What is my why? [Blueprint Pt 3: Praying for Purpose]

What is my why? [Blueprint Pt 3: Praying for Purpose]

The first time I heard her speak, I could not help but want what she had. She overflowed with excitement about the power and freshness of Scripture. I thought to myself, I want that. When my otherwise quiet friend, talks about leading people in worship and uniting to sing over the spiritual battle, something in her spirit captivates me. As another talks about home and how we don’t have to simply hang on for heaven, but how at at home in the present, in the presence of God, I’m drawn in. When she speaks about how fear once held her captive, and anxious thoughts ruled her mind, but now how her heavenly Father pulls her close and commands her fear, something in me feels alive.

They all have something in common; they have a why — a passionate purpose.

I can hear Jesus’ words, “Apart from me you can do nothing,” and I intuitively know I cannot manufacture a why for myself. And I certainly can’t muster up passion.

But without my why I am simply fueled by need and want.

I’ll hustle to the gas station when my van needs gas (even more urgently when it reads 0 KM until empty), but I’ve never felt particularly enthusiastic about it. Most of us need no coaxing to chase what we want. While want feels more exciting, we also know that our own satisfaction has a short-life span. It is insatiable. I’ll find a way to get what I want, boredom will come calling, and I can be off chasing another empty well. Unless I find a different kind of fuel — my why.

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Will you ready them? [Blueprint Pt 2: Praying for a Person]

Will you ready them? [Blueprint Pt 2: Praying for a Person]

The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-10)

I knew the segment my boys had permission to watch was over. I felt his eyes glance over to see if mom would say anything during this brief pause before scampering upstairs with the iPad and his little brother in tow. I waited a couple of minutes knowing full well what they were up to hoping repentance might overtake him. I was postponing the pronounce judgment, hoping he would take the opportunity to turn around from doing things his own way. 

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Give Me Jesus: Power in the Storm (Part 4)

Give Me Jesus: Power in the Storm (Part 4)

In order to not fail, I had impossibly high expectations, which ironically were impossible for my husband to meet. To counter my growing disappointment with unmet expectations, I criticized. And as time went on, the terrifying truth was that my criticism  only created more distance between us.

For a long time, it was as if Jesus was asking me — the emotionally and spiritually paralyzed one, do you want to get well, and me listing all the ways I was handling it. I’m fine. I will figure it out eventually. I haven’t tried everything yet. I can do it on my own. It’s not that bad.

Trying to handle it comes so much more naturally than helplessness, doesn’t it? And when handling it gets to be too much, hopelessness kicks in and we throw in the towel of attempting change.

My “handling” it and my hopelessness were delaying healing.

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When Your Way Isn't Working (Give Me Jesus: Perspective, Part 3)

When Your Way Isn't Working (Give Me Jesus: Perspective, Part 3)

My mind was made up. The only way I would ever be rid of the anger and bitterness that brewed within me was if the one who had deeply hurt me phoned me up, confessed everything they had done, and apologized. I was certain their apology was the only path to peace. Surely it would undo what had happened and calm my storm.

But the hurt I held onto only forged a stronger storm within me. Through prayer, the Healer changed my heart and I came to realize the hurt I had caused in return. It was me He was nudging to initiate peace.

The path I thought would lead me to peace was actually the roadblock keeping me from it.

The lame man saw the Pool of Bethesda as his only chance to be made well. The sick  congregated at this pool due to its reputation as a source of healing. It was believed that, from time to time, an angel of the Lord would stir up the pool and the first man to get into the waters would be healed. But after 38 years, the man had not changed. His way wasn’t working.

Much like the lame man, my way wasn’t working either. Perhaps you can relate?

The way I thought healing would come was clouded by my limited perspective. And my perspective is coloured by circumstances, past experiences, hurts, and emotions.

Unlike me, God has a big-picture perspective. He is on high, seeing the created world from above, yet also so intimately nearby that He knows the smallest details of us and our lives. Not only that, but because of Jesus’s time on earth, He also has the ability to sympathize with our weaknesses. He sees, knows, and understands everything.

What can we do when we have become overwhelmed by our storms and have lost sight of where we’re going?

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Give Me Jesus: Presence in the Storm (Part 2)

Give Me Jesus: Presence in the Storm (Part 2)

As I ponder what would have happened if the man had ignored Jesus or not been at the pool that day and missed Him, I think about the consequences of not talking to Jesus. The man would have still been sitting on his mat and would have missed out on the joy of walking. He would have missed out on forgiveness and the purpose of telling others what Jesus had done. He would have stayed the same and continued to face his storm alone.   

Storms often tempt us to flee from the Presence they’re intended to anchor us to.

