Join in Raising Up This Next Generation

till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come….(Ps 71:18).

I heard something the other day about this next generation of young people that I thought was fascinating. The presenter said that teenagers are not just consumers of online material, they’re creators. That stuck with me. For a long time I thought the way to reach this generation was to create things for them to consume. Now I see the way to best engage them is to create platforms for them to become the creators.

As I’m getting older I think what I’m realizing is that in order to reach this generation I have to become an expert on what speaks to them. I have to listen well, ask questions and become someone who fully invests themselves in understanding their struggles within the culture they live in.

Do you ever feel like it’s too much? The task of reaching the generations under us. Truth be told, I’d much rather hunker down and engage myself in the places, people and things that are most comfortable for me. I’d rather become a consumer instead of a creator. Maybe that’s the problem. We as adults have become so consumed by social media that we’re not training the next generation how to love God and become a social media light for Him.

So today I want to leave you with a simple, yet encouraging challenge to find a young person and invest your life in them. Yes, this is the way of the gospel. To train up the next generation of young people. Don’t allow the enemy to tell you that you can’t relate with them and are too old! Engage with them and try to understand their world, and invite them into yours. Teaching them how to engage with their creator God as they learn how to share their gifts with the world in a way that shines forth His light for the world to see.

Father, there is a generation under us hungry for truth. Use our lives to reach them. Help us to make ourselves available to them, we pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

When Approval Becomes an Idol

When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn;…(Ps 69:10).

Dear friend, it’s. not about you. That story you keep sharing with others, stop seeking approval through it. It’s not meant to be about you. It never has been.

What I’m learning on this journey called life is that my journey is simply that. It is my journey with God, not meant to be used to seek approval from others, but meant for the purpose of changing me so I can show others the way to the Kingdom of God.

Truth be told, real faithfulness rarely accompanies other people’s approval, but it always accompanies a smile from our Heavenly Father. One that you can’t see but you know is there. One you can’t post about, nor should you boast about, but one that sits with us on our journey towards the Kingdom of God. It’s that smile that keeps me going most days to be faithful in the most mundane tasks. The ones where no one is giving me a pat on the back, but I know God sees me.

You know, you can’t really take people with you towards the Kingdom if all you really want is their approval. Be careful what you say, how you come across, what you post, etc. If your heart feels like it needs the approval of others and you feel let down that you didn’t receive the feedback you thought you deserved than that thing in your life is an idol or, you are your own idol.

I have to fight that often. The desire to find my approval from the feedback and applause of other people. Maybe its just me, but something about their feedback makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing. But honestly, most of the time, it just puffs up my chest in a way that I need don’t need it to.

Just the other day I was having a conversation with a friend who I have been helping. The Lord has been giving me some very direct things to say to her which has been helping her tremendously. She even made mention of it and I had to fight off all of these thoughts that wanted to tell me how great I was, that she needed me and that I must really be something.

That’s the problem though. When God’s people start to think they must really be something, than He’ll move on from using us as He did before and find someone with greater humility than we have and start using them for His glory.

Friend, it’s not about you. It just really isn’t. I used to really want to be someone, have a big name in the Christian market and “do great things for God.” Honestly though, I see now how dangerous that is for the soul. I know for certain that my character would have crumbled under the weight of any recognition like this in my past. I’m still not certain I could handle it well now as I fight with the Lord for right thinking and a humble heart.

Maybe life with God is more about choosing to be unseen than it is to be seen. Maybe the greatest blessings come when we learn how to rest in the hope of the Father’s love as He sees us and validates us, not through what we do our the titles we hold, but simply by His love.

Lord, thank you for loving me. Your grace and glory is so good. Today I want to be faithful because it brings you glory, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

I Lied….

18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;…. (Ps 66:18).

Last night I told a lie. Yes, a straight up, dishonest lie to save face. It’s been years since I’ve told a lie. As soon as I can, I’m going to make it right with that person and ask for their forgiveness. It was wrong of me to be dishonest simply because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. Truth be told though, part of me lied because not only did I not want to hurt their feelings, but I also had something deep down that I was trying to control.

Control is really just rooted in fear. Fear of something going wrong. For years I’ve been so afraid of something in my life that I’ve allowed it to control me on so many levels. I feel like its the thorn in my side that Paul talks about. That thing that just continually gnaws at me. The thing I fight against almost daily. I’m not sure what your thorn is, but mine, in a weird way makes me feel OK.

