The Kingdom Building Call (Part Three)

Kingdom Building Through the Life of Jeremiah

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Week Three Study Overview: Today we will deal with Jeremiah’s response to God’s call, and talk about how we can claim the same promise God gave Jeremiah.

Key Point of Struggle: Oftentimes, we don’t feel confident responding to God’s call because we are insecure in our gifts.

Key Proof of Comfort: Even when we are afraid and everything seems to be falling apart, God says, “I am with you to deliver you.” Jeremiah 1:8

Some historians claim Jeremiah could have been as young as fourteen years of age when God called him to his purpose as a prophet. We can’t be certain of his age, but we do know he was young. He tells us so in his own words. Let’s step back in time and spy on the conversation that started it all.

God: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

Jeremiah: “Ah, Lord God! “Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” Jeremiah 1:6

God: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…” Jeremiah 1: 7-8

I realize this conversation is hard for us to grasp, because chances are we aren’t going to find ourselves in an audible conversation with God. It’s not that God doesn’t speak to us, or that we can’t hear what He says, but it takes a lot more faith when our ears are left out of the equation leaving our hearts responsible to pick up the sound.

God spoke out loud to Jeremiah. This means Jeremiah actually heard the voice of the living God. Wow! You would think a person who has this type of encounter would do exactly as they were told without question, but not our Jeremiah. He needed time to process. You see, he had a lack of confidence and he used this moment to make sure God understood his age and abilities, or lack thereof, before responding to the call.

I’ve never heard the audible voice of God, but I have discerned His whisper in my heart. I know how it feels to walk into a task I wasn’t sure I had the power to accomplish. But, that’s just it; it’s never about my power. Separate from Jesus, I have none.  It’s all in His power.

I want to look at the end of Jeremiah 1:8 for a moment. Notice these words voiced by God, “For I am with you to deliver you.”  There is an unbelievable amount of power in those words. God told Jeremiah specifically why He would stay with him: to deliver him. He assured Jeremiah that He would be there, and then explained the purpose of his staying: to deliver him.

We talked last week about God designing us with intention. We looked closely at the word before in Jeremiah 1:5, and pointed out that God knew each of us before He formed us in the womb. He set us apart for specific purpose. This week, we learn that when He assigns purpose He makes a commitment to stay with us so that leaning on our own abilities is never an option. And, not only does He commit to staying with us, He commits to delivering us. He won’t give us a task and then standby doing nothing. He is always active. I know that sometimes it doesn’t seem that way, but it’s true.  In the midst of what seems like our greatest fears, storms, and darkest moments He is there in all His glorious strength ready to deliver us.

Next in the chapter, Jeremiah is given his assignment as prophet; it’s anything but easy:

“… See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down,
to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”

– Jeremiah 1:10

Father God is explaining to Jeremiah the sinfulness of a nation and the calamity coming upon Judah. He makes it clear that it’s Jeremiah’s job to warn the people with commands God will speak through him. The Lord even gives Jeremiah a “heads up” as to what the people’s response will be:

“They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,” says the Lord, “to deliver you.”

-Jeremiah 1:19

God speaks that phrase once again: “For I am with you to deliver you.”  I’m absolutely sure it was because Jeremiah needed to know with all certainty that he wasn’t alone. God wanted to make clear his promise to Jeremiah, so he said it twice.

Listen, in what I do as I writer, equipping women to activate purpose through the power of scripture, I often feel alone, like nobody understands what it is I’m doing. Many years ago, the Lord began giving me the ability to discern situations. I carry people’s stories with me like baggage. They weigh heavy on my heart.  Brokenness is on my mind as I write. I talk a lot about purpose because it took me forever to realize I had one that was worth something. Because of that, I feel a fire in my bones to help other women recognize they have worth, not because of anything they can accomplish on their own, but because of the power of Christ in their lives.

Friend, I know life isn’t easy and that Christianity, and the calling attached to it, probably hasn’t owned up to the definition of freedom you thought it might. We are free. Through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us we can unlock chains and live with brand new breath in our lungs, but the price is high. We will face suffering through a multitude of afflictions. We are not immune from the pain of this world. Why?  …Because sin runs rampant inside this place from the Garden of Eden until now. But take heart, Jesus has overcome; this place is not our home!