I don’t know about your storms, but mine try to toss me around, like they are the boss of me. But there’s another way: Rather than being tossed, I tell them about my Boss. Only prayer — continual conversation in the presence of Jesus, has anchored me. Nothing else made me well, only Him.

How do we resist the temptation to flee?

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Give Me Jesus: The Shelter in the Storm (Part 1)

Give Me Jesus: The Shelter in the Storm (Part 1)

The past year held a continuous stream of challenges that left me feeling not so well at times. My maternity leave ended a year ago and after much prayer, I sensed God asking me to stay home with my two girls. Shortly after, my husband took a pay cut due to the economy and restructuring at work. My dad got remarried this year and I wasn’t prepared. My mom got engaged as well and she will be married in the fall. My husband has been taking Freedom Session, an intensive healing discipleship program, which has been hard for him so it has been hard for me too. And God has been asking me to say yes to some things recently that have been far out of my comfort zone.

The man in this story was also feeling unwell. He had been an invalid, unable to walk, for 38 years. Even with everything he had tried, he could not heal himself. But Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

As my storms have raged, I’ve sensed Jesus asking me the same question: do you want to be made well?  He was inviting me to be made well in the midst of my storms, rather than barely hanging on until they were over.

How does this happen? Being well isn’t dependent on the storm ceasing, but where I choose to stare in the midst of storms.

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The Going for Gold Manifesto

Get Into the Word: 

24 Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. 25 Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. 26 Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27 Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, HCSB)

Ponder the Word: 

We are running our races, we will stay in our own lanes.
We will cheer each other on, for His great glory and fame. 

Our gold is the gospel, our champion Jesus.
Forgiven, in Him, and faithful, we know God is pleased with. 

For this we take hold, losing everything that weighs,
our eyes fixed on Jesus, for just a few more short days.

Jesus in my place is our victorious battle cry,
because of Him we keep living in truth, no more lies.

Awake to His presence, anchored in His Word,
keeping in step with His Spirit, for His great mission we’ve been stirred.

What is your next yes to God in your race? Share in the comment box below!

Talk to the Word: 

HE: Heavenly Father, thank you that you are.... 

ME: Give me... forgive me for... deliver me from... 

WE: Fill me Holy Spirit it so I can.... 

 

Going Deeper:

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Qualified [Sharing the Gold]

Qualified [Sharing the Gold]

"You have the Word of God before you, and the Holy Spirit within you. What more do you need?!" Every excuse I could muster up melted under this declaration of truth— I already had everything I would ever need to be obedient to what God was prompting me to do. But I wasn't exercising discipline

As followers of Jesus, what are we to be disciplined at if we are to "not be disqualified" as Paul said?

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What kind of water are you swimming in? [The Golden Goal]

What kind of water are you swimming in? [The Golden Goal]

My four-year-old inched his way along the wall, intently listening to the teacher's instructions. I laughed aloud as it was obvious how much more intently he was listening than his track record of recent days on land would show. But this wasn't just any other setting; this was swimming lessons. He was in the deep end where following instructions was compulsory if he wanted to stay above water.

Where do you swim? In the deep? The wading pool? Somewhere in between? Dependence on the teacher quickly develops in deep water.

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Why a Race is Better than a Gym Membership [The Real Gold]

Why a Race is Better than a Gym Membership [The Real Gold]

Shortly before New Year's my much younger and much healthier sister gave me a stern pep talk about the importance of prioritizing physical activity. As I pondered potential New Year's resolutions and investments —  a gym membership, dusting off the workout DVD's, or signing up for a fitness class, I realized that none of those by themselves was the answer for me. In past seasons where fitness was a priority, there was always a common thread: a clear gold. 

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The Road to Gold [Whose race are you running?]

The Road to Gold [Whose race are you running?]

My firstborn loves to win — at any cost. As soon as it's a contest, whether it be getting pyjamas on or finishing dinner, her competitive nature kicks in, often leaving her brother as the casualty. If he is in her way of her road to gold, she'll push right past him without a second thought. Competition with only one prize has casualties.

Earthly competition has only one gold and the Peyong Chang 2018 Olympic Games will declare only one country the winner. Is the same true of faith, or are the stakes different when it comes to eternity? 

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Who Will Rescue Me?

There’s got to be more than this.  

It was an ordinary day about two years ago when this thought floated through my mind. I knew Jesus promised life to the full, but I wasn’t sure I was living it. Life was good by all earthly measures. We were in a sweet season in our marriage, our little family was growing and God was opening new doors. I knew I was His and my eternity secured. Yet, something deep inside insisted there was more life to be experienced.

