Thursday, January 29, 2015

Write This Down (4of4)



Write This Down
These inspired words from the Scriptures have often been an encouragement to me in welcoming whatever future God our Father has planned out.  It's certainly possible to trust Him completely (progressively) with yourself when you know His heart is good toward you and He is always working with your best interests in mind.

Ephesians 3  (MSG)

The God of Glory


Friends, I've jumped into fear before and so have many of you. Honestly, it can hurt and God’s invitation does not come with the assurance of a pleasant journey, but we're guaranteed to have our Father at our side the whole way. When we choose to act in belief and trust we become living poetry. The kind of poetry that invites a desperate world to pause and take a deeper look. I see another cliff coming into view just ahead and I don't want hesitation or fear to keep me from making another courageous leap. What about you? Who knows if The Lord will use these jumps of ours to do something great in His wild, wonderful world? Maybe someone else will find freedom for themselves, then pass it on to another in need of it?

The final installment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy The Hobbit was recently released,
bringing to a close a truly epic storyline.  I’m reminded of a brief conversation between
Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey as they discussed the unfolding adventure ahead
of them:

Gandalf:   “You’re going to have a tale or two to tell when you come back.”
Bilbo:       “Can you promise that I will come back?”
Gandalf:   “No. And if you do . . you’ll not be the same.”


So . . are you ready? 3 - 2 - 1 . . JUMP!


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Respond

Has He been inviting you to take part in an adventure that you’ve hesitated stepping
into?
     - It might be in an area that you fear (even success) and that you are passionate about.

What does your 'First Step' look like?

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Walk with Me, Work with Me (3of4)


Fear-less Living
One of my desires - not ‘resolutions’, because it smacks of my own strength and by now I know I can change nothing of significance on my own - is to live with far less fear in 2015.  Living without fear is not a neutral posture.  I can’t live without fear unless I live within an growing awareness of my Father’s heart for me, and His presence with me.  Living without fear is living with a greater awareness of the Father-always-with-me.  It’s His presence that puts everything in perspective and pushes fear out of the picture.  I’m constantly reminded of this reality by a verse from the book of Joshua which is on our
wall above the piano at home:

- Joshua 1:9, The Voice

It was a word given to Joshua at just the right moment. He was a young, brave man who had been serving at Moses’ side for many years.  When Moses died, the Lord commanded Joshua to “. . Arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them. . “ (Joshua 1:2, ESV).  Joshua was thrust into a new place of leadership, following a legendary leader, and given the task of leading millions of people into battle after battle against all odds. That was a challenge if I ever knew one! The Lord says to Joshua “Be strong and courageous” three times within one conversation (pep talk!) Our Father even throws in a “Be very strong and courageous” at one point, all the while guaranteeing victory for His people . . IF they didn’t forsake their relationship with Him.

In verses seven and eight Father God says to Joshua,

- Joshua 1:7-8, ESV

The odds - massive. The guarantee - success. The requirement - live right, with your hearts open to His voice. As you always hear from me, you see played out in the beginning verses of the book of Joshua when God’s people were entering a new era of promises fulfilled and unparalleled blessing: our Father’s two invitations to us have always been ‘Walk with Me’ (in relationship) and ‘Work with Me’ (in re-building His Kingdom here).  I don’t say this over and over again because I think you’ve forgotten it.  I repeat it over and over because we need constant reminding.  Just like we need to be reminded over and over again that the heart of our Father is good toward us.  We need reminded so we’ll be encouraged to seek Him with all our hearts.  Once we’ve tasted and known His goodness, grace and generosity we need reminded so we keep seeking Him.  That’s why God's kids meet together every week of every year.  We want to encourage one another to continue to “recklessly abandon ourselves to God’s loving care” (St. Ignatius of Loyola).


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Respond

Have you been leaning into the Father's love for you and His good words over you to combat fear?

What has the Father placed before you that seems so outrageously big you're afraid to take the first step?  Can you direct your attention away from your limitations and onto His ability to perform miracles?

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To be continued . .


[ read previous posts ]
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fearing Life as it Could Be?? (2of4)




Masked Greatness
This theme of facing fear and doing something great has been coming up again and again lately . . which usually means the Spirit of God is trying to get my attention.  On many occasions I’ve heard the Spirit speak through the song 'Every Breaking Wave' on U2's most recent album Songs of Innocence. Bono sings, 

"Are we so helpless against the tide? / Baby every dog on the street / Knows that we're in love with defeat / Are we ready to be swept off our feet / And stop chasing / 
Every breaking wave".  

