Seeing the World with God’s Lenses

Did you ever get a new pair of glasses? Before them the world appeared clear, in focus. Then presto, change-o wearing the new glasses everything is brighter, crisper. Who knew all these colors even existed before? it’s like a whole new world before your very eyes.

As you wear these new lenses you do see things differently and therefore you begin to act differently. The information being received is processed in a new way. You are not able to act the same, old way. You are changed. You are new doing new things.

Along our faith journeys the Holy Spirit works within us changing us from the inside out. This transformation is necessary as we authentically pray for God’s Will to be done. As a result we begin to see the world as God sees it. We view it with new lenses on. Now we see through the lenses of love and grace. As we have experienced God’s love and grace so we can share it with others.

It is incredible seeing the world from a new perspective. It is seeing it as if for the first time. You learn about what you did not already know. Passion is renewed as it was in the beginning of your own faith journey.

The curious thing is we don’t know what we don’t know. By stepping out and trying new things, gaining new perspectives we learn to see through the new lenses God gives us. It requires a step of faith to leave the “safety of our comfort zone.”

So what does it look like? It is going to a new place where you are the minority and being humble to learn from a new culture.

It is seeing a person in need and asking, “How can I help?”

It is listening to someone on the opposite side of a political issue and learning from him/her.  Remember to listen to learn, not to argue.

Wearing new lenses helps us to see our faith community through the eyes of a guest. How inclusive are we to the guest?

As you go about your week serving Jesus ask Him to see the world through His eyes. What is different?  What do you learn? Do you see people more clearly?

This Week’s Challenge

Have a conversation this week with someone who has an opposing political view from you. Learn from their perspective.  How do you see the issue differently now?

Keep Looking at Jesus

Last post we talked about the importance of being changed by the Holy Spirit. In order to be a part of God’s Will we must be transformed from the inside out.

As we are being transformed so much of life can feel like it is in complete chaos. Anxiety may build up. In turn it is important to have a focal point that we can turn to in these moments. As we fix our eyes on Jesus, our focal point, the chaos becomes white noise and the anxiety is replaced with peace. 

Jesus stands with us through all the changes. When temptations arise to return to our old selves we look to Jesus to remind us where we are going. We are able to take that next step God has for us.

Any journey a person embarks on the final destination remains in the forefront. Decisions of what route to take are made based on where one is going. You remember where you are going as you are getting there. Destinations arise but fall to the wayside because we remain focused on Jesus. So we may see a roadside attraction and want to stop at it for a little while.  But when we get back on the road we remember our ultimate destination and focus on it exclusively. 

It is possible to become self-absorbed as we are being transformed from the inside out. We can stop and look back and be proud of how far we have come. A sense of “Look at me. Aren’t I great?” This temptation causes us to keep our eyes on Jesus so that we continue to pursue humility.  We are not detoured from becoming aligned with God’s Will. 

To avoid the distractions and temptations we keep looking to Jesus. As Peter kept his eyes on Jesus and walked on water so too we ‘glide’ while keeping our eyes on Him. Storms still arise but we do not need to worry. Jesus calms our fears as we ride out the storm together.

As we keep looking at Jesus we see how God is moving in the world. We see His Word going out and returning fruitful. We watch the Holy Spirit working through others to spread the Gospel. We get a glimpse of how God is using us as well to make disciples.

Here’s another way to visualize it.  A figure skater finds a focal point before going into a spin.  This is to help cut down on feeling dizzy coming out of the spin. As s/he rotates they turn their head quickly around to focus on the point. We keep Jesus as our focal point to cut out the noise of this world so we can continue to be transformed by Him.

It’s all part of the wonderful journey with God as we grow closer to Him. As we grow closer to God we become more a part of God’s Will in the world. 

This Week’s Challenge

This week decide on a phrase/sentence you will say to yourself to bring your eyes back to Jesus. Note how it helps you in those times of distractions.

But, We’ve Never Done It That Way Before….

The Joyous Adventure of Change

Change is hard. Change is fun. Change is necessary.

Change can indicate growth. Change shows the Holy Spirit working in us transforming our hearts to be in align with His Will. This change is an integral part of following God’s Will.

See for us to be aligned with God’s Will we must first change. It is not a change we can accomplish on our own. It is the Holy Spirit coming to us to work this change in us from the inside out. Our job is to be open to the change and daily surrender to God.

As God is working in the world we are invited into it. He does not need us but chooses to use us to accomplish His Will. We are forever changed by this invitation.

But let’s admit it, change is scary.

One does not always know where change will lead us. Changing requires leaving our comfort zone and actually trusting God. Isn’t it easier to say we trust God and stay warm and snuggly in our comfort zone?  We haven’t done it before so why try it now?

But if we stay right where we are how will we begin to see the breath-taking experiences God has to show us? How will we become more aligned with God’s Will if we remain the same?

Yes change is difficult … at times. Yes, change is scary … at times. And yes, change is breath-taking.

As Jesus’ followers we get to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. We get to see God change us from the inside out. We are invited on this adventure of all of eternity.

So, how is God changing you? What are areas you sense the nudging of the Holy Spirit to step out of your comfort zone to explore? Are there areas of life you don’t want to change but deep down you know you need to?

Be not afraid, fellow disciple. Take that first step out of your comfort zone and begin to see what God has planned.

Change is necessary so that we get to participate in God’s Will.  It is why we daily surrender to Him. As we are tempted to go back to how things used to be God reminds us why He is transforming us. It is for His glory, not our comfort.

Keep note of how God is changing you from the inside out. Seek in prayer why this change and what to do now as a result of it.

Enjoy the adventure, disciple. It is thrilling and scary at times but more importantly, it is awesome.

This Week’s Challenge
Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Do something today that you have not done before for the Lord. How was it?
AND
Journal how you are different now from who you were 10 years ago. How is God using you as a result of this change?

We are Included in God’s Will

The thing is whatever we do God’s Will is being done here on earth. Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet, teaches us that God’s Word does not return to Heaven empty (Isaiah 55:11). It does accomplish what God has willed it to do.

See, God accomplishes what He wills. He does not need us BUT He chooses to be a part of His plan. While we may be rebellious against God, He freely forgives us and graciously incorporates us to His plan.

Being a part of God’s plan is AWESOME! God has great plans to transform the world and us. It is beyond our own comprehension. The longer we journey with the Holy Spirit the more we begin to understand what God is doing.

We get to be included in God’s Will. As God is moving we come alongside and go for the ride. The Holy Spirit acts as our guide teaching us God is already doing.

It is an honor to to be included in God’s Will. It does not need to be scary though. As God invites us in He also gives us all the abilities and resources to accomplish what He has for us to do. He also gives us the courage to face any fears or attacks from the enemy.

Have courage fellow disciple of Jesus Christ. Be filled with joy as you anticipate the amazing things God will show you. Serve with gladness as God uses you to accomplish His Will in the world.

As you serve invite another to serve alongside you so s/he may see first-hand what God is doing. Pray that the Holy Spirit works in them so s/he may humbly surrender his/her whole self to God. Then with joy the two of you will see what God is doing.

We get to be included in God’s Will. This is reason enough to celebrate and give thanks to God for His unconditional love. 

This Week’s Challenge

In your prayers today thank God for including you in His plan. Share the joy you have with Him and what He shows you.

You are a Brand Ambassador for Jesus!

Brand Ambassadors are individuals who represent a company, showing the message embodying the core values. They are the human representation for the company.

They generally go out to meet people who have not heard of the brand introducing them to it. In the course of the interaction an invitation is given by the ambassador to the individual to “join” be a part of the community.

Sound a little familiar? Kinda like a missionary?

Well, you’re not wrong. Brand Ambassadors work similarly to missionaries. Both go to places that have not heard yet. Both embody the values of the community they represent. Each serve to invite people to join the community.

“But missionaries go to foreign countries. I can’t leave my life here.”

True some missionaries are led by God to serve in other countries. But each follower of Jesus is called to be a brand ambassador for Him.

For God’s Will to be done here on the earth. He chooses to use us, His disciples, to accomplish His Will. In order for us to do that we must recognize that all of our actions and words represent Him to the world. We are His brand ambassadors going out into the world inviting others into the Kingdom of Heaven.

What do we do as God’s ambassadors?

First we remember that we represent God where’ve we go, whomever we are with at the moment. We can recognize this in the safety of our home and still be scared to live it out in the world. When we are scared we pray for the Spirit to strengthen us to persevere.

Also we act as Jesus would act. We will not be perfect. We will make mistakes. But we do our best and keep showing love to others. We serve humbly not for our glory but to care for another. We do not let differences separate us but rather we use our difference to learn how God created us uniquely.

Brand Ambassadors for Jesus are resolved to get the Gospel out into the world. They know God’s Will is being done here on earth. They surrender themselves to the Creator God being faithful servants. They draw nearer to God as they are transformed by the Holy Spirit. They do not remain the same. They are new people with the help of the Holy Spirit.

As you go about your day to day ask God to show you how to represent Him in the world. Seek the message the He has for you to share. Once He tells go and do it. Be excited to share and invite others. Watch how the Holy Spirit uses you to expand God’s Will here on earth.

This Week’s Challenge

Write down the message you want people to know about Jesus. Then decide what you will do today to show that message with your life.

What Does the Daily Life of a Disciple Look Like?

In seeking God’s Will to be done we learn how to live the life of a disciple. In order to be a part of God’s movement in the world we must first know how to walk with God.

So what does the daily walk of a follower of Jesus look like anyway? Does one have to shave his/her head and move to the wilderness to live a solitary life?

No. You don’t need to become a monk/nun to follow Jesus. If God calls you to this life then I say openly embrace the incredible adventure God has planned for you.

For the rest of us, daily discipleship is learning from the Holy Spirit. We spend time hearing from God by reading the Bible. We talk with God in prayer sharing our deepest fears while listening to Him and all He has for us. We walk with God living our lives as Jesus lived His life.

How did Jesus lived His life?

He loved all people, believers and noon-believers. He invited everyone to their new life in God. He pointed back to God the Father to give Him all the glory.

Jesus lived His life so we had an example of how to be disciples in our own lives. We are to love everyone, those in the church and those not yet believers. We demonstrate what a new life in Jesus looks like by how we act at work, with friends, running errands, on our own.

In this daily walk we learn from the Holy Spirit God’s Will in this world. Our minds are transformed little by little each day. We are able to see more clearly because God teachers every day.

Being a disciple of Jesus is not something we do one day a week or only with a certain group of friends. It is who you are. It impacts every aspect of you, what you do.

Each day as you go about your day ask yourself how you are learning from the Holy Spirit? Are you humble to learn and grow? Do you listen to God or only speak at Him?

As you pray ask God to teach you that day a new lesson in being a disciple. How love another who is different from you. Or how to draw closer to Him. Walk each day with Jesus and learn from Him how to be disciple.

This Week’s Challenge

Read one of the Gospels in the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) and note in your journal how Jesus lived His life.  What can you emulate in your life this week that Jesus did in His?

Daily Surrendering to God

How many times have you made a New Year’s Resolution and by January 15th or February 1st already forget it?

Once? Twice? Annually?

Don’t fret I have a feeling you are not the only one who may have broken a New Year’s resolution.

But seriously, it is quite exciting when you first make a resolution, a commitment to change. The adrenaline is rushing through the veins. Anything is possible. Therefore nothing is going to stop you. Life is changing from this moment forward.

Then life sets in. The adrenaline slows to a stop. The reality of daily discipline sets in. The actuality of making different choices is not as easy as we ideally thought in the beginning.

Change really is hard.

When we initially give our lives to Jesus we are full of excitement ready to take down satan. There is nothing that is going to stop us. but the enthusiasm begins to wane after a brief time. Each day we need to surrender so we remain close to God.

Praying “God, Your Will be done” requires initially surrendering to God followed by a daily surrendering to remain close to Him. Sin tempts us to turn away from God. It is only by the continual surrender are we able to keep journeying with the Holy Spirit.

So, how do you remain surrendered to the Lord? What practice do you have to remind yourself that God is the Creator and we are the created?

Each of us need that daily practice which will humble us before Jesus. It gives us the eyes to see others as God sees them. It opens our hearts once again to love God and others authentically.

It is essential because our great enthusiasm at the beginning will wane down to zero. The enemy will toil to distract us if we do not remain humbly surrendered to the Lord. We cannot do it on our own.

Look towards your morning routine. What do you already do that will help you be surrendered before the Lord? Is there something you can add/change that will be the daily reminder?

As we daily surrender before God we will draw closer to Him. We will see more clearly how He is moving in the world and how He is leading us serve according to His Will.

This Week’s Challenge
Implement this week a morning practice so you daily surrender before God.
— Try morning yoga session to slow down. Repeat this saying, “God, I surrender myself to You fully today. God, Your Will be done.”

— Prayer time listening to God asking Him to open your eyes to see how He is moving in the world.

— Journal giving your whole self to God

First Surrendering to Jesus Christ

Following the Will of God is a humble step. It means that you are admitting you are not in control and that God is sovereign. But not one of us is capable of coming to this realization on our own. We come to it by the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

It is in this initial surrender to God where we first become aligned in God’s Will. We acknowledge we are the created and God is the Creator. We bow before the Lord as humble servants.

So what does an initial surrender look like? How do you even know that you fully surrendered?

Surrendering for one can look like kneeling on one’s knees stating Jesus is Lord. For another it is confessing to a confident one’s sins and hearing God’s absolution (forgiveness).

Surrendering also is publicly stating that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of your life. It also publicly states you cannot redeem yourself. We all are in need of a Redeemer. We cannot earn of our salvation. It is only by surrendering to Jesus that we receive salvation.

And this is the greatest gift one can ever receive!

As we follow God’s leading we begin to see how God is moving in the world. We take the first steps in becoming aligned with God’s Will. We are admitting that we do not have all the answers. Only God does. As we do this we take a step closer to God.

As we go about our lives this week let us live in this complete surrender. Humbly seeking God’s Will setting aside our own. When we get up in the meaning we ask God what He will have us do, where we shall go. We ask for the Holy Spirit to give us the faith to trust and follow in step. In this we remain surrendered to the Lord seeking God’s Will in this world. 

This Week’s Challenge — As you pray this week ask God to help you to be fully surrendered, open to following the Holy Spirit humbly.

What does praying “God, Your Will Be Done” Truly Look Like?

How many times have you prayed the Lord’s Prayer saying the words but not really paying attention?  You were going through the motions just to get it done.

Don’t worry I have done it many times myself.  You’re not alone.

In this series we are studying the part, “God, Your Will be done.” We pray it but how well do we really understand what we are asking God in it? 

What does it look like practically when we say these words in our prayers?  

What are we actually asking God to do?

There is so much packed into this phrase.  We are turning to God the Father seeking for His plan to be done here on Earth.  We are not telling God what to do but rather, we are seeking to know what He is perfect plan is for us and the world.

We are submitting ourselves to His leadership, His authority.

As we authentically pray this petition we acknowledge an unawareness of the future while knowing God fully knows. We wrestle with our desire to be in control, aware of all of the details before we ever take a step forward.  As we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit we begin to discover God’s amazing plan.

In this series we will explore seeking God’s Will from a variety of perspectives. As we authentically pray for God’s Will we will study how we are transformed from the inside out.  As a result our own faith journeys are impacted on a daily basis. Our eyes become more fixed on Jesus to see where He is going and to learn at His feet. 

Even our perspective on seeing the world changes.  We do not see others as we have seen them. We begin to see others as God sees them.  

Each of these changes can only occur when we surrender ourselves wholly to God.  It is an initial surrender, one time event.  It is also a daily surrender.  A turning away from our past lives without Jesus to return to God alone.  

We do not seek God’s Will alone.  We seek it in community with fellow disciples of Jesus. We become united as one body.  We do not allow differences to separate us.  We can begin to see differences as opportunities to learn from each other about how God is moving in this world.

It is my prayer that as we embark on this exploration our eyes see anew what has been in front of us all along. May we draw closer to God and thereby one another as we surrender to God daily. The Holy Spirit is moving in this world. I pray we partake in the Spirit’s movement as God has called and equipped each of us to do so.

This Week’s Challenge

Pay this prayer in the morning as you begin your day:

“God, Your Will be done. Open my eyes to see where You are moving. Use me to further Your Kingdom here on Earth. Enable me to serve humbly and faithfully.  In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Throughout the day write down the times God has shown You His Will being done. 

10th Case Study of Philippians 4:10-13 — Learning to be Content

Some great advice from a sign in a quaint restaurant in Ireland.

“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:10-13)

“New and Improved!”

“But wait! There’s more!”

We are bombarded with 1000s of advertisements throughout the day. In TV, podcasts, radio, magazines, pop-ads (how does social media know what I just shopped for on Amazon anyway?), spam emails, flyers in our mailboxes.  

Each ad is designed by people who are very good at their jobs to get us to think we are missing out.  We are in need and life won’t be complete unless we purchase ____________. 

Fear of Missing Out is real.

As we read in Paul’s letter to the Philippians he shares how to be content regardless of one’s current circumstances. As he shares from his life there were times when he dad it all and times he was in need. Regardless of his circumstances he learned to be content. He found joy in all things, at all times.

See, Paul did not fear missing out because his joy did not come from what he had in his life. His joy, and ours, come from the Lord. God promises to provide for our daily needs. We do not want for anything. We have no reason to fear. God is with us every step of the way.

We learn from Paul to check our lives to see what we want and what we truly need. Whatever life has in front of us we find joy. We do so because God is by our side. If times are difficult we have peace because God’s got it. If times are bountiful we give thanks for God’s blessings. 

As we have more contentment in our lives we see by the Holy Spirit that we can do all things in Christ. Fear fades away. Insecurity weakens. We see more clearly how and where God is working. Our strength comes from the Lord.

So the question before us today is how are we being content in our lives?

Do you check your social media seeing friends’ posts wishing you were there?

Do you watch ads wishing the item was yours?

What causes jealousy to rise up in you?

When do you feel insecure?

My prayer for each of us this week is that we find contentment every day. Whatever the day brings there is joy in it. The day may not be good but there is good in it.

This Week’s Challenge

Before going to bed each night write down a moment/experience that brought contentment. Describe why you were content.

9th Case Study of Philippians 4:8-9 — Think on These Things

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:8-9)

What’s running through your mind right now?

You know those mental tapes that play inside your head that only you can hear. The ones that shape how you see yourself.

These mental tapes can be harsh critics. Pointing out all our perceived faults. Lying to us that we are not valuable, or loved.

They can also be healthy recordings inside our heads. Being the loving encouragement of the Holy Spirit constantly reminding how dearly loved we truly are by God.

Paul tells his readers in the passage what we are to surround ourselves with so that we hear the Holy Spirit clearly. To think about the right things; to see the brighter side of faith; to seek how God is moving.

When we surround ourselves with these things we are better equipped to resist the lies of the adversary. Then there is space, a quietness, to hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. We are not distracted but rather free to be the child of God we are meant to be.

So the question posed to you is what do your mental tapes say to you? Are they lies from the enemy or are they encouragements from the Holy Spirit?

Do you “feed” your mind with healthy media? Things that teach you how you are a child of God. Friends who lovingly hold you accountable. Scripture reading so you hear directly from God.

It is these things that Paul tells his readers and ourselves today to think on. Thinking on them the mental tapes inside our heads will become healthy. When they are healthy we are more open to be used by God to expand His Kingdom.

This week I challenge each of us to begin changing the negative mental tapes to healthy ones. It will be a slow, long transition but we will get there. Keep listening to the Holy Spirit.

Let’s each begin by looking at the media we consume. Music, TV, Movies, Podcasts, Websites, Apps, Blogs/Vlogs, Youtube, Books, Magazines. 

Today sit down and make a list dividing each of the media you consume into 2 columns.  One Healthy. One Negative.  What ones need to change?  What ones are good to keep?

Follow Paul’s words and think on whatever is good, pure, right, noble, true, pure, lovely and admirable.  And see the God of peace will fill each of us with His unconditional, perfect love. 

This Week’s Challenge

Look over what you fill your mind with during the day and week.

Make the list suggested above.

Commit to exchanging 1 on the Negative side of the List with a new 1 for the Healthy side.

Note in your journal or prayers the difference you are beginning to see in this exchange.  What is God teaching in this change?

A Case Study of Philippians 4:4-7 — Rejoice!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:4-7)

Don’t worry there will not be a Bobby McFerrin quote in this blog post.  So you can be happy now.  Anxiety levels can go back down to Low.

Paul was emphatic about this week’s passage that he repeated it. He was ensuring his readers go the point. As followers of Jesus Christ we are to rejoice, celebrate in Jesus. We have no reason to fear or be anxious at any time. Jesus is close at hand. He is taking care of everything.

As we walk along this journey of faith there are times we can’t see around the bend. Our trust is put to the test as we forge forward without having the answers to all of our questions. Instead of being worrisome we can rejoice because God’s got this. 

