Boundaries: Avoiding Pain Is NOT the Endgame

man head downB O U N D A R I E S are important, but avoiding pain is NOT the endgame of a Christian. Restoration requires sacrifice. It’ll cost you something to love others well. Sometimes, the biggest thing it’ll cost you is your pride. The children of Israel exalted the things God sent to bless them above God Himself (worshiping Gideon’s ephod to celebrate God’s victory, honoring Moses’ bronze serpent God sent for their healing, etc.). You can exalt the fences so high that what should bless you (boundaries) becomes an idol – something you trust MORE than you trust God’s design of restoration. Boundaries are good, but only if governed by God.

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What Happens in the Normal Life, If You’re Lucky, Maybe…

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“I despaired at the thought that my life might slip by without seeing God show himself mightily on our behalf.” ―Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Jim Cymbala captures the heart of every soul seeking something more, yearning for significance to rise from all of life’s heartache, desiring the God of the universe to show Himself strong. While living a normal life, you find yourself hard pressed on every side, cast down, even perplexed, and if you’re lucky, the glimmer of hope in the goodness of God will shine brighter than the burdens you bear. Maybe this is the trajectory most often traveled in bringing God absolute glory. Perhaps, our problems equally beckon us to either “slip by” relatively unscathed by the clamor of desire or to embrace the center of our suffering with a heart still anchored in hope, still searching for miraculous intervention in the middle of life’s searing storms.

How unfortunate it is to go through life untouched by tragedy. Not that you must intentionally familiarize yourself with trauma, but wholehearted living requires embracing both beautiful and bitter morsels of your journey. In the normal life, trouble will darken your doorstep, and how unlucky you’d be if sorrow never swept your way between stretches of deep satisfaction and great achievements. That’s right. Unlucky if you remain unchanged by the pain that daily surrounds you and implores you to purpose it. Unlucky if you haven’t a single problem or unmet need that keeps you ever seeking our Sovereign Savior, ever stretching to reach beyond your grasp.

What a terrible waste of unlimited potential to skate safely through the life experiences that change so many others at the core, to never be transformed by loss, or heartache, or practicing to delight in the minutiae of seemingly mundane events. In the normal life, distance from Eden’s untainted perfection will ravage your soul and scar you deeply. If you’re lucky, you won’t be too rushed to “keep calm and carry on” or too willing to hide your heart at the first pinprick of pain. If you’re lucky, your agony won’t be invisible. Others will see your broken places, and maybe catch a glimpse of God shining from the cracks you refuse to conceal.

In the normal life, you’ll chance upon conflict. If you’re lucky, you’ll engage in loving confrontations that bear lasting fruit of deepened friendships, and maybe you’ll grow from the thing you didn’t avoid. In the normal life, doubt will visit your toughest decisions. If you’re lucky, repentance will swiftly follow the heels of remorse, and maybe you’ll choose your regrets more wisely when chasing second chances with those you love. Cruelty and cynicism swirl all around us, mingled with joy and generosity, and if you remain unaffected by it, you’ll miss the beautiful ways you were meant to reveal God’s glory. So, this is an invitation to open your heart to the things you’d rather avoid, to embrace every part of your story, especially the seemingly nuisance interruptions, to acknowledge the pain wrought by living a few thousand years past paradise, a summons to live with your whole heart expecting to be awed by God in the intricate details of your story, a request to open your heart to both the tragic and transformative nature of a normal life.

Leaving God Margins in a Double-Spaced Life

Submit all work with 1” margins, double-spaced. As a professor, I hold fast to these two formatting rules so I have enough room to make corrections and provide substantive feedback. It made me wonder if we leave God enough room between the lines of our stories, if we leave enough space in the margins for God to bring our dreams in line with His divine plans. Are you slowing down enough to live the double-spaced life? He knows your story better than you. Are you leaving God margins so He can write it on your heart?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. {Jer. 29:11, NIV}

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. {Psa. 139:16, NLT}

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Gideon Bible Study (Final)

W H E N you believe God and choose to be faithful despite your fears, your words begin to align with HIS Word! God’s declared: you win! Your enemy believes you win. Now it’s time to act like it. Fear isn’t sinful; it’s an invitation to cower or live with courage. Faithfulness is a decision. You CAN be faithful, even in the midst of your biggest fears!

