I’m a dreamer. I love to dream big dreams. I think Ellen Johnson Sirleaf put it best when she said, “The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
So, dream big! However, dreaming isn’t enough. A dream without action is a DAYDREAM. I don’t want to simply dream. I want to experience the reality of my dream. Honestly, we spend a lot of time frustrated because dreams don’t become a reality as fast as we would like them.
When given the option, I’m taking the elevator over the stairs. Why? Because it’s faster and a lot easier. It requires zero effort. Rarely is life an elevator from one major win to the next. Most of the time, our life is a staircase that requires us to take one step at a time to get to the next level.
Those steps are the ones that define us. Sure, the promotion at work or the big raise gets all of the attention. Moments of bravery on a battlefield reward us with accolades to put in our trophy case. Those moments are great and are definitely moments on our “highlight reel.” However, those moments don’t come without small simple steps of obedience.
They keep us constantly moving in the right direction.
“It’s so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis…If you can get 1% better every day for a year, you’ll be 37 times better when you’re done.” -James Clear (Atomic Habits)
What if you started taking small, consistent steps toward Jesus EVERY DAY?
Would you want that? I can assure you that JESUS wants that for you. I’m not a theologian, but I’m absolutely convinced of this one thing:
Maybe you desperately want that, but you have no idea how to actually accomplish it. I believe if you take some small intentional steps every day toward Jesus, you will grow spiritually strong. Jesus wants that relationship with you, and He wants that relationship to GROW.
Here’s the good news. You already have everything you need as a follower of Jesus to grow spiritually.
2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life…”
As a follower of Jesus, you have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit on the inside of you. He has equipped you with everything you need to live the life He has called you to live. It’s that simple.
We also have some great tools that will help you on this journey as well. In other words, you aren’t walking this journey alone!
Check out the following resources, and let’s make this year a defining year in your walk with Jesus.
Core52 Author – Mark Moore A Fifteen-Minute Daily Guide to Build Your Bible IQ in a Year
Harmony of the Gospels Author – Linda Riddle Harmony of the Gospels is a guided study through Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. This book takes the events recorded in each of these gospels and places them side by side, in the order in which they occurred. The study includes a Bible reading plan, study notes, devotionals, and space to journal within each chapter.
Don’t you just hate waiting? I know I do. I can’t handle the awkwardness. Let’s be real, nobody enjoys WAITING.
Waiting is the unavoidable reality that we cannot yet have what it is we want.
It’s why we weave in and out of traffic, jump from one checkout line to the next, and lose our minds when we hear, “Thanks for calling Dominoes, can you please hold?”
Waiting is hard because it robs us of one thing we want more than anything else, “control.”
If anyone gets it, it’s Disney. You never have to wonder how long you will wait. When you walk up to the line of an attraction, there is a sign that says, “Your wait time is 3 days!” Hey, at least you know!
How great would it be to have signs like that in life?
Need a spouse? Your wait time is 6 months! Want your kids to get it together? Your wait time is 12 months. Looking for a new job? Your wait time is 18 months!
Waiting would be so much easier if you knew when to expect the wait time to end. That empty space between “NOT YET” and “NOW” is pretty excruciating, and it reminds us that there’s a chance that it may not happen. I’ve said for years that the biggest enemy of our dreams is time.
The problem with waiting is that we get tired and are tempted to stop trusting. Then we often get stupid and try to take matters in our own hands. That rarely works out well!
So, what should we do when we are waiting? I’ll tell you, but before I do, I’m going to warn you: It’s easier to say it than to live it.
Expect God to move, trust Him in the process, and watch your faith grow.
God cares about you and what you are facing. All throughout Scripture we are encouraged to pray with an expectation that He will respond.
Philippians 4:6-7 is one of my favorite verses of Scripture. I probably preach more about this passage than any other. When you walk into my house, this verse is displayed in the most prominent place in my living room, serving as a reminder that this is the way we want to live as a family.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
When we pray, it doesn’t mean that He will always respond in the way that you think He should. That’s where it gets a little tough. Ok, that’s an understatement. That’s where sometimes it is excruciating.
Recently in a conversation with a mentor, I asked this question: “What do you do when you feel like you are in a crisis of faith?” Let’s just say I was “asking for a friend.” He gave me three great statements to proclaim in those moments when my faith is shaken… I mean when my friend’s faith is shaken.
I believe that He can, pray that He will, and even if He chooses not to, I will trust Him.
If there is anything that I have learned in my life, it’s that He is a God who can always be trusted.
I don’t know why He chooses to heal some people while on this earth and others He does not. I’m not sure why He does not complete the checklist that I often lift up to Him in prayer. His ways are definitely not my ways and His thoughts are WAY HIGHER than my thoughts.
