Start Your Day with WWJD

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Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

You remember the “WWJD” phrase? This was the most popular Christian saying back in the 1990s. In fact, it was so culturally iconic, you weren’t considered cool or Christian unless you wore a WWJD bracelet (maybe not that extreme lol)! However, the motto, “What would Jesus do?”  does hold so much truth in how we demonstrate our actions in every situation and circumstance as believers. I also believe it can be a catalyst for how we shape our mindset to start our day.

This is an encouragement for you this morning to start your day with God. Let me ask you this… did you wake up with a worrisome thought about life? Did you wake up with thoughts of fear? Or how about thoughts of extreme lack of motivation for the day…dreading the work hours ahead of you? Did you wake up feeling rushed, too busy to think with all of the work you HAVE to get done today? If any of those scenarios didn’t fit, then you probably were the one who walked mindlessly to the bathroom or kitchen, possibly contemplating if you could sneak in five extra minutes of sleep. Yet, in all of these scenarios, if we’re not careful, they can be the catalyst to how we go into the rest of our day, with a filter being worried, doubtful, tired, stressed, or without purpose. But what if we woke up thinking WWJD?

Remember that worrisome situation that was on your mind when you woke up? “If you’re tuned into God, the first thing you’ll do in any worrisome situation is lift it up to Him.” When we wake up in the morning and devote the priority of the day to our King, we do what Jesus would have done…go to the Father in prayer. I find setting time each morning to pray before anything else, is the most important part of your 24 hours.

God can do more when we allow Him with our day, then we can do on our own. Give Him control.

Praying prepares our hearts and minds for whatever may come at us that day. Prayer allows us to cast every burden and weight on the Lord so that we can start each morning free and joyful. Prayer is setting the thermostat for our day. When we set it, we carry the presence of God that has the power to influence people and situations for His glory. When we don’t set it, well…we can be subject to the people and circumstances around us. So let’s hold true to the motto WWJD. Let’s start each day communing with Christ in prayer and reading God’s Word, even if its just for a few minutes. I’m telling you, your life will change all for the better! Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

“Are your dreams CRAZY enough?”

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I remember as a 7th grade girl I went to my dad and told him I was going to run for the class officer secretary position. I was so elated and nervous to step out in faith for this class position that I could not wait to tell this dream to my dad. As I was explaining with excitement and energy about this role that I wanted to take on, I noticed his demeanor was not moved by my 7th grade buzz. So to pull a response out of him, I asked my dad what he thought about this next endeavor I wanted to pursue. With love in his voice and a warm embrace around my waist, I will never forget the words that came out of his mouth next. He said, “If you’re going to run for an office, why not run for president?” Stunned, I looked at him blankly. I had no answer. In fact, the response shocked me and completely shifted my thought process. Why didn’t I think of that before? If I was going to dream, why not dream big!

I look back at the scenario in my early childhood to remind me to dream crazy dreams. Moreover, our Heavenly Father is saying the same thing to us. “God is offended by anything less than your biggest dreams and your boldest prayers.” As Mark Batterson put it, “If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God…because they don’t require divine intervention.” God is waiting to move miraculously on your behalf and most importantly for His glory!

Before I got a chance to run for office, my father passed away suddenly from a fight with Leukemia. That next year I ran for class president and titled my speech, “Why not me?” I won the election and will never forget the lesson my father left me that day when I spoke to him. Our heavenly Father is welcoming the same invitation in our lives. Why not you?

So, answer this question with honesty and truth…”Are your dreams crazy enough?” If the answer is no, “then you haven’t really come to life yet.” As I was finishing up the book I was reading called “The Circle Maker,” I came across the new Nike commercial released a few days ago as well. They both echo a message that we all need to desperately grasp. Are you dreaming bold, daring, crazy dreams? Are you living your life to its fullest potential? Are you relying on and inviting God to intervene and show His faithfulness in your life? Today is the day to begin if you have not started. I encourage you to pick up the book and dive deep into the pages. Then read it a second time, and again, and again. Batterson outlines 10 practical steps to goal setting and writing down your life goal lists. Below are a few highlights I got from the book. So dream crazy big dreams. Dream daring bold dreams.

If you want, comment below on some of the dreams you are believing for in your life. Be Blessed. Be revealed!