Isn’t that odd, that the thorns in our side, the struggles we have, if we can control them make us feel good? Then, when someone steps on our safe, protective place, we’ll do things like lie to keep us safe inside our bubble, away from the things we fear.

If someone is stepping on your bubble, let them. Yes, let them do it and be OK with stepping outside of the safe place you’ve created. Life is going to be OK outside of your comfort zone.

That need to be in control isn’t helping you. It’s hurting you. God will often bring those circumstances into our lives, and people who make us uncomfortable and step on our bubbles of fear because He’s trying to break us out of them. He’s trying to set us free. Don’t resist the process, embrace what and who God has placed in your life that’s stepping on your bubble. Ride it out with God and let Him grow you or, be like me and tell a lie and not just stay safe inside your bubble, but potentially ruin a relationship and break down trust between you and the people you love.

Lord, I know you’ve forgiven me as I’ve come to you this morning in repentance. I pray that I can be honest with the person who I lied to last night. Father, I’m so sorry that I allowed my fears and need to be in control dictate how I acted last night. I need your grace, please, Lord, set me free from this prison of fear I have placed myself in, in Jesus name, Amen.

Don’t Hide Your Praise Because You Want Justice in Your Own Way

I sing in the shadow of your wings…. (Ps 63:7).

Have you ever hidden yourself in the shadow of God’s wings, but deep down, you really didn’t want to sing and rejoice there because you just wanted other people to see your suffering and unfair treatment? I’ve been there. Instead of rejoicing in the goodness of God I’ll think to myself, “I don’t want these people to see me happy, because that means that they’ve won!”

It’s almost like you’re glad God is redeeming your situation, but your mad about it at the same time.

Isn’t that messed up? But maybe you’ve done it too. We care so much about our image before others and what we believe justice should be for us. We can even take our situations God is redeeming and hide in Him while at the same time cover up our praise because we still feel there hasn’t been justice for us. We may place ourselves in the shadow of His wings, but really, it’s so that those unrighteous people who hurt us can see they were wrong, because we’re the ones over here living for God. After all, it’s their actions that got us here and we want them to feel bad about it. So we may in fact go on praising. Not for the glory of God, but to make others think we’re ok without them.

Have you ever studied the Scriptures to prove the sins of others against you in your life? I have….oh, I have. But friend, God knows.

So maybe its time to start praising because God is worthy. Maybe it’s time to be OK with where we’re at even though it’s not where we would choose to be. Maybe the painful circumstances that got you there we’re meant to be part of your destiny in Christ. After all, all things work out for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Friends, this life is too short to live your life concerned about the opinions and thoughts of others. Pray for all people, even those who have hurt you or forgotten you. Understand that just like you, they are on their own growth journey in becoming more like the Father.

So lets praise Him today, not because we have something to prove to others, but because He is worthy and the world needs to see Christians who praise the One who deserves all honor and praise. Yes friend, let our worship unto Him be pure, in Jesus name.

Lord, sometimes those voices, the things people said or didn’t say. The way they treated me that was hurtful sneaks into my heart and mind when I think about my life and where I’m at. Please forgive them if they have sinned against me. Please restore any relationship that needs restoration. Today I embrace the place I’m in because it requires me to practice genuine humility, so I surrender myself to your mercies that are new every morning, in Jesus name, Amen.

Don’t Take The Easy Way….You’ll Never Grow and Change

lead me to the rock that is higher than I…. (Ps 61:2).

Years ago, while in the desert land of Israel our group was tasked with the mighty challenge of hiking our way up the snake’s path to the desert fortress of Masada. This was no joke. The elevation of that climb was extremely steep as we trekked our way on the snake’s path and up the mountain. With each step we took my calves burned all the more as we kept pressing on towards the top.

Some people have died trying to walk that snake’s path. The sun was too hot and they didn’t have sufficient water and because they weren’t prepared for the steep journey ahead. Thankfully our group came prepared well for the climb and once we made it to the top our time in Masada was deeply satisfying.

A few years later when I returned to Israel my group took a railway car up the mountain. I remember looking down seeing those ambitious hikers walking up the snake’s path thinking, “I did that!” Sure, the railway was easy and much quicker and it still got me to the same destination, but it was by no means as deeply satisfying.

