“My desire”

Desires. We all have them. Some healthy, some rational, some well…aren’t. Desire drives us; they move us forward or in some cases backwards. They push us to our goals or they can push us to our destruction. Desires are complicated, in the makeup of our person our desires have the capacity to overtake our wills and our resolve in a matter of seconds.

Desire is inherently for our good. We, being fashioned in the image of God, have a Divinely established portion of our souls where desires are produced. God desires. He desires for all to come to salvation (2 Peter 3:9). Jesus desired to gather Jerusalem under His wings, but they refused. So, from the standpoint of scripture, desires are not bad in themselves. Now understandably, God desires out of sheer delight. While we as fallen humans, desire out of a need we feel. That “need” is the source of the fountain of desires. We all need something. Being the sovereign Creator He is, God knew exactly what would fill that cavernous need deep within, and it is found solely on the person of Christ Jesus. Desire is what God placed in the soul of man to drive us to the foot of the cross.

What’s your desire?

Paul was a man eaten up with desire. A desire so strong and secure that it would even drive him to martyrdom. What was it? He tells us plainly in Philipians 1:23.”…my desire is to depart and be with Christ…”. To be with Christ, to know Him intimately (Philip 3:10), to share fellowship with Him…even if it meant losing his head. Paul wanted to be where Christ was.  Every other desire he had was founded upon this one; to know Christ. The extremities of Paul’s desire aren’t easily duplicated or forged. Simply put: you can’t fake this kind of desire. It’s the kind that overtakes you like a wildfire, it consumes everything it touches. Why would someone seek so hard after Someone they had never seen? Why would they risk comfort and worldy pleasure? It was simple for Paul. God had desired him, by seeking him out and saving him on that dusty road to Damascus. Paul started that journey with one desire in mind, to kill or imprision all who belonged to The Way. (Acts 9) Yet masterfully done Christ showed him what he needed, what he was after. He showed Paul Himself. The unfolding of revelation blinded the Apostle from anything other than Christ.  From that point on Paul was ate up with a new desire-Christ Himself. You see Paul had been desired, sought out and now his heart throb was to seek the One who sought him.

Im not a writer. I’m not eloquent in speech. I’m a terrible speller. I have more insecurities than you can shake a stick at. But deep within is something that pushed me beyond those insecurities to start this blog: a desire. A desire that wouldn’t quit. A desire that would deflate the giant in front of me. A desire that engrafted courage into my weakness. A desire that has taken over my heart. What is it? Christ. I don’t desire to have a lot of followers, or for people to be in awe of my posts. My desire is to finish my race, fulfill my ministry, bring forth a harvest for the Kingdom, and fundamentally “for Christ to be honored through my body.” (Phillipians 1:20). I want my life to be a fragrant offering before my Lord. Im just an average woman, seeking out an extroidanary Savior. Am I there yet? Not hardly. I make myself sick by the lack of  fervor I sometimes display. But “I press on to make it my own because Christ has made me His own.” (Philip 3:12). Christs own relentless desire for me catapults me into a wildfire like desire for Him. He has placed an upward call on each of lives. ( to know Him more intimately, to glorify His name and to advance the gospel) Desire pushes us there. Some will make it, some will not. It’ll depend upon who/what sits on the throne of your desires. Don’t settle for spiraling downward when you were made to soar upward! Take what’s been given to you- Christ Himself, the fulfillment of every desire. His desire is for you beloved.

“I am my beloveds and his desire is for me” SOS 7:10

 

 

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The Plague of Perfectionism

The pressures of perfectionism. The pull to do everything right. To need to be in control. The desire to be applauded. All these things fall under the plague of perfectionism. We tire ourselves with the endless charade that we have it all together. All the masquerades has left us brittle and broken. This pressure from within to prove ourselves, leads us to a performance driven devotion. One that is determined by how much we give, not how much we have been given to us. The gospel message is : you are not perfect but Jesus is. That’s it, boiled down to a preschool understanding. But we still can’t grasp it. We want to earn our way, we want to show the world what we are made of and in the process we end up being made out of the same material as the world. We are swallowed up by the endless competition of callings. We strive to please and be pleased. We want nothing more than to matter. But somehow in the battle we loose the very thing we are after; purpose. The plague of perfectionism chokes out our purpose because it is focused on us-not on Christ.

