Achieving Availability

A lot of times we look at the word “available” like a bad word. Society has somehow misconstrued the word as a negative adjective. Sometimes we feel like being available is almost like a death sentence. The western culture has become so isolated. A sense of community is no longer wanted and seems to be deemed unimportant. People would rather be left alone than have to communicate and build relationships with others. Family has lost their sense of togetherness. Family gatherings and celebrations are no longer made a priority as they once were. Somewhere along the way society has told its people that we don’t need one another. 

We no longer want to make ourselves available and vulnerable to others including our family. No more do people live for one another, but instead we selfishly live for ourselves. As for Christians, this is the complete opposite of how we’re supposed to live. We aren’t called to live for the convenience of ourselves but rather for the convenience of others. Of course, there are boundaries and exceptions that must be made because we can’t do something for others that defies or goes against God. In other words, we’re called to live to serve others. Jesus calls us to die to ourselves in order to live for Him and others. “Then he said to them all, ‘if anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.’” (Luke 9:23) A lot of times when this verse is preached on, we forget that following Jesus also means serving others. Jesus made His whole purpose of life about others and so should we. 

Lately, God has laid on my hear just how important it is to serve others and how the modern Church has abandoned that concept. So, from now all the way to Easter I’m going to be talking about what the Bible says about practically serving others and what it can look like in your life and mine!

Two Tips For Tuesday

 

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My memory verse for January is Hebrews 12:1-2, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” 

I know this verse says “let us run” but how do we start? Starting can be a tough hurdle to jump. When I think of January I think about a time of fresh starts. Well, we’re a few weeks in and the freshness is wearing off. Honestly, I haven’t stuck to all of my goals and we’re still in January. But, I’ve decided that it’s okay. See, God only wants our best. He asks for us to put in one hundred percent effort. Notice how this verse doesn’t say “let us run with perfection.” God already knows we could never reach perfection. He knows that we’re going to fall off track sometimes, so instead we’re called to run with endurance. He just wants us to stick to it. He wants us to stick to Him. 

Proverbs 4:25-27 says, “Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead. Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established. Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.” I love this verse of encouragement. This is how we start running with endurance:

  1. We consider the path for our feet.
  2. We fix our gaze straight ahead. 

First, we decide who we want to follow. If we want to follow Jesus then all of our ways will be established. We’ll have constant hope and security. Then we fix our gaze straight ahead. We follow Jesus with endurance not perfection. We’re always looking at Him by praying about everything, seeking Him through His Word, and by serving others.

Now, go kill this Tuesday!!

The Key To Success

In the world’s eyes the word “servant” is a disgusting and almost dehumanizing role. Some of the words associated with “servant” are poor, invalid, low class, and peasant, etc. When people think of the word “servant” they often times think of a slave. As Christians when we hear the word servant the next word we should think is Jesus. Jesus’ whole purpose in life was to serve. He took the posture of a common slave and washed the feet of His own followers and most importantly completed the ultimate act of serving by carrying all of our sins to the cross and suffering in our place. There are no words that could ever describe the magnificence of Jesus’ servitude. It’s hard to even wrap our minds around it fully. Literally, our human minds don’t have the capacity to understand this act of love. This is where faith comes in. We have to have faith to fill in the deficiencies of our minds. 

Secular society is constantly shouting at us to climb to the top and don’t worry about the people you hurt on the way up. There’s a difference between climbing to the top and being set on top by God. One way is biblical and one way is not. The Lord wants us to succeed, but the world’s version of success is quite different than God’s. The modern day Church gets this mixed up more times than I can count. The prosperity gospel is on the rise, but let me tell you if you are a Christian your prosperity is not found on this earth. The prosperity that Jesus has stored up for us in Heaven is leaps and bounds better than any fancy car, house, luxury vacation, or fat bank account that we could accumulate on earth. So how do we get this prosperity?

The only way we will succeed on this earth is through servitude that is carried out in the love of Jesus. Jesus commanded His followers to feed the sheep. In other words, He calls us to serve the people. Let me encourage you to serve the sheep in 2019. Serve and love people like Jesus and His followers did throughout the whole New Testament. See people through the eyes of Jesus. All throughout His life Jesus saw the needs of people and He met them. That is the key to success. 

John 6:27 “Don’t work for food that spoils but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him.” 

Called

Phew, okay I knew this would be a hard post to sit down and write let alone share on such a large scale. This is kind of a long one, so buckle up! Honestly, I read something yesterday that encouraged me to tell my story and specifically my story of being “called into the ministry.” First off let’s just get this out of the way, every single person is called into the ministry. God has instilled gifts and a purpose inside every human that has ever breathed on this earth. I’m no more special or important than the person that ministers to their coworkers at McDonalds. Ministry is everywhere and in every task. Your place of ministry is to be lived out in your everyday life whether it’s at work, the ball field, the gym, etc. Ministry isn’t confined by the walls of a church building. Nor is ministry only entrusted to a select special few. The spreading of the gospel is a task that is meant to be carried out by every person who calls themselves a follower of Jesus. I am no more special than the next person. 