Hope lives inside the voice of God. It lived there when Jeremiah was breathing the breath of this earth, and it still lives there today. When we can take the words God spoke to Jeremiah and cling to them, accepting those principles for ourselves, freedom begins to settle in. Truth sets us free.

Hold fast! God is with you to deliver you!

  • Today in your journal, I want you to rewrite the same conversation we read above, between God and Jeremiah, inserting yourself inside it. Let’s break it down together and I’ll explain what I mean by showing you my examples.
  • First, I’m going to add my name to the beginning of Jeremiah 1:5. I often do this when I’m studying, because it helps me to remember that God speaks most powerfully to me through His word. I’ll include the verse as it looks in the Bible and then include my own:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Here’s my example:

Jennifer, before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you…”

  • For the end of the same verse, I’ve decided to list two gifts He’s given me as tools to accomplish my purpose according to the Great Commission in Matthew 28. I’ve chosen to list these particular gifts, because I have the most insecurity in these areas. (In case you missed the explanation of redefining purpose according to the Great Commission, click here, back to week one, for a recap.) Remember, God told Jeremiah, “I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Here’s what I wrote:

“I ordained you a writer and speaker.”

  • For the second piece of the conversation, fill in whatever you fear, and your reason for that fear. Jeremiah told God he couldn’t speak because he was a youth: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth. ” I’m going to fill in the blanks and give you my own examples.

“Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot write/speak, for I am unsure of my gift and don’t always feel adequate to do what you’ve called me to do.”

  • Lastly, let’s look at what the Lord responded to Jeremiah and then rewrite it filling in our own gifts one more time to hit the point home. Here’s a refresher on what God said, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…”

Here’s my example:

“Do not say, I cannot write/speak, for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall write/speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…”

  • When you’re finished, go back and read your conversation out loud. I believe when we can insert ourselves into the words, a new understanding will form. We will recognize He has given us each purpose as well as unique gifts we need to help us accomplish that purpose.

Next week, we will discuss how we can be sure it is God who has called us to a particular task.

  • If you would like to go deeper in study this week, I recommend reading and memorizing Philippians 1:6. It will help prepare you for next week’s study.

Love,

Jennifer

PS: Use the Hashtag #KingdomBuildingSisters on Instagram showing a photo of what daily kingdom building looks like to you, tag me, and your name will be entered in a fun surprise giveaway!

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The Kingdom Building Call (Part One)

Kingdom Building Through the Life of Jeremiah

(Week One)

Today’s blog post is longer than average. This is because I’m providing information on how to use the study, as well as adding an introduction. Please don’t be put off by this. Since you’ll only be receiving blog posts on Wednesdays, feel free to break the study into pieces and take it one small portion at a time throughout the week.

What you need to know before beginning this study:

  • Jeremiah is a very large book of the Bible, fifty-two chapters to be exact. It is also not written in chronological order. This means that for the sake of a six week study, we will be discussing highlights of Jeremiah’s life as it relates to kingdom building, his ministry, how he dealt with his calling, and his interactions with God. We will not be covering the entire fifty-two chapters.
  • It will be helpful to have a journal alongside your Bible as you study. There will be questions to answer, key verses, and prayers along the way that will be worth writing down throughout the journey. (This isn’t required, only recommended in order to gain the most from the study.)
  • Every week as we begin the study, you will see a Key Point of Struggle and a Key Proof of Comfort listed. The Key Point of Struggle is a piece of the study that could possibly stir the most angst inside you as you’re working to seek purpose and live it well. The Key Proof of Comfort is a piece of the study that will help calm your soul as we discover truth together.

 

Introduction

We have each been created by the Maker of the universe – intricately woven with matchless pieces from Himself that gives us just a hint of who He is and the smallest clue as to who we are. Upon creation He fills us with longing that leaks from our souls. Little-by-little from the time we have intelligent thought we begin the lifelong search of figuring out what we were created to do and why.

Those of us who know with all certainty exactly who made us, know the foundation of truth in Psalm 139. We are ready for our assignments, and just like a bunch of small children who want to please their teacher with the correct answer, we raise our hands while jumping wildly from our seats begging, “Pick me, Lord, pick me!” We recognize our gifts have marked us with unique stamps of purpose, and we are ready to own our callings.