“Perfectionists strain compulsively and unceasingly toward unobtainable goals, and measure their self-worth by productivity and accomplishment.[4] Pressuring oneself to achieve unrealistic goals inevitably sets the person up for disappointment. Perfectionists tend to be harsh critics of themselves when they fail to meet their standards.”

That sounds a lot like legalism to me.

The people of the Old Testament were under the Mosaic Law (the Law that was given to Moses), and to see that the people carried out the covenant with the Lord, God established what is known as the Levitical Priesthood. This priesthood was made up of men, descended from the tribe of Levi, to carry out the sacrificial system. Because the penalty for sin is ALWAYS life. Every time the people of God personally sinned they would have to go before the Priest and have their sin atoned for. The tabernacle was set up in the middle of the Israelite camp, with the animals all around. The atmosphere was thick, the sound of their need for sacrifice was forever before them. It was something they could not escape from. For all throughout the camp the ruckus of livestock echoed the need for deliverance. There were 5 different types of sacrifices: the peace offering, sin offering, trespass offering, burnt offering, and meal offering. Not to mention the Day of Atonement, where the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies and ask for the atonement of the nation as a whole. Their lives were a constant reminder that they did not measure up. The bar of perfectionism was set but it could not be met. That is why the writer of Hebrews says “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood-why was there a need for another priest to come?” (Hebrews 7:11) It’s a rhetorical question with the answer being obvious; because man’s plastic perfection cannot earn right standing before God. The great news for us is that another Priest did come; Jesus. And because He was perfect, the plague of perfection is cured. You see the pressure to be perfect leads us to a performance driven devotion, one where we serve only to receive. But since Jesus’s priesthood is permanent (Hebrews 7:24), that means that His perfection is as well. We can be free from the pressure to be perfect because Jesus’s perfection covers us. This war within us is legit. It is cruel and bloody at times. But the only way to win is by the Spirit. Paul finishes out his testimony by saying in Romans 8, “Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the Law of the Spirit who gives life, has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it weakened the flesh, God did by sending His own son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law may be fully met in us, who do not live according to flesh but according to the Spirit.” Jesus  came as our sin offering to give us permanent standing but also to take the pressure off of us. It is no longer up to you, what a relief. And since the plague of perfection has been cured, we are free to let our hearts soar and to let our minds grow.

Whose perfection are you counting on? Your’s or Christ’s? Are you dependent on your acts or His act on the cross?  We know what we should answer. But Bible study is not about knowing the right things, it’s about life change. If we ever want to separate the two-we are in a dangerous place. 

You were not made to be perfect, but to be complete—there’s a stark difference. One is grounded in our works, while the other is founded upon Christ. 

Nothing depletes our souls like the requirement perfectionism brings, because we are trying to give something we simply do not have. Deep down we know this, we know we aren’t perfect. We know we can’t measure up-that’s what makes us mad. We have the desire deep within to be all things to all people. That’s what it boils down to. 

 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” Colossians 1:16-17

Jesus’s perfection is what holds the world together. The earth is currently sustaining the perfect orbit, not by chance, but by the perfect hand that holds it. But it goes deeper than the cosmos, His perfection is currently sustaining our small world as well. Our pursuit of perfectionism is noting more than feeble human attempts to keep all the pieces of our lives like we think they should be; under control. But what happens when we realize we never had control in the first place? We panic. The pursuit of perfectionism always leads to panic-and that will always make us feel like we are falling to pieces. But when we pursue the perfect Priest, Jesus, than that always leads to peace. Perfectionism says we must be all things to all people. While Colossians 1:16-17, tells us that it is not our responsibility, it’s Christ’s. Only Christ has the capability to be all things to all people, in order to find peace we must step down and lift Him up

Perfection is not the absence of a mess, but the presence of Jesus.