You see, there’s something about those difficult climbs in our lives that shape us. Once we finally reach the top, we are deeply satisfied and more grateful that we got there. I’ve experienced that in my own life. In things like my marriage, career, and so much more.

Can I be really honest though? More times than I can count I’ve wanted to take the railway up the mountain instead of patiently trekking up the mountain of difficulty and pain with God as He reshapes me into a new person. Friends, we have to walk that journey at times if we truly want to grow. There are parts of us that the Father wants to make new. The only way that they’ll be reshape is by walking that road of humility with the Father. There is no other way.

We can take the railway car up the mountain and still get the things we want like a marriage, that job, a child, new friends, a home, etc. but if we really want to live in those places fully alive in Christ we will eventually have to walk up the mountain of growth, change and difficulty. Why? Because if we don’t we will selfishly hold onto all of those things and use them for our own personal gain.

I think that’s why so many things in our lives die. Things like marriages, friendships, jobs, etc. We find them to be unsatisfactory, unfulfilling or they somehow don’t meet our expectations. Truth be told, it’s because we didn’t go into them as broken people, prepared for the daily task of dying to ourselves.

If you want to keep moving on from one thing to the next, constantly changing relationships, jobs or your future plans so you can satisfy some unbroken and unrepentant need in your life than keep taking that railway car up the mountain. Trust me, you will always take for granted your journey to the top when you go that way.

Beloved, if you want to be the very best you, put on your hiking shoes and start climbing those mountains of growth and change with your Heavenly Father. Do the hard work and prepare yourself to go with God up Masada, so that when you reach the top you can know that it was your perseverance, grounded in the Father’s love that got you there.

Lord, satisfy me. What mountain of growth and change do I need to climb today? I want to listen well to your voice. I need you, Jesus to be the thing that satisfies me the most. Let’s go together today, in your name and for your glory, Amen.

Faithfulness Produces a Great Reward

“Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.” ….(Ps 58:11).

Dear friend, God sees you and He will reward you. I feel like, in many ways, I’m living in that place right now. A place where my choice to be faithful in the midst of trying and difficult circumstances has led me to great rewards.

When things in my marriage almost fell apart my husband and I both chose to stay faithful and now we have a beautiful daughter and a home that has peace instead of chaos. God is using our story to help others. He keeps connected us with couples walking a similar journey as ours and it is so life-giving to know that we can offer them hope. That stories of abuse in marriage don’t have to end in divorce and that things can be restored, in Jesus name.

A few months ago we lost half of our income and the Lord thrust us into a new and different season of waiting, listening and sitting still. I sensed very strongly that God did not want me to be my usual self, running around trying to fix things, taking over, working harder and faster to bring in more money. Instead, He told me to do nothing but be present in the place I was in and wait. So with the support of my husband we waited on God as a couple. We have seen the hand of God provide for us these past few months in innumerable ways. It is truly remarkable.

Dear friend, I don’t always get this thing right. In fact, I’ve got it wrong more times than I can count, mostly because I was to afraid to really trust God. I was much to afraid to let go. That felt too scary, too uncertain. But, something has happened in me through these trying circumstances. My pride has beeb crushed and my faith is being resurrected.

I used to fret about finances, but when God thrust me into this place of waiting, although I certainly have my moments, its like that need for control was broken. I’m not saying I’m completely there, but something certainly broke in me as I practiced faithfulness. I can say the same of my marriage that things broke in me as I practiced faithfulness to my covenant and my husband did the same.

Truth be told, for many years, I would not sit in those uncomfortable places. You know, the places where my faith was tested, and all my fears were pressed. I just had to be in control, so instead of waiting I would run about trying to solve my problems so I could feel better.

Friends, we need more faithful warriors. People who would be willing to sit in hard, uncomfortable places for as long as God asks them to. Those are the places we grow the most. Don’t run from them. I know you want to. Sometimes I still do, I get that. I understand.

So today I’m raising my banner and proclaiming the goodness of God, because I desperately need it. I need the wisdom and love of God to guide me as I live, not because God is a genie in a bottle, but because He’s a loving Father and friend.

He rewards the faithful, so stay put in that uncomfortable place and watch Him break things in you and fill you with great rewards.

