Learning to Trust from a Rocky Boat

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.  And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” -Matthew 14:22-32

Oh how I love this chunk of scripture. To me, this story is a beautiful picture of the rawness of humanity wrapped in the presence of Christ. Lately, I feel a bit like the disciples must have felt stuck in that boat. Circumstantially, I am at a bit of a crossroad, causing me to spend more time in prayer and in my bible.  Being faced with major life decisions and being unsure of your intended direction can make one feel like as if they are stuck in a storm.

While reading through this story for the catrillianth time (yes, I’m pretty sure that is a real number…), I am noticing something I haven’t before: Jesus doesn’t calm the storm immediately.

Yes, I know what you are thinking. I should have already known that, right? I mean, I guess I did, the concept just must have slipped till now.

The disciples had rowed for hours. They were nearly four miles from the shore and they were seriously getting their butts kick by the storm.

When Jesus arrives, he presents himself to his followers and Peter joins him on the water. It isn’t until the two step back into the boat that the storm ceases. He had the power to stop the storm earlier, but he chose not to.

Sometimes, I think we are asking for the wrong things from God. His primary desire is not to create picturesque, comfortable lives for us. His desire is for us to know Him, to love Him, to trust Him and to serve Him regardless of the storms raging around us.

Life may seem uncomfortable. You may, like me, feel uncertain about what’s next, but know this: Jesus is ultimately in control. He desires for you to fix your eyes on Him and to trust in His timing and control.

My circumstances may be rocking my boat a bit, but I am choosing to rest in the comfort of the storm’s calmer. I want to become a person who says yes to Jesus, who fixes their eyes on Him, regardless of what is raging around me.  He alone knows my heart and He alone knows what it was made for.

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The Scandalous Gift of Grace

I love to wrap presents. And even more, I love giving gifts. I love the element of presentation, the look of glee on a person’s face when they untie the bow and the delight that arrises when the box is opened and its contents are discovered.  A gift represents the notion of care, love and thoughtfulness. I love that.

I have been thinking a lot about grace lately.  In all reality, grace is a giant gift given to us by God our Father.  This beautifully wrapped present gave us life forever, freedom and endless chances.

Our gift of grace is personified and displayed beautifully through the life of Jesus.

When I think of a gift of high price, I think of it as something that should be carefully placed on a table or shelf and be ooed and awed over.  Jesus does the opposite.  Jesus left Paradise, entered into a human body, suffered a gruesome death and bankrupt Heaven so we could be forgiven and enter into a perfect relationship with Him.  When I think about it, my natural mind can’t wrap my brain around the concept.

graceGrace is scandalous. Jesus loves those whom we deem as unloveable.  He transforms lives, gives endless chances and loves extraordinarily and unconditionally, knowing fully we won’t be able to return the sentiment or hold up our end of the deal.

We turn our backs, He still loves.  We make mistakes, He picks us up.  We are selfish, He is selfless.  Ridiculous.  Scandalous. Unthinkable.

It doesn’t add up or make sense, yet He calls us to do the same.

As Christians, Christ calls us to live a life worthy of the calling.  He calls us to know Him, to love Him and to reflect His character of grace to the humaniods who inhabit our planet.

Scandalous grace is love in action. It’s lived out when we choose to love those the world deems as unloveable, when we create healing over hurt, pray rather than slander, offer second chances, keep the names of others safe in our mouths, believe in others, choose to see their God-given potential and choose to forgive rather than hold grudges. We model grace when we reflect on who Jesus is and ask Him to help us duplicate His character in our own lives.

When we are empowered with the grace of Jesus, we have the ability to make broken lives beautiful.

The lifestyle of grace is only created by pursuing Jesus both individually and corporately.  We need to be daily in the word and in prayer and then connecting with the body of Christ.  Learning who Jesus is, falling in love with Him and His people naturally build a culture of grace.

I don’t know about you, but I long to be a person who actively loves Jesus by loving others. I want my choices to model after Jesus’, to point others towards Him and set them free, no matter how many mistakes they’ve made or how unflattering their life looks.  Jesus lived a scandalously beautiful life and He’s invited you and I to be a part of it.

Jesus gave us an extravagant gift.  It can never be repaid, but should be shared without reservations. This gift was not meant for display only, but to be given away.

Garbage Man Hero

My nephew, The Cub, loves the garbage truck.  In fact, I’d go as far as saying he’s obsessed. All week he talks about it and he watches for it. And when it arrives, He drops everything to give it his full attention.