Morning is Coming

Th sun peeks over the horizon. The warm gaze is a welcomed relief to the world. It’s beams break the darkness. It’s glory silences the cold cry of night.

Morning. It’s the natural sign of Gods covenant to His creation. Several times both morning and His Hesed (The Hebrew Word for God’s faithful, steadfast love. His loyal love, that is founded upon His covenant to us.) Love is mentioned together (Ps 59:16, 90:14, 92:2,143:8,Lam 3:22-23) He understands our dusty minds, He knows we need a physical reminder of His steadfast love. So, every morning, without delay, the sun rises over the horizon. It’s a picture of God’s faithful love. With every peak it’s a guarantee of His promise.

He’s still here. He still cares. He still has a purpose for you.

The night can seem so long, like blackness is following our every move. It hangs as if to taunt us, trying to convince us the sun will never break its hold. It deceives is to believe that we are stuck in this oblivion with no way out. Our hearts burn. Our eyes strain to see the slightest trace of light. The night tarry’s, clinging to the clock, as our hope wains under the weight.

It’s in our darkest moments that we often forget the promise: night won’t last forever.

Every night sets the stage for the morning. Every trial and every heartache, is setting up the stage for God’s steadfast love to shine through, to conquer and redeem.

His love expands past the night, it goes beyond the horizon. Darkness cannot win because His Love promises a breakthrough. With each morning, the faithfulness of the sun, tells of the loyalty of God.

Know this: that breakthrough is not something we wish for, it’s something we are promised.

The method is not certain but the dawning is.

After all, breakthrough is what the gospel is all about. One man breaking through a dark tomb to the dawn of a new day. What seemed like the end was just the beginning.

He is the Resurrection and the Life.

The dark of night cannot compare with the glory of the morning. He comes into our darkest moments, when all hope is gone and says “Arise…”.

The night has no hold. It will not last forever, after it’s predetermined time is complete, it will bow to love. It will melt under the feet of the Son.

Don’t lose heart.

Morning is coming.

He is loyal.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never end; they are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Know I AM

It creeps in undetected. Our sensors don’t automatically pick up on its infiltration. It’s sly and subtle at first, projecting innocence-with the intentions of disaster.

What is this enemy?

Stress.

I have heard that stress is the number one cause of all illnesses. From headaches and stomach ulcers, high blood pressure to insomnia. The list is extensive. The fact is the that stress effects us more than we care to admit. In fact, 67% of Americans say they live “stressful lives”. What’s the common denominator? It’s not circumstances or even culture. It’s not ethnicity or even social class. People from every walk of life struggle with the “S” word. So what is it then?

Our hearts.

Stress is not a condition based on circumstances, it’s a condition of the heart.

People who are facing life altering crisis can live above the watermark of stress. We’ve all seen someone go through tragedies with courage and peace. Yet we know some (maybe even us) who live in the frantic of frustration over misplaced car keys.

Here’s what I’ve gathered as I’ve been “people watching” (including myself); that everyone thinks they have the right to be stressed. Everyone of us at some point has complained about how busy we are, how loaded we have become. The truth is found in that very confession: we have given circumstances authority over our hearts.

If our circumstances have the power to determine our level of joy, they have too much power.

How do we put this monster called stress to bed?

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

It’s ironic to me that this verse in one of the most popular of all the Psalms. Yet, possibly the most vastly under applied.

Why is that?

Stillness scares us. It causes us to listen, not to the clamor circling us, but to the chaos within. In the silence we hear the monster roar. The one that says we’re not enough. The one that threatens our purpose. The one that confirms our weakness and highlights our inadequacies. This monster called stress, tells us we must be our own savior-and everyone else’s as well. It puts the demands of the world on our shoulders, all the while accusing us of insufficiency.

Stop striving.

