Commit to the Journey

Commit to the journey

September 2016.
Golden Ears Mountain. Maple Ridge, BC, Canada.

This photo was taken in September of 2016, newly married, and almost about to summit my first mountain with my husband. I have a huge smile on my face for many reasons. 1. conquering a mountain 2. overcoming my fear of heights and 3. sharing it with my husband. But right before this moment, there was an intense portion of the climb for me. It started to rain. A rope was dangling ready for us to use to tackle a steep section of wet rock. Trembling in doubt and then fear, I told my husband, “I don’t think I can do this.” My husband’s response, in his calm, cool, and collected manner was, “you don’t have to”.

Committing is a Choice

I am reminded of that moment because being on the trail is a choice. It is a choice to follow Jesus and to commit to changing your ways to knowing and becoming more like him. It is a choice because it is also a relationship.

Because of the relationship I have with my husband I trusted in my ability because he was there with me. I overcame my fear that day and finished the treacherous climb of Golden Ears Mountain.

One Path – Different Journey

There is only 1 path and its the same for all who commit their lives to Jesus. But two individuals on the same trail can have different experiences, perspectives, and strengths just like my husband and I that day. It was stormy for me, and not for him. A hard slog for me, and not for him. Comparing our journeys with other believer will keep us stuck, frozen and unable to move forward. Commit to your own journey with Christ and ask God to remove the temptation of comparison.

Prayer

I pray that you continue to step forward in your walk with God. Despite the fear you face and the lack of confidence you’ll have. I pray you will still persevere knowing Christ is with you.

Stay Curious, Not Confused

God is calling us to trust Him despite what we do not know. In Proverbs 3:5 it says, “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding“. I believe by changing our mindset from confusion to curiosity begins the process of trusting God. Let’s take a look at the difference between confusion and curiosity and why we should stay curious and not confused.

Confusion

Confusion arises when we lack the wisdom of understanding. For example,“why did this happen to me?” Circling around the same problem hoping for a different outcome. By definition confused/confusion means, “lack of understanding; uncertainty” and “unable to think clearly”. If we allow ourselves to stay confused, unable to think clearly, we become angry. This anger can grow into bitterness. Bitterness towards God because of our own lack of understanding and lack of trust. This not only effects our faith but our attitudes towards those around us.

Curiosity

Curiosity by definition means, “eager to know or learn something”. I may not understand why something happened to me, but I can learn more about God through it. Curiosity gives traction to God while confusion distracts us from God. What is good for us is not to know everything, instead, we aim to know God who does. Let’s start with learning to lean on Him through a curiosity of His character not a confusion of our circumstances.

Conclusion

I trust in God and lean on His understanding because of what I lack. I may be angry and I may have questions. But, I do not let that stop me from pursuing God. Especially, since I know God gives and takes away, Job 1:21. I accept the hard truths even if I don’t understand them at the time. For who knows more than God? So, why would I assume I know better than He? I am curious of who God is despite my struggle, suffering and unknown plans of my life.

I stay curious about God through the uncertainty of my circumstances.

Trust in the Lord for He is good His love endures forever.

Psalm 136

Preach and Reach the World

Sometimes, as Christians, we doubt our ability to preach and reach the world because we assume “we’re not enough” or “we don’t know enough”. Well, guess what, we’re right! HA – did you see that coming?? But praise be to God! “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). We are not enough to preach and reach the world – not without the grace of God. His working Spirit in us. This is a beautiful thing to rely on because it takes the pressure off of what we can do and unto what HE DOES! Amen? He creates the change we want to see in the world. He gives growth to what we sow.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

1 Corinthians 3:7

We are God’s Fellow Workers (1 Corinthians 3:9)

God delights in us (Psalm 18:19). He loves us enough to save us and enough to use us. We are commissioned by Jesus to witness and make disciples. We have a part. Our part is to take the spotlight off of us and onto Him when we share who He is and what He does in our lives. This is the start in making disciples – by talking about who we follow and why we follow.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 28:19-20

The only way people will see a real change in you is through the fruits of the Holy Spirit. This is how we preach and reach the world. We need to exercise what God has given us through the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). As well as, acting according to the wisdom we know from reading His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Matthew 4:4, Joshua 1:8).