Women like us come wrapped in passion. We seek purpose and gain worth from figuring out what we were born to do and then pursue doing it well. Fueled by the desire to use our gifts we pray to thrive where He sends us. But sometimes He sends us to unexpected places and assigns tough tasks that require much more than our talents and abilities can offer. We quickly learn this “thing” He sent us to do is so much bigger than us. And then we realize something even more terrifying: this actually has nothing to do with us at all. We possess zero control and there’s more to this calling than we ever imagined.

No matter your mission, serving Christ is not platforms and accolades. Whether you stand on a stage, feed the homeless, volunteer in Sunday school, or spend each day praying over the feet of your very own children- pleading God‘s mercy as to where they might walk –  fierce callings are filled with weeping, humility, and lots of practice holding tightly to Jesus. It’s the most rewarding life possible, and it comes with a high, high price.

I recently read a book by Dennis Peacocke who said, “The greatest tragedy of our age is an unused life.” So, as we begin our study today, here’s to Jeremiah: a real person with a real calling who experienced a gamut of emotions, and wasn’t afraid to have honest dialogue with his Creator. And, here’s to you: a called woman of God who longs to live your ministry well while learning more and more each day that this mission you’re on has nothing to do with you. Yeah, you’re beginning to see the bigger picture, and you hold the thrill of hope down deep inside.

Key Point of Struggle:

Serving Christ doesn’t always look the way we thought it would.

Key Proof of Comfort:

When we learn to refocus and update our definitions of ministry as it relates to kingdom building, we will begin to open our hearts to the purpose of Christ. His purpose and calling for us often looks differently than we expected. To find comfort in this, we will study Matthew 28 and find out how the Great Commission relates to us.

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Out of every prophet, we can learn the most about the intricacies of ministry, and personal cries of the heart, from the life of Jeremiah. When we read his book, we read his heart. And, because of these Holy Spirit breathed words, we have access into the struggle of an average person called to an above average assignment, to say the least. But, before we can fully dig into the scope of this man’s life, we need to talk about what kingdom building and calling is as it relates to our purpose.

I’m guessing many of you are unsure of your purpose. You have no idea what you’re called to do. Most of us tend to look at purpose in the form of a dream longing to be fulfilled. Or, we don’t really have a dream beyond our day-to-day lives, and that makes us feel as if we are part of an unending search requiring us to look for something we are supposed to have, but don’t. It’s time to change our definitions. It’s time to reevaluate. Is that okay? Here’s why: It’s not about the big dreams. Sorry, it just isn’t. Listen, I’m a dreamer so this has been a hard truth for me to accept. Also, it’s not about seeking out a dream to fulfill. You might not realize this, but right now, at this very moment, you’re living with enormous opportunity to fulfill what you might not even recognize exists. Let me clarify:

According to Mathew 28, Jesus gives a charge called the Great Commission:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

-Matthew 28:18-20

What does the Great Commission mean to you? Consider answering this question in your journal.

The Great Commission is our common purpose. But many of us tend to read it and think that we are all to become missionaries in foreign lands, lead a women’s ministry at a mega church, or become Mother Teresa. We think that if we don’t do those things, then we aren’t fulfilling the call. Some of us might even think that whatever it is we are doing right now isn’t meaningful enough to be titled kingdom work. It is true that some of us are meant to go to other countries, or to minister to large numbers of people right here at home, but not all of us. How we go about fulfilling our common purpose is unique to each life. Some of us are called to show our neighbors love – in the literal sense – like walk next door with a batch of freshly baked cupcakes, or offer to babysit kids who will surely hang on our curtains and tear up our houses. And here’s something else we often forget: our own kids – the ones staring us in the face at 6am, startling us out of that rare thing we call sleep, well, they’re the definition of our Great Commission. And, that job, regardless of whatever else He chooses to give us in the future, will be the greatest assignment of our lives.

We cannot kingdom build correctly if we make up our own definitions of what kingdom building is supposed to be. We have to understand our worth in Christ doesn’t depend on the calling itself, or our definitions of how enormous we think it should be. Our worth comes from His willingness to use us and our obedience in saying yes.  

Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples.” So, who are the disciples we are supposed to make? I’m pretty sure you’ll be getting some of them off the bus after school today, feeding them dinner, and giving them baths. I’m guessing you’ll be speaking into the life of your spouse and encouraging him to be who Christ called him to become. I think you’ll say something to a friend over coffee that will change how she processes a difficult situation.

 There is a brilliant ministry inside what seems like a boring mess and we don’t often see it.

Jeremiah was called as a prophet for a huge task and the price was high. We are going to discover more about his initial calling next week. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too many words today. You see, before we could really dig into Jeremiah’s life, we needed to adjust our focus and redefine some important principles. That was the point of today.

In preparation for next week:

  1. In your journal, please write Matthew 28:18-20. When you’re done, list the people in your everyday life who you have the opportunity to love and make into disciples. This list can include your children, spouse, friends, neighbors, parents, siblings etc.… after your list is complete, commit to pray for each person on your list throughout the week. (I understand that some of the people on your list may already be serving Jesus, but they do need encouragement. How can you encourage them to keep on keeping on in their journey of purpose?)
  2. In your journal, write down what you think it means to kingdom build and what you think your calling is. Using the Great Commission as God’s definition of purpose, do you think your answers align with His? Why or why not? If they don’t, how can you adjust your focus to get in line with God’s will for your calling?
  3. Between now and next Wednesday, please read Jeremiah chapter one.

Don’t forget to comment under today’s post sharing your thoughts on kingdom building. In doing so, you’ll have a chance to win Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker! If you’re not on my email list, I would love for you to be part of this kingdom building community! (Subscribing makes you eligible for the giveaway. You can unsubscribe anytime.) For more details on how the giveaway works, click here. I’ll be announcing the winner next Wednesday, May 3rd!

Love,

Jennifer

PS: Share on Social Media what everyday kingdom building looks like to you! We can find each other by using the hashtag #KingdomBuildingSisters.

Stop Being Afraid Just Because She Looks Different Than You

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He was an infant with no real future, destined for death from a culture of hate, but God had other plans. It was no coincidence she was there that day – the woman on the opposite side, the one who suddenly found herself with a compassion-filled heart. She sent her maid to draw a basket out of the water, never knowing she would be an intricate piece of the exodus.

On the second Sunday of Advent comes the lighting of the peace candle. Can you fathom how much peace we could have if our hearts softened to that which isn’t meant to be understood? What would life look like if we could all reach into the water and rescue someone?

God used pharaoh’s daughter to have compassion on a little life who would eventually lead the Hebrews. He had plans for Moses, and even though there was an internal struggle raging inside him, God knew exactly where Moses needed to be in order to lead a people where they were destined to go.

It’s true that most of us probably will not be called to rescue large numbers of people from an oppressed land. However, I guarantee each and every one of us are called to help someone out of wherever their oppressed land might be. And don’t be fooled, the person you’re called to draw out of the water might live in the fanciest neighborhood around and still be drowning. Or, maybe you are called to help someone completely different from you. Perhaps they’re a different color, a different religion, maybe they’re just plain different…

Do You know fear often locks the gate where love is commanded to pour? (Tweet that)

Regardless of your circumstance, do not be afraid! We have more influence than we know and are all called to do something, to help someone, to love. Even when people look different and society dictates injustice and hate we are all sent to love. We were made for love.

With each new day throughout this advent season, we are approaching a hope-filled celebration. It’s time to focus, with humility, on the compassionate heart of our Father God who sent His only Son to draw us out of the water. Let’s rejoice in the hope of His saving grace and contribute by drawing others out with love, hope, and dare I say… peace.

Hope is coming!

Love,

Jennifer

To find out more about the story of Moses, begin by reading Exodus chapter two.

Do You Have A Deep Need To Be Known?

Do You Have A Deep Need To Be Known_

I’ve often wondered about the sound of my name as it drips from the mouth of God. What tone would He use to call me if I could hear Him audibly? Would my first name be accompanied by my middle name? Because we all know that means trouble. Would it be gentle? Maybe it would sound matter-of-fact.

