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 Was Fearful, But He Was Faithful!

 

Declare This (ALOUD): Fear will NOT overtake me; it will NOT keep me from doing great things.

Gideon’s story is marked by monumental fear — hiding from the Midianites while gathering food, sneaking under the cover of night to destroy the idol in God’s temple. But fearful or not, Gideon was a man of ACTION, to the point that the author of Hebrews (in 11:32) had to marvel that there isn’t enough time to even talk about how much Gideon accomplished by faith. I wonder if Gideon could’ve lived with slightly less fear, though, if he only knew Hebrews ch. 11, vs. 32 was coming. How would you live differently if you knew that EVEN in the midst of your fears, you can put our faith into action in such a way that the “Hebrews 11” chapter of your life will boast of the great exploits God did through you?

Declare This (ALOUD): I WILL be all I’m called to be and do ALL I am purposed to do, even if I have to do it afraid! I can be faithful, even if fearful.

Register for Conference Here: http://10thousandstanding.eventbrite.com/

Your Tears Are Not Lost on God

Y O U R  TEARS didn’t get lost in your pillowcase. The God of all comfort still salvages every sorrow. With each successive year I celebrate the mending of my heart, my capacity for openly receiving, deeply experiencing, and passionately expressing God’s love has multiplied. After decades of overwhelming grief and anger that threatened to eclipse all joy, God’s peace relentlessly pursued me and has repeatedly brought me to my knees in adoration of Him. May this same peace & love chase and catch your overburdened soul.

As you release your fears and tears to God, I want to share that I’ve been leading the leaders of the 10 Thousand Standing Conference in a bible study where we’re challenging our fears, overcoming failures, and fueling our faith in God. I’ll be sharing the bible study portions here, as well.

JOIN the FEARFUL but FAITHFUL bible study and SHARE today! I’m so excited to grow along with each of you!

Dealing with a Divergent God

divergent2-e1427087544612

I finally watched the 2014 film, Divergent, which was based on a science-fiction book of the same name. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian society where everyone is expected to choose one of five subcultures to live and work with. Each subculture, or faction, requires strength in and conformity to specific attributes, such as bravery, selflessness, intelligence, etc. The faction system is designed for control and predictability. However, as with all systems, there are flaws, one being when a person doesn’t neatly fit into any one category because they have strengths in all five areas. A person who doesn’t fit just one faction, but instead could fit many, is called “divergent.” Divergents, like the main characters, are a threat to the system because they can’t be pigeonholed into others’ preconceived notions, and they can’t be controlled. They are freethinkers who approach problems and solutions in ways others don’t, and quite frankly, can’t. Their thoughts and abilities far exceed the parameters of the five factions.

If you’re human, like me, you rather enjoy some measure of control and predictability in your environment; you rather enjoy your compartmentalized systems. The flaw in your system, though, is that God is divergent. He doesn’t think or act like you do. He doesn’t conform to your system. Deep within us, we want a God who isn’t sovereign over us, but is subject to us, a God who is predictable or at least fully understandable by some stretch of our imaginations. Instead, we have a God who is wild, uncontrollable, incomprehensible, paradoxical — in short, He’s divergent. In fact, His ways diverge so much from ours that He’s said higher than the heavens are above the earth are His thoughts than our thoughts and His ways than our ways {Is. 55:9; Ps. 103:11}. The farthest object observed from planet earth is more than 13 billion light years away. God is saying His thoughts and ways are more than 13 billion light years above ours.

While we can only see a few options for solving our most difficult problems, our Divergent God, who towers more than 13 billion light years above our circumstances, sees our end from our beginning, and God foresaw our darkest days before we ever took a breath is the same God who orchestrates our brightest moments, loved us from before time began, and has promised to work all things together for our good. If we have committed to being submitted to such a God whose thoughts and ways are so above, then we’re choosing to give up any semblance of control. We’re choosing to give up what we thought our stories would be so we can fully embrace what He’s still writing out in our lives. When we follow the calling of a Divergent God with complete obedience, we relinquish the option for things to make complete sense. We have a God who is both full of wrath and full of mercy, a Man of War and Prince of Peace, a Lion, a Lamb, and a Shepherd. He’s above. HEART CHECK: Will you trust God is divergent when He seems silent? Will you obey His commands, even if they seem to counter human logic? Does a Divergent God have to make sense to your five senses, the five factions you believe His thoughts and ways should fit into?

God’s thoughts and ways are paradoxical to human logic and expected experiences. When a Divergent God wants to set us free, He makes us His bondservants. When He wants us to see Him, He causes blindness. Ask Paul. When a Divergent God wants us to follow Him, He chases after us. Ask Jonah. When a Divergent God wants someone to speak for Him, He chooses a stutterer, and to showcase His power, He’ll send you with a dried up stick! Ask Moses. When a Divergent God sets out to exalt your position, He takes the pathway through a pit and wrongful imprisonment. Ask Joseph. When a Divergent God wants to save His children, He does so by sending His Only Son to die!

As long as we are in control, God can’t be. In the film, the divergents make others uncomfortable, so they try to purge their society of divergents altogether. The divergents threaten the system of control, but in so doing, they save countless lives. Living in submission to a Divergent God is uncomfortable, and sometimes we want to get rid of HIS way, altogether. He threatens our systems of control, but but in so doing, He saves countless lives.