Allow the Grace of God to be enough

Remember you are not enough – but by the grace and power of God, HE IS! So, allow His grace to speak to you and through you. Every one of us has a story of how God came through in our lives at one point or another. These are simple ways we can preach and reach the world to hear about Jesus. By testimony.

Out of all the apostles in the Bible, Paul says he is of the LEAST of them, yet he writes about 1/3 of the New Testament. How?? By the grace of God.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

1 Corinthians 15:9-11

You ARE enough because He, Christ in you, is.

Therefore, as you received
Christ Jesus the Lord,
so walk in him
Colossians 2:6

Strong Wind

As I write this, in my (rare) quiet time, there’s a strong wind outside my window. You know when the wind is SO strong you can hear its movements? The whirring, whooshing, thundering sounds of a strong wind. Very powerful to hear. The strength of the weather. It makes me in awe of it’s power and so insignificant in comparison. At any moment, the strength of a strong wind can whip you around – destroying you – or even cities for that matter. Luckily, in our city, it only destroys loose garbage and maybe tips over your plant pots. However, in other parts of the world the wind is to be feared. Rightly so, it’s powerful.

God is in Control

Thinking more about the demolishing power of the weather and it’s capacity to over rule me… I think of bible stories. Here are three examples:


– In the book of Genesis, God tells Noah to build a massive ark because He is sending a flood, by rain, to destroy the land.
– During the book of Joshua, to win a battle, God destroys the walls of Jericho (a city) by shaking it to the ground.
– We read in the Gospels of a storm that rocks the boat so hard that the disciples are scared for their life.

However, in each of these examples, the person who is in control is God. He’s speaking to Noah – directing him how to overcome the flood by building an ark. God commands Joshua to lead his army by simply walking around the walls of Jericho seven times. Jesus is awakened by the fearful disciples of the storm and tells the storm to stop. By reading and remembering these stories of the Bible I am reminded that God is more powerful than any storm.

God is All Powerful

As I continue to listen to the whirring, whooshing and thundering sounds of the wind I am reminded of a characteristic of God – powerful. Makes me fearful yet comforted. Wow, He is more powerful than the strong winds, yet more comforting than a warm blanket. To be fearful of the Lord is to be in awe of His power, yet in trusted to His comfort.

God is Comfort

I can enjoy the crazy sounds of the weather because the feeling of a warm blanket and the heat of the fireplace keeps me comforted. God is like that. He is our comfort. In the chaos of the wind in your life, which moves in all directions, not sure where it will land or even stop, God is there. There’s no going outside and fighting off a strong wind. Imagine that hilarity. Punching, kicking, and pushing the wind? Imagine your neighbours peeking through their blinds. Only to see you looking like you’ve picked a fight with yourself, which you’re definitely losing. So it is with our faith.

We get mad at God and His power because we know he can stop the crazy rushing winds of our life. So instead of sitting and finding his comfort within the “storm” we fight it, we fight Him. There’s no fighting, resisting or threatening God. It’s just you fighting you – pointless and left more exhausted.

God is in Control

So in fear of the strong winds of life, I choose to draw closer to God. This means I simply admit my sin, my weakness, my inability to change the winds and ask Him for help to comfort me. Help me believe you are the warm blanket and the fireplace that keeps me safe inside. Because His comfort is just as powerful as His control over the strong winds. His powerful comfort maybe doesn’t stop the strong winds in our life but it sure calms the winds in our hearts.

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father God,
I pray for a strong wind of your Spirit to move within my heart. May it be as powerful as the winds I hear outside. Help me believe that being closer to you is more powerful than any strong wind in my life. Amen.

Encouragement

Is there a strong wind in your life that whirls you to crazy land? Well… for me, there’s been many. But I have learned that the more I fight it the more I am left defeated (whipped around by anxiety and fear). I need to continually, daily, submit my needs, control, and heart to the Lord. Asking for the wind of His Spirit to be stronger than the wind of my feelings, thoughts and impatience. Lord be the strong wind I need to move forward for today. Amen.

Servanthood

Doing the big or little things for people is not just serving them, but ultimately it’s serving God.

“Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”

Matthew 25:37-40

Servanthood in Christ

I can be self righteous thinking my words on a blog or my voice on a podcast is much greater in the Kingdom than simply wiping my child’s bum.

Servanthood looks like loving the least. If you only serve to gain recognition then it’s more like selfish-hood not servanthood. I want to serve out of my love for Jesus because that’s where the blessing is.