The Circle Maker

The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson

  • Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers.
  • Do the best you can with what you have where you are.
  • When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter in prayer?
  • After you pray through, you need to praise through.
  • Dreaming is a form of praying and praying is a form of dreaming, The more you pray the bigger your dreams will become. And the bigger your dreams become the more you will have to pray.
  • May imagination overtake memory.
  • Circle makers are risk takers.
  • If you give beyond your ability, God will bless you beyond your ability.
  • Today could be the day. When you live in prayer mode, you live with holy anticipation.
  • I’ve never met a person who didn’t experience some big disappointments on the way to his or her big dream.
  • How desperate are you for the miracle?
  • We do know that 100 percent of the prayers we don’t pray won’t get answered.
  • Pray through the Bible.
  • Pray like it depends on God; you also have to work like it depends on you.
  • It’s the hard times that teach us how to pray.
  • What seems like an unanswered prayer means that God has a better answer.
  • Dream Big. Pray Hard. Think Long. Prayer is the inheritance we receive and the legacy we leave.
  • The only way you can fail is if you quit trying. If you’re still trying, even if you’re failing, you’re succeeding. God is honored when you don’t give up.
  • Your greatest legacy is the prayers you leave behind. It’s also your longest legacy.
  • God will still be answering your prayers long after you are long gone. And the ripple effect will only be REVEALED in eternity!

 

Go Look at the Horizon

I have a confession. I don’t like waiting…

For example, the thought of long lines, being put on hold on the telephone, and the worst…traffic…makes me want to avoid them at all costs! Here’s the thing, if you know anything about Atlanta, GA traffic, you don’t have the option of avoiding it. You learn how to deal with it. You find out that morning rush hour is from 5:00 am to noon and that evening rush hour is from noon to 7:00 pm. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Atlanta has its own. Never honk at anyone. Ever. Period. Seriously. Something worse could happen. I’ve learned to pack meals and even listened to entire book audiotapes to pass the time away. I’m telling you it’s a fine art in how you deal with waiting in Atlanta traffic.

But life has you wait for more than just long lines and terrible Atlanta traffic. You could be waiting on a job opportunity, a dream in your heart to come true, your future spouse, a change in your health, financial turnaround, or waiting to have kids. The wait is different for everyone but everyone has a wait. Waiting is a big part of the Christian life and prayer. In fact, you don’t get the option of whether you have to wait as a Christian, but you do get the option of HOW you wait. I recently listened to a message from Jesus Culture Church in Sacramento called “The Prayer of Anticipation.” It has definitely encouraged me in my own waiting process so I wanted to share some great points that will hopefully encourage you as well on waiting on God. Be Blessed. Be Revealed.

Lamentations

  • There are two types of waiting: Passive waiting and the Biblical concept of waiting. People think waiting is passive. They distract themselves with other activities and get their mind off what they are waiting for. Yet, this is not the Biblical concept of waiting. The definition of wait in the Bible come from several different Hebrew and Greek words. In general, it means to LOOK, EXPECT, HOPE FOR, LIE IN AMBUSH FOR, LONG FOR…I don’t forget about it. I keep looking. I anticipate. I lean in to prayer and expect it. Waiting on God is to seek Him and pray anticipating that what your Father said will. come. to. pass. It’s not going through the motions of prayer. We can pray and not believe. Yet, waiting on God is to pray AND believe in faith.

 

From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:4 NRSV

 

  • Waiting helps us know the character of God. When I can know God in a deeper way and trust His character, it can help me get through the long process of waiting. When we do not know that God is faithful, consistent, not a respecter of persons, kind, good, etc. we can become bitter, hurt, discouraged, and stop praying in our waiting process. God wants you to get to know Him while you wait! Lean in and position yourself to know that God cannot deny His own character. If He did it for other people, He will do it for you! When fear or doubt try to cloud your mind remind yourself that God is faithful. He is the most consistent person you will ever meet. He will not fail you. Even when we are not faithful and consistent, that does not stop God from being who He is.

 

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  • GO LOOK AT THE HORIZON. When Elijah prayed for rain in the Bible, he told his servant to look toward the sea for rain. When the servant came back and said there is nothing there, Elijah told him to go back…seven times. On the seventh time, the servant responded, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” Before you knew it, a heavy rain poured. You and I need to pick-up the prayers we put down and pray with anticipation and expectation! We need to keep looking at the horizon until it comes and lean into God! It may take seven times, it make take 7,000 times but that is part of trusting that God will deliver. It’s coming and God’s timing is not our own. Don’t lose heart. Don’t lose hope. Just Go Look One More time. 

