He's Here. Happy 2017.

Welcome to 2017. He's with us.

Out of all the things that have empowered my life, the largest has been ACCEPTING the reality that God does not leave nor forsake me. That he is always always always with me. Watching out for me. Empowering me. Guiding me. Defending me.

A few years ago I wandered into Exchanged Life Ministries, a counseling and resourcing unit. I was saved and so in love with Jesus. But so, SO broken. The brokenness was from a variety of sources, but the largest reason it still existed 5 years into being saved was that I believed that God did leave me. That at times he did forsake me. I would feel a lack. I would have a set back. And I would (wrongly) assume God had abandoned me. It wrecked havoc on my faith, and kept me in a holding pattern in my calling.

There in counseling, I learned about the irrevocable promises and truths of God. The truth of God never leaving nor forsaking me sunk deep over a series of months. Regardless of how I was feeling that day, my feet and heart were buried deep within the concrete of God's truth. God is with me. God resides in me. His spirit is available and on tap within me.

For most of us, the reason our lives lose power is because we don't reckon this as TRUTH. That God is WITH US. That he resides in us. And greater is he that is in us than he who is in the world. The enemy can't take this promise of God, so he tries to make you believe it isn't true. Our lives lose power when we lose sight of God being with us and in us.

In a worship song I love, Steven Furtick from Elevation Church preaches about the power of belief in the middle of the song. At the climax of his mini sermon he yells to his crowd, "lift your hands - HE'S HERE."

This needs to be our anthem as we walk into 2017. Lift your hands. He's here. Believe his promises. They're right here. Trust with everything you got. He's here. Tell the Enemy what you're made of. He's here. 

May your 2017 be full of the promises you KNOW to be true. Lift your hands. He's here.

Election 2016 - There's Still Time To Change Your Mind

This election has been frustrating, disheartening, and downright exhausting, aye friend?

For the last 12 months our thoughts and hearts have been ravaged by an ongoing onslaught of campaign drama, debacle, paranoia and fear. We've been sold a bag of lies: that if our candidate doesn't get into office - the world as we know it, will in fact, end. Our egos are fully on display this go-round. We recite facts to back our positions, post articles from our favorite celeb, use graphs to prove our fears or frustrations, whatever they may be. We demonize the party lines, and anyone and everyone attached to it. Suddenly, people become demons or deity, depending on how we feel that day, and they will sink us or "save us", destroy us or resurrect us. Whatever that means.

The leaders that have have emerged from the fray are a sad and base. We pretend like someone else voted for them. That this is the result of some crazy fringe voters. The tyrants, the people with money, the people with power. The unintelligent, the brainwashed. They did this to us. "These candidates don't represent us," we say.

We believe that this whole charade is someone else's doing, thrust upon us against our will.

But then that's not the truth is it?

To be sure, the state of America is a reflection of our hearts at this moment - in its truest form. (If this is not you forgive me, I'm talking to everyone else as I write.) For the last few years we have whittled down our brothers and sisters to sound-bites. We have allowed disunity to somehow become a value in our households. We have allowed the media to be our highest form of intellect and conscience. We have bowed down to a system, believing it has the ability to direct or guide us, not understanding we have set the system in motion with our own fractured beliefs and half-hearted morality. Our character is not strong, our integrity waining. We are arrogant and all-knowing, depraved and yet not knowing, lacking morality and yet not wanting consequences. We are depraved. Debased. Lost. Captain-less. I have looked in my heart and I have seen this in myself.

And Lord. I am sorry.

Like the Israelites in 1 Samuel asking for a king -  we do not understand what we asked for.

These leaders. They are the ones we have called for. They represent us now because THEY ARE US NOW. 

She is me. He is me. They are a dire reflection of a nation's hollowed out soul.

But there's still time.

Even if you have cast your vote there's still time for us to change our mind. After all, to "repent" simply means to have a change of heart or a change of mind.

In 1 Samuel God speaks sad and sweet words to Samuel His prophet. In His heartbreak over losing His children to a human leader, he says: "They haven't rejected you Samuel," God spoke softly, "they have rejected Me." I can hear every once of His love and sadness in those words.

I have chosen a king I think in the last few months. My guess is you have too. When I give a news reporter or an article my fullest attention and devotion, I'm choosing a king. When I let my soul be directed by a human being I'm choosing a king. When I let my entire heart be set on things of this world instead of things above I'm choosing a King.

We have chosen a king. But there is still time to change our minds.

This week as you vote bend a knee. If Christ has won your heart once let him win it again. There's still time to turn from our wickedness, humble ourselves, and perhaps the Lord can restore us still. There's still time to do the right thing. Not with a pen and a ballot, but with a rushed returning to a Savior.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

Where My Girls At? [Halloween Edition]

Halloween is in 3 days! I got my snickers bags on lock down, a couple pumpkins ready for my porch and my witches hat I've worn three years and counting. It's becoming a lazy tradition.

For the last month, little B (she's two.5) has been saying she wants to be a "turtle". I know right? CUTE. (This suddenly changed last week when she saw a butterfly costume, so that's what she's going as now. You get it. Attention span of a two.5 year-old. But I digress...) Jon and I searched through stores and Amazon for a tot turtle costume. What we found made my mother-heart droop. 

I found tiny legging-with-short-skirt turtle costumes. For a toddler. I found little tiny girls with their hands on their hips, one knee bent and bum jutted out to the side in a "sexy" little girl pose. I found countless little girl costumes like this. For 3 year olds. 8 year olds. When I was 8 I told my mom I wanted to be a "confused tourist". I had a tourist outfit complete with fanny pack and a giant map. I got to act like I was lost all day. It was HILARIOUS. It never crossed my mind to try to be sexy. Or that my costume was only worthy if it made men turn their heads.

And don't get me started on the adult costumes.

As a society, as a female generation, we need to decide what we are. Are we strong, female leaders, defying sex-status and ready to tackle the work place, serve Jesus with ferocity and find a seat at the table? Or are we "sex-objectifying lady bug" for Halloween? Are defying the norms, jetting through glass ceilings and making new roads for females? Or are we "sexy Harry Potter"? Are we beautiful daughters of the King, serving our friends, our spouses, our Creator? Or are we a "sexy Batwoman"?