From the time we are born it begins – the need to hear our names, the need to find favor. Not long ago I read The Five Love Languages and realized that words of affirmation are what I need for love to truly penetrate my heart. Those words matter most from my husband. I need to know He believes in what I do – a vocal reassurance to calm the questioning soul.

And, so , if I could hear God what would He sound like? What words would I hear from His mouth?

I remember studying Solomon and being flabbergasted by the grace of God in His life. We all know that Solomon went a little crazy with the women. Seriously, seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines?!?!? Are you kidding me? Where was his wisdom when he made those decisions?

Do you know that when he was born the text tells us the Lord loved him and sent the prophet Nathan to call him Jedidiah, which in Hebrew is Yedidya, meaning friend of God? (See 2 Samuel 12:24-25)

Father God is all knowing. He knew Solomon was imperfect and would lead an imperfect lifestyle way off the mark of holiness. And knowing everything about the future, He still called him friend.

And So if God were to say my name right now, would it sound like the familiar voice of a friend who loves me?

Here’s the thing: we all have a need to be known. We often want the stage, the twitter followers, the Facebook likes, the blog subscribers, the big house, the major cash flow. Whatever… we need to be known. I believe God puts that longing inside us, but we have a way of distorting it.

We should be asking ourselves some questions: Who do we long to know us? And why?

If we’re going to be real with each other, then I need to say something to myself and to you… The longing to be known should begin and end with Jesus. Yes, He knows the number of hairs on our heads. (See Luke 12:7) We seem to do a great job at using that verse to remember the power of His plan for us, but do we give Him permission to know the intimacies of our lives?

Listen, we all know He knows everything anyway, but if we don’t give Him permission then He can’t work inside us. It’s that darn free will again!

If we are going to live out our dreams and see the realities of God’s fingerprints, then we must long to be known by Him in a way that requires us knowing Him better and better with each coming day.

It’s okay to have dreams of growing ministries, business plans, and whatever else He’s placed within, but those longings cannot trump God.

God must be the number One; there’s just no other way to say it.

We’ve been studying Advent and maybe this doesn’t seem like an Advent kind of post, but friend, He sent His One and only Son to die on a tree for us, and right now, everywhere we look we’re seeing trees. They’re all lit up.

Every tree serves as a reminder that He was born to suffer and die on a plain tree with no lights. His only longing was to be known by His Father and live out His call with obedience – obedient blood that led to resurrection and life for us.

God plants a longing for us to be known – to be known by Him.

Perspective matters.

Hope is coming.

What does Hope have to say?

Love,

Jennifer

 

Stillness Requires Boldness

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For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

-Esther 4:14

Whenever I’m feeling like I need a good, strong dose of courage, I turn to the book of Esther and let the words penetrate deep into every fear-filled space of my soul.

Esther could have remained still in a sense that would have been more relatable to a person frozen in fear. Instead, she remained still in the presence of God moving at His command with the faith that whatever was to happen would ultimately be in His hands.

Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”

-Esther 4:16

Stillness often requires boldness. Many of you have gifts and talents you’re afraid to use. You feel guilt over your past and stuck in your present. You’re worried about the person next to you holding more skill and qualification.

Guess what? God doesn’t care. He’s not a God of comparison! He’s a God who uses all of His children to help in the building of His kingdom, and He needs you.

Be bold.

Maybe you’ve been hurt in ministry and feel there’s no place for you.

Friend, we’ve all been hurt at one time or another. However, God has reserved a spot for you. You are meant for a specific purpose and there is a place for you.

Maybe you feel like the person next to you, in front, or behind would do a better job.

Maybe in the worlds eyes or even your own, someone else would be better. But God isn’t looking for that. He’s looking for faithful, obedient, loving servants to fulfill their calling for His kingdom. That’s you! You aren’t required to be the best; you’re required to be obedient.

Maybe you don’t know where to start or where to go.

What talents do you have? What do you feel passionate about? Where can you be most helpful? Those are three questions to help you figure out where to begin.

You can do this! Your life is for such a time as this.

Love,

Jennifer

If you’ve missed any part of my series, The Struggle to Live a Still Life, Click here and scroll down for previous posts. New email subscribers receive my eBook, Mercy Waits, FREE!