 

 

 

Cloudy and I Know It

Last year was a bit “cloudy” for me. I went through a lot of transitions and experienced some high points and low points. Dreams were put on hold and others came to reality. My faith was tested and my walk with God wavered. Many people believe this myth that because you are a Christian, you won’t have struggles or you do not wrestle with your faith…this couldn’t be further from the truth. I say all of this to say that there were moments I was on Cloud nine. I was blissfully happy and nothing in my surroundings could move me in a negative direction. I saw clearly what life had in store for me and I was ready to dive headfirst into the vision I know that God has for me. Then there were other moments…

…life situations that I allowed to happen and life situations that. just. happened

…and they placed me right in the middle of the clouds and everything became a blur. All I could see was what was right in front of me and nothing made sense anymore. My heart became heavy, my mind stubborn to the Word of God, and I felt myself slowly falling away from God’s pleasing and perfect plan for my life.

Welcome to what I call life. We all have different life situations that will challenge the way we see things. Sometimes we allow those things into our life that we know are not for us…they could be romantic relationships, business partnerships, jobs, excessive social media, etc…and they slowly take our focus from being above the clouds where the vision is clear to suddenly being immersed in them.

Sometimes we allow GOOD things into our life, but it’s not the BEST God has for us.

What’s funny is then we try to justify our actions. We try to make the wrong right, or what we think is right fit into our lives. Let me tell you…it will not work! No matter how bad we desire our own wants, we know in the back of our minds something is off. I guarantee you the Holy Spirit splashed a huge warning sign in front of us at some point but we were so stubborn to follow it because we want what we want so badly. Then I’m sure you get frustrated with the struggles of life because you have no control over it. Well, at least I do. I had a situation that lasted nearly 8 months and it seemed like whenever I fixed one problem, the situation only got worse and was prolonged further!

I understand what it means to feel pain in areas of life that makes you wish you had a huge reset button. (How cool would that be to just reset life lol?!) You’re tired and your strength is weak. You wonder what the future has in store for you. You feel like no one else is going through what you are experiencing. Trust me when I tell you that we all have some giant elephant we are dealing with…some choose to try to hide it which only makes matters worse. Life is certainly not a fairy tale, but I know it is beautiful. It becomes beautiful in its own time. Only when we surrender to God’s will and perfect timing, will we be able to see the beauty above the clouds and even in them.

The serenity about life is that when we mess up…God is still faithful. God is not moved by our conditional behavior. The fact that I fell slowly into the clouds only made me aware how much more I need a Savior that loves me in spite of the filth. It was when I recognized my weakness and vulnerabilities that I could be strong in the Lord. I am not saying that you should accept your shortcomings as a way of living; we are called to be set apart and live a lifestyle that is pleasing to God. However, we are to accept our wrongs as lessons, make them part of our stories that we share with others, as to maintain an integrity and wholeness towards soundness and healing. True healing and peace comes from accepting all of yourself, even the parts you don’t want to; to recognize that you may be on cloud nine or in the clouds. That’s authenticity. That’s integrity. God can only transform what we authentically bring to Him…

Now that the new year is upon us and it is 2017, it is a great opportunity to see clearly what God has for your life. I am joining my church in our annual 21 day fasting and prayer this month which starts today. Why fasting and prayer? It is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all discussed in the Bible. We need our lives transformed! We need results and not talk! We need the power of God! Prayer and fasting is the answer to all of those. I’m believing God for clarity and a clear vision for 2017 and beyond. If you need to get out of the clouds, I encourage you to fast and pray so that your life can be used for Kingdom purpose. I will leave you with 12 things you can expect from a Fast from Lisa Bevere’s “You Are Not What You Weigh.” Be Blessed. Be Revealed.

 

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WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A FAST