I'm being serious.

Are we taking a stand and ending sex slavery in our lifetime?
Or are we playing sex-slave nurse this year?

I'm calling all female leaders. All worthy women of the cross. All beautiful creations of God. All precious Daughters of the King. To be OF Him is to look NOTHING LIKE THEM. The world that is trying to make you a sex object. A symbol of objectification. A toy.

To be found in Jesus is to look completely different from the world. To be beautiful means to clothe yourself in strength and dignity. To be a "catch" in the Kingdom means to have a valiant heart, a GOOD heart, a STRONG heart a DIGNIFIED heart.  

We clothe ourselves in strength and dignity. 

This Halloween show the world what you're made of. What gorgeous really looks like. What beauty STAND FOR. What grace looks like. That you can be GLORIOUS as confused traveler. That Jesus lives in you and makes you WORTHY. 

Praying for the ladies this Halloween. Do it up BIG. In Strength and Dignity.


Peace Above The Noise

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

It's an interesting season in America. The chatter is continuos, innocuous and LOUD. The news stations, the social media feeds, the banter, the opinion. It's annoying at one moment, and ear piercingly DEMANDING of your attention the next.

I remembered reading years ago about God's anointed word to Elijah. A large wind came and blew in Elijah's face - but God wasn't there. An earthquake came and shook Elijah's body - but God wasn't there. A fire came so close it wilted the end of his coat - but God wasn't in the fire. 

And then a whisper came. And there was the King of Kings.

Today if the noise you hear is deafening, be suspicious. It's possible God isn't in the news feed, your Facebook feed or your car commute.  

To be bold with peace today - get alone. Get quiet. Present your requests. Lay down your anxieties. And there He will be, in the whispers of your heart. 

Where Pessimism Goes To Die

I love Jesus. I love the fullness of Jesus and His face. I love his embrace. The way I feel in prayer when I'm near Him. He is the embodiment of hope and I know it the moment I look up from my day and look TO Him. He is all things bright. Good. Beautiful.

Which is why in Christ our pessimism goes to die.

There is no room for skepticism. There is no place for fatalism. Because there is nothing but fullness of HOPE. In Christ, we can be optimists without understanding always why. 

And we need optimism now more than ever.

This means that you can look at the world - the dark parts of the world, the difficult parts of the world, the frustrating parts, the hateful parts, and it doesn't have to SHAKE YOU. Jesus is bigger. Bolder. Brighter. In this world, we will have trouble, but pessimism doesn't have to win out.

We have overcome the world.

Pray with hope, faith and OPTIMISM today. And watch Jesus work miracles out of our beautiful belief.


Pride Paralyzes Potential

Dear Talented, Visionary, Passionate 20-something,

I believe in this generation. And I have high hopes for what this generation is becoming/will become. I believe that there is an inherent altruism, drive, kindness, harmony and power about the teens and 20-somethings I see around me. With the current state of national leadership, I think most people can agree there are things left wanting. My prayer is that this generation coming up fulfills the great call of leading society to higher and more holy places. I LOVE and speak LIFE over this generation.

But there's a catch. If you are in your 20's, and you have vision for your life, and God on your side, there is one card the Enemy is most certainly hoping will destroy you. While this attribute will seem like it is on your side, it's not. While this characteristic will seem like it's looking out for your best interest, it really will be your downfall.

What is this trait you ask?


I have had ring-side seats to watch pride drive ministry dreams off the cliff. I have watched pride burn a man's momentum alive as he clung sadly to self-preservation.  I have seen pride keep a woman sidelined because she would prefer to stay safe and unexposed than admit failure and rally for a second try. I've seen pride single-handedly wipe out the future of some of the most talented men and women I know.  Pride is destructive. Fast-acting. Elusive. Cunning. And quite possibly may be the end of your potential.

Here are a few simple thoughts on a Wednesday for safeguarding your life from pride:


In the book of Romans Paul, (who besides Jesus may hold the trophy for "how to live your life powerfully for the Kingdom") writes: "do not think yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has given you." Sober judgement is something I often see missing from 20-somethings. In general, young adults will regard themselves too talented- too early, too important- too frequently, and too untouchable- too often. In other words, we sometimes think ourselves more savvy, favorable, or irreplaceable than we actually are. As my pastor Chad Bruegman points out: God doesn't need you, but he wants you. I find millennials reversing saying: God may not always want me, but he needs me. We approach our jobs, calling and circumstances then not out of reliance on God, but out of a fierce belief in ourselves.

Paul writes that we should find a better way. To regard ourselves soberly, and not think of ourselves more highly than we ought (notice he doesn't say "think lowly of yourself" only "be sober in how you quantify yourself. BE HONEST ABOUT YOURSELF EVALUATION."). To stay sober, simply remind yourself that you're talented, but not irreplaceable. That you are called, but that the gifting isn't nearly as potent as the reliance on Christ. Stay sober about yourself, and pride will have to find another dummy to prey on.


Paul goes on in Romans and says "be devoted to one-another, honor one-another above yourselves..." In general, and this goes for all generations, people normally look to be devoted to themselves. To find ways to receive honor... for themselves. A sure fire way of combatting pride is to always seek out ways to lift up, love, and honor those around you. Put another person's dreams before your own. Offer up your time to help another person achieve more. Affirm another in love and honor. Not only will pride slide off of you, but you will see God bring YOU honor in return.


If you want to permanently extinguish pride in your life get around talented people. I mean WAY more talented than you. And LOTS of them. You should feel constantly challenged, somewhat threatened, and at the end of the day very aware that God made lots of people better at _____ than you. And you should feel ok with all these emotions and thoughts.

Insecure people prefer to surround themselves with people less gifted than themselves. They like being the big presence in the room. Secure and humble people love being around the best of the best. In your work environments, your every day friendships and so forth, make sure your partying with the best __________ that place has to offer. You will not only have a more well-rounded sense of self, you will also benefit from being sharpened by people who are better at life than you are.


