What You Have to Do for God isn’t so Great

Many times we Christians set each other up for disappointment. The primary response to the announcement of our move was:

“That’s so exciting! I know God is going to use you in a great way! You have big things ahead!”

{Ok, one person did tell us that we were being irresponsible and flippant about moving with our four kids and no immediate provision, but they were probably PMSing, and not a good Christian.}

Purging our stuff, packing up boxes and driving north, we were ready and willing for the “great” and “big” stuff to find us! Visions of what was ahead of us clouded our minds and filtered our conversations.

“Here we are God! Send us! Blow us away with what we’ll do for you! We’re ready for anything!”

Six weeks later, I’m staying home with the kids and Josh is working for our friend’s home remodeling company {thank you God for provision}.

Not quite the “mighty” we were expecting. In fact, we had one person ask us flat-out, “Why couldn’t you do that in California?”

I floundered for an answer, and all I could come up with was, “God said move.”

Have you ever noticed that when people envision going back in time they’re always a queen or a knight or a gentleman? No one thinks they’re a serf.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not at all bitter at God for transporting our family from the southwest US to the northwest. We have reunited with friends and reconnected with family. We’re exactly where God has called us to be.

And, it has only been six weeks, that’s a nanosecond to God. I’m not willing to reduce myself to an “are we there yet” toddler; pestering Him for a turn-by-turn breakdown of our journey. When I need to know something, He’ll let me know. God is not a GPS suction-cupped to my forehead.

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Why do we say that? Is it because we’re afraid for the person, and want to build them up? Could it be because we still hold on to the picture of success that is force-fed us by our culture? I wish I knew, because I’m completely guilty of it myself.

What if what we have to do isn’t so great? 

Jesus spent His time doing not so great things, by the world’s standards. I know I’ve talked about this recently, but it’s the primary theme running through my brain right now.

He hung out with the dregs of society. He didn’t set up a non-profit organization, or intentionally build a platform. He just traveled around having encounters with those the Holy Spirit led Him to.

In the market place, while waiting for His meal, and just walking down the road. His focus was the relational, not the remarkable. In fact, He even cautioned people to keep secret the things He did for them.

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As a do-er, I like to focus on the action; tackling the task at hand to achieve the goal. Maybe the purpose of the words “sacrifice” and “abide” in my life this year are to show me that I need to sacrifice my desire to take action, and rather to allow the Spirit of God to abide in me and change my heart.

Forgiveness is a heart issue.

Grace is a heart issue.

Love is a heart issue.

Hope is a heart issue.

Once we allow the Spirit to work in our lives to purify and cleanse our heart, our actions follow. Forgiveness is easy, because we love others. Grace for others flows naturally out of the abundance of our heart. Love for neighbors, enemies, others aligns with Paul’s outline to the Corinthians, because it’s God’s love. Hope is simple because the unseen is seen through His eyes.

The “great,” “might,” “big” things that God has to do might not be through us, but in us.

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21-days of sacrifice

Ever since God placed the word “sacrifice” on my heart, the practice of fasting has flirted around the edges of my consciousness. I am afraid to admit that at the age of 30, and as someone who has been a Christian for almost as long, I have never really fasted.

The last couple of weeks have been physically, mentally and spiritually exhausting for me. The illness of my children, the battle with depression and a barrage of lies from the enemy have left me depleted.

While wasting time on Facebook, I saw an announcement from our denomination that the President of the Foursquare Church was asking for leaders to join him in a 21-day fast.

There it was again…

So, starting tomorrow I will be fasting.

Josh and I talked it over and came up with a plan. Our normal routine after the kids go to bed is to watch TV, and we usually end up getting munchie and having a snack. For our fast, we will not eat, watch TV or go on the computer after the kids are in bed. Instead, we will be using that time to pray together, go through a book in the Bible and spend time together seeking out the Lord.

I am so very excited for this!

Additionally, this week I will be looking into the practice of fasting, and share what I’ve learned. Part of the reason I’ve never fasted in the past was that I didn’t understand how my going without food glorified or drew me closer to God. I’d like to explore the idea a little more, and thought you all might be interested in it as well. Plus, I’m interested to hear your insights into fasting.

If you’re interested in joining us in our fast, please let me know in the comments. How you do it, what you give up, doesn’t have to be the same as us; it could instead be snacks between meals, one meal a day or an activity. You can go here to find out more information about fast that Foursquare is doing and the daily prayer points they have set up.

Have you ever fasted before?

Would you be interested in joining me as I fast for the next 21 days?

What questions do you have about fasting?

Checking In

The new year smell is starting to fade.

What once appeared shiny, flawless and brilliant is slowly slipping into dull, scuffed and ordinary. Words, resolutions, goals that brought a sense of hope, destiny and purpose now have to be lived out in the day-to-day.

We’re a little over one week into 2011, how are you doing?

Do you feel run down? Are you not making the strides you expected to see by this point? Have you thought about giving up?

Be encouraged!

You can make it, because you’re not relying on yourself, but on the strength of God to get you through!

Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. {Isaiah 43:18-19, emphasis mine}

Expect the impossible! If God has placed an idea, a dream, a goal, a vision, a purpose, a change on your heart

B E L I E V E

that He will see it through to fruition.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. {Philippians 1:6}

I have something happening this week that seemed just a dream, an impossible wish, at the time I said it. Slowly, I’ve watched as God put the pieces together to bring about the very thing I’d hoped for! I know many of you are going through rough times, trials that seem insurmountable.

Lean into Him. Hold nothing back. Trust that He has your best in mind and will make a way where the path seems lost.

God is doing a new thing! A new thing He will perfect in your life.

And if you need prayer, I’d love to pray for you today.

Leave a comment below, or email me if it’s something you don’t want to share with others.

You all have encouraged me a multitude of times, and I want to repay that to you today.

So, how are you doing?

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Living out Sacrifice

I normally don’t post on a Saturday, but a friend of mine pointed out today’s entry from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers.

It goes along so perfectly with what God has been speaking to me about Abide and Sacrifice, I wanted to share it here.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend!

Abraham built an altar . . . ; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar . . . —Genesis 22:9

This event is a picture of the mistake we make in thinking that the ultimate God wants of us is the sacrifice of death. What God wants is the sacrifice through death which enables us to do what Jesus did, that is, sacrifice our lives. Not— “Lord, I am ready to go with You . . . to death” (Luke 22:33). But— “I am willing to be identified with Your death so that I may sacrifice my life to God.”

We seem to think that God wants us to give up things! God purified Abraham from this error, and the same process is at work in our lives. God never tells us to give up things just for the sake of giving them up, but He tells us to give them up for the sake of the only thing worth having, namely, life with Himself. It is a matter of loosening the bands that hold back our lives. Those bands are loosened immediately by identification with the death of Jesus. Then we enter into a relationship with God whereby we may sacrifice our lives to Him.

It is of no value to God to give Him your life for death. He wants you to be a “living sacrifice”— to let Him have all your strengths that have been saved and sanctified through Jesus (Romans 12:1). This is what is acceptable to God. {Oswald Chambers}