Jesus Washes the Disciples Feet

“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” He asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

John 13:12-17

Holy Servanthood

There is no such thing as a great man of God, only weak, pitiful, faithless men of a great and merciful God.” – Paul Washer

The more I understand how Christ served people the more I understand His love for them. “I did not come to call the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to repent], but sinners to repentance [to change their old way of thinking, to turn from sin and to seek God and His righteousness]” (Luke 5:32 amp). The more I accept my weakness the more I am drawn to God’s love.

When I understand God’s love, I feel loved, and when I feel loved I show love. Loving others despite how we feel about them, their circumstances or their belief systems. We can do this by seeing their need and asking God, is it I to meet that need for them today? If so, God show me how. As it’s through your love for me that allows me to show love for others.

Pray to be a good servant

Dear Jesus,
How difficult it is to simply serve others without judgment. Help me to learn to serve with a clean heart and with your loving lens. I need to see people – my family, neighbours, friends, community – the way you see them. Help me to meet the need of my own child. She has many needs. Too many to count. Help me to not see those needs as insignificant but as significant to serving your Kingdom. As your Word says, “whatever you did not for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matthew 40:45). I repent of my need to be seen by others in order to serve. To be praised, admired or acknowledged by man rather than by you. For freedom comes from Christ alone and not by the approval of man (Galatians 1:10).
Amen

Why Pray before Meals?

Looking at my daughter at the dinner table as we take our first few bites. I hadn’t prayed before the meal and didn’t bother to. Confession, I wasn’t “in the mood” to bless the dinner, just in the mood for stuffing my face. Until I thought, “why do we bless dinner?” Prompting by the Holy Spirit, convicting me of my lack of care to pray, I figured I better find the answer as to why we pray before meals.

Before diving into scripture to find the answer, I think on top of my head why I bless the food. Aside from being raised that way, I guess its an act of honour and thankfulness towards the Lord. To have food in front of us is something perhaps we take for granted. By giving thanks to the Lord its taking the time to acknowledge Him in our day. Simply put, mealtime prayers can be check points for our faith. No matter where we are, we eventually have to eat and when we do, did we give God thanks?

Did Jesus bless the food?

In Matthew 14 we see Jesus looking up to heaven saying a blessing before he broke and served bread. At this point in time it was a miracle that so much food was provided. Jesus turned a handful of food into portions that served thousands of people. Not even one person was left hungry. Giving thanks to God means recognizing His provision in our lives. Praying before meals is a fitting practice for all who trust the Father for the daily provision of their needs (Matthew 6:11).

I can’t remember a time where a meal did not satisfy my hunger for the day. What an amazing miracle that is to have. I have taken this miracle for granted by avoiding to give God thanks.

Remember the LORD your God.

Matthew 14:19, “Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.”

Deuteronomy 8:10, “And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.”

Romans 14:6, “The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Take every opportunity to give God thanks because its training you up for Godliness.

The point in finding out why I am praying before meals is so I can have a pure motive and reason behind it. Instead of just saying words because, “I’m supposed to”. One day my daughter will muster enough words together to string questions about why we do what we do. As a mother who loves the Lord I must know why I do what I do, especially when it comes to my faith.

We mustn’t stop doing the little things well or assuming the little things are “little” like praying before meals. Or else, perhaps, over time we’ll start to neglect the power and necessity it is to pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

We are to, in everything, give thanks. So why not start with our food? We know we have at least three meals a day and what a great opportunity to stop and acknowledge God before we eat. I have failed in this area making it seem like its not a big deal – but it is.

Make gratitude a big deal in your life.

If we lack gratitude, repentance is the only appropriate response.

Why We Pray for Our Meals – Jon Bloom

Instead of rushing through the prayer to get to the meal, acknowledge its gift first and give thanks to the giver. I admit, I rush many of my dinner meal prayers, and don’t even bother with breakfast or lunch! I’ve made something biblical and honorable to God become so monotonous.

I repent of my lack of care and annoyance it has been to pray before each meal. I have taken for granted a gift from God which is food on my plate. That is something alone many people can’t say they have. I have become ignorant to a gift that is given. So I thank God for His blessing upon me and its goodness it carries to nourish my body. What a miracle God has given us with available food to eat!

Pray.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Help me to walk in your light and not in my own right. So I can live in wisdom and in truth – not easily swayed by my emotions or ignorance towards sin. I repent of not seeking opportunities to thank you for what you have given me, which is food to eat. Amen.