Pride not only whispers in your ear that you are untouchable, it also makes you think you're ready for things that you just aren't.

A young man proposes to a young girl because he loves her and feels SURE he's ready. Against all counsel, advice and warnings he arrogantly strides forward thinking his self will can sustain a marriage alone. Nine months later he is frightened and ashamed, as his marriage falls apart despite his efforts.  

A young woman feels ready to lead. Chomping at the bit she looks for any and every opportunity to advance, to highlight herself, while dimming the gifts of others. She sacrifices internal integrity and development, and as a result lands a job and role that eventually crushes a character that was never built in the first place.

Waiting your turn, while hard in the season, pays off in the long run.

As one of the most beautiful examples of prideful zeal turned powerful humility Peter writes this: "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God and in DUE TIME... He will exalt you."



The Threat To Unity: Stand In Defiance Of Division

As a prisoner of the Lord, I urge you: Live a life that is worthy of the calling He has graciously extended to you. Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Tolerate one another in an atmosphere thick with love. Make every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit has already created, with peace binding you together. - Ephesians 4:1-3 The VOICE

Last week our country walked through a series of events that were both horrifying up close and overwhelming as you stepped back and viewed it from a thousand feet. I watched a video where a man named Alton Sterling was manhandled to the ground by two police officers and then shot by one officer at close range in the head as he faced the ground. A day later another video went viral. A man named Philando Castile was pulled over for a broken tail light. The video showed the aftermath of a brief interaction between him and a police officer. Philando was leaning against a car door as he bled out, a police officers gun in view of the video still pulled and aimed at Castile.

Both of the men were black. And both videos left me thinking, "dear God, this can't be real."

Not 48 hours passed before another scene unfolded. At a protest in Dallas -an effort to bring light to the two tragedies- a man named Micah Johnson shot 12 police officers monitoring the protest - killing 5 of them.

As a human I felt confused, overwhelmed by the lack of sensibility in culture for other human beings. As a white person I felt confused, both horrified by what I viewed as racial profiling of black people and then reversely profiling of police officers. As a leader, I felt paralyzed. What to do now? Where to go from here?

My thoughts and prayers are still forming, but there is one thing I am certain of: I stand in defiance of division. 

I loathe arguments loaded with underlying "us vs. them" language and afternotes. The bitter language that comes out of mouths of commentators, angry and saddened spectators (both white and black) and people trying to make a buck on a book. The hurtful words used to describe a group of people - black or white, blue or citizen. I disagree with fear being the driver of a forming an opinion of a human being. I defy language that whittles an entire class of people (black, white, asian, police, hispanic, etc.) down to a few careless words.

During tragedy, I watched an entire nation carefully tiptoe into battle lines. Draw deep conclusions about other groups of people that they would carry in their core. Form prideful and thick walls of concrete thoughts. Yes, the shootings have been horrifying, tragic and have issued a warning flare to our generation about problems with systematic racism and flawed anger that are bubbling over the brim. To be sure, there are issues to be addressed.

But the aftermath. The pure, unadulterated judgement - on all sides. This behavior pleases the hallways of hell. And I will take no part in it. 

I make no claims to know what Jesus would say to us in this moment. I truly am not sure how he would lead us out of these days, or what oration he would give at a black man's or a police officer's funeral. I DO know that he would say: "you're my KIDS. Stop talking to each other like that."

In Ephesians Paul reminds us that the unity of the bond of the Spirit has been set in place by God. But that it must be protected. Cherished. Cared for. Looked after.

That in the face of something meant to divide a world into teams, instead we close our eyes, breathe, and say "in Christ, there is no male or female, Jew or Gentile, black or white, police or pedestrian." In Christ we are unified. In Christ, there is no use for teams. There is only the broken, stained, sinful and yet fully redeemed people of God. There is no "this is MY PEOPLE. (referring to a black community), or "this is MY PEOPLE" (referring to a white community). There is only His people. That is all there is. And all there will ever be. 

The prideful boasts of team language disgust him, I would venture to guess. 

I won't pretend to know the perfected rightness here. But I would assume that there is a "rightness" to be found in each other. In a thick wall of love. It's in kindness. It's in thinking of another above yourself. In standing with a black friend. In standing with Alton and Philando and their families. In standing with Trayvon Martin. And then standing with a white friend. In standing with the fallen officers. In acceptance. In submission. In being calm in the face of an enemy. In the wisdom of letting an offense pass you by. In the deep pools of love that is found in Christ. In the deep acceptance that he has for you. And that acceptance then rushes over your mortal body and onto those around you. No, you and your team are not as perfect as you thought. Your language of division is not something to be proud of. But if you would be willing to see the world with the Father's eyes, and with acceptance DESPITE shortfalls - I honestly think this could be the beginning of healing.

Maybe today we defy division.

Today, may you just LOVE your neighbor. Even the annoying neighbor. Even the opinionated neighbor. The black neighbor. The white neighbor. Stand on kingdom ground, with a kingdom family, using kingdom language towards your fellow image-bearer. And here is where maybe revival and change begin.

Re-upping On Remaining

Of all the things I see plague 20-somethings it is the need to move when they really should stay.

My 11 day old daughter, Georgia is a wiggler. Even when I was pregnant with her, her "parties" as I called them were wild. She would flail about her arms and legs and I could feel each kick. Now that she is out in our world little has changed. I will swaddle her and hold her close to comfort her and sing over her, but she still wants to wiggle. There's no way to tell this little one that the best thing for her sleep and rest is to just relax and remain in my arms.

I'm pretty sure that if you add 20 years to this habit, little changes for us as adults. We love to move. Squirm. Wiggle out of our circumstance, whatever it might be.

It might be a job we hate. It might be a job we just tolerate. It may be a season where we are taking care of a loved one. It might be a waiting period before the "next" thing begins (school, internships, vacations). It might be a season where we are wading through old wounds. Whatever the season, we as a people, would prefer to move on then remain. 