I’ve personally thought that I’ve always had a “boring” or “unadventurous” story. But, I’ve learned that everyone’s story will relate to someone out there. If it doesn’t relate to anyone then it will spark someone’s mind into thinking about their own story. I’ve been a “church girl” my whole entire life. That comes with the territory when you’re a preacher’s kid. I’ve seen the behind the scenes of ministry, the good times, sad times, hard times, and the times that just make you plain angry. I don’t think PKs get enough credit for all the junk (for lack of a better word) they have to keep bottled up. People watch your every move just to see if you’re going to slip up. 

  Though I was exposed to hurt at times being a PK I wouldn’t trade it for the whole world. Now as an adult looking back, I can’t tell you how sacred it feels to be chosen by God to be the kid of parents in ministry. All my life I had a front row seat to see some of the miracles that God worked in my church and in other people’s lives. I am sure that I wouldn’t be the kind of person I am today if I didn’t grow up with parents in ministry. I’m so grateful that this is the path God put me on. 

It’s laughable that people think pastor’s kids are too sheltered to go through anything of real pain or that we’ve never been exposed to the “real world.” But, I’d go as far to say that I saw more “real world” things growing up than any other kids I knew. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many people in so many different situations. I’m so thankful for the wisdom that I gained because of it. 

I gave my life to Jesus at age eight and then was baptized shortly after. I never had the desire to go into ministry. I didn’t even want to marry someone in ministry. I had gotten so good at guarding myself through the years that I wanted to stay far from ministry where I knew I would have to invest in people that could possibly hurt me.

God has a way of taking a heart and growing and shaping it. Which is exactly what He did to mine. In “Searching For Timothy” Tony Cooke says, “It’s not a matter of how dramatic or how sensational the call (to ministry) is. For many, being ‘called’ is more a growing awareness than a single dramatic event. The calling is often revealed in a God-given desire to serve the Lord and people, as well as in the presence of gifts and abilities that are needed for Kingdom work.” I just LOVE this! My calling definitely came to me as a growing awareness. 

I simply began asking God to use me everyday and that’s where it all began. We are all called to the ministry. We are all called to spread the Gospel and the love of the Lord. Everyone plays a part and has a role in the Kingdom of God. Is He growing something in you that you need to stop ignoring and start nurturing?

January Reads

“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” -Jim Rohn

I love this quote. There’s so much truth in it. Reading is how we grow our minds and stretch our knowledge. Here’s a list of the books that I’m taking on this month.

“The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale

(This is a reread for me but I thought it would be a great reminder for starting off the year.)

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 “In Search of Timothy” by Tony Cooke 

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“Fervent” by Priscilla Shirer  

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“The Address” by Fiona Davis

(I don’t normally read a ton of fiction, but Fiona Davis is one of my favorite fiction authors!) 

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I’m so excited to dive into this book and give you a short report of each one. Pick up a book and read this month. If you don’t get through four then at least get through half of one. Progress is progress!

How I Study The Bible

Studying the Bible can seem like a really intimidating subject. The Bible is so rich and full of information, history, and lessons that it’s easy to not even know where to start. I’ve tried a lot of personal Bible study methods, but my favorite one comes from the one and only Anne Graham Lotz. In the video I’ve attached of her below explaining the method, she gives great advice on how to dig deep into Scripture. I love it because it’s simple and raw. You don’t need any extra resources or tools (even though these can be very useful at times). Here’s the study method from Anne Graham Lotz that I use in my personal Bible study each morning:

All you’ll need is a Bible, pen, journal, (you can add a highlighter if you prefer).

  1. Write out the few verses that you want to dig deeper into.
  2. Write out facts from the verses.
  3. Write out lessons that can be taken from each fact.
  4. Then ask yourself what these verses mean for your life. Draw questions from the lessons.
  5. Write out takeaways from each verse.

 

With Endurance

Along with my yearly verse, John 6:27, my memory verse for January is Hebrews 12:1-2, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” This verse is so fitting for January. We all have a race set before us this year and really for our whole lifetime. So how are we supposed to run this race of life? With endurance. When I think of the word endurance another word that comes to my mind is intentional. If we want to have endurance to the end of our lives we have to be intentional about our lives. We have to be intentional about staying away from sin that separates us from Jesus. In order to run the race with endurance there are some things we have to cut out and keep out of our lives. Maybe there’s people, habits, addictions, etc. that are keeping your focus off Jesus…let them go.

Googles defines endurance as, “the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.” To me the power that Google is talking about is Jesus. Jesus is the answer to finishing life with endurance.The Bible says that this life on earth is a struggle, it’s something difficult we have to endure. God knows that life is hard and can be unpleasant. (We won’t really know how unpleasant this life is until we get to be with Jesus one day.) In this verse, God is saying it’s going to be hard but you have to keep your eyes on Me. Keep your focus upward and you can’t fail. 

From One Chapter To Another

Happy 2019! I write to you from my living room sofa with a strudel and coffee in hand. I’m completely soaking up my last little bit of holiday break. It’s always sad to see holidays come and then go so quickly, but it always stirs a little bit of newness. Today we have a clean slate. It’s day 1 of 365 days that can either be used or wasted. I typically use the first week of January to launch my new year. I spend time planning out goals that I want to be achieved by the end of the year. Here’s how I do it. 