Excerpt from, You Are Not What You Weigh, by Lisa Bevere

  • Fasting Creates a New Hunger -(Ezra 8:23) As the initial hunger pangs or longings cease, a new desire is formed.
  • Fasting Works Humility – (Psalm 35:13) – We feel our natural strength waning. In our weakness, we find ourselves more dependent upon God. It is turning away from what we can provide, and turning toward what God alone can give.
  • Fasting Increases Sensitivity to God – (Luke 2:36-38) Anna in the scripture could hear clearly what God was saying.
  • Fasting Chastens or Disciplines – (Psalm 69:10) David maintained his spiritual life by means of bringing his body into subjection.
  • Fasting Changes Our Appetite – (Acts 13:2) God often uses times of fasting and prayer to speak to the desires of our hearts, and to reveal his purpose and destiny for our lives.
  • Fasting Increases Our Capacity – (Esther 4:16) Fasting increases your capacity for self-sacrifice and imparted wisdom.
  • Fasting Brings Answers to Prayer – (Isaiah 58:9) A godly fast will bring answered prayer and it may come through his Word, or as a still small voice, or by a strong confirmation of what He has previously shown us.
  • Fasting Leads to Quick Healing – (Isaiah 58:8) The healing can be physical, mental, or spiritual. Even natural medicine supports this – many illnesses occur in the digestive system. A short fast gives our body a chance to refocus its energies on healing instead of eating. (Please consult a physician before undertaking a fast if you are ill.)
  • Fasting Opens the Door to God’s Protection and Provision – (Isaiah 58:8) God promised to be a guard before us and behind us. A fast renews your righteousness and sends it on before you. Then, as you give God the glory, He returns righteousness as your rear guard.
  • Fasting Looses the Chains of Injustice – (Isaiah 58:6) This fast has the power to loose any unjust chains that bind us. It is not merely for personal liberation, but it represents God’s desire to see us reach out and loose the ties that bind others, and remove the chains of oppression.
  • Fasting Frees the Oppressed and Breaks Every Yoke – (Isaiah 58:6) A fast is a time when we take our eyes off of ourselves and our own needs; and look around at the oppression and pain of others. In response, we learn to reach out in compassion and help – becoming agents of healing.
  • Fasting Motivates Us to Provide Food for the Needy – (Isaiah 58:7) You are not eating because of a fast, then you are free to share your portion with those less fortunate.

If you would like to follow the 21 day devotions for fasting and prayer, click the link below.

http://21days.victoryatl.com/

 

Wounded Leadership

It hurts me to to see recent revelations of corruption, immorality, betrayal, or moral failures in leaders we trust and follow. Yet, what seems to pain me more is the slogan for these turbulent times that our culture thinks, “But everybody does it!” We could very well be NUMB to the idea that pastors who fall, government leaders who deal with corruption, etc. is common, and that trust should be replaced with cynicism (Bennis & Goldsmith).

wounded-leader

How should we respond to such moral failures in our culture? Should we accept it as norm and give in to pessimism? Or should we believe that there are ways to bring reconciliation and redemption back to our wounded leaders? 

We adore and respect people who are transformational leaders. Meaning, they are able to cast a vision so daunting, yet exciting, that they bring inspiration to make change happen. Their vision and dreams make these leaders seem way before their time. Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill are just two examples of leaders who spoke and cast great visions for the state of their people. We also honor leaders that we encounter in our everyday lives. People such as our pastors, our teachers, our managers, our coaches, our parents, and even our next door neighbors; they have leadership qualities that draws us closer to know more.

However, we forget that these individuals are not only leaders, but human beings like you and I. When they lead us in transformation from hurts, brokenness, suffering, stagnancy, and so on, they also are dealing with the same issues. Leaders are so intent on pouring and pouring and pouring into other people that they forget they are wounded as well, that we are wounded, and as leaders we need to be led and held accountable too.

Henry Nouwen, a theologian and minister, coined the term “Wounded Healer” for leaders in any aspect of ministry. He speaks to leaders of their church and community about a willingness to go beyond the professional role and leave themselves open as fellow human beings with the same wounds and suffering – in the image of Christ. In other words, we must link transparency and trust and heal from our own wounds. If we are not careful as leaders to be transparent and find accountability and mentors of our own, we will lead from a distance and evoke a hurt on our people that is not their burden to carry. If we allow it long enough, we could easily be an example of another moral failure, or corruption, or scandal.

Who is holding you accountable? Who is leading you?

Leadership is hard work and responsibility. It’s hard because we have to work on ourselves first. Then we have a responsibility to lead a team, a family, or a congregation while we are healed. We don’t have to have it altogether. In fact, perfection disqualifies you from leadership. Growth is the key. If we are not seeking healing of our own, we cannot fully lead in healing others. If we are not dealing with trust issues of our own, we cannot fully trust those that follow us. If we do not lead from transparency, we will lose so many people (especially millennials) to the pessismistic attitude that “no one really cares.”

So if you’re wondering what to do next if you are a wounded leader who feels isolated and alone, or a follower trying to understand why they are frustrated and burdened under the leadership of someone; two practical thoughts come to mind:

  • As a leader, you need a leader! – What are the struggles you are dealing with? Find someone who “walks the walk” in that area that can help you! It takes courage to lead others. It takes even more courage to find help and face your own battles. That’s where true leadership takes place; with self. Let’s be faithful in our leadership by being consistent and always holding a mirror to our face and evaluating ourselves. Get a counselor. Find a mentor. Get coached. Have a prayer partner. Whomever you need, find them.
  • Pray for your leaders! – Recognize that leaders are battling and waging wars that we often do not see. We need to protect them and cover them in prayer. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Key word “WE” will live peaceful lives. If you are burdened under a leader who is two hard to bear…the best thing you can do for you is pray.

