Tag Archive | faith

Dream Big

I have a love/hate relationship with risk.  I used to be very cautious, responsible, and overthink everything.  Over the last few years, I’ve released a lot of my tight-fisted grasp and become much  more spontaneous.  These days I like to think that I’ve lightened up, grown up, and am not such a control freak!  I like to do adventurous things and face my fears.  Except when I don’t and the old me comes rushing back in!  Do you ever have Jekyll and Hyde moments/days/weeks?

I’ve…

  • learned to talk to people I don’t know on a regular basis
  • learned to love trying new things
  • decided to often say yes and then figure it out later
  • started 2 businesses and run them successfully
  • pierced my nose (not really that risky, but I do love it and it’s kind of different!)
  • become passionate about using my gift of evangelism to intentionally reach out to people who are seeking God

At the same time, when it comes to certain things, I want to shrink back and stick my head in the sand!  One of those things that creates that fear in me and brings the “hate” part into play with risk is dreaming big.  As soon as I start dreaming, it’s as if something comes over me that says, “no, we’re not going to get our hopes up here.  Don’t think too far ahead, just focus on today/this week/this month or you’ll get overwhelmed.” (yes, the voices in my head speak in plural!).   It’s even a physical reaction many times where my heart races and I feel anxious.  As I’m writing this, I’m experiencing those emotions!

In addition, I find myself thinking very narrowly when it comes to dreaming big.  I suppose that is somewhat of an oxymoron because I don’t think dreaming big and narrow thinking really go together!  Do you ever argue with yourself?  Here is an example:

–what if I could…?

–but you can’t!

–but God can!

–sure, He can, but what if He doesn’t?

…and on and on.  Does that happen to any of you?  Can I get a witness?  (where does that phrase come from?  I’m pretty sure I’m too white to use it, but it just felt like the right thing to insert there!)

I’m just about finished with a book called The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.  The premise of the book (based on a Jewish legend) is that God wants us to pray circles around our dreams, fears, other people, His promises, etc.  He focuses on 3 aspects: dream big, pray hard, think long.  I would like to cover the other 2 in subsequent posts.

A few favorite quotes…

  • One litmus test of spiritual maturity is whether your dreams are getting bigger or smaller.  The older you get, the more faith you should have because you’ve experienced more of God’s faithfulness.
  • You cannot build God’s reputation if you’re not willing to risk yours.
  • If you put what little you have in your hand into the hand of God, it won’t just add up; God will make it multiply.
  • Too often we let how get in the way of what God wants us to do.  We can’t figure out how to do what God has called us to do, so we don’t do it at all.
  • We shouldn’t seek answers as much as we should seek God.
  • Prayer opens our spiritual eyes so we see sooner and further.
  • Our biggest problem is our small view of God
  • A big dream is simultaneously the best feeling and the worst feeling in the world.  It’s exhilarating because it’s beyond your ability; it’s frightening for the exact same reason.

What stands out to you?  Where is God calling you to dream big?  I’m planning a prayer/spiritual retreat for next month to allow God space and time to shape my dreams into something He is pleased with and to ask Him to stretch my faith and expand His purposes in my life.  Stay tuned!

 

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Expect Opposition and Miracles

Sounds contradictory a bit, opposition and miracles.  Our sermon this morning was AMAZING and God was definitely working on me through our pastor’s words.  We’re in the middle of a series called Paradox and today’s paradox was “If you try to keep your life, you’ll lose it.  But if you give your life to God, you’ll find it.”  The overall message was that obeying God’s agenda rather than my agenda brings the good life, the great life, the best life.

Several things stood out to me.  First, “obedience usually triggers opposition”.  If you’re not ready to face opposition for your obedience, then you’re not ready to be used by God.  Ouch.  The enemy is trying to stop whatever God is trying to start in your life.  And I should worry when I’m not experiencing opposition because that maybe means that I’m not that much of a threat to the enemy.  Double ouch.

There is an area in my life in which God is asking for my obedience.  I’m experiencing the opposition that comes from doubt and fear. I’ve not fully thrown my heart over the bar in this area. Instead, I’ve been protecting my heart a little bit.  Not in a healthy way, but in a defense-mechanism way.  God showed me that this morning.  I really need to be on the offensive in the battlefield of my mind and heart.  My fear of failure rears its ugly head far too often.  I was reminded that when fear of failure is front and center for me, it means that I am way too focused on myself.

Second, “when you obey God’s agenda, it often releases God’s miracles”.  The Scripture we were working from this morning was the story in Acts where the apostles were thrown into jail for preaching in Jesus’ name.  An angel of the Lord came and opened the door to the jail and told them to go back out and do the same thing for which they had just been arrested.  Opposition and miracles.

Third, “obedience to God’s agenda always requires faith”.  Often when God asks for our obedience, we want to see not just the next step or 2, but steps 4, 5, and 6 down the road.  Like, “give me the details.”  And God replies, “if you saw too far ahead to what I have planned, you couldn’t handle the details!  Just take me at my word.”  In Psalm 119:105 it says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet.”  A lamp only illuminates the path immediately ahead, it’s not a floodlight.

Finally, “the more that you obey God, the more you begin to recognize his voice.”  I’ve found this to be so true.  I’m quicker to respond with obedience the longer I’ve walked with him.  I don’t want to miss out on God’s best for my life by delaying obedience (which is really disobedience).  I will choose faith over fear, no matter how often I have to consciously do so.  Even when opposition comes.  I will expect miracles.  Stay tuned!

The Season of Giving

What would it look like if the Season of Giving lasted 365 days/year?  If my life were a Season of Giving?

This theme seems to be repeating itself in lots of ways for me lately, with the recurring message, “it is NOT MINE”.  We just did a series at church called Life, Money, Hope and one of the weeks was focused on the #1 Myth about Money– that it’s mine in the first place.  If we start, instead, with the premise that it’s all His, it makes it much easier to determine how to give and spend and save.  This is easier said than done and goes against everything our culture tells us.

In addition to the money thing, I was reading this morning in Francis Chan’s Crazy Love and came across this:

Another important element of giving is with our time.  Most of us are so busy that the thought of adding one more thing to our weekly schedule is stressful.  Instead of adding another thing to our lives, perhaps God wants us to give Him all of our time and let Him direct it as He sees fit.

As we love more genuinely and deeply, giving becomes the obvious and natural response.  Taking and keeping for ourselves becomes unattractive and imprudent

The good things we cling to are more than money; we hoard our resources, our gifts, our time, our families, our friends.  As we begin to practice regular giving, we see how ludicrous it is to hold on to the abundance God has given us and merely repeat the words thank you.

Although both of these areas of giving can be challenging, there is also a sense of freedom.  I am responsible, but not ultimately responsible!  I need to ask for wisdom, and the decisions that need to be made about spending (time, money, resources, gifts) are real, but if I really take God at His word I can trust Him with all of it.

It’s not MY business.

These are not MY kids.

This is not MY budget.

This perspective changes how I make decisions, how much fear I feel about it, and how much trust I place in God.  How about you?