 

Stillness Begins in the Heart

Stillness Begins in the Heart photo

The longing for stillness is placed in our souls by God. As we get to know Him and learn who He is, He draws us toward Him. And those who long for the things of God, long to be still inside His presence. We want to be locked up tight, unavailable to anything that might hinder our relationship with Him.

Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

-Proverbs 4:23

It all begins with the heart.

If we want to move within His presence, under the shadow of His wings, then our hearts depend on stillness.

Proverbs tells us that out of heart spring issues of life. If we don’t properly deal with matters of the heart, we cannot rest fully and wholly in the stillness of the Almighty.

Yesterday, we talked about confronting our brokenness. We know that brokenness is a matter of the heart because everything we suffer and face in life sticks there first. How we deal with issues that arise dictates who we are. It also has the ability to influence our witness.

When we allow brokenness to turn to bitterness, it’s as if it hardens the arteries – blood can’t flow and before you know it, all other organs are shutting down.

The things of God we are so desperate to emulate within our search to discover who we are in Him, and what gifts we possess to give away for His glory in the process, become clogged. We can’t flow in His grace and mercy in the stillness of His presence when we allow matters of the heart to be ignored.

If we want stillness within His presence, having the ability to move inside His will for us, then a good question to ask is…

Do I have negative feelings trapped in my heart?

Last night my husband and I were discussing a situation that’s been quite painful, and we both came to the conclusion that to move freely in the new thing, we must let go of hurt from the old.

If we intend to run in His stillness with His grace shining down as the sun, then we must allow grace to flow from our hearts, and that means letting go and letting God.

It’s a process that leads to good things.

Oftentimes, we aren’t even aware that we are carrying negative feelings. We become so wrapped up in justification for our situations that the validation we long for actually ends up serving as a boa constrictor – constricting the oxygen we need to breathe and hindering the flow of blood we require to survive.

I’m thankful the blood of Christ flows continually.

It flows to every area and performs spiritual open heart surgery.

We all need spiritually resuscitated from time-to-time.

However, open heart surgery requires a cracking of the chest. It’s painful.

It hurts to confess the pieces deep inside our hearts that hold us back. It can be painful to apologize, (Especially when you’re convinced you’re right.) but it’s never about the original circumstance in which we might be correct, it’s about how we live after that moment.

Humility is required for the blood to flow.

Whether we are right or wrong, we can never be too humble.

Everything that happens to us sticks in the heart, and so we must deal with every issue, large and small.

And then stillness comes…

Yay, God!

Love,

Jennifer

Today is day 10 of my October Series, The Struggle to Live a Still Life, to catch up on posts you might have missed, click here.

 

Stillness Requires Vision

Stillness Requires VisionEverything that’s human about us requires more than just staying in the same spot. We are eager to move on to the next big thing and usually we have it all planned out in our heads. This is why it’s frustrating when God calls us to a season of waiting and praying.

However, deeply tucked inside the waiting for whatever comes next, bubbles hope.

I love watching my children blow bubbles in the summertime. Each one glistens in the sunlight showing off a rainbow of colors that float into the air just like our prayers.

And I have to think that our hope and prayers, when given with a thankful, repentant heart waiting still in His presence, must translate into beautiful colors reflected off the hope we have in Christ. Our hope glistens in the S-O-N.

Yesterday, I mentioned that God places our desires deep within our hearts and the more we seek Him, the more available we are to His will rather than our own.

I tend to see those desires as tiny bubbles releasing in the air one by one. Those desires translate to hope, and hope leads to visions and dreams of what’s to come.

I’ve said this already, but I’m going to say it again: To be still in God doesn’t mean we can’t move ahead. It doesn’t mean we can’t pursue dreams and passions placed deeply inside our souls. Being still in His presence actually means moving within it. it’s about stepping forward at His pace and never our own.

In order to do that, we must have hope and vision for our future. It’s time to build on a solid foundation of Christ understanding that being still really means listening intently to His voice in our lives, even when we are running full speed ahead. As long as each stride is in Him, we will be okay.

If you’ve somehow lost the vision for your life, if you’ve forgotten how to dream, you must remember hope.

We have a sure hope in Christ Jesus and stillness in Him requires to trust in that hope. Open your eyes to things ahead, and let your dreams bubble forth.

