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Surrender

path

Jesus, Saul and the Truth 

The road to Damascus forever changed Saul’s life. He had lived his entire 33 years on the path that he thought was serving God. He was trying, to the best of his ability, to eliminate this new and growing group of people “belonging to the Way” (Acts 9:2b) and that was the purpose of his travel at the time of the interruption that changed his life and gave him his new name—Paul.

There are so many ways Jesus could have “scolded” Paul, but He did not. As He did so many times, Jesus posed a question.

Why?

Jesus did not need to prove He was right or explain himself. Jesus was looking upon His creation, Paul, and interrupted at the perfect time to get him on the path for which he was created.

Paul moved eagerly into the life he was created to live, writing almost half of the New Testament and planting twenty churches.

With this question — “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”— seven words brought truth into Saul’s life for the very first time and changed him forever. How beautiful!

The right question at the right time can be life changing.

When Jeff asked me “have you ever asked God what He thought you should do?” this brought truth into my own life, possibly for the first time for me as well. My life was interrupted and Jeff, just like Jesus, could have condemned me but he did not.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).

Jesus also did this with Peter (Simon) after he had denied him. “He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:16).

I believe Jesus used Jeff to bring truth into my life just like Jesus brought truth into Paul’s life. Sometimes a perfectly timed question can propel us toward the life God created us to live. We often need a nudge to live out the calling for our lives.

What question has been asked of you that propelled you into living the life God created you to live?

Friday Inspiration

Surrender is the channel through which God’s biggest and best blessings flow.

Chip Ingram, Senior Pastor, Venture Christian Church, The Real God

push

Pushing or Praying?

“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:41-42).

I often want to get my way so badly. Being an only child, getting my way came easily. My mother totally spoiled me.

The shock to my system after I got married and all of a sudden I couldn’t get my way all the time was epic. My desperation during that time was what started my prayer life. (Isn’t it interesting the things God uses to draw us to Himself?) Slowly, very slowly, I began praying sporadically, usually when I needed something, or when I was convinced I was right about something and Nicole was wrong. I was still pushing my way through life, more than praying my way through it. I was probably trying to push God to let me get my way!

In 2011, on my 39th birthday, prayer took on a different meaning when I was convinced to make Jesus the CEO of my life and seek him every day in every area of my life. I had so much to learn, and I still do, but this was a powerful step in the right direction. Praise God.

The energy I expend praying vs. pushing is finally shifting more towards praying. Pushing is hard. Pushing my agenda, beliefs, ideas, and thoughts onto someone is not only bad for relationships, it’s pointless. I’m learning more and more to turn to God in prayer, the true power. Turning to God in prayer makes pushing look like a weak alternative. I ask more questions of my friends, family, clients, and those with whom I interact – instead of telling them what I think.

Nowadays I try to only share my agenda or opinion in specific circumstances:

  1. After much prayer.
  2. When asked directly. Even then, I usually ask questions first. Jeff, my friend and mentor, modeled this for me.
  3. With those closest to me like Nicole, Luke, and close friends or family.

Thinking about this more, when I look at how Jesus interacted with those around him, I see him praying and questioning and gently teaching, never pushing at all. If I am to be like Him, I need to totally let go of the need to push, and instead pray, ask more questions, and gently teach when it’s appropriate.

I have so much work to do here. Pushing comes naturally; prayer does not.

Where are you in this journey of praying vs. pushing?

paul

The Life of Paul

I’m fascinated by the life of Paul. This hard-charging, super type-A personality was bent on doing what he thought was the work of God—only to find out it was the antithesis of it.

Talk about being outside of God’s will!

A man who, upon learning of his wrongdoing, does a 180 and starts proclaiming the name that he was trying to bring down: JESUS!

A man who, upon his conversion, goes away to Arabia for three years to do things about which we can only speculate. Preach and teach? Receive more revelation? Pray?

It would be like Bill Maher travelling to one of his gigs only to come across Christ, become blinded and filled with the Holy Spirit, get baptized, regain his sight, then fall off the face of the earth and emerge three years later to plant churches in San Francisco with Francis Chan and write books about Jesus, grace, love, forgiveness, gratitude and how to finish strong for Christ!

Can you even imagine!

Maybe if Paul never felt the grace of God he would have never become grateful. Gratitude became one of his greatest attributes. He urged his fellow Christians to be grateful all of the time. “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

His gratitude welled up and he wanted EVERYONE to experience this freedom in Christ.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Jesus was using this type-A personality to promote His name. Paul was literally risking his body so that everyone he came across would hear the Good News.