Lord, I’m listening. I want to live fully alive and submitted to you. Thank you for loving me. Jesus, thank you for being my joy and delight. Continue to show yourself faithful, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Life “With” God Instead of Life “For” God

But as for me, I trust in you…. (Ps 55:23).

I have to often remind myself to slow down. To sit still be OK with the silence and inactivity. This kind of living creates a more present me as I lay on the floor and watch my daughter play or linger a little longer in conversation with someone.

It is true that idle hands and inactivity can make one lazy which leads to sin, but is also true that inactivity can actually leads towards growth. Just like a seed planted in the ground which grows because it’s placed itself in the sun, so too we grow when we place ourself in the light of God’s Son. Let me say that again, if you want to grow, sit still in the promises of God and in His mercies that are new for your every morning. If you want to fall into sin, become lazy in your pursuit of God and fill your heart and mind with darkness. It’s really that simple.

Now, if you want to change the world- change yourself. Yes, take that old you and place yourself daily in the light of the Son, Jesus. His light reveals things about us drawing us into a place of repentance.

I’ve had some of my best conversations more recently with God while being fully present in the moment with my daughter or with a friend. I think that’s when His light is shining brightest, not when I’ve turned the lights on for others to see me shining, but when I’ve welcomed someone else into the light that I’ve found rest in.

I think what God is teaching me is that life with Him is really about life “with” Him. Please, let me explain. I used to think that my Chrisitan life meant that I was supposed to be living my life “for” Him. I think I got it wrong. This kind of living created a person who was always busy for God, but rarely present. It created a heart that believed my success for God was my most important pursuit. Now I’m learning that my life with Him is what matters most as I invite others into the shade and comfort of His love in the little shepherd’s field He is creating in me.

Yes Lord, I long to continue to be fully present with you and with others. May my heart be satisfied in your love. I am here to worship you, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

I Gave Up

and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me….(Ps 51:12).

Years ago, as a freshman in high school I walked off the course during a cold, rainy day at a golf tournament I was competing in. I had been playing horrible, it was freezing and raining on top of that, so I just packed up my things and meandered my way back to the clubhouse.

I’m not one who gives up easily on things and so that was a bit of character for me, but that day, I just didn’t have a willing Spirit to sustain me. I just didn’t have what I needed inside of me to keep going.

Truth be told, I was not well prepared for that day. The sweatshirt I was wearing was very thin and was quickly soaked by the rain. I would have done myself a big favor had I gotten a rain jacket for myself in preparation of that day. Once I became wet and cold, I was done. My attitude shifted towards negative thinking and all I could think was- get me out of here!

I’ve done that a few times in life as well. When my marriage got tough and I got a little wet all I could think was- get me out of here! When God has placed me in very humbling circumstances and things I love have been stripped from my life and I feel like life is raining disappointment on me all I can think is- get me out of here! When I know God has called me to something, but I feel deeply afraid, all I can think is- get me out of here! When God asks me to wait, but I just really want what I want, all I can think is- get me out of here!

Friends, maybe you’ve been there too, wanting to escape something instead of persevering in it. It takes concentrated mental strength and fortitude to stay in the race God has put you in. You see, it’s not about you running the race. It’s about you staying the course. Don’t get so caught up in the race that you forget where you’re going. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gotten lost because I forgot the course. Dear friend, you can run all you want, you can shout praises all you want. You can even write blog posts and post pictures of you running for God and all the things you do for Him. But, if you do not stay the course and learn how to persevere in things like marriage, fear, parenting, disappointment, grief and waiting, you and I will go off course.

So let me say it like this, stop running so hard to please everyone and show them that you’re OK and start slowing down so you can finish the race. Perseverance comes when we change our minds. When will tell ourselves a different story about the roadblocks and set backs in our lives. Do those difficulties shape us? Yes, of course, but some of us stopped pesevering when they happened and the race we are in came to a sudden stall.

Friend, I get that. I feel that and I’ve been there when the race I was running came to a complete stall because I just couldn’t handle what happened in my life. I started to become angry and my mind and heart got stuck. If you want to stay the course and run with perseverance and not just to run to prove something to yourself and others, start preparing yourself well. Put on the armor of God, take up the shield of faith and wield the sword of the Spirit against those things that are keeping you stuck. I’m wielding my sword towards fear today so that I can run the race God has given me and stay the course in it. I pray you’ll do the same against the things in your life that love to throw you off course.