I will close with this quote from Pastor Larry Stockstill from his book, “The Remnant.” Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

“Mentoring, or fathering, is a basic human need, and no Christian is exempt from it. Jesus Himself needed the affirming word from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11, NIV)…Affirmation, however, is not optional, but totally necessary, for any person to function correctly.”

 

The Hidden Places Where God Develops You

This book probably couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Founder of Jesus Culture and Pastor of Jesus Culture Sacramento, Banning Liebscher, wrote his first book titled “Rooted: The Hidden Places Where God Develops You.” It spoke to my heart and I believe it can also speak to yours.

For those of you who believe that they were born to make an impact in this world and feel it deep down in their bones…this book is for you.

For those of you who have a hunger to be great and meaningful change keeps you up at night…this book is for you.

Here’s the thing…we must allow God to establish a root system and foundation in our lives so that what God develops through us will produce fruit that remains. Here are some great nuggets I picked up from reading this book. Enjoy this Appetizer! Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

Rooted

  • Everyone champions accomplishment, but not many people champion the journey. ~ Kelly Clark, Olympic medalist
  • Anybody can start a race. Finishers are impressive.
  • Unfortunately, many believers today don’t live with forty years in mind, let alone generations, or eternity.
  • Neither appearances nor short-term success impress God.
  • God always develops us before He develops our vision.
  • We’ll never thrive in the process unless we accept the place where God put us, because that is the only place He will work with us.
  • Are you more passionate about pursuing a dream or about following Jesus?
  • Do what’s in front of you, and do it well.
  • You must understand that getting out of sync with the timing of God’s seasons puts you in danger. Don’t rush.
  • If you’re not there, it’s because He doesn’t want you there yet.
  • We can trust Him with the deep things of our hearts because they are also the deep things of His heart for us.
  • God is not interested in your comfort; He is interested in your growth.
  • It’s not my responsibility to build or maintain what God opens. It’s my responsibility to follow Jesus.
  • So many people are driven by the need to prove themselves. Rest in the fact that God chose you and you have nothing to prove.
  • There are many areas where God develops your root system, but none is more important than going deep in the Word of God. The Bible Reveals.
  • Perfection is not a requirement to lead. Growth, however, is.
  • Everything you will ever need is found in the presence of God. Everything in your life must be birthed from the revelation of His love for you.
  • There is an anointing that is found only in one place. If you want to receive, you have to separate yourself to the inner room of prayer.
  • You are called to greatness. But greatness looks different than you think. If you really want to be great, here’s how you do it: become the least.
  • Love looks like serving.
  • Any increased blessing in your life is so that you can better serve others.
  • The most joyful people I know are also the greatest servants I know.
  • You were never meant to live life alone. You were meant to live in community. Isolation is a killer.
  • We do get hurt in community. But we also get healed in community. Community is where we grow. We cannot live without it.
  • You don’t need more teaching; you just need the courage to do what God has called you to do.

My Prayer For You

GOD CAN DO ANYTHING. BELIEVE IT.

God can do anything

Be encouraged this morning! I don’t know what your circumstances are or what you may be going or praying through; have faith to believe that it is all working out for your good. I want to challenge you and dare you to put faith in God. True faith is trusting in Him, even when everything else is impossible to understand. One of my favorite quotes says, “Don’t be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

He will turn those impossibilities around in your life.

He will make the wrongs right.

He will do more than what you expected.

God Can Do Anything. Believe it.

I prayed this over myself this morning, and I want the same blessing for you all! My hope is that you will be encouraged and strengthened in your walk today! Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

Dear Father, thank You for being so good to us! I ask You to strengthen everyone by Your Spirit, that You will live in us as we invite You in. I pray that we will be ROOTED in Your love and grasp how wide and long and high and deep Your love for them is. I pray that we will dare greatly…that we will believe ferociously…that we will rise up and live our lives to the fullest!!! I pray we know that You can do anything, even beyond our imaginations and wildest dreams. Father, work deep within us, change us by Your gentle Spirit so that we can be all that You called us to be. Amen. (Reference Ephesians 3:14-21)