬‬

Peter heard the invitation but he still had to get out of the boat. He still had to take that first impossible step of faith. He probably died a few deaths inbetween the moment he heard Jesus say “Come” and he stepped out of the boat. But he did it. 

“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Peter decided that he would rather be with Jesus, out in the impossible, than stay where he was. He was tired of straining and wanted to start walking with his Savior once more, no matter where that might be.

Have you been straining and feel exhausted?

Is where you are at spiritually, emotionally or mentally become unbearable? 

Jesus invites you to “Come”. To step out of the boat (what you’ve known but what isn’t working) and come walk with Him in the impossible. 

If you have heard His invitation and hesitated, I want to encourage you to go for it!

Follow through. 
Take the step. 

Keep your eyes on Jesus, my friend, and decide that where you are isn’t where your going to stay. 

Going for the Gold

I am completely obsessed with the 2012 London Olympics. It is because of the “perfect storm” of my life: being on a stay-cation (vacation at home), having mobile devices (iPad, iPhone) and the live streaming capability of seeing it all wherever I am. I barely remember the last two Summer Olympics because we were neck deep in summer ministry. For the Beijing Olympics, I only got to see Michael Phelps win his 8 gold metals (I’m not complaining- it was pretty awesome). We were doing Sin City Outreach at the City Impact Center in Las Vegas. At the end of those very long, hot days I would huddle around this huge TV in a tiny condo living room and watch whatever was on. With a sleepy 6 year old and a hyped up 8 year old (Justin is never tired) we cheered Phelps on and felt that magical moment of knowing you just watched history being made. But that was it- I pretty much missed everything else.

All that to say- I am really enjoying the London Olympics and the time I have to get into them. I have no idea what my life will look like in four years. Life seasons change quickly. I might miss the next ones too. I know that my oldest son will be 16 (ek!), my baby will be 14 years old and I will have been married for 22 years. I know that I will be pursuing my purpose wholeheartedly and passionately equipping women to go after theirs. That is about it. That is all I can know and even then, the future is a mystery.

As I watch the Olympians go after their dreams, I am inspired and moved by their stories. I cheered on Ryan Lochte as he won his gold and held my breath on the team relay to see them grasp the silver. My heart just broke with Jordyn Wieber, the reigning World Champ Gymnast, when I watched the realization come over her face that she would not move on to compete for the all around gold metal. Even knowing what happens (because of twitter and live streaming) doesn’t lesson the impact of watching that moment.

It is another reminder that we just don’t know what life will bring us. Jordyn said bravely just moments after grappling with reality, “It is what it is.” For Jordyn, this experience is more about a test of her character rather than a test of her ability. She is clearly the reigning World Champ and one of the best gymnasts in the world. Bela Karolyi says that her character is the stuff of champions as well. We will see. She comes back to compete in the team and individual next few days.

When life throws us those kind of brutal curve balls, we find out that the real race isn’t to get a gold but to allow God to forge our character into pure gold.

“But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10 NKJV)

I am as inspired by how the athletes come back after a loss as I am by how they rejoice in the win. I am inspired by their passion, their sacrifice, their focus and the character that is forged by it all.

I don’t know how Michael Phelps will do in these games but I loved what his coach Bob Bowman said about him, “I don’t know if Michael is coming back to these games as a better swimmer but I know he is coming back a better person, he has matured.”

That, I think is the truest definition of going for the gold.

Photograph: Julia Hoyle/PA

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