VIDEO:

Gideon Bible Study (Week 3)

Gideon was faithful in the small things before he fought the battle of a lifetime. If you’re faithful in the small things, God can cause even the things you fear to serve you and bless you for His purposes. Even Gideon’s enemies began to prophesy of his victory. NEWSFLASH: your enemy believes what God says about you. Do you believe it? He calls you: overcomer, victorious, more than conquerors. Week 3 of the #fearfulBUTfaithful virtual bible study continues below.
***This video and blog can be shared with anyone, but below is the audio playback number and info for the final live call next Sunday at 7pm CST.
Dial in #: 319-527-9115
Access Code: 788309
Playback dial in: 319-527-9296

V I D E O:

Fight Again, Win Again

“Some time later King David attacked the Philistines again, defeated them, and ended their control over the land.” 2 Samuel 8:1 (GNT) AGAIN. The enemy will try to make you think that because you’re still fighting, you didn’t win the first time. You already won. We already win. Some battles you’ll have to fight again in 2017, but don’t be discouraged by the warfare, be encouraged that you win. Be ready to fight in 2017. Be ready to win.

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Resisting the Lies of “Not Enough”

K N O W  TODAY:
You HAVE enough.
You DO enough.
You ARE enough.
Your enemy speaks the language of “not enough” (not enough time, not enough money, not enough sleep, not good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc.). WHY? Because God speaks the language of abundance (exceedingly, abundantly above, grace that much more abounds, more than conquerors, more blessings than you have room to receive, etc.), and the father of lies will naturally speak in direct opposition to your Heavenly Father. Know and receive the Truth today. You are enough. {Eph. 3:20; Rom. 5:20, 8:37; Mal. 3:10}
Repeat this affirmation aloud: I am enough!
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God Fortifies Your Faith Instead of Stopping the Sifting

wheat-harvest“I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail…” -Jesus (to Peter, and to you)

Jesus tells Simon Peter that the enemy of his soul desires to have him, desires to sift Peter as wheat (a grueling, grating process), but that He’s prayed, not for the sifting to stop, but that Peters faith will not fail.

Declare this (ALOUD): My faith will not fail: JESUS is praying for me.

Always remember that whatever attack your enemy sends your way had to first seek permission from divine providence. In the midst of whatever sifting that’s come your way, God is still in control. Just as God allowed Peter to be sifted, He allowed the Israelites to be “sifted” by the Midianites (Judges 6). But, even in the midst of absolutely terrorizing circumstances, the God of the universe still had Gideon’s fate and faith in His hands. The beautiful truth is that no matter WHO does the sifting, the end result is that the wheat berry, your fruitfulness, is preserved, and everything else is driven away. Even Satan’s sifting serves God’s purposes.

Stay tuned for the next message in this Fearful But Faithful series, and do share with others and share your thoughts on the posts as we study together.

Gideon Bible Study Video (Week 2)

A  L I F E of fear was interrupted by God’s promise of peace. Gideon snuck under the cover of night because he was afraid to fulfill his purpose, but as fearful as he was, he was faithful and got a new name because of it! God wants to do more than disrupt some things; He wants to DESTROY those things that are threatening to destroy you! Week 2 of the #fearfulbutfaithful virtual bible study continues below.
BELOW is the audio playback info and info for the live call next Sunday at 7pm CST.
Dial in #: 319-527-9115
Access Code: 788309
Playback dial in: 319-527-9296

VIDEO:

 

Gideon Bible Study (Video)

F E A R isn’t the enemy! You CAN be faithful, even in the midst of your biggest fears! The problem is when we’ve better rehearsed our fears than God’s faithfulness! Gideon had insecurities, and we will, too, but don’t let your insecurities become your identity! Your identity is in Christ and who He calls you, not what you think of yourself. Hint: He calls you HERO, even when you’re hiding. This is Week 1 of the 4 part #fearfulbutfaithful virtual bible study. This link can be shared with others, but below is the audio playback info and info for the LIVE call/study next Sunday at 7pm Central.
Dial in #: 319-527-9115
Access Code: 788309
Playback dial in: 319-527-9296

VIDEO: