Faith, Courage and Conviction

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Great words by MLK. Most people want to see the whole picture with complete clarity before they commit to stepping out and taking initiative. I understand. There are so many things that can go wrong. There are so many complexities. There are huge potential pitfalls lurking in the unknown.

But, when we fail to take action, we never experience the taste of a dream kissing reality.

Fear cements our feet to the ground…

Doubt is a fog shrouding our hearts’ desire…

Uncertainty keeps us in neutral…

I have found that God rarely reveals more than the first step. If He were to reveal more, then we would not need faith, and faith is where our lives intertwine with God.

I have not prayed for clarity for a long time, instead there are a couple other things I pray for when faith is the clarion call in the dark hours of sleepless nights.

Courage is what I pray for first. Courage to activate my faith and take action. God responds to our faith-filled action every time.

Conviction is the other key character trait I pray for. When faith kisses courage and conviction, things happen…God moves…we find ourselves riding a wave powered by God’s Spirit.

So, if you are feeling like a styrofoam cup being tossed about by the wind, its time to choose faith and pray for courage and conviction and be ready for God to move.

Sayin’ It Like It Is

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“God if you are real, speak to me!” Have you ever spoken those words? Have you ever been in a place where your throat was dry from crying out, and the requested thing just wasn’t materializing?

I know many people who have shouted out that prayer. I also know many people who are afraid to speak those words. Fear that God won’t love them anymore if they revealed their struggle. Fear that once the words are spoken, they may not like the God on the receiving end. Fear that they will be “found out” and are not as spiritual as their friends think.

Ironically, when we admit our struggles to God, He pours out an over-abundance of grace, showing us that His loves for us is constant, even on our bad days.

When we tell God what we honestly feel about His leadership in our life, we find a loving father who responds differently than the image we created in our minds…when we allow God to reveal Himself He is not furrow-browed and steaming mad. He is the prodigal’s father, arms held wide, eyes that are tired from prayer but full of compassion, and a heart that has enough grace for the entire universe.

When we have the courage to speak honestly, we no longer fear being “found out” because a truly spiritual person does not live a duplicitous life…he lives honestly, “warts and all.”

King David from the Hebrew Bible has always been one of my favorite people to study. He is so complex. He loves God so much, yet makes choices that are anything but holy. He lived his spiritual life out loud.

David unashamedly danced before the LORD…

David longed to build a house for God…

David repeatedly showed grace to a man hell-bent on killing him (King Saul)…

David also allowed his sexual desire to cloud his thinking, the result was adultery and murder…

David also trusted in the size of his army at times rather than the size of his God…

But through all the events of David’s life, God was an internal humming in his soul, calling him back again and again to a relationship. In Psalm 69, when David is obviously overwhelmed, he said:

“Save me O’ God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.”

Life is hard…

Life is an assault of joy and pain…a medley of highs and lows…a symphony of dissonance and resolution.

If David’s thoughts and story ended there…it would be pretty sad, bleak, and depressing. But David choses to make a mind-shift in the midst of his honest reality. This shift is powerful. This shift is a game-changer. This shift can move you from the darkness to the light.

In verse 13 he says, “But I will pray to you.” David knows that he needs a hope bigger than himself, and God is that hope.

Eyes lifted up…

Circumstances bleak…

A heart drowning in pain…

BUT…I -will- pray to you. David commands his soul. He doesn’t allow his circumstances to command his destiny, God alone has the sovereignty to do that.

So he prays to God for help, believing that he will be heard…and he was.

David’s prayer moves his soul to worship…

Worship is a thin space between our reality and the presence of God…

Worship realigns our thoughts, motives and begins to expand our faith because we are immersing our mind with truth, God’s inspiration and perspective.

When we finally get God’s perspective, our circumstances have far less power to dominate us, and we are unleashed to believe and trust that God is at work…even in this.

In verses 30-36 David lets loose:

30 I will praise God’s name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.
31 This will please the Lord more than an ox,
more than a bull with its horns and hooves.
32 The poor will see and be glad—
you who seek God, may your hearts live!
33 The Lord hears the needy
and does not despise his captive people.

34 Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and all that move in them,
35 for God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
Then people will settle there and possess it;
36 and those who love his name will dwell there.

David is experiencing a different soul-ular reality by the end of this Psalm.

He moves from: “Say it like it is” to prayer which allows him to again “Say it like it is” from a different perspective that is life-giving instead of life-depleting.

So if you need some rescue from the miry depths today, say it like it is…pray…and then say it like it is.

God loves your honesty and He smiles when you exhibit faith in the midst of the storm…remember, you matter to Him.

Change- SNQ 8/15/12

Change is inevitable. Change is necessary. Change is hard. As life speeds along at an ever increase rate, we are faced with the reality of change. How we handle change will greatly affect the level of enjoyment we have in life. Fighting the inevitable is always a losing battle, so why do we do it?

When you are facing a change or a transition, it is really important to consider the following:

1. Acknowledge the Change: Denial isn’t helpful when it comes to change, it actually creates a high level of conscious, as well as subconscious stress. When we acknowledge the change, we are freeing ourselves from the hostage situation that denial creates. Another form of denial is minimizing change. When we minimize the potential effects of change we are not really acknowledging that we will be facing life differently. When we finally acknowledge change, we bring it to the light where it can’t go underground and affect our subconscious behavioral patterns.

2. Celebrate What Came Before. Too often, since we don’t like change, we choose to simply “power through it” and jump into the next great thing. This leaves a sense of unsettled-ness within. When we celebrate the transition, we give honor to the good things as well as grieve the hard things that preceded the change. This creates a sense of closure concerning the change, whether it was good or bad, which in turn helps us move forward without the baggage that, denial, minimizing or too fast a transition create. Closure is crucial for a healthy transition.

3. Remind Yourself That Change Helps You Grow. If we never experienced change, we would never grow. Remind yourself that change creates growth opportunities and will reveal the health of your emotional soul. You’ll need to remind yourself often…so in those moments when the stress from change is reaching the tipping point, remind yourself that God is larger than your circumstances and that the change He is allowing can be used to enlarge your faith.

Here are some great quotes about change:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
~Reinhold Niebuhr

Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.  ~Arnold Bennett

All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.  ~Ellen Glasgow

If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.  ~Carl Jung

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.  ~Maya Angelou

If you’re in a bad situation, don’t worry it’ll change. If you’re in a good situation, don’t worry it’ll change.  ~John A. Simone, Sr.

Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.  ~Confucius

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.  ~Confucius

Christians are supposed not merely to endure change, nor even to profit by it, but to cause it.  ~Harry Emerson Fosdick

Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.  ~Frank Herbert

Change is the only constant. Hanging on is the only sin.  ~Denise McCluggage

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.  ~Andre Gide

In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.  ~Warren Buffett

Someone was hurt before you, wronged before you, hungry before you, frightened before you, beaten before you, humiliated before you, raped before you… yet, someone survived… You can do anything you choose to do.
~Maya Angelo

By changing nothing, nothing changes.  ~Tony Robbins

Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.  ~Walter Anderson

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.  ~Jim Rohn

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.  ~George Bernard Shaw

You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.  ~A.A. Milne

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

20 years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.  ~Mark Twain