Paul puts it this way:

Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is recognize the season and place that God has assigned us, and obey, be faithful, and remain.

Today ask yourself two questions:

1.) What is it God has given (assigned) you?

In other words, what in your Spirit do you know is yours to take care of now? School? Overcoming debt? Taking care of family? Sprinting towards a ministry goal? Clearly define what it is Jesus is laying at your feet to steward.

2.) What are you going to do about it?

Now that you know your "assignment" ask yourself if you want to do the homework. Are you going to phone in at the job or be faithful? Are you going to be salt and light to your co-workers or check out in front of your iPhone? Are you going to deal with that sin or wound or just "wiggle" out of it and continue to let it fester in your life?

Today may you choose to accept assignment, to be faithful, and to re-up on the POWER of remaining. 

Desperation vs. Declaration (What's Your Prayer Posture?)

Growing up I had terrible posture. My shoulders would naturally slump forward and when I sat at a desk I would kinda lean or droop over it. Sitting "properly" in my view was a waste of time for kids who attended etiquette class, and really... who wants to be that proper??

As I am maturing though, good posture is becoming important to me. The way I carry myself and posture myself says something to the world about me. It projects my inner strength outwardly. It gives my muscles something to do. It focuses my body to the task at hand.

Prayer life, in a way, is this way.

Your posture in prayer matters.

For a large number of us, when we come to prayer, we come in a posture of desperation. We approach God hastily in times of need. "God, please change this circumstance." "God I am feeling so overwhelmed." "God this scenario has ruined a relationship." "God I feel defeated." "God these finances aren't working out." "God HELP."  

Our posture is not one of confidence. It's one of frantic, already defeated energy. We come slump shouldered, sad, needy, victimized, and hopeless. Like the disciples on the boat in the sea go Galilee, as the storm swells we looked panicked towards a present but possibly sleeping God: "Jesus!" we cry frantically, "don't you CARE???" 

Our Christ is so good, he loves that we come to Him, no matter the posture. "Come to me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden..." He says. But like the disciples in the boat, our prayer posture may be one of desperation, lack of faith, fear, distrust. 

Instead, I would propose that the mature Christian, as we grow and be formed into His likeness has a prayer posture that is less a cry of desperation, and more a declarative proclamation. 

That our prayers become move from weak-spirited, pleas with Jesus to change us, change the screen, change the reality to a strong, focused, faith filled mouth of declaration. Our posture changes, from a slumped, downward looking and pitied thing, to an upwardly focused, intentioned and hope-filled stance.

Like the Psalmist prays - chest puffed out, eyes fixed upward, stance strong and posture assured: "I lift my eyes up to the mountains - where does my help come from? It comes from YOU, the MAKER of HEAVEN."

Today, as you approach Jesus, do it with a valiant posture. Strong. Chin skyward. Faith-filled. And like your posture in life, your faith muscles will grow. Your inward strength will grow and will project outwardly. May your prayer posture today be STRONG.

How To Gain Vision

To be honest, this last season of ministry has been smaller in faith and vision for me. It could be that I’m one month out from having a kid, and so my faith muscles have relaxed as I’ve been trying to order our home and find joy in the last few weeks of just the “three” of us as a family.

But to be honest, I love vision.

I love what it does to my insides. My mind becomes clearer. My focus sharper. Priorities seem to order themselves. Suddenly I know exactly how to spend my time and my energy.

The difficult thing here, though, is I don’t just conjure up vision. I wish I could. Sit down and say “now brain, do some visioneering.” And *poof * I see the next year of ministry and family and drive boiled down to 3 bullet points. But no. Vision for me has always come out of persistent, focused, and sometimes lengthy periods of seeking God’s will.

The bible says that where there is no vision people perish. Another translation says they cast of restraint – meaning they lose self-control and focus. Both of these outcomes (perishing and losing self-control) sound really terrible to me. And so, the alternative is what I will always choose.

Here are a few thoughts on seeking Jesus for vision for your life:

1.)  Divert your eyes from your feelings to his promises:

The biggest liar in your life (besides Lucifer himself… side note… did you know there is a TV show called LUCIFER? What in God’s name are they thinking? Best of luck to all of them, as for me, I will never ever ever ever ever watch that show. Amen.), or the most consistent I will say, is your FEELINGS.

You feel sad today? Lost? Maybe you feel weary. Frustrated maybe? Well know this – your emotions do a great job of trying to hijack your faith. So today tell your feelings that they are co-pilots at BEST (not pilots), and that normally they just get to come along for the ride.

Then focus on God’s promises for you.

2.)  Be persistent in prayer:

Recently, a story that has directed my prayer life in the bible is the parable of the annoying friend in Luke 11. You can go there yourself, but in essence, it’s a story about two friends. One comes to the other at midnight to request a favor – food, namely. The friend in need begs and pleads and it truly just a PEST until his buddy comes and answers the door and gives him what he needs. Jesus says this is how we are to pray. Persistently. 

So go to Jesus today and ask him for vision. And, if need be, get annoying about it.

3.)  Don’t stop until He answers:

For me, big vision has always come out of long stretches of prayer. Sometimes there is fasting. Sometimes not. But always, it’s almost as if God enjoys me seeking Him so much, he waits until the last possible moment to give me the vision.

When you ask for vision today. Don’t stop. Not tomorrow. Not the next day. Until you hear from him and know His heart for your life and for the people He’s given you to steward.

The Power of Focus

Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who boxes the air. - 1 Corinthians 9:26

There is a HUGE difference in the kingdoms when it comes to this word "focus". Focus in our world is something lacking, if not completely lost. Today millions will thumb through their cellphones, mindlessly gazing at a post from the NBA or from their favorite celebrity. We will roll out of bed daily, showering and doing the morning routine, then drive to work in a haze. We will punch the clock, drive home, and as we check out in front of the television we will wonder why in the world we are so zapped of life.

You see a lack of focus doesn't just steal your gaze. Really, it steals your momentum. Your drive. Your lively LIFE. 