Anxiety is a tricky thing. It creeps in and begins to unpack its bags before we realize it’s even there. Then we feel helpless, losing confidence in ourselves in the future.

Anxiety is a tool used by the enemy to distract us from growing in our faiths. While it appears to be all encompassing, anxiety disappears the moment God’s peace arrives on the scene. This is the reason Paul reminds his readers, and us today, to rejoice.

See, God’s peace is beyond our human minds to fully comprehend. It relieves all anxiety we may be experiencing and brings a calm that takes care of all things. God’s peace is the defense against the devil’s attacks. It protects our hearts and minds so we continue to grow in faith.

We cannot become more like Jesus if we are consumed with anxiety. Rather than being open and learning from the Holy Spirit we become closed off and scared for what “may” come. This is why Paul reminds us to rejoice. By celebrating we make room for God’s peace to boot out anxiety and dwell within us.

So what do we do to rejoice in the Lord?

First, recognize when anxiety tries to creep in. Take a breath and celebrate what God is doing right now. Don’t give anxiety a chance.

Next, focus on how the Holy Spirit is leading you today. Rejoice for the moments the Kingdom of God is expanding. Celebrate for those who are now followers of Jesus Christ.

Remain hopeful in the Lord. Our confidence does not come from our abilities. It is only by God that we have peace, not anxiety. And it is for this reason we rejoice in the Lord.

This Week’s Challenge

What gives you anxiety?  Causes you to worry?

Make a plan for what you will do the next time it tries to move in. 

How will you rejoice in the Lord today?

7th Case Study in Philippians 3:17 — Faith Mentors

“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.” (Phil. 3:17) 

Who was your favorite teacher growing up? Someone you admired, wanted to be like. What did you most admire about him/her?

Go ahead and write down what you remember or take a short stroll down memory lane. Don’t worry we’ll wait for ya. 

It is important to have someone to look up to as we grow into maturity. Our faith journeys are no different. God places in our paths people to learn from, watch how they serve and share, ask questions, journey together.

Paul encourages his readers to do this very thing in the 3rd chapter of his letter to the Philippians. He encourages them to learn from those who go before them. To learn from another’s experience.

This journey of faith has its twists and turns. It gets foggy at times where you are not able to see the step in front of you. It is wise to learn from a faith mentor to see how one keeps in step with the Holy Spirit. 

By having a mentoring relationship one has a place to ask questions and explore. Also there is someone to watch to learn how to put faith in action on a daily basis. 

Having a faith mentor also helps one stay on the right path. This world will work to tempt, to discourage, to distract us from being faith-filled servants of Jesus Christ. Knowing there is someone that has your back no matter what is a comfort when you feel attacked by the enemy.

See being a part of a faith community helps everyone grow deeper in his/her faith. We learn from one another. We hold each other accountable. We resist temptation with a united front.

A faith journey is meant to be done in community. No one should feel s/he is outside the faith community. One learns from others. We share experiences and learnings together.

The question before each of us is: 

Who are we learning from?

Who has God placed in our lives to watch and learn? Some to ask questions to process. A person to help us be accountable and resist temptation.

God has placed these people in all of our faith paths. They may be older or younger than us. They may be have a different cultural background form us. Be open to who it is and be open to learn. Regardless of who it is at this moment be receptive to how the Holy Spirit is teaching you. You don’t know what you don’t know.

This Week’s Challenge

Reflect on who is in your life that God has led you to so you can learn from him/her.

Write down 3 things you will like to learn from him/her. 

Now how will you learn those 3 things?

6th Case Study of Philippians 3:12-14 — Forge Forward

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12-14)

Life is a grand adventure. Each day has new experiences awaiting for us. It is easy to be distracted by the past. What went wrong. What could have been. How we could have done things better.

Looking forward brings excitement and hope. The “not knowing” is not anxiety ridden. It’s a fresh start, a natural reset button. That is what Paul encourage his readers on in this passage. He knows he has not finished his race yet. He forges forward towards what God how for him. Letting go of the past.

We can learn a lot from Paul. Our fears can hold us back embracing the future. We are caught up reflecting on what has happened while missing the new adventures in the present day.

See, faith is not simply cognitive assent in a belief system. It is trusting God above all things; trusting not knowing where exactly your foot will land as you take a step of faith. If we keep our turned to look backwards we will trip because we don’t see where we are going.

So, the future may be unclear from our perspective. But from God’s perspective it’s crystal clear. We embrace the day praying to have eyes to see a glimpse of what He sees. This is faith. Living out our trust in God every day. 

As we journey through life let’s forget the past and forge into the future with great joy. Anticipate the incredible adventures God already has planned for you, for me, for all of us. With confidence we know God provides for all our needs. As we are called to serve the Holy Spirit gives us the necessary resources. “Can’t” is removed from our vocabulary.  We believe in our hearts that with God anything is possible.

What are you excited for on your adventure?

What do you need to let go from the past?

What adventures does God have in store for you?

This Week’s Challenge

Take a piece of paper and write on it something that is holding you back from fully trusting God. Now put it through a paper shredder or burn it in a fire. Know it is gone for good. Pray God to forge forward with joy into the future. Write that on your bathroom mirror so you are reminded of it every day.  Enjoy the adventure!!

5th Case Study in Philippians 2:14-16 – Go, Shine Like Stars

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” (Philippians 2:14-16)

What’s a pet peeve you have? You know that one thing that for whatever reason just gets under your skin. It just irks you. When it pops up we breathe ourselves through it, not letting the anxiety get in too much control.

We stay calm during times when the walls are caving in. We do so not by our strength but by God’s strength filling us so we can stand. It is this model of faith in action that conveys a message of hope to those who are not yet believers. 

It is our actions that demonstrate to others our trust in Jesus Christ. If we bicker with one another what message does that convey? If we encourage one another during disagreements what message does that convey?

See our actions do speak louder than words.  People see how we react to stressful situations. They know we are being transformed by the Holy Spirit so they want to see the difference. If we act the same way then why would one on the verge of faith surround to Jesus Christ? Even when a pet peeve arises how we conduct ourselves through it conveys the Gospel. 

Paul tells his readers to “shine like stars” so people see the difference following Jesus makes in a person’s life. Paul knows he did not “labor in vain” when he was with them. He sees how the seeds of faith were planted and nurtured by the Holy Spirit.

In our own lives we need to assess where we are at in our transformation. When troubles arise do we face them with a calm, at peace perspective? Does anger arise when we are frustrated?

A ReSolved disciple knows difficult times will come. S/he looks to Jesus for a calm spirit to endure. It is not by our might that we persevere through adversity. A ReSolved disciple prays to be transparent so when others see him/her they see Jesus Christ.

So as we go out to serve we keep in the forefront of our minds who are we saying Jesus Christ is with our actions. We are His Brand Ambassadors here on Earth. Are we loving as He loved? Do we serve others as He served?

This week let us take the time to clarify the message Jesus will have for us to share. Listen to the Holy Spirit to hear how God is leading us. Have no fear, God will calm your heart so you can shine like stars.

This Week’s Challenge

List 5 ways you can live out the message God will have you share.  At the end of each day reflect on how you lived them out that day.

An Ode to the Strong Kocher Women

Motherhood is a beautiful love a nurturing woman has for either her children or any child in her life. God blesses her with children in many and various ways. By birth. By adoption. As an aunt. Or a foster parent. A grandmother. A teacher. A pastor.

Sometimes the children are physically in her life for decades, years, seasons or days. Regardless of the length a mother’s love never ends for any of her children. Her heart aches for each of her children whenever they are apart.

Women provide positive role models for all to follow as they serve and lead in ministry and life. Their strong resolve and tenacity demonstrates the importance to persevere through the messy middle of any change. Many women lead by example without fanfare. They continue on shaping lives and culture.

The women in my family have been some of those quiet, tenacious, resolved women without any statues to commemorate their great love. Some raised children. Some worked careers when women were “supposed” to be in the home cooking and cleaning. Others were great aunties to their nieces and nephews, biological or not. Each of them set an example of unconditional love for everyone.

I know this isn’t the typical Mother’s Day blog.  Smelling of sweet roses with crispy bites of yummy Sunday brunch. It is one meant to say thank you to the women in my family who sacrificed for those who came after them. It is one meant to encourage every human being to love unconditionally, persevere through adversity, lead by example by serving humbly.

The Kocher Women (my maternal side of the family) all did what they had to for their family.  They loved despite the disappointments. They worked 2-3 jobs to provide. They cared for others, blood or not. I have the opportunities I have in my life because of each of them. I am a strong woman because they showed me how to be strong.