At the time I was completely unaware of my own pattern of striving and hiding, and blind to the fear that fueled it. I was too busy living my life to deeply examine it. In the thick of striving and hiding, I was even doing what I thought was God’s will.

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Throw Your Hands Up in the Air

Do you love God more than you did yesterday?

This question bothered me for the longest time because for the longest time, my answer was no.

Is it possible to love God more today than yesterday?

This past summer, Mike and I celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary. I loved him the day we said I do, and I love him more today. After being his beloved wife for a decade, I better understand the pain he’s known, the battles he’s faced and the obstacles he’s overcome. I know the selfishness in me and the fear I’ve acted out of. And when I see how he loves me against the backdrop of these truths, I cannot help but love him more.

How do we do the same in our relationship with God? As we live a lifestyle of surrender.

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That Thing You Do

It was a regular morning walk on a familiar path when a friend casually asked, “Why do you always do so much?” The question caught me off guard and within seconds I realized didn’t know the answer. I always assumed “doing so much” was to be celebrated. I had never stopped to consider what force was driving me.

Have you ever wondered why you do that thing you do?

There is a pattern to the way we respond to the fear that presses on our hearts. There are patterns in the way we answer questions about our worth, ability and significance, and in the way we respond to worry, stress, conflict, boredom and feeling overwhelmed.

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Since We're Broken

Why are you always trying to fix us? We’re fine.

These were my husband’s words in our first year of marriage, expressing his exasperation with my constant attempts to make our marriage better. I feared failure like the plague. For me, failure included not reaching my (and our) potential, and not putting forth my very best effort. Fear fueled my fixing.

I failed to realize God was after healing my heart, not simply fixing my behaviour.  

I didn’t know how to let Jesus heal. I was busy being my own Bob the Builder— Can we fix it? Yes we can! The irony and hypocrisy is that I, too, hate when I feel someone is trying to fix me. It’s nails on the blackboard of my soul. I don’t want to be fixed, I want my need to be felt.

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Broken Beyond Repair

When my son was only a few weeks old, eczema surfaced on his once smooth, soft, perfect skin. Everyone had a quick fix. We tried many products and solutions. For a short while, symptoms would appear to improve but then without fail, they’d return.

I wasn’t interested in simply symptom management so I kept asking, seeking and knocking. I found a doctor whose approach was different. He suggested the eczema was a symptom of a disturbance beneath the surface. After testing, he was able to pinpoint food sensitivities that were interfering with my son’s immune system, wreaking havoc on other systems.

It was more than a surface problem needing fixing, it was a condition needing healing. As he healed, the symptoms disappeared.

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It's Not What You Think [What is the Bible really about?]

What is the Bible about? Loaded question, I know. Can you answer it in one sentence?

 

If we know what the Bible is about, we know what God is about. And once we know a person, we then determine if we can trust them.

 

Over the years my answers have been all over. For a long time, the Bible was about how I was supposed to live and a constant reminder of how I didn’t measure up. My head knew it was good news but my heart didn’t quite feel the same. I was overwhelmed by guilt knowing I did not reach its impossibly high standard. But I’m hard-wired to strive, so I kept trying.

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Why We'd Rather Watch Netflix

Have you ever felt turned around or confused while reading the Bible?

Me too. I’ve skimmed over names I can’t pronounce. I’ve finished entire chunks without a clue as to what I just read. I’ve felt like one truth contradicted another.

Perhaps somewhere along the way we believed asking questions was stupid instead of smart. So instead of asking, we slam the cover closed, shelve the Bible, and go find something we can succeed at, like watching Netflix.

But then Netflix asks if we’re still there and we feel even less alive and satisfied than when we started. Why?

Nothing else can bring us to life other than Life Himself. Jesus says He is Life and His Words are Spirit and life to us.

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Lego & Learning God's Word [When opening your Bible isn't what you expected]

Lego & Learning God's Word [When opening your Bible isn't what you expected]

y four-year-old excitedly opened the box containing his new birthday present — a Lego set. His expression gave away his disappointment with the 144 individual pieces laying in front of him. He pointed to the picture on the box wanting to know where "that toy" was. 

Perhaps you've opened your own Bible and felt more like you're sitting amongst 144 individual pieces rather than "that toy." 

Thanks to technology, we have unprecedented access to the best Biblical teaching through videos, podcasts, and blogs. We get to see and hear a lot of "that toy" but find ourselves frustrated and overwhelmed amongst the individual Lego blocks we come across in our own reading of Scripture.

We have the privilege of receiving what someone else has taken the time to unpack and put back together. What we don't see is their long-time journey with the Word and their own struggle to understand, interpret and apply it. Even the most gifted teacher started with pieces and a set of instructions. 

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