That’s what the Word says. Stop trying to be all things to all people. Stop with the charade. Stop trying to write your own story.

Stress streams from self-sufficiency. All the ways we try and take on the cloak of deity. All the million different ways we try and be God; to control chaos.

That’s why He says “be still and know. Stop striving and recalibrate your heart to the realization that I am God and you are not.”

He says..”know I AM…”. Know that I AM the Light of the World and the Bread of Life. I will illuminate your darkness and cover you with My truth. I AM all you crave and all you need. Know that I AM your Way and Truth and Life. Know that nothing is hopeless with Me, For I AM the Resurrection. Know that I AM in you and you are in Me, because I AM the True Vine. I AM here guiding and protecting you; I AM the Good Shepherd, as well as the Sheep Gate.”

Know that all your instabilities as well as your insecurities are quieted in Him. Know that in your inconvenience and inconsistencies, He is constant and sure.

The cure for stress?

Know the great I AM. May your heart bow before Him in still surrender, releasing the reverb that the lack of authority sends through our souls.

Surrender.

That’s a cure of the heart.

Dirty Diapers and Theology ;What I have learned as a wife, a mom of 4 and a ministry school student.

Election and basketball practice. The New Creation/Old Creation debate wasn’t as hard as the nightly debate about what was for supper. Calvinism verses Armenianisim was easier to decide between than the question that hung over my head as I walked through the door of my simple farm house; wash clothes or read. The demand of both never ceases. I prefer to read, so I usually chose the latter. But then the kids needed clean clothes for school, the baby’s socks needed bleached because he obviously walked on an unmopped floor. I still don’t know where at. (Do you sense the sarcasm?) Homework to sign off on, practices to go to, play dates to make, sleepovers to host, pjs to wash, tubs to scrub, food to buy, a small menagerie of animals to feed, a husband to love, kids to nurture, and a ministry to fulfill.

I’ve learned so much in the past few months. I am a student at heart. But not any student. No, I barely scrapped through high school. I’m a bible student. It intrigues me. It is my passion. I have been privileged enough to learn the ins and outs of ministry as well as in depth theology from the staff of one of the fastest growing churches in America. Their the real deal.

So, what did I learn in the manic rush of home and ministry?

I’ve learned theology is lived out or it isn’t worth much. I’ve learned that it seeps down into your reasoning and colors everything you do. I’ve learned theology is more than a book, it’s a basis for life. For ultimately, we will live out what we believe.

With ministry school wrapping up and graduation right around the corner I sat down to consider all I’ve learned over the past 9 months that cannot be taught in a book. Much was learned in the wee morning hours and over dirty diapers; as theology became reality.

*Don’t cap off your calling. God has more for you than you have ever imagined. Coming into ministry school, I had my calling figured out, or so I thought. I could see how it all unfolded and what paths I would take. But much to my surprise my calling was bigger than I could ever have dreamed. I had unknowingly placed a ceiling above my call-no wonder I felt secluded and desperate-I was cramped by a box of my own making. I had no idea when God called me to leave my previous ministry He was about to rip the top off my expectations. He was broadening my ministry, but the irony is that in the process of it I thought He was crushing it. That’s often what happens when the cap is screwed off of our plans; we feel like the weight of the open space will crush us. We all need wide open spaces; where we can grow and develop into the men and women we are destined to be. Destiny is never found in the confines of a box. We must learn to fly in the wide open; not coware in the comfort of complacency.

*Passion knows no gender.
*Be humble enough to be vulnerable. The world doesn’t need a “masquerade” it needs us to be real, authentic. People will forgive you for not being perfect, but they will not forgive you for being a phony.
*My Knowledge of the Bible itself doesn’t guarantee I see what God is doing. I must feverishly seek His mind and heart. We can be so loaded down with head knowledge that we miss what He has set up right in front of us. We can be so distracted by serving Him that we miss what He’s doing right in. (Ask Martha if you don’t believe me. Luke 10)
*Adapt or die. This one wasn’t mine originally, but nothing has been truer for me in this season. When I came into Ministry school I stepped into the unknown. Being born and raised in a certain denomination-there were things that I had never been exposed to. Biblical things-but they were strange to me. I realized that what worked for me previously would not carry me any farther and that’s a hard pill to swallow. Effectiveness shrivels up and dies in the comfort zone. There will come a time when we all are faced with the choice; be comfortable or be effective.