The first thing I do is write it down. In my journal, I list everything I want either accomplished or changed by the end of the year. What do I want my life to look like on December 31st of 2019? Where do I want to be? What do I want to have? Who do I want around me? What do I want to have learned? How many books do I want to have read? What is my physical condition going to be like?

The next thing I like to do is make it visible. I’m a visual thinker and learner, so I take large poster board or butcher paper and write out my general goals and Bible verse for the year and then I hang it on my wall. This year I have almost a whole wall in my bedroom dedicated to my goals. This way I’m constantly reminded of my expectations for the year so I don’t give up on my goals halfway into January. 

Then the most important thing I do is I pray over the goals I’ve set. I make sure that these goals I’ve set for myself line up with God’s will. I ask for Him to give me the courage, perseverance, and efficiency to reach these goals. Without Him we can accomplish nothing. 

This year my goal is to read a Proverb each day of the year for the whole year over and over again along with my regular Bible reading. I’m going to dive deep into the gospels and hope to share what I learn through The Fearless Journey. 

My reading goal is to read 52 books this year. That’s a book a week for those who struggle with math…guilty. I’ll be giving you guys book suggestions and reviews which I’m so excited about. I’ll also be sending out my monthly book list for those who want to read along with me. 

Of course, my most important goal for this year is to allow God to use me completely everyday in the seemingly small and big things. I want to challenge you to wake up every morning this year and just tell God that you make yourself completely available to Him. Ever since I’ve started praying this prayer I’ve seen God do amazing things in my own life. Two years ago I never would have started a blog or got up on stage in front of a congregation of people making myself completely vulnerable to others. God will do AMAZING things through you in 2019 if you let Him and I hope to be encouraging and cheering you on all the way!

Preparing For A New Beginning

As much as I look forward to Christmas each year, I am just as excited for the coming of a brand new year. A new year means a fresh start and it’s the perfect time to revamp and reboot. I have lots of great plans and goals in store for 2019 for myself, you, and the Fearless Journey. On tomorrow’s post I’ll be sharing those goals more in detail and giving you some pointers on creating your own achievable goals.  

The memory verse for my 2019 is John 6:27 “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” We’re going to be digging deeper into this verse throughout the year. There is so much importance packed into this one little verse and I believe it’s a cornerstone on which to live by in all areas of our lives. 

Let me encourage you to decide on a memory verse for the whole year of 2019, or you can use John 6:27 if you like. Make sure it’s a verse that you can meditate on each morning when you wake up and each night before you go to bed. Write your chosen verse somewhere you can see it daily. 

Before I choose a verse for a new year I like to first choose an overall theme for the year. The two themes I’ve chosen for 2019 are humbleness and growth. My biggest goal this year is to grow in knowledge in all areas but specifically the Bible and in my relationship with the Lord through prayer. My other big goal is to stay humble. It’s so easy to get caught up in getting people’s approval and claps rather than living for an audience of One. 

I hope to use my words to inspire you this year by giving you short daily devotions along with my normal posts. For the whole year of 2019 I have monthly memory verses that we’ll be studying and looking into. Use the rest of New Years Eve and tomorrow to reflect on this past year so you can redesign and improve your 2019. Stay tuned for a New Years post tomorrow!

Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve! Maybe you’re sitting in an office, cooking and preparing for your family, doing some last minute shopping, or wrapping gifts. For this motivation Monday I just want to focus on “Mary’s Song of Praise.” It’s in Luke 1:46-55

“And Mary said:

‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now 

on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done 

great things for me- holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who

fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds

with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away 

empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful

to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our

ancestors.’” 

She just summed up her unborn Son in a nutshell. The reoccurring theme that sticks out so much in her song of praise is her emphasis on humbleness. She says, “He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.” He lifts up the humble. He uses those that don’t see their value in themselves but rather see their value in Him. 

God doesn’t just tell His people to “be humble” but He exemplifies it for us in the most beautiful and intriguing way through His birth. You can’t get much more humble than being born in a cave with barn animals parading around. I’m so thankful that God didn’t come down as a fancy king dressed in royal robes because I could never relate to that. Instead He reduced Himself to a human baby in order to be relatable to us. Not only was He born as a human baby but He was born to poor, average, blue collar parents. I love this because it shows that what the world has labeled significant, God has already shrugged off as insignificant. God could care less how much money you make or how big your house is. What He wants to know is how big your heart is and how you’re using the talents He’s given you. 

Maybe this is a really hard time of year for you. What I love about Mary’s song of praise is that she chose a song. She chose to worship through her feelings and her circumstance. She chose to look upward and sing to God. She chose to praise through it. Let me encourage you to worship even if. Even if your holiday season hasn’t gone how you had planned, even if you don’t get all of your shopping or cooking done in time, or even if your family feels like a flop compared to all of the picture perfect families on Facebook. Praise through it. Worship even if. 

Here’s a pic of that time I went to Bethlehem and went into the cave (now shrine) of where Jesus was born that holy night!

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