A Box Full of Darkness

box full of darkness

There’s a gift in the box.

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
~Mary Oliver, The Uses of Sorrow

I hate having to admit how long I tightly clutched my box, opening it several times, somehow wishing its contents would change. Are you stuck? Are you still peering deeply into your box, wishing the past were different, unable to make progress because you refuse to accept what life has sent your way? The writer of Jimmy Needham’s “Clear the Stage” said, “Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol.” Pain, too, can be an idol; the darkness can consume you if you let it. Have you given the box its own pedestal in your life, allowing yourself to act and react out of anger, hatred, or fear? Will you wrestle with God in the dark? Will you praise Him in it? Will you place your hope in Him despite the darkness? Will you so deeply desire He change your box that you miss God changing you? Have you let God open the box with you? Have you immersed yourself more with the contents of the box than you have with Him? Have you passed the darkness on to others because you’ve failed to let God in, to let Him handle your darkness, or let Him handle you? For years I handed out boxes of my own unresolved trauma, boxes of rage, of unrepentant disdain, of bitter criticism that crushed, and scorched, and scathed. To whom have you dealt your unresolved darkness? Have you discarded it, never learning the gifts that it held? What have you done with your box? [Click Here to READ MORE]

For more encouraging videos or blurbs from me, click these links/icons to follow me on

YouTubeyoutube 2 or twitter t

Big Flavor, Served Plain

big flavor

Nothing can add to the cross.

Policing and modifying others’ behaviors won’t teach them of a crucified Christ and won’t coax them into relationship with Him. Adding anything else to the work Christ does in each person just messes up the flavor. As E.G. White noted, the shortness of time ought not be urged as an incentive to seek Christ. It savors of selfishness. Is it necessary that the terrors of the day of God be held before us to compel us through fear to right action? This ought not to be. Jesus [alone] is attractive [TMK, p. 320]. Heart Check: Why do we insist on telling Christ He’s not enough? [CLICK HERE TO READ MORE]

For more encouraging videos or blurbs from me, click these links/icons to follow me on

YouTubeyoutube 2 or twitter t

God Wants to Break Your Heart

broken heart

Once God breaks your heart, nobody else can!

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. ~(Psalm 51:17)

If you’re a Christian and you’ve ever suffered loss, ever felt vulnerable and unprotected, ever felt you were sinking, drowning, crumbling at your core, then you’ve probably also wondered what I have, “Where are You, God?” or simply asked God, “Why?” If you’ve prayed to feel His presence and instead felt absence, prayed to hear His voice and heard deafening silence, prayed for a restored marriage then numbly watched the divorce finalized, prayed for healing and watched loved ones die, if you’ve placed your trust in Him and still felt that burning sting of disappointment, then you’ve encountered the God of which I speak, the God who wants to break your heart.

Of course I’m not suggesting God is some aloof, or worse, sadistic being, deriving pleasure from our pain. However, I am saying that if we’ll ever fulfill our God-ordained purpose, we’ll have to be broken to fit the God-shaped mold for our lives. In “Finding My Way Home,” Henri Nouwen asserts that when Christ cried out, “It is finished,” He didn’t only mean what He’d done, but also what others had done to Him – that He stayed on the cross until all that needed to be done to Him could be done in order to fulfill His purpose. If we’re committed to God and truly passionate about adopting His desires, His thoughts, His ways, then we’ll welcome His process, His breaking, His remaking. We’ll allow His breaking to fulfill our life’s purpose.

I believe God breathes on us in a gentle way to bend our will into submission to His, but much like Jacob, we wrestle. In our striving, though, we encounter the God who loves us enough to break what will not bend. Pastor Howard-John Wesley said, “God knows that life outside of His will is not in your best interest, and He loves you too much not to use everything in His sovereign omnipotence to get you to surrender to His will…we serve a God who, if blessing you doesn’t change your life, [He] has enough love to break you in the right place.” I believe the “right place” for God to break us is our hearts, the wellspring of our inconsistent desires and stubborn wills.

The admonishment in Joel 2:12-13 is to “rend your hearts, not your garments” and return to the Lord with your whole hearts. The message is that the outward appearance of repentance, contrition, and obedience mean nothing if our sinful hearts remain unbroken and turned away from God. The good news is that God waits on us. He waits to be gracious toward us and show us mercy (Isaiah 30:18). My mentor shared her belief that God sometimes withholds His provision until we seek His presence. Perhaps what we’ve thought was God’s silence was His megaphone to help us diligently seek Him. Perhaps what felt like God’s absence was His patience. Perhaps God knows that only desperate, broken hearts can receive His transforming love.

Shannon Alder said, “Blessed are those with cracks in their broken heart because that is how the light gets in.” God wants in, and a broken heart provides a blessed route.I believe God is determined to do a new thing in and through us, and the old places won’t facilitate new growth. In a recent sermon, Pastor MyRon Edmonds said that unless we learn to get vulnerable with God and get broken, our old ways will keep taking us down the same road. But the blessing of God’s breaking is that “once GOD breaks you, nobody else can!” Heart Check: Do you trust God to break those parts of you that won’t bend in submission to His sovereignty? Do you believe the breaking He’s sending is better than the blessing you’re seeking? God wants to break your heart. Will you let Him?

I originally posted this on The Haystack.

For more encouraging videos or blurbs from me, click these links/icons to follow me on

YouTubeyoutube 2 or twitter t