*He does what He says He will, even when it seems like He isn’t. Almost two years ago I made one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. I had to release what was in my hand. The Lord asked me to lay down the only ministry I ever had known to pour myself into a church where I knew no one and no one knew me. The comfort in my prior church was, everyone knew I was called into ministry, I didn’t have to “prove” that. So, one Wednesday night with teary eyes I sat in my new church as a visitor…begging God desperately not to send me….my fear was that I would be swallowed up, with no outlet for ministry. I wasn’t after a platform, I was after purpose and the thought of that evading me scared the daylights out of me. I silently told God as I sat in the giant worship center, “But they don’t know that I have been called to ministry…” and in my spirit the Lord spoke more clearly than He ever has, “But I do. I will make a way..” Over the next few months He affirmed that Word through the Scriptures. He seemed to promise me a red sea road, if only I would not turn back. So, for months I sat silently in the seat, until one Sunday they announced the start of a ministry school. Immediately, I knew that was my red sea road; HE was doing what He said. And He has proven Himself true. I shouldn’t be where I am, with the opportunities given to me. He’s so faithful.
*Don’t pursue a platform; pursue His presence.
*He fights for us, without reservation.

*Comparison will kill your calling. The tension is always there; to speak like her, to study like him, to have faith like them. And while it’s good to be challenged, comparing our callings to another will squash our destinies under the weight of someone else’s purpose. God has designed you for a specific purpose. You weren’t called to be them, you were called to be you.
*Spiritual warfare is real, and the enemy is mean. He doesn’t hold back because you feel vulnerable and afraid, he presses even harder. There were honest moments, with tears streaming down my face that I told God I was done, that I couldn’t handle the pressure of motherhood and vocational ministry. There were moments when I have been so suppressed, that I literally thought it would break me. There were moments when I almost handed over the very thing I had been waiting years for. But what I learned through those dark moments is that the enemy is nasty and cynical and if we take the bait we will become the same way. CALL HIS BLUFF AND CALL GOD FAITHFUL- he will run with his proverbial tail between his legs.
*Wisdom isn’t bound by age. One of the wisest people I know is in her early 20’s.
*People will celebrate your success but show contempt for your sacrifice. They won’t understand; don’t hold it against them.
*The scattered pieces of our sacrifice given into the hands of God, makes a sacrament for His glory, that is worth every hurt and disappointment. Leaving my one year old in the care of another has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Mothers do it all the time- I know. But that doesn’t make it easy. But something I want my children to be able to say about me above all else is this: She was faithful to her God, even when it was hard. And to leave a legacy of faith, one must live by faith. How silly would it be to live without sacrifice and expect our lives to be an aroma of faith to those around us.
* The greatest legacy you can leave is loving Jesus more than you love yourself. Legacies are built in the dark night of sacrifice, when nothing is sure, and everything seems shaky as we cling to the only One who is not shaken; Jesus.
*He’ll use your weakness to display His glory. Don’t despise your weakness, embrace it.
*Don’t underestimate yourself. For in doing so you underestimate what God is doing through you. It was the morning of exams and someone gave me a compliment, I responded with “Don’t overestimate me.” And in my spirit God spoke right to my heart with “Don’t underestimate yourself.” It’s easy to hide behind the fake façade of false humility; insecurity. When we do, we unconsciously hide ourselves from the opportunities God wants to use us in. We make little of ourselves and in doing so-make little of God.
*God doesn’t tease, He woos.
*IF you say you’ll follow Him, He may test your sincerity.
*There’s a sabbath in release; when we hand over our plans and purpose to His providence.
*Self-preservation will rob us of the very thing we are seeking. We protect ourselves out of blessings.
*How well you love others, ultimately tells what you believe about God.
*When you go after your God given dream, you unconsciously give others courage to do the same.