Father, I trust you. I need your life in me to stay the course. Today I wield your sword, the word of God against fear in my life. I pray that my life, all of it, would be a blessing to others. Father, glorify your name in me, I pray, Amen.

Comparison Always Leads to Resentment

Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases….. (Ps 49:16).

Recently, I have been comparing my life to other people’s. This is always a dangerous trap to fall into. You see, in some strange way I’m trying to make myself feel better about a situation I felt unjustly treated in. To me, if things shake out the way I want them to in my faithless state then I feel like I’ve received some sense of justice. Did you catch that? I said me a lot didn’t I? That’s also a trap to fall into.

Whenever I compare my life to other people and have “me” become the center stage of my thoughts, life always takes a turn it shouldn’t. I think what lies behind comparison is some sort of resentment towards others and the situations we felt unjustly treated in. Maybe we feel like we didn’t get a fair shot at something in life and so we’re mad at the people who kept us from being able to have what we feel like others do.

It’s quite possible we’re upset with those who pulled the rug out from under us on our rise to the top and so now, in our pursuit of justice, what we really care about is not so much our personal sanctification, but our personal glory. Yes, the glory of being on center stage, having God right all the wrongs and putting us on the pedestal we believe we so rightly deserve. As we look down from our pedestals we see those who’ve hurt us and finally they recognize just how wrong they were.

The problem is that someone, or something most likely had to get crushed beneath us for that pedestal to be put up. Something in our heart had to grow hard to build it as well as our soul becomes flooded with even further resentment.

Stop building pedestals in your mind, beloved, and start placing yourself under the mercy of the King. Yes, come to Him daily in humility, so that He might raise you up in due time. Not so that those who hurt you can finally see you standing tall on your pedestal of resentment, but so that you can go about life free from a need to prove yourself to anyone. I’m dying daily to these thoughts within my own heart and mind as the Lord is teaching me how to be a servant who keeps her head and her heart low, not so that others can see how great I am, but so that I can have joy in Christ for today.

Lord, my heart is bowed low before you. I don’t want to build pedestals of resentment in my heart. Show me, please, if I am. I long to build bridges of grace. Father, I need you. I humble myself before you today, in Jesus name, Amen.

Before God Gets to Your Heart…He Has to Empty Your Hands

If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?… (Ps 44:20–21).

God wants to fill our hearts much more than He wants to fill our hands. Our idols, they are the ones who love to fill up our hands with all the things that makes us feel better- money, clothes, relationships. You name it, our idols love to take our hands and bring us the things we believe will bring us enjoyment and satisfaction in life.

Sometimes before God can get to our heart He first has to get to our hands. He must, indeed, strip us of our worldly comforts before He can fill us with heavenly ones.

Have you ever been mad at God for going to your hands before your heart? I have. Quite honestly, on many occasions I’ve despised the process of my own sanctification and fought God along the way. Truth be told, I’m not quite sure He really ever got to my heart in those circumstances.

Thats why sometimes the same lesson keeps getting repeated in your life. Pay attention and submit yourself to it. God is lovingly trying to strip something from your hands so that He can finally fill your heart, not with the things your idols gave you, but with heavenly treasures. Things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.

Isn’t that what you really desire? More peace, less chaos? More joy, and gratitude, less anger and discontentment? This only comes when we let God empty our hands. It’s better we do it ourselves than He do it for us. There are times when my daughter grabs something that isn’t good for her to hold and she doesn’t willingly offer it back to me. Her mother who knows what is best for her. Instead, I have to pry it from her hands. Yes, pry it from her hands. Have you ever been through something like that with God? I have. It’s not because He was mad at me, it’s because I’ve asked Him for all these years to make me more like Jesus.

Be careful, beloved, what you ask for, because it may require something you love too much to become pulled away from your hands. Trust me when I say, it is for your good. Simply submit yourself to the Father’s work and trust Him. He is for you and when you let go and trust you’ll find that new mercies meet you and that my dear friend is when we all start to grow.

Lord, you are so good and kind. I want to be faithful to you. Help me to live with others in mind. I don’t want to fill my hands with idols. I need you to fill my heart with love, so today, I pray that I might come with empty hands before you, in Jesus name, Amen.