They taught me faith requires one to step out of comfort zone to fully trust Jesus. Leadership doesn’t come from title but with integrity. Family comes by blood and love. Family holds each other accountable in love and walks with one another through thick and thin.

I will never have my own children to raise but I will continue to pass on those lessons to the next generation.  I strive to be a model of a faith that steps out of the comfort zone trusting Jesus. To lead by example and humility. To love unconditionally through thick and thin.

Yes, mistakes will be made. Grace and forgiveness shared. But love remains through it all.

Thank you, Mom, Grammy, Grandma Kocher, Aunt May, Aunt Mildred, for being strong Kocher Women. Thank you for empowering and equipping me to be a strong Kocher Woman. May each person who comes after us be strong in the Lord as each of you were, are and I strive to be.

3rd Case Study in Philippians 1:27-28a – ReSolved to Strive Together

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” (Phil. 1:27-28a)

Ever met an avid sports fan? No matter what s/he will watch their team’s games, whether in person or on a device. Win or lose they continue to cheer their team on. Nothing deters their devotion to their team. They are proud of their team. They are loyal to the end.

When we become disciples (followers) of Jesus Christ we become members of His team. Our loyalty to Him is greater than a sports’ fan to their team. We are united with other disciples as we all work together in God’s Kingdom.

As human beings we are created for community. We are not lone wolves. We share our lives with one another to love one another, to serve with one another, to grow together towards Jesus Christ. As we strive together we present a united message to the world of God’s unconditional love for each one of us.

We stand united working together as one unit sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. We stand firm resisting all opposition. In how we resist opposition will serve as a witness to Jesus Christ.  Returning evil with God’s love demonstrates how we are different from the world. 

We are God’s representatives, “brand ambassadors” so to speak, here on Earth. How we act, what we speak reflects God to others. So what do our actions say about Him?

Do we show grace to those who hurt us as God shows us grace when we sin?

Do we remain united as a faith community despite our differences to show how all are welcomed as they are?

Do we share others without expectation so that the Holy Spirit works through us to advance the Kingdom of God?

We stand firm as disciples of Jesus Christ striving for humility and being transparent so others see Jesus as they see us. We remain united as one body seeing our differences as blessings. 

May we go out today as loyal, faith-filled, obedient brand ambassadors for Jesus Christ today!

This Week’s Challenge 

What is one thing you want someone on the verge of faith to know about Jesus Christ?

What will you do this week to share that message with someone?

What is a Disciple? A Disciple Follows

Becoming a resolved disciple of Jesus Christ is a continuous process.  One learns what a disciple is and then through the journey becomes more resolved, committed to being a faith-filled disciple of Jesus Christ. 

So what is a disciple? Simply put a disciple is an individual who follows a particular leader/teacher. A disciple follows closely to the Teacher that figuratively the dust from the Teacher’s feet lands on the disciple. One strives to be glean on every word so as to not miss a thing.

This the first thing we will take a look at in this series. What is following and what does it truly look like in every day life?

“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.  They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fisherman. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-20)

Simon Peter and Andrew left their jobs, family, lives the moment Jesus called out to them. They left all that they knew for this new Rabbi (Teacher). it did not make sense. Who does that?

Simon Peter and Andrew and all the other 10 disciples Jesus called to follow Him.

A disciple of Jesus Christ follows Him.

Where He goes, they go.

What He teaches, they learn.

Where He leads, they follow.

They walk in His shadow because they are walking so close to Him.

We as Jesus’ disciples follow Him today by going into our communities and building intentional relationships with our neighbors.

We follow Jesus today when we serve the stranger with joy to her actual needs.

We follow Jesus as we spend time with Him to be taught so we can be sent out to “fish for people”. (Matthew 4:19b)

Take time right now to see where and when you follow Jesus. How are you learning from Him? What intentional relationships are you building with your neighbors? Where are you serving with joy?

For the next week as you begin each day be resolved to how you will walk in Jesus’ shadow. What will you learn to reflect it out to the world? Write it as a reminder in your calendar. Put it on a Post It note where you will see it throughout the day.

Whether you have been a disciple of Jesus for 20 years or 20 minutes Jesus is teaching you. Go where He is leading you. Enjoy the sights along the way.

This Week’s Challenge

List 3 ways you are following Jesus Christ this week.  Set them as reminders to do during the day.