* This, all of this, motherhood and ministry, it isn’t about me-its about Jesus.

*live a life of ransom; Just as Jesus did not come to be serve but to serve and give Himself as a ransom for many. Live in humility. Give all you have to the ones around you. Serve with grace.

*Worry about creating disciples not a following. In today’s culture it’s much more trendy to create a following than to create disciples. We are overwhelmed by “Christian Celebrities”. While a following isn’t always bad-it’s not the goal. Discipleship is.

Most importantly. I’ve learned that the pull for any of us, to live our lives for Christ in the rush of the everyday monotony can leave us broken. But it’s in that brokenness that we become most like our Savior. For He was broken on our behalf; subject to the scourge of sacrifice. It’s in that brokenness that I have found the sweet spot; abundance in the midst of chaos, peace in uncertainty and fullness in emptiness. Its here in the sacred scars of Christ hands that I have found freedom and fellowship. Nothing has been sweeter. It’s been an honor and a thrill to serve the Most High God, both in the church and in my home. I can’t wait to see what HE does next.

Wait For It

I press my ear against the babies chest and listen to the sound of grace keep time with the echo of life. Trying to let the sound of life replace the emptiness of death. Trying to let the blessedness of abundance drown out the broken despair of suffering. All the pain. All the mess. All the questions that seem to be answered by rejection. I listen to his heart, to try and hear my own. To be reminded that a broken heart can still beat. To be reminded that there is no life with out first dying. To be reminded that beauty can come from a heap of despair.

We’re so quick to assume betrayal. To doubt the promise. We hasten to the hammer and let despair drive the nails. We let our brokenness tell us He’s not who He claims to be. We cry “crucify Him”, when He doesn’t bow to our standards. We believe in signs, we believe when things go our way…but when heaven is silent and all is still-except the storm within. When the cries of a collapsing soul drown out the cry of hope. When the slivers of dashed dreams cut our eyes, skewing our perception. When hurt and headache hang hope, cutting off our oxygen supply. When the mangled mess of mishaps and misfortune threatens to massacre the goodness promised.

What do you do?

Raise your head up. Don’t let despair be your doom. Lift your bloody and bruised eyes up, up to the One who not only sees you but cries with you.

The most beautiful marriage of two words is: Jesus wept.

He wept because brokenness hurts. He being the God-Man, knows how heavy the crushing weight of disappointment and despair can be.

He understands. Not that we hurt-but why we hurt. He realizes how we wait and wonder. He gets why we are prone to pacing and pleading. He knows the need and so…sometimes…He waits. He lets us feel the ache of disappointment…because He loves us.

Wait. What? He loves us, so He leaves us waiting?

Love comes rushing and fixes the problem right away. Right?

Love does everything to push back pain. Right?

These are questions Mary and Martha must’ve asked. The sisters sent for thier Lord. For thier friend.

“Now, Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary and Lazarus. So when he heard Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two days longer.” John 11:4

So they waited. Their hope circled around the fact that He has healed so many-of course He would heal their brother. They rested in the fact that He was on the way.

But then, Lazarus drew his last breath. He died before Jesus came.

4 days after his burial, Jesus arrived.

It was too late. The tomb was closed. The body was cold with death, the sisters hearts cold with despair.

Their response was the same: “If only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

If only Jesus would have showed earlier.

If only He would’ve moved a little quicker.

If only He hadn’t waited.

“But when Jesus saw her weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled…Jesus wept.” John 11:34-35”

He wept even though He knew what He was going to do. He wept because the promise of the future doesn’t always take away the pain of the moment. He wept because He felt the weight of waiting.

As they came to the tomb, the stone seemed to seal their story. It was too late. That seemed to be the closing line of their plot.