And yet, today millions of us will complete our day the way we started it: checked out.

If I had to guess, Satan loves me BEST when I'm distracted. When I'm unfocused and untethered. When my thoughts wander from "did I RSVP to that thing?" to "where are my favorite pants?" to "what's CNN writing about Trump today?" I'm a sitting duck of inactivity. A void of space that breathes and "shows up" to work or to my family, but nothing more. If I had to guess, I think Satan LOVES me BEST when I show up this way. I'm as unthreatening as someone napping. I'm as effective as an untrained fighter. I'm as far from the works I was created in Christ Jesus to accomplish as I could be.

A lack of focus isn't just a mind gone on a leisure stroll. A lack of focus is death to our purpose. A clever trick to take us dangerously off course.

It's not enough to show up. Jesus wants your full heart and attention for His kingdom. 

In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul writes about the race within God's kingdom. He asks a question to the readers: "Don't you know that lots of people run the race, but are you aware not EVERYONE wins a prize?" He's setting up a thesis here. He's saying - it's not enough to just come to the race track. It's not enough to just show up to work. It's not enough to just RUN. If he were to say this in 2016 he would probably say: "Look, see? Everyone is running. To nowhere. For no reason. Everyone is busy being totally and completely unfocused." 

Then he says this: "when I run, it's NEVER without aim. When I box, I plan on doing damage with my hits."

It's not ENOUGH to run. You want to run to win at your purpose and at your call.

So how do we run our race for the kingdom with focus?

  1. Right Your Routine: Scientists and the Bible alike tell us that a life without routine (going to bed on time, waking up on time, having a ritual of reading the Bible, eating good sustaining food,) is an unfocused and chaotic life. Do you feel pointless right now? Out of step? Purposeless? Start with simply trying to establish a rhythm in your day. Work out at the same time. Read a book and don't stop till it's finished. Focus your energy and mind on what God has placed in front of you that day. Make lists. Do what you have to to discipline your day into your plans. Otherwise life will make plans for you.
  2. Set Your Mind: Find a set time in your morning to set your focus. Turn off outside noise for a few minutes, and whether in front of your Bible or in front of prayer, simply check in with Jesus. Take your thoughts that are wandering captive, and present them to God. Ask the Lord what he would like to accomplish in and through you that day. Let God minister to you about your purpose, how much he loves you, and who you are in Christ. Find a way to do this as a part of your routine: do it in your morning commute, in your morning devo, with your morning cup of coffee, with your morning shower. Even if you aren't "feeling" it, Jesus can do wonders with someone who just shows up to his throne. He has GOOD things for you and for His kingdom EVERYDAY. Set your mind on that truth and watch your day click into focus.
  3.  Remind Yourself of Your Role: Most of us become distracted because we honestly believe our time, talents, life, or investment DOESN'T matter. We can lose focus because we lose heart. The truth is, each disciple of Jesus has immense value for His kingdom. I remind young adults all the time that "only you can do what you can do." If you are an engineer at a firm, only YOU have the brains to work there, the heart to share Jesus with other people and the tenacity to carry out both with excellence. If you are a teacher, only YOU have access to that class and those students day in and day out to impact them in a way that could literally transform their eternities. If you are a stay-at-home daddy, only YOU can speak life over your kids the way you do. Truly, there is no one else. Only you can do what you can do. Remind yourself of how crucial you are, and check in today to focus on what Jesus has.

Today may you run with incredible aim, fixing your eyes on Jesus your author and perfecter of your faith. And may you box as someone who knows they are called, loved, and assigned.

May you feel new life as you gain new focus. In Jesus name. Amen.

Did Someone Swipe Your Courage?

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. - Galatians 6:9-10 The Message

There are times, seasons, circumstances in life that can bring us to our knees in discouragement. We feel hard-pressed, like our work has come up void, our that the set-backs are never ending. Discouragement comes in like a black cloud. It keeps us up at night and steals our joy.

Discouragement is rooted in the two words "Dis" - to take, to remove, to lack, and "Courage" - the quality of mind or Spirit that lets us face challenges without fear. To discourage someone is actually a terrible and nasty offense: It is "To make someone less determined, confident, or hopeful." I'm not sure about you, but upon reading this in Merriam-Websters definition I thought, "well isn't that just like the devil."

Discouragement isn't just the byproduct of a day gone wrong, or a plan not coming to fruition. Discouragement is the enemy's way of stealing your courage. Making you less determined. Less confident. Less hopeful. Discouragement is the ultimate way of distracting you from your destiny. Taking you off course. Halting your progress. Paralyzing you from realizing your goal. 

God promises that your harvest and your victory is around the corner - if you don't give into discouragement. 

If you are feeling discouragement today, it is because you are well on course to your destiny, and the enemy is pulling out all the stops in order to trip you up.

Someone is attempting to steal your COURAGE. The question is - are you going to allow it? Or are you going to press forward in faith?

Today, when discouragement comes knocking - don't allow it to distract you from your destiny. You have a faith fight to fight, a harvest to reap, a God to glorify. And you will see victory if you don't GIVE UP.

Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you. - Deuteronomy 31:1 The Message

Clean Slate

I love lists. I make lists for my work days and my days off and the days I'm trying to get lots of important things done and the days I'm trying to get insignificant things done. For 2016 I have already made a bunch of lists. Lists of family adventures we need to take. Lists of goals. Lists of prayers.

New Year's is the perfect time to make lists of everything you want NEW. Changed. Different.

Sometimes, though, I wonder if all the lists, resolutions, vows to "do" something different are really just a longing to BE someone different.

I recently read an article about Justin Bieber, and his relationship with Carl Lentz and Christianity. It's a great read, and I won't do it justice here, but one evening, Justin came to Carl in desperation. Unlike the Justin we see on MTV and at the VMAs, this Justin wasn't confident. Wasn't impressed with his fame. Wasn't happy with his success. And he wanted out. Not of what he was doing. But out of himself. He wanted to be baptized. He wanted to be someone different. And he wanted it immediately.