Love,

Jennifer

If you’ve missed any part of my October Series, The Struggle to Live a Still Life, click here.

 

 

You Have the Ability to Soar in Stillness

You Have the Ability to Soar in Stillness

In Christian art throughout the ages, the representation of John is an eagle. It’s been said that John took the gospel and soared with it. No one could stop him.

An interesting fact about eagles is that they fly toward the sun. What if we all lived our lives soaring toward the Son? S-O-N.

John was the only apostle out the twelve not to be martyred for his faith. He lived to be an old man, and part of me thinks that must have been even more torturous.

You see, there was heavy persecution happening for all who chose to bear the name of Christ. John lost faithful friends, who right alongside him, were firsthand eyewitnesses to the majesty of all Jesus did.

John wrote this:

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

-John 21:25

Those who shared his pursuit were killed along the way. One by one they were beaten and tortured and John knew it. Yet, he continued to soar passionately with his gifting.

Every gift we own was given to us by the creator. Too often we deem them ours. Our voices, our words, our fingertips to instruments, our love and kindness. But when we choose to soar like an eagle straight toward the Son, we give up those gifts and allow Christ to take ownership of them.

We have the ability to use our freewill in an act of trust and faith and then soar high in stillness. John soared through pain, trust, hope, and faith knowing what he saw was real.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

-1 John 1:1-4

John declared what he saw so that we might have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

Friend, John was a real man who bled and cried and groaned with grief, yet his joy was full because he soared straight towards the Son. He moved in stillness within the presence of God and used every gift he possessed in the process.

At first, scientists couldn’t understand how eagles could soar straight for the sun, but later it was discovered they have protective coating over their eyes. They were designed that way on purpose by a purposeful God.

You, too, have gifts and are able to soar and stare straight into the Son. He will protect you and your joy will be full regardless of whatever grief comes your way.

Don’t be afraid to move in the stillness of God using your gifts. You were made for it.

You were made to soar toward the Son!

Love,

Jennifer

Today is Day five of my October series, The Struggle to Live a Still Life, If you missed any posts and would like to catch up, just click here.

PS: In honor of Write 31 Days I’m having a special giveaway. If you subscribe to my blog via email, Amazon will send you a kindle edition of my book, Nothing to Hold but Hope, as a gift. The offer is good through October 7th 2015.

The Day I Fell Out of the Raft (Literally)

The Day I Fell Out of the Raft (Literally)When I was in my early twenties we went whitewater rafting. We didn’t have a whole lot of money, so we opted to go without a guide. You know, because we’re smart that way…

Before we left, the man who helped us in our raft said, “Whatever you do, don’t go over the rapids backwards, you could fall out of the boat. If that happens, put your toes up and out of the water because if you don’t, your feet will end up trapped under a rock and you’ll die.” He was so comforting…

Sure enough, we went over a rapid backwards and I fell out of the boat. I immediately put my toes out of the water and chanted out loud through fear and panic, “Keep your toes out, keep your toes out, keep your toes out!” After what felt like an eternity, my husband reached out his hand and pulled me back inside the raft.

Before my rescue, I was flailing around in that water among all of those dead rocks that potentially threatened my life. The problem was that the person sitting in front of me had stopped paddling. You have to paddle through the rapids. If you don’t, the raft will spin around and you’ll go over backwards.

When we take our eyes off Christ, it’s impossible to live still inside His presence. We end up going over the rapids of life backwards, flailing around. It’s then that we become in danger of dying ourselves. And if we are facing any type of grief, the rapids just get tougher and it becomes tempting to try to fix things ourselves rather than look to Jesus.

C.S. Lewis said, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”

We all know that life is full of grief. There is heartbreak from a multitude of happenings in the day-to-day that causes us to suffer on the inside. It’s what we do with the grief that ultimately makes the difference.

Grief does feel a lot like fear because it threatens to hinder us from what we are called to do.

We fear losing the purpose we were created for when grief strips who we are and exposes our deepest layers. Raw and real, mangled and mystified, we struggle to make sense of who we are supposed to be.

Are you having a difficult time using your gift because of the grief you’re enduring? Does stillness seem impossible?

When we choose to “keep paddling” through the grief, we not only aid in the healing process of others, but we allow ourselves to be healed.