This, my friends, is the road to true generosity. It was through gratitude due to the grace of Jesus Christ, that Paul was able to freely and abundantly give of himself, risking the life God had given him to spread the Good News. He recklessly gave so others would be free ̶ FREE IN CHRIST!

Paul’s life is the perfect model for us to follow in order to have Jesus reign supreme in the calendar, cash and calling God has entrusted to us.

What did Paul do first? Did he become generous with the cash, or step immediately into the calling God had on his life?

No.

Jesus uprooted the calendar part of his life. Jesus reprioritized his life to what Jesus created him for. His true calling. But it first started with the calendar part of his life.

 

 

shed

S.H.E.D. (Seek Him Every Day)

In order for me to say yes to Jesus being my CEO, I had to pray about what He wanted me to keep in the life He had entrusted to me.

These are the things I laid at the altar:

  1. The house we lived in.
  2. The car I drove.
  3. My career.
  4. The private golf membership.
  5. Hospital foundation board spot.
  6. Committee at the YMCA.
  7. Working out M-F at 5:30am.
  8. Large office space.
  9. Working ‘till 6pm most days.
  10. The MBA in Financial Planning I was pursuing.
  11. Where to live.

Surprise—God got rid of almost the entire list except for my career, and moved us to the Bay Area from LA.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

All of these activities were outside of God’s will for my life. I learned that if we are not asking God what He wants us to do, we can get off track—even if we are going to church, reading the Bible, and going to Bible study class.

As you can see, I had to shed a lot!

I now had space to seek Him every day. My relationships improved. God also slowly got rid of the façade I had in LA, so that I’m more fully the person He wants me to be.

I am now running my race better—not perfectly—but much better and more efficiently than before. I learned God’s way is so much better than my way.

How about you? Did you have to shed anything in order to seek Him every day?

disciple

Go and Make Disciples….

Discipleship is important. It seems like more and more churches are taking this topic seriously and I’m hearing about it from a lot of people I trust.

But are we missing something when we discuss discipleship? There are 2,350 verses about money and possessions in the Bible. Jesus gave thirty-eight parables and sixteen of them were about money and possessions. Should we be including money and possessions when we are making disciples?

When Jesus gave the Great Commission, He stated:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…..teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19 & 28:20a).

The Great Commission is so Great, as we know, because it was one of the last things Jesus said.

Can a person be a true disciple of Christ if the money and possessions with which they are entrusted are handled in a way that is outside of what the Bible teaches?

I believe we are missing something, something GREAT, if we handle money in a manner that is more in line with what we want than what King Jesus wants.

In the past, I never considered what God would have me do with my money. I can correlate, almost to the day, when Nicole and I started tithing to experiencing more joy in our lives. Then more joy came when we gave over and above the tithe. We started to be financially discipled by a fellow Certified Kingdom Advisor, Kalvin Sid, and budget coached by Brenda Haley. We started holding loosely what God had entrusted to us.

We were made into financial disciples and our lives have never been the same. How we view and handle the cash God has entrusted to us was turned right side up.

What do you think about the idea of making financial disciples?

“If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area of his life.”
-Billy Graham

vapor

Fast Forward…..2072

In 1907 my Grandmother was born. Lulla Belle Stewart. She was an amazing, strong, feisty woman. I loved her so much. Most importantly, she loved the Lord. She came to Christ later in life even though she was born and raised in Kentucky.

In 2010 my son Luke was born. He too is feisty, strong and may turn out amazing. Who knows? My prayer is that he will love Jesus more and more every day, much like his great-grandmother did.

I was born in 1972. I’m thinking if things work out, I could have a great-grandson born in 2072.

Yes, I have a problem. But maybe I will live to 100 and see this young whipper-snapper?

I often think of what my legacy will be. What characteristics of mine will show up in that young baby boy in 2072?

I try and live my life as if I will not live till the end of 2016, much less until 2072. I struggle with how much I need to show, teach, and love Luke now so he will keep it going with his children, and others beyond our family.

As we know, Jesus had 33 years on earth. I am 10 years past that and thinking I’m living on borrowed time. Why, I don’t know. Maybe it is because I think of this verse often:

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

Time is running out to love fully, laugh a lot, and to make the greatest impact in this life I’ve been given.

One day my story will be over so I want to live and love fully while I still can. Sadly, some of my time is spent comparing myself to others; in self-doubt; and being jealous of friendships I wish I had.

How about you? What do you think of when you think of your legacy?

How do you stay focused on making the greatest impact possible and avoid wasting energy on petty worries?