That’s why we are challenged in Proverbs 3:5-6, to lean on His understanding and not our own.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Here’s my reality. The more I know about Him and the longer I walk with Him, the more questions I seem to have.
Sometimes I ask, “God, are you listening? Do you see me? Do you realize what we are going through here? Do you even care? Can’t you see that I’m waiting!”
Here’s what I’m learning each and every day: Just because I’m waiting doesn’t mean that God isn’t working.
I wish I could tell you that the moment you trust God, you can expect your your wait time to end. I wish I could tell you that your season is complete and that your situation is going to drastically change.
I can’t. But, here’s what I know:
God is with you.
You are not alone.
You have hope.
You can go on.
You can face this situation. You can have peace.
Watch your faith grow.
We have an incredible team at Northpark Church that leads with love and encouragement. One of our team members recently sent a powerful reminder to our staff and it ties all of these rambling thoughts together quite well.
This week I was reminded that God deserves our trust no matter what our eyes can see, our hearts can understand, or our minds can predict.
Is it easy? No, not always.
But is it much better than the alternative? Yes.
And is it worth it? Yes again.
When I find myself frustrated, tired, or impatient, I want to lean even more into prayer, not away from it. I know when I talk to Him, His response is always guidance and grace. It’s not always as clear or quick as I would like, but He gives it in His perfect way and time nonetheless.
I want to operate in joy and gratitude in all I do, and God – He is the source of both!
So today, let’s remind people of this in all we say and do. No matter what we currently FEEL, what we KNOW is that God is:
Faithful and working, even when we don’t see it.
A light that CANNOT be extinguished in whatever darkness we face.
What will it take for us to get God’s Word so ingrained in our heart that our natural response to situations and circumstances, is to automatically do the godly thing?
Romans 12:9 says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.”
Don’t pretend. Don’t be fake. Don’t be counterfeit. Don’t be a cheap imitation. Really love them. Genuinely love them. Every soul matters to God and they should ALL always matter to you. If you want to make a difference, that’s it. That’s the key.
If you want to pastor a city, but you aren’t sure where to start, just love somebody. Anybody!
The word for “love” in Greek is “agape,” which was used to describe God’s love for man and man’s love for God. But now the word is used to indicate the kind of love Christians are to show to others — a Godlike love that loves regardless of the circumstances, a love that decides it will keep loving even if it is rejected. Our love is to be genuine, not counterfeit. And just like in any family relationship, there will be challenges.
That’s also why one of our core values is, “We will deal with conflict in a Biblical way!” I like to refer to is as R4. If you approach the right person in the right time at the right place in the right spirit, there’s no conflict that you can overcome.
We can honor one another 2 ways. We can honor someone because it will benefit us in some way OR we can honor people because they are created in the image of God and they are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Romans 12:9 says, “Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”
Truly take delight in honoring others and spread love always. Be present in every moment and let others know you are there for them. Let’s honor people because they are created in the image of God, they are brothers and sisters in Christ, and they make a unique contribution to the world that is worth celebrating!
The way we view ourselves when we look in the mirror is fascinating to me. Some of us think way too little of ourselves. We lack confidence. We have a low self-esteem. We don’t believe in ourselves and can’t understand why anyone else would. On the other hand, some of us have pretty inflated egos and overestimate ourselves. We don’t need people to tell us how great we are, because we do that for ourselves every day! How could you not love me? I’m God’s gift to the world!
What’s the lesson here? Be honest with yourselves.
Romans 12:3 says, “Measure yourself by the faith God has given us.”
In other words, the only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what He does for us, not by what we are and what we do for Him.
You aren’t defined by your past. You aren’t defined by your job evaluation. You aren’t defined by your political affiliation. You aren’t defined by what they tweeted or posted about you.
You are only defined by your identity in Jesus Christ. I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength, but APART from HIM, there isn’t anything that I can do!
Diversity, not uniformity, is the mark of God’s handiwork.
I don’t think that should be any more evident than in the Christian community. Look around and you will see the most diverse kinds of experiences, backgrounds, history, gifts, and talents. And when we come together, amazing things happen.
We can accomplish so much more together than we will ever accomplish on our own!
Measure yourself by the faith God has given us. In other words, the only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what He does for us, not by what we are and what we do for Him. Be who God called YOU to be, not someone else.
Romans 12:6-8 says, “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So, if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.”
Maybe you feel like you are winning? Or maybe, you feel like you are losing. No matter where you are in life, you have a purpose, God has a plan, and together we will discover it!
Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
We seem to be imitative by nature. We always need a model to copy – we love to work with a template – but there are only two options. There is this world, which is fleeting. Then, there is God’s will or God’s design, and that is good, pleasing and perfect. The world’s system and God’s system are not compatible.
Whether we are talking about the purpose or the meaning of life, how to achieve greatness or success, how to respond to sex, money, religion, or anything else, these two sets of standards diverge from one another. Let God transform you by changing the way you think. Then, you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Ultimately, humans focus on results. We want the results that we see other people have. So, in an effort to duplicate those results, we try to copy their actions. That’s why so often we jump from one self-help book to another.
That’s why Paul said you are transformed by changing the way you think. You have the power to perceive what God’s will really is. When you have two things in our possession, you have everything you need to navigate through life. That is the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
Your Heavenly Father’s love for you is unlimited, unconditional, and unchanging.
Joshua 10:8 says, “Do not be afraid of them,” the Lord said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.”
I believe God is speaking that to your heart right now.
You are about to march into battle and God says, “Do not be afraid, for I have given you victory.”
At dawn, the Israelites unleashed a surprise attack and right from the beginning the battle went well. When the enemy lines broke, and the Amorites started to flee into the valley, Joshua’s men chased them down.
Here’s the cool part. God could NO LONGER sit on the sidelines and watch. He got personally involved! Then, as the sun began to go down, Joshua faced a decision. If the sun went down, the enemy would slip away into the shadows, but Joshua was determined that this battle would be over today!
Most of us would have called it a day and said, “we’ve done all we can do.” But this is where incredible faith kicks in!
Have you ever felt hopelessly overwhelmed, and if not for the intervening grace of God, you knew you wouldn’t make it?
Joshua sized up the situation, and with every ounce of courage within him and he prayed one of the most audacious prayers in the entire Bible.
I believe when God spoke over our church that we would be an explosion of light in a city of darkness, He was giving us insight to the life-changing miracles He wants to perform in our church. His resurrection power is available to every one of you, but you have to step up to the plate with AUDACIOUS FAITH and BOLD PRAYERS!
When you speak God’s Word to yourself in these ways, you activate your faith! When you say what God says, you will begin to do what God wants and has called you to do!
We are often great at starting things, but we aren’t always great at finishing them. Maybe you are about to stop short of something that God intends for you to purpose.
What does that look like for you? What area of your life do you feel that God wants you to complete, but you are ready to jump out on? Is it your marriage? Is it your career? Is it some assignment He has given you? What have you pursued with passion and excitement, but lately, you just haven’t really cared that much about it?
I believe God has a plan for you and that you were created with a purpose. I want to help you discover that plan and see that purpose fulfilled in your life! You have to remember that God has given us a promise and a purpose because you’ll never possess the promise God has given to you if you don’t develop perseverance.
Don’t stop short of something that God has put on the inside of you!
There’s something He has spoken to you, and it may feel like it’s fading, but it’s still echoing in your heart. Don’t walk away from it. Maybe you are ready to give up on your situation.
Is it possible that you are only one lap short of a victory in your life?
Maybe you have lost your grip, you’re letting go, you’ve given up mentally and emotionally…you are still there, you are present, but you are not really in it.
This could be the sixth lap! With every lap you take that the walls don’t fall, I believe there is something that God is building on the inside of you. God is working when what you’re doing doesn’t seem to be.
Pay attention to one small detail. Joshua didn’t knock the walls down and neither did his army. They simply obeyed the instructions God gave them and HE knocked them down. Simply trust Him, obey Him and watch Him show off!
We all struggle with feelings of inferiority and inadequacy from the time we are very young. If we are going to win in life, we have to shake off that mentality so that we can experience all that God created us to be an experience.
You are unique.
There’s no one in the world like you. You and I weren’t born to be someone else; we were born to be ourselves and to bring the uniqueness of who we are to this world.
The first step to overcoming inadequacy is to stop comparing ourselves with others and to discover our own place in the world.
I believe that with all of my heart. It will be tough and there will be setbacks, but your attitude is everything when you face adversity.
In Philippians 4:13, God told Joshua to be STRONG and COURAGEOUS, and he actually took those words to heart. Clearly, God knows we need some encouragement to actually do this because He repeats the phrase, “Be strong and courageous,” three different times!
So, where do STRENGTH and COURAGE come from?
Philippians 4:13 says, “For I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.”
This verse doesn’t say some things, but ALL things. I can do ALL things. I can handle ALL things. I can face ALL things with faith, not fear. But, here’s the secret. I can do this ONLY through Christ who strengthens me. Strength and courage don’t come from your ability.