Several weeks ago, my sister and I went for a walk on garbage day. My nephew had been told the garbage man was coming that day and he kept asking about it. While we were out we saw the truck.  We stopped the stroller so my nephew could watch the anticipated garbage man drive up and down the alley, picking up cans and dumping them in the back of his truck.  At the end of the road, the man rolled down his window and talked to my nephew.

The Cub was speechless.  He looked at the man as if he was trying to soak in every moment, every word and action of the man driving the truck he’d waited all week to see.

Sometimes, I feel like God longs for us to have this approach in our relationship with Him.  His desire is for our love, our hearts, our thoughts and to be our obsession.  I don’t know if there is a day that goes by where my nephew doesn’t look out the window and ask about the garbage truck.  In The Cub’s mind, the man who drives the garbage truck is larger than life, he’s a hero.

May we learn to fix our eyes, thoughts and actions on Jesus as my nephew sees his garbage man hero.

#selfieevangelism

Sel-fie- a picture taken of one’s self, by one’s self.

E-van-ge-lism- the preaching of the gospel

#selfieevangelism- a picture of one’s self, taken by one’s self with a bible verse scribed on the picture’s base

Let’s face it. We’re living in the era of the selfie. Lately, I’ve seen a new twist on the photography sensation, one I’m dubbing as #selfieevangelism.

Okay, so I’ve never really heard anyone other than myself use this phrase. But seriously, we’ve all seen those posts, right? We all have friends who post these kinds of pictures onto our News, Twitter, and Insta feeds (or maybe you are one of my friends who posts these to my feeds…). Maybe you’re like me. Maybe this drives you crazy.

Why? Why do I even care? Maybe it’s because I tend to think that social media can easily create “me monsters” out of us. Or maybe it’s because I think selfies can be a symptom of this. The pairing of this “me monster” idea and the message of Jesus bothers me. In my mind, they clash.

Maybe they bother me because they paint for me a pretty accurate picture of myself. I am a “me monster.” I have an awful habit of putting myself first. I naturally gravitate towards lifting myself up, I love to be glorified, to be recognized. I am the picture of a selfie. I point others oftentimes toward myself, trying to cover up my actions with a bible verse slapped on the bottom of my self glorified portrait, hoping to point others towards Christ; hoping to justify my thoughts, actions and pride. Gross. Why do I do that?

But, Jesus’ message of grace and love transcends my self-centeredness. His words are spoken and heard regardless of how many times I screw up. He continually extends to me His grace, gently drawing me back to him, regardless of my thoughts, actions or pride. He reminds me to take my eyes off myself, to die to the “me monster” and pick up my cross and follow Him.

I recently heard someone say we ultimately trade our lives in for something. We get to choose what that is. No one can truly say their life belongs to themselves. We are all slaves to something. We all allow something or someone to master us. What will it be? What are you in pursuit of? Will you choose vanity or Jesus?

“Charm is deceptive and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. ”

– Proverbs 31:30

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a woman who truly fears the Lord. I don’t want to be so wrapped up in my own emotions, fears, and vanity that I need to seek the approval of man. Jesus already loves me. He’s already chosen me.

We are all insecure. We all forget who we are and in whose image we were made in. May we remember our value in Jesus and learn to accurately reflect that to those around us.

Beauty over ashes

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was Sunday evening and it was raining.  Not like a little bit of rain either, like shake the floor and windows of your house thunder and lightening kind of rain.

That was the first night I heard tornado sirens.

I was home alone.

As a girl born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, the only kind of natural disaster drills I had ever experienced was for earthquakes.  I had a feeling crawling under the kitchen table and grabbing my neck wasn’t going to cut in this time.  So I did the only thing I could think of, I put on my tennis shoes, grabbed a couple bottles of water, a blanket and my phone and then I called my roommate who was across town. She told me not to worry.  I said ok.

I was terrified.

I turned on the television and watched as the tornado tore through Joplin and traveled towards my house. News reports and pictures of its devastation were quick to air on the news. I wondered what to do next.

Luckily, the only thing I got that night was a pretty wicked rainstorm.  I went to bed thankful to have a house and my life, yet wondering what was to come of Joplin.

Joplin CropDay two of Convoy of Hope’s Joplin response, I was asked to join the team on the ground to help orchestrate volunteer efforts.  Driving into Joplin was devastating. Houses were in shambles, trees were stripped and the land looked baron.  I  even saw a row boat wrapped around the top of a tree.

That all paled in comparison to the way my heart broke when I met the people.  Everybody had a story.  Everyone’s life had been effected in one way or another.  Hope seemed scarce.