Strive to Serve God

In the moments of chaos I need to serve God. In the moments of perfectly-executed plans I need to praise God. Each moment is a chance to serve God and it is better for us to strive to serve than to strive at all.

Striving for our own earthly desires.

I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 1:14

We strive, strive and strive. Putting our head down and we work, work and work. In our own efforts we grind, grind and we grind. Only while to complain, complain and complain. All for more of what someone else has – we circle back. Never satisfied. Striving for our own earthy successes and pleasures.

Serving for the glory of God.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
 Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.

Psalm 37:3-6

We serve, serve and serve. Looking up (posturing our hearts to heaven) we work, work and work. In His strength we rejoice, rejoice and rejoice. All for something beyond ourselves. We circle back to Him, who started a good work in us and will finish a good work in us. Serving for Gods gift of eternity and joy in simply being His.

What’s more important is what we’re striving for.

The word “strive” is not a bad word as it means to “make efforts to achieve or obtain something”. However, the focus is about what we are striving for… our own good or for God’s good?

For example, I tend to over-think when I am planning. I overthink the negative and how I am going to plan around IF that occurs. It’s a type of striving to prevent myself from failure. Making efforts to achieve a good time! But, no plan is perfect and not everyday goes as predicted. So when the unexpected happens… how do I respond? I may easily crumble under the pressure and the overthinking becomes overwhelming as my plans fail.

Our greater purpose is hidden in serving God.

This is where I need to shift from striving for my own gain to serving for God’s glory. Yes, making plans and being prepared is a good thing! I still make plans and do the best with what I know I can control. However, when it fails, can the plans still be good? Yes, there are opportunities already made for us that we cannot control. Having the mind of Christ and perspective of serving God will help increase our awareness of Him in our days.

Our mandate as Christians is not based on what we have done on earth. Its about simply believing what Christ has already done! This is the starting hope we need to have each morning. So our efforts of living righteously is based upon our focus in Christ. This way our life is not vain and our striving efforts to serve God make an impact on the people around us.

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Titus 2:7-10

Renew your Mind

Everyday is an opportunity to renew our mind and its a chance we need to take. Otherwise the world will dictate our decisions, ideas and passions far from God’s will for us.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world

Paul, warns Christians not to abide or comply to the standards of the world but by the standards of God. We must recognize what in the world opposes God, so we can discern what’s good.

Be transformed by the renewal of your mind

It’s so easy to conform to a world that is constantly telling us to do whatever makes us happy or feels good. So how do we avoid its temptations – Paul says, with transformation. It’s by the work of the Holy Spirit. Not in our own will or our own mind, but by the work of Christ who does a work within us. However, we don’t wait around for it to just happen, we do our part in allowing transformation to occur.

For example, I used to pray for things “to go away.” “Dear Jesus, “take away this problem, this anger, this anguish.. this situation away from me!” Not a bad prayer, the problem was its focus and my lack of obedience to God. My prayer had intentions of my own will in what I think God should do. God, “take this away from me because I know its best for me”. It was a worldly focus of “I deserve”. The only way to switch perspective was to think in a way that honours God. Transformation occurs through prayer and knowledge of God. Recognizing and honouring the fact that He first loved us. I use scripture to guide my prayers because then I can focus on Him and less on me.

Discern the will of God

The good and peace in my life increases when I am confident in my decision making because I know it lines with the will of God. Despite the outcome and through the testing of my faith, I can trust in Him who works all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

Practical ways to renew your mind:

  1. Use scripture to guide your prayer life – Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
  2. Read the Bible alongside a friend, spouse or group study for community, support and accountability.
  3. Spend time with God to hear His voice. Try writing out your prayers in a journal and read scripture, asking yourself, “how does this passage describe God’s character?”
  4. Check out this great resource to get started in reading your Bible: The Bible Recap.

“If we evict the one true God from our throne of worship, we will replace Him with ourselves. If we are the final source for “our truth,” we can easily make God into our own image instead of the other way around.” – Alisa Childers

Mama Bear Apologetics

This is why renewing your mind is a daily pursuit. We must take advantage of our relationship with God by allowing the Holy Spirit to renew our mind. So we can avoid slipping into a worldview that is “our own”. Instead we need to pursue the God view (the Biblical view) as our own.