In essence, the fear that causes us to stay in our comfort zones is the same fear that keeps us chasing our tail, happily distracting ourselves (procrastinating) from jumping off the cliff of opportunity just ahead.  The exhilaration of freedom that we'll experience as we fly through the air is what will help us make the leap of faith . . not to mention the prospect of seeing that single act birth more light in the world.  Again, in the same blog post, Michael Hyatt offers some sound advice: 

"Whenever we have the potential to do something important or extraordinary, we’ll be tempted to stay inside our comfort zone.  But the truth is we never do anything of real significance in our comfort zone.  The base jumper who listens to his fears is just another hiker who walks down the mountain.  It’s when we’re stretched, face our fears, and reframe them that we can reach out and touch greatness."

The Spirit of God has been trying to get my attention.  I've heard and now I simply must act - in essence, I'm being called to 'poetry'.  The original Greek word from which we derive the English word 'poetry' is poiesis, which means "to make (or do)".  There is such depth of relationship between that word and the role the Spirit of God plays in our lives that I will have to reserve that topic for a future post.  For us, faith / belief / vocation only makes sense when it's acted upon.  There is no distinction between faith and action - they are one and the same.  We’re called to be a poetic community.  

Later in the same song 'Every Breaking Wave' Bono exclaims,

"We know that we fear to win / And so we end before we begin / Before we begin." 

The fear I've been facing the past four+ years has largely been the fear of failure.  Now that I've done that - failed - recently I've noticed that I'm facing a new type of fear, the fear of success.  Strange, right?  What happens once/if all that I've hoped for begins to happen, then what will my life look like?  What decisions will I be faced with?  When that happens there's no going back to life as it was!  Am I good with that?

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Respond

What themes / messages have you noticed coming up over and over again in different places of your life?

Have you ever experienced a fear of success?

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To be continued . .


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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Are We Ready to Be Swept Off Our Feet? (2015 redux- pt. 1of4)



Dispatching Fear
Early one morning a few months ago, I read a great blog post from prolific author, speaker and coach Michael Hyatt called 'How To Reframe Your Fear And Let It Work For You'.  First of all, if you don't know who Michael is, or don't read his posts - you're missing some caffeine for the soul.  Seriously, make the time to check in with him a few times a week online.  Michael's post was simply another quiet whisper in my ear over the past couple of months.

How many of you have experienced fear due to a relationship? . . due of finances? . . due to work? . . due to health?  Fear is a normal experience in our lives.  Some say Christians should live without fear.  If asked, each of us would certainly like to live life with less fear.  However, true faith isn’t the absence of fear but the decision to move forward in the face of it, knowing that our Father is right in front of us.  We often face fear on some level before we leap into something we perceive as significant or great.  Providing the opportunity before us is a good one, that fear we experience may be an indicator that what we've been inspired to do should be done posthaste.   

In 'How To Reframe Your Fear And Let It Work For You' Michael Hyatt offers us three steps to move through fear, "1) Notice the Feeling, 2) Objectify the Feeling and 3) Reframe the Feeling".  Good advice.  As a spiritual director and pastor, I would also encourage you to listen to what the Spirit of God might be speaking to you before, during and after moving through fear.  The prescription is the same however, God calls us to move through fear, giving us the assurance that He’s walking with us every step of the way.  

Escape to Egypt / Return to Galilee
One story that is often overshadowed during the Christmastide season is the account of the two dreams that Joseph, Jesus’ father, had during Jesus’ infancy.  Immediately following the departure of the Magi (wise men) who had traveled great distances to see the Christ child, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream telling him, 

“Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 

Given, Joseph’s mission to provide for and protect the Son of God from those who would do him harm, was no small feat.  Can anyone say ‘responsibility’??  Place yourself in his sandals for a minute . . an angel appears to you - in a dream - and tells you to move your young family to Egypt (the formerly-oppressive-neighbor-to-the South) in an attempt to avoid a megalomaniac king who was on a rampage to dispose of any possible threat to his self-important power grab.  A carpenter against a king.  An army against a set of wood-working tools.  And if you were Joseph you’d feel how?? Joseph might have been tempted to be afraid- except for the fact that God-of-the-Angel-Armies would not allow one hair of His Son’s head to be harmed.  So off to Egypt you go!  

While living in Egypt, the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream a second time to tell him that Herod had died and it was time to return to Israel.  The angel said,

“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.”

Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus faced another major life change requiring a copious amount of trust to overshadow any threatening fears as they returned to the country they fled.


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Respond ~

Is there an area of your life in which the Father is inviting you to face fear and walk with Him through it?  (it might be in the places that you desire freedom and have seen recurring cycles.)


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To Be Continued . . .


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