Yet, Jesus had one more thing to say.

“Lazarus, come out!”

In that moment despair was dissolved. The chains of brokenness were released.

But what was the point?

What’s the point in the pain?

Could He not just bypass all the tears and tragedy?

“This illness will not end in death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Som of God may be glorified.” John 11:4

The point is that love glorifies, not by the absence of pain but through the pain. There’s no short cut to glory.

You see we want a healing, while Jesus has a resurrection in mind.

One is good. The other is glorious. And divine love is always after glory.

Not selfish glory but shared glory.

It’s shared because we get to be part of it. He allows us in, but only through suffering.

Not fair, you may argue. No, it’s not.

But not for the reasons you may think. It’s not fair because the crowned Prince of heaven, shared what’s rightfully His with man; with people who are 1 part water and 1 part dust, the Word made flesh, the Living Logos, shares.

“Instead, be very glad–for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” 1 Peter 4:13

Pain could be prevented but then glory would be perverted. It’s through the purity of pain that we are truly freed.

Sometimes it’s the wait that makes us candidates for glory.

Wait for it. He’s coming.

Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

“…my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.” Lamentations 3:17-18

Hopelessness. It’s the reckless abandon of expectation. It suffocates dreams and knocks down vision. It puts out the hottest fire in the most zealous soul. Hopelessness stalks under the brush of disappointment, pouncing at the first sign of weakness in our faith. It is the aim of our adversary. He seeks to steal our joy, kill our passion and destroy our destiny. And the way he accomplishes this? He feeds us a lie that is laced with truth:

“It’s too good to be true. Don’t get your hopes up.”

Gods promises, he argues, are too good to actually be real. He tries to convince us they are a far fetched fantasy, that has no real chance of coming true. Like a fairy tale existence, many of us have bought the lie that what God has said and declares about us, is too good to be true.

So we settle. We conform. We compromise. We miss out.

That’s the enemy’s goal; to convince you not to get your hopes up, so you’ll settle in the rut of complacency, never reaching the full measure of Christ’s bounty He has promised us. (Ephesians 3)

For many of us we expect lesser things and so that’s what we get. We don’t really expect to live in our higher calling, because it’s unrealistic.

To us, reality is based on our perception. The things we can see, touch, hear, think…to us all those things are possible. But God isn’t limited by the walls of the mind or the borders of the heart. Instead, He bypasses what we call barriers and sets a new stage for reality. He uses a way higher than ours to bring us in.

Hopelessness is when we try and bring God down to our level. Hope is when He brings us up to His; where He shares His heart, His plans and His vision. Hope is based on something much bigger than ourselves. It’s based on the fullness of Christ. Hopelessness on the other hand, is based not on the abundance of Christ’s strength, but on the lack of our own.

The biggest trap we could fall for today is this: Don’t get your hopes up.

That’s what the world would tell us. We hear it from Drs and bankers, from friends and foe. We rationalize and scrutinize our plot. We weigh our chances to safe guard against disappointment. We’ve grown skeptical of the supernatural. We have tasted the manna but forsake the fruit of the promise land.

So why do we take the bait? Why do we fall for the lie, “it’s too good to be true “?

Because it’s bigger than us. Bigger than our perception and so it’s unbelievable to the natural man.

Just the thought of God cloaking Himself in humanity, submitting Himself to suffering to the point of being beaten and broken by His own creation, is unbelievable. But the story doesn’t end at the cross, that’s only the beginning.

Then when all thought hope was lost-the grave shook with resurrection power, as the Lamb roared in victory over death and the grave, silencing hopelessness.

Some would say that was unbelievable. But He wasn’t done.

He then appeared to over 500, commissioning and confirming, over a 40 day period, at the end He rose again. This time it wasn’t from within the earth but from the earth. He ascended on high, and as He did so did all those that would believe. He cloaked the believers in the same resurrection power, arming them with authority and placing purpose on their heads. With this final act He set all who would believe in Him on the higher way; above hopelessness.