He didn't need a new album, a new tour, a new wardrobe, a new ride, a new girl. He needed a new Justin. He needed a new "me".

I think I can relate.
I think you can relate.

In all of the New Year's effort to lose weight, to look good, to start a new habit, to end an old one, to get a date, to lose a date, to find a new job... it's really about something much deeper than that. We don't just need clean slates. We need clean hearts. We need that incredible peace, emotion, inner rest, satisfaction and glory that comes from being made new.

Colossians puts it this way: "You have taken off your old self, with it's practices and have put on a new self, which is being renewed in the knowledge of its Creator." In the New Year maybe we don't need new make-up, haircuts, or shoes. Maybe we don't need new work-out regimens, eating habits or trainers. Maybe we don't need a new project, vacation or life experience. Maybe we just need freedom on the inside. A flag of glory waving as Christ is the center of our lives, the joy of our hearts, the blood-life of our days and the focus of our admiration. 

This New Years may you:

Put off vanity and put on the glory and beauty of Christ.
Put off selfish ambition as you put on the hope of Christ.
Put off worldly lusts as you put on the mind of Christ.
Put off comparison as you put on contentment in Christ.
Put off resolution to "do" a few things different...

And put on Christ. Who will make you truly new.  

Pray for Miracles.

I have seen miracles.

This year alone I have seen people far from God reach for his hand. I have seen a marriage all but destroyed be rekindled again in God's love. I have seen cancer shrink, and cancer give way. I have seen the miracle a child walking, the miracle of a a family being knit together. I have seen the miracle of dreams coming to fruition, not seeming large enough, and the challenge to dream bigger, grander, more glorious.

I have seen the miracle of God moving in a generation. (To catch a glimpse watch this video of our 2015.)  And I believe God is just getting started.

And it is my belief that 2015 was miraculous, and different from every year prior because this year I changed the way I prayed. 

In years past I prayed the way most of us do: I prayed for safety and for provision. I prayed for the weather, for my day to be productive. I prayed for my family to be healthy, and for my dreams to come to pass. I prayed for comfort.

Then, in 2014, something dramatic shifted within me. At the birth of our first born I suddenly became aware that my prayers were self-focused, my dreams self-centered, and my ambitions not nearly beautiful enough to pursue in light of stewarding a new life. And so I began to pray a new way:

"God, what is it that you dream about? I pray in 2015 I get to be a part of your dreams coming to fruition, and that you use my life for your ambitions?"

My dreams were crushed under the weight of his kingdom. My hopes bowed low before the promise of his hope. My ambitions gave way to a heart for his people, and a love for his Church. And just like that, my world was flooded with miracles. 

So what about you? What are your hopes for 2016? Are you tiring of your prayers? Of your selfish ambitions and half-hearted goals? Then may I invite you to pray a different way in 2016:

"God, what is it you dream about? What do you care about God, and can my life be used to bring your dreams to fruition?"

May 2016 for you be a new start to a new way of life: to pursuing his dreams, taking up his heart, and being a part of his kingdom's miracles. 

Waiting in The Wings

One of God's favorite names for Himself in the bible is "Elohim". It means "God", simply. In a world that is waring within itself to discover who or what is top dog, and whom or what has top authority, God lays claim to it here with His name. Elohim comes from the root Hebrew word "strength" or "power". In Genesis it is out of the power of God that the world was created, and by His power that it moved and turned and spun around the sun. When the storms are calmed in the Bible, it is by the power of God - Elohim.

Have you ever caught yourself trying to be Elohim in your life?

If the storms are going to calm - if the world is going to slow down - it's up to you. You try to exercise power over your world.

The other day my 1 1/2 year old was climbing on a larger step stool we have in the kitchen. She is a climber at heart, a monkey of sorts, constantly trying to crawl up, over and on top of objects. Most of the time I let her go for it. She's a toddler after all, and toddlers should adventure.

When she gets on the step stool though, I stay close. It's tall, and larger than most the things she scales. I wait close by. Not interfering but waiting... just in case.

The other day she climbed and got to the top step, threw her leg over the railing at the top, and attempted to sit up there. Immediately her weight shifted and she started to slip. "Hep! Hep!" She cried, (which is toddler speak for "HELP! Ma!") I swooped in and grabbed her, kissed her and set her back up to adventure some more.

It dawned on me in that moment that this is Jesus in our lives. Ever patient, and ever delighting in our adventuring, but fully aware that we aren't Elohim, and the authority and strength is not our own. He watches us play, watches us live our lives, smiles as we climb,

Just waiting in the wings.

A moment may come where we try to scale an obstacle in our own strength, or calm a storm in our power. It suddenly dawns on us, "the waters are too high. We need help." And we cry out. How comforting that the moment we call on the Lord he responds. Never pushy in His moves to aid us, the Holy Spirit ONLY goes where He is invited - and brings calm. Peace. Strength. Victory.

Today may you be wise enough to call out when you are in need, to admit surrender when the climb is too high, to reach for the TRUE Elohim when your strength gives way.

He's ALWAYS waiting in the wings. 

I Am A Slave To _____________ Without Jesus

Freedom to me has always been this ambiguous concept.  I have always had this fascination with freedom and the idea of living a free life. I remember when I was little; I asked my mom what does freedom mean. And I was taught words like liberty or justice, the statue of liberty, America, Washington DC.

We are in a time where our nation clings to this idea of freedom. Ideas that scream you are free if you do what you want, when you want it, how you want it.  Freedom equates to surplus of time, money, success, status, sex, or fame in your life.

What if I told you that Jesus had a better way?  What if I told you that he authored freedom? What if I told you that Jesus recognizes your desire to be free and responds?

John 8:31-38:      
Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in Him. "If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you." Surprised they said, but we are descendants of Abraham. We’ve never been slaves to anyone. How can you say, “the truth will set you free?” Jesus said, "I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is transient, who cant come and go at will. The SON, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the SON sets you free, you are free indeed.”