Remember, being still in His presence actually means moving within it at His pace.

If, today, you find yourself flailing around trying to keep your “toes up,” His strong arm will pull you back inside. Keep your eyes focused and keep paddling through it, friend.

With a simple yes or no in the comments, are you flailing in the water?

I want to pray for you today…

Dear Lord,

May we all continue paddling through grief with our eyes focused on You. May we not lose sight of the gifts You’ve given. Help us to use them to show love and grace. Pull those who are out of the safe place of your stillness back inside, and let each one know Your love today.

Amen.

Love,

Jennifer

PS: In honor of Write 31 Days I’m having a special giveaway. If you subscribe to my blog via email, Amazon will send you a kindle edition of my book, Nothing to Hold but Hope, as a gift. The offer is good through October 7th 2015.

If you’ve missed any part of this series, just click here.

The Struggle to Live a Still Life (An October Series)

The Struggle to Live a Still LifeTo be still in God doesn’t mean we can’t move ahead. It doesn’t mean we can’t pursue dreams and passions placed deeply inside our souls. Being still in His presence actually means moving within it. it’s about stepping forward at His pace and never our own.

The gravity of the sun is what keeps the planets in orbit. Its force holds them in perfect rotation around it. Imagine if we, the living stones of Christ, stayed rotating around the S-O-N, trusting the force of an all powerful God to keep us right where we are supposed to be.

Too often we end up like meteors: dead rocks falling from the sky lit up with our own pride. Sure, it looks pretty for a time, but all we’re really doing is flailing around of our own free will in submission to nothing. And then we crash hard. Proverbs 16:18 tells us that pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Over the next 31 days, I want to talk about the courage it takes to live in His stillness, and the faith it takes to let His will remain in the center. I want us to discuss being living stones, using our gifts for His glory. I’m praying for connection, conversation, and a reawakening of passion in each heart who reads this series.

Friend, when trust and faith are out of balance, stillness is incomprehensible.

For the entire month of October, we are going to journey our way to the sweet spot of stillness. It’s a place that gives God glory and satisfies our souls all at the same time.

What do the words be still mean to you?

Love,

Jennifer

PS: Since it’s the first day of Write 31 Days, let’s kick it off with a giveaway! Subscribe to my blog via email anytime this week, and receive a free kindle edition of my book Nothing to Hold but Hope! It will be emailed directly to you from Amazon! The offer is Good starting today through October 7th 2015.

Day One: The Struggle to Live a Still Life (An October Series)

Day Two: The Ugly “S” Word

Day Three: The Day I Fell Out of the Raft (Literally)

Day Four: For When the Break Isn’t Clean

Day Five: You Have the Ability to Soar in Stillness

Day Six: Because Stillness and Condemnation Don’t Mix

Day Seven: Finding the Still Inside the Storm

Day Eight: Stillness Requires Vision

Day Nine: Confronting Brokenness Leads to Stillness

Day Ten: Stillness Begins in the Heart

Day Eleven: Stillness Requires a Heart Willing to Respond

Day Twelve: Because Stillness Doesn’t Always Feel Still

Day Thirteen: The Act of Standing in Stillness

Day Fourteen: Stillness Requires Commitment

Day Fifteen: Stillness Demands Steadfast Faith

Day Sixteen: Stillness and the Emotional Dam

Day Seventeen: Stillness and the Hummingbird

Day Eighteen: Stillness Requires Boldness

Day Nineteen: Stillness and Listening to the Plan for YOUR Life, Not Hers…

Day Twenty: The Primary Offender of Stillness

Day Twenty-One: We Are All in Process

Day Twenty-Two: The Day Fear Dropped Me Off in Crazy Town

Day Twenty-Three – The Incompatibility of Stillness and Control

Day Twenty-Four: Jumping the Wake

Day Twenty-Five: Because We All Need Friends

Day Twenty-Six: We Need to Practice Stillness

Day Twenty-Seven: So Much of the “Still Life” Boils Down to Choice

Day Twenty-Eight: Going with the Flow

Day Twenty-Nine: For When God Seems Still

Day Thirty: How Waiting Can Lead to Stillness

Day Thirty-One – The Struggle to Live a Still Life… The Conclusion