Christ has disarmed the bandit of hopelessness. He has sabotaged the enemies attempt at annihilation. He gave us hope.

Hope in a new day. Hope in victory. Hope in love. Hope in purpose. Hope is restoration. Hope that will not disappoint. (Romans 5:5)

You see hope doesn’t disappointment because it’s based on the permanence of Truth. The unshakable foundation that states: He is ours and we are His…forever.

You see all that’s why all this seems too good to be true. It requires faith; the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

How tragic would it be to hope only in what we can see, only in what we can rationalize.

Faith calls us to see things that aren’t as though they are. To step above what we can rationalize and to believe…to believe there’s purpose in all this, the believe that it’s not over.

Hope promises to deliver what good intentions cannot; contentment.

You are mistaken if you believe this is it. That suffering has the last word, that violence and hatred have ransacked peace.

Hopelessness causes us to believe the charade of darkness. Don’t buy it. Don’t take the bait.

No matter what has suffocated your hope and stolen your happiness, now this:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies are never come to an end, they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Hope is based on the permanent love of God, not the temporal threat of suffering.

What’s the use?

What’s the use?

The question spilled out of my heart like hazardous waste as I looked around at the shattered existence that was my reality. It all seemed so hopeless, such blatant crises that could not be over looked. The pain so sharp. The choices so few. The deliverance seemed so far.

There was a woman in Scripture who could have reacted the same way… “What’s the use?”. After all, Jochebed could not fight the Egyptian troops. The time had came when she could not protect what was precious to her any longer. Yet, the mother of Moses would not give in. Not to the enemy. Not to the threat. Not to the pain.

She carefully wove a basket and sealed it with pitch. Then she laid her tiny treasure in her homemade ark and laid the cover of him, like she was sealing his fate. She did not know that instead she was sealing the fate of her people. She gently sat the treasure chest into the nile and watched as her most treasured possession floated away.

She couldn’t have known it then, but her faith would save an entire nation. For the treasure she released would turn out to be the instrument God used to release His people from bondage.

She could not have seen that in the moment she chose release over defeat and Faith over fear, she was choosing deliverance.

Deliverance often comes through release. When we lay our treasures in hand of an All Powerful, All Knowing God. When we release what we don’t have the ability to do-to the One who does.

But we don’t always respond like Jochebed do we? We crumble under the weight and we wonder “what’s the use?”, “why bother?”. We feel like we are fighting a loosing battle. The questions swirl: whats the use…our kids aren’t listening, the bills aren’t getting paid, the job illudes is, our boss over looks us, the doctors report was grim…it seems like the end is imminent. But is it? Could it be it’s only the beginning?

A common theme rises throughout Scripture: that the end is really the beginning. The beginning of deliverance.

We don’t have to look very far into the Word to see this play out. Joseph was favored and adored. Yet, that favor seemed to be high jacked as he was sold into Egypt. Through a series of events, that seems like Jospehs favor is at an end, we see what many would consider the end was only the beginning. Joseph’s slavery turned out to be the deliverance for many. (…but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive…Genesis 50:20)
. Yet, probably the most profound was when darkness seemed to extinguish the Light on the dark Friday over 2000 years ago. The Word seemed to have gone silent at the chokehold of death. Strangled and broken, the Son of God laid lifeless in a borrowed tomb. His fate, like Moseses, seemed sealed. Yet…

“And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, Behold, two men stood by them in dazzling appareal and as they were frightened the men said to them “Why do seek the living among the dead? He is not here, He has risen!” Luke 24:2-6

What seems to be sealed from man is not sealed from God. 

One woman’s faith saved an entire nation.
Your faith can do the same. 

One act.

One sacrifice.

One moment when you refused to let your circumstances constrain your God.

So, if “What’s the use?”
Circulates through your heart remember…What seems to be useless can be turned out for the deliverance of many…if only we will release our treasure to the One who is able.  

The deliverance you seek may not be within your grasp but it is always within His.