THE CALL: Jesus is calling upon believers.  Jesus is talking to Christians that believe in His authority.  He calls them to a life of holiness, by living out what he has spoken.  He then makes the charge that only TRUTH will bring freedom. TRUTH WILL BRING FREEDOM.

God tells us all throughout scripture, TRUTH is the word of God.

THE RESPONSE: When Jesus confronts this issue of freedom head on, the people respond out of their own bondage. They say things like, “I’m not a slave to nobody or nothing.” “Do you know who I am?”  “How dare you say that to me?”

Have you had reactions like this when a close friend or family member points out an area of bondage in your life? Your immediate response is defensiveness to a sin pattern in your life?  My hand is up on this one.

THE ACTION: So what do we do? How do we move into freedom in our lives? Jesus drops the bomb that the word of God can bring freedom.  Take a good look at your life.  The things that you think have no effect on you- maybe that is bitterness towards a family member, anger against your absentee father, or abuse of your choice drug on the weekends.  Jesus says that you are in fact a slave to those things.

If you never let truth into those areas of your life, you will always be a victim of slavery. 

Hebrews 4:12 says,
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

I AM A SLAVE TO _______________ WITHOUT JESUS.

True freedom comes when you subject your life to the gospel and when you allow God's WORD to rule in your innermost thoughts and desires.

5 Ways To Get Closer To Your Call

More than any other question, this is the one that dominates the conversations I have with 20-somethings. "What's my purpose?" "What am I on earth to do?" "What is my call?" However, it is my belief that your call is not "out there" but rather "right here". Here are a few thoughts on a Sunday to help guide you closer to your call. 

1. Steward The Time God Allows You.

Time is the universal equalizer. No matter what background you came from, what education level you have, how privileged or not your family was, everyone is given the same hours in the day. I get asked sometimes how I can manage the life I have, or when I have time to do the things I do (be a mom, a preacher, a boss, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, an author...). For a while I didn't really have an answer. I live my life similar to most people with lots of flaws and lots of failures.

One thing I could point to though, is I'm aggressive with my time. 
"Teach us to number our days," The Psalmist writes, "So that we may apply our hearts with wisdom." - Psalm 90:12

The way we spend our minutes is the way we spend our days, the way we spend our days is the way we spend our years, and our years - the way we spend our lives. The Psalmist knows what few American's do - that the clock is ticking, and every moment matters. Numbering our days, and making the most of our moments will propel us more quickly into our callings. Choosing prayer over Netflix, writing over Snapchat, working hard over lazily passing hours, chatting with our spouses over zoning out in front of ESPN, sleeping restfully over reading WebMD. These small choices will lead to fuller minutes. And fuller minutes fuller days. Until we are living huge, full, and purposeful lifetimes.

2. Love The People God Places Around You.

We all have people in our lives that are difficult to love. They are rude, untrustworthy, hurtful or annoying. The New Testament throws a huge wrench in our self-protecting, people-avoiding desires, though. God is almost pushy about the way we are to treat people who are difficult to love:

"If you don't love well you don't know God." - 1 John 4:7-8 (My Translation)
"If someone mistreats you, let them - and give them the option to do it again." - Matthew 5:39 (My Translation)
"If someone is bold enough to ask for your favorite jacket, give them your favorite shoes, too." - Matthew 5:40 (My Translation)
"If you have a valid complaint against someone, don't rub it in their face, but forgive them." - Colossians 3:13 (My Translation)
"Love your brothers." - Hebrews 13:1 (My Translation)
"Try to out-love, out-serve, and out-honor everyone." - Romans 12:9-10 (My Translation)
"Love people. Love people. Love people." - 1 Corinthians 16:14 (My Translation)

God, in my opinion (and I'm just one of many), cares mostly about two things: His glory and His people. If you care for his people well, love them, be gracious to them, treat them with honor, you will be aligning yourself with the Kingdom's purposes.  If you care for people who offend you, love those who hurt you, and lift up those who don't or can't life you up, you are doing the will of your Father. You will be one step closer to God's heart, and one step closer to his purposes. 

3. Sweat In The Uniform God Gives You.

Most people are less than satisfied with the job, role, work suit or uniform God initially gives them. They would prefer a position with more status, more money, more authority and more respect. But if you read scripture, there is never a BIG call without some serious sweat. And the season of sweat is one with little status, little money, little authority and little respect. The greats of the faith that I value the most: Moses, David, Esther, Joseph, Elisha, Ruth, Joshua, Peter, Paul, and Timothy had large stretches of time of sweating in clothes that weren't king's robes, leader's shoes, queen's gowns, prophet coverings, or preacher's suits. For decades they worked hard, they sweat, they toiled, in the season God gave them. They did it with faithfulness, joy, and fortitude. 

And because of that, by the time they put on the king's robes or preacher's suits, they had sweat out all of their selfish ambition, their pride, and their fleshly tendencies. Work what God gives you, and God will make the sweat worth it.

4. Give The Money God Loans You.

Contrary to popular belief, God LOVES to bless his kids. But also contrary to popular belief, God blesses his kids so that they can bless others. This lesson came late for me, as Jon and I really started giving and giving big a few years into our marriage. When people are worried about their life, their future, their goals, I always ask them if they tithe. Not, "do you give the homeless guy $5?", although that's amazing. Not, "do you sometimes give when you feel like it?". But do you consistently give a tithe (a percentage) of your money to a house of God? It's amazing how not having your money under God's authority can lead to a place of distrust, confusion or lack of direction. 

God promises that when we give, and when we refresh others, we ourselves are refreshed. Moreover, obedience with our money shows God that we're ready for the big leagues, that he can trust us to be faithful and giving with more, because we have been faithful and giving with the present.

5. Walk By The Spirit God Put Inside You.

When life gets hard, or the path that God has you on seems stagnant, its important to remember what God has placed in you. "Greater is he that is in you than he who is in the world," writes John. Because of this, we overcome. Every time. But walking by the Spirit is a choice, and stewarding your heart so that you walk by the Spirit and not after the flesh is of utmost importance. This means choosing the fruits of the Spirit in your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, long-suffering, and faithfulness. And it means avoiding fruits of the flesh: conceit, anger, envy, malice, provocation, dissension, factions, jealousy, and selfish ambition. 