I remember one afternoon I was greeting people as they drove through the mobile distribution line and I noticed a car holding up the line.  I walked over to greet our guests and to see if I could offer some assistance when I noticed the driver staring off into the distance.  As I approached her car, she turned to me with tears in her eyes and whispered, “You have trees. Aren’t they lovely? I’m sorry, it’s just that everything is gone. When I see the trees, I see hope.” Tears in my eyes, I grabbed her had and softly answered yes.  I had nothing else to say.

I often think of that moment.  It’s as if it will be forever burned into my brain. When the world around me seems baron and lifeless, life and hope remains if we simply look for it.  My experiences amidst the wreckage and the destruction are intertwined with stories and experiences of new life, of restoration.

I will be forever grateful to Jesus for the people He brought into my life during that time. The friendships developed through my time in Joplin are among some of the most honest and sincere, Jesus inspiring relationships I have.

Hope springs when we only see despair.  The ashes at times seemed overwhelming, but out of them beauty was birthed. That is the God I serve. He holds power over death, able to make the possible out of the impossible. I love that.

What are the ways God has breathed new life into you?

satan’s favorite word {repost} from Jon Acuff

Jon blogged last week.  I loved it.  I have been thinking about this post off and on since I read it.  After chewing on its content for a bit, I considered re-gurgitating and writing it over again on here.  But, let’s be honest, I just like the way Jon tells it.  satan’s an attacker and Jesus is our Savior.  Without Jesus we are nothing, with Him we are more than conquerers.

Thanks, Jon for this post.  Thanks for the reminded that yes, I’m not enough.  But the one whom I serve is.

Today I want to talk about satan’s favorite word. (And yes, I am lowercasing that on purpose. That’s the middle finger of punctuation, and I always give it to the devil.)

In the last few weeks, I’ve been asking audiences I speak to one simple question:

“What do your voices of fear and doubt tell you?”

My new book Start is about figuring out what you’re called to do, and then doing it with the greatest degree of awesome possible.

But a lot of people, including me, get stuck by fear and doubt when they decide to be awesome. Why? Well, fear only bothers you when you do things that matter.

If you choose average, if you give into ordinary, if you decide to rock vanilla right into the grave, fear will give you a free pass.

The moment you decide to do something that matters with your life? Fear awakens from its slumber. It gets loud and chatty.

So I’ve been asking people what their particular voice says.

And there’s one word I keep seeing over and over. I think it’s satan’s favorite word. What is it?

“Enough.”

I’ve read thousands of voices that people have scribbled down on scraps of paper and, by far, this is the most common word.

Fear tells people:

“You’re not smart enough.”

“You’re not talented enough.”

“You’re not old enough.”

“You’re not young enough.”

“You’re not rich enough.”

“You’re not a good enough husband or wife.”

You’re not anything enough.

And here’s a surprising truth: You’re not. I’m not either. Try as we might, win as we might, we will never be enough. That’s the sad reality of our tiny human lives. Alone, we will never reach perfection. We will never reach completion. We will never reach enough.

That’s the story of the gospel.

Enough is elusive.

Enough is impossible.

Enough is out of our reach.

Until the cross.

Until Christ.

Until Emmanuel became enough.

The great debate for enough is over. The great journey to the land of enough is done. The struggle is complete.

In Christ, you are enough. In Christ, you have enough. In Christ, you find enough.

It is finished.

And if you still hear that enough voice and think you’re the only one, come meet the thousands of other people who are daring not to listen to that voice at nomorevoices.com.

Question:
Have you ever felt like you weren’t “enough?”

My God

Amen.

My God, You are a beautiful love

All of who You are reaches the darkest parts
Lifting the weight and erasing the scars that had a hold on me
Here I am, bearing all, tearing down every wall
So amazed by Your grace, and the way You’re still holding me
Whoa, whoa, whoa, woah

My God, You are the unchanging love
My God, Your heart sends hope from above
The Great Creator, Beautiful Savior
I’ve been redeemed
There is life now from Your victory
You are my God (You are my God)

There is no other one, who’s given a greater love
Laying aside His own life on the cross
Reaching out to us
Whoa, whoa, whoa, woah

My God, You are the unchanging love
My God, Your heart sends hope from above
The Great Creator, Beautiful Savior
I’ve been redeemed
There is life now from Your victory
You are my God (You are my God)

When my hope starts fading out
You are where my strength is found
I know I won’t be alone

My God, You are a beautiful love
My God, You are a beautiful love
My God, You are a beautiful love
My God, You are a beautiful love