God gives us the Spirit of Christ. But it is up to us to walk by it. In walking by the Spirit God promises peace, forward motion, blessing and protection.

Today may you steward ALL that God has given you. And may you be that much closer to ALL he has called you to. 

The Cost of Grace

The concept of grace is a funny thing.

It’s hard for us as a people to understand it. We wrestle with the idea of receiving grace when we have wronged someone, and then turn around and wrestle with the idea of giving grace when we perceive we have been wronged. Sometimes grace mends friendships and marriages, restores joy to the depressed and heals a broken heart. Sometimes feelings of guilt or shame are associated with grace, knowing that our transgression have wronged someone with no cost to us.

I think that’s the biggest problems that we as a people have when we are confronted with grace. It’s free to us. It’s free, so we minimize the cost of grace because we don’t feel the repercussion of it being given. When a wife shows grace to her husband who has had an affair, there is a price to that grace. The thoughts that haunt the mind of someone betrayed in marriage take a toll. However, it’s free to the transgressor, and that’s beautiful. It’s amazing when grace is shown. The freedom that comes from your wrongs being made right with no effort of your own is something that every person struggles understanding. It’s nothing short of a miracle. A miracle with a price. And I believe that is where we have forgotten the cost of grace.

Isaiah 53 is one of the most famous passages in scripture about the coming Messiah. It was written roughly 700 years before Jesus’ birth, and gives excruciating detail about what Jesus would go through for our salvation. However, there’s always one verse that jumps out at me whenever I read it that almost brings me to tears every time.

“But the Lord was pleased to crush him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors. ” ­ Isaiah 53:10­12 NASB

Notice two things here. Our grace had a price. It took crushing the King of the Universe, torturing him with whips and beatings, being spat on, mocked, and slapped, nailed to a cross which would take His life for our free grace. The freedom which we experience when God pursues us and calls him into relationship with Him is priceless in every sense of the word. It costs us nothing, but cost Him everything. 

Secondly, it pleased the Father to do this. So often there’s a twofold way that grace is taken advantage of. We think of it costing nothing because we receive it freely, or we walk around with self righteous attempts to punish ourselves because of the guilt we feel. If the goal of our life is to walk in obedience to the Father, and bring Him joy and glory, we must remember that it was for His joy that Jesus was sent to the cross. It pleased God to sacrifice the 2nd person of the Godhead for you and for me. It pleased Him to pay a price so that we may freely have grace.

Praise God our Father for his relentless love for us.
Praise Jesus Christ His son for paying the costly price so I may have grace.
Praise The Holy Spirit who instructs and encourages me to walk in that grace daily.
Our freedom and grace has a cost: Jesus Christ. And it was for His joy that he paid it, so
that you and I can be made white as snow, and have a relationship with Him now and forever. 

What Does God Dream About?

I'm a dreamer at heart. I have been since the 2nd grade when I decided I wanted to either write screen plays for movies, or act in them, or both. A product of the 80's, I believed and still believe that anything is possible for those who dream.

Have you ever thought about what God dreams about? Like, what keeps him up at night? What his mind wanders to, what preoccupies his thoughts? A few years ago I started to wonder about this question. What does God think about? What, if anything does he desire? 

In studying scripture, and found one passage that has changed the way I do life:

"(God)... who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." - 1 Timothy 2:4  

This is what God dreams about. This is what captures his attention - his people being saved, his people knowing truth. God dreams about his people.

God cares so much for our wounds, hopes, dreams and fears. And I believe that he looks on earth for people who decide that they will care about his dreams too.

Today as you grind your 9-5, begin to allow God's love and desire for his people well up within you. Instead of spending the majority of your time thinking about your dreams, goals and ambitions, allow Jesus to fill you up with his. And may these thoughts and heart rhythms dictate the way you love, the way you prioritize and how you work your gifting. 

May you do it all for his glory. May you do it all for the sake of his dreams.

From Pointless to Purpose

There is no emotion more paralyzing than that of pointlessness. 

Believers in moments of weakness entertain the lie - the Enemy comes quietly into your camp, and whispers: "what in the world are you doing? Surely all of this has no purpose. Surely YOU have no purpose." Millions of Christians begin to run a race well, only to be sidelined by such lies.  Just like that - their hearts are dashed easily into the rocks of the shore of purposelessness. 

For many Believers, this is the biggest obstacle that they face in life: pointlessness. That nagging feeling that there is no purpose for you. There is no future for you. God has plans for everyone else maybe, but yours is lost somewhere in God's storage shed. Whether through upbringing or past failure, a tendency towards depressive thoughts or just not understanding God's word, Believers can spend months, years, lifetimes on the shore of purposelessness.

But in God's Kingdom, there is no end to the amount of work to be done. Literally. There is NO END to what needs to be done. Jesus, seeing a generation of people who were lost, in need of care, healing, and leadership said: 

The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

If Jesus were sitting across the table with a Believer facing purposelessness today, he would probably say something like this. "Look, Beloved. There is a field prepped and waiting for you to engage. There are people that need real hope and Godly love. Please don't waste time wondering if there is a plan. There's too much to do! And too few men and women who willingly do it. I would love for you to join me here."

The great thing about God's kingdom is you don't need to come up with a plan of how to make your life matter. How to live a life that has impact. Jesus is the CEO of this organization and his plan is already there (and it's incredibly effective). The field is already arranged. You just simply need to be available and ready to labor. 

Jesus would love for a generation of Believers to put away thoughts of purposelessness, take up a plow, and begin to work their field they have been given - right where they are. This is where we will find our greatest revivals, and our greatest feeling of satisfaction and cause. 

This Labor Day, may you trust fully that you are wanted. That God has a plan. That you are welcomed to be a part of it. The harvest is plentiful, and Jesus is simply waiting for you to say "yes" to laboring in it.