Cancel the Audition!

#3Do you ever struggle with knowing what your purpose in life is? Do you often wonder if you missed the mark or the window of opportunity to do what you were called to do by God. I just want to encourage you that it is never too late and you are never to old to fulfill the call of God on your life. Even if you feel like you have missed the boat or have been wondering around in the dessert for too long, you can still rise up and do what God is calling you to do. Jeremiah 29:11 God knows the plans He has for you and they are perfect and HIS timing is perfect. Ask God today to help give you the clarity you need to know what your purpose is and the courage to step out in faith and do what HE is calling you to do.

Before you were even born, God chose YOU! (Jeremiah 1:5) God already chose you to do what HE has called you to do so cancel the audition. Stop trying to prove yourself worthy of the part when the ONE you really need to impress has already given the part to you. The only thing that you need to do now is show up and plays the part that God has given you to play. Stop comparing yourself to other people because God has not called you to be like them, HE has called you to be just like YOU!

He has a special part in the play that only YOU can fill. So many tymes in our lives we try to imitate others that we want to be like, when all we have to do is be who God has called us to be. When you start to compare your behind the scenes reel with other peoples highlight reel, then that is when you start to feel insecure about who you are. The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence, it is the same color as your grass. What you don’t see on the other side of the fence is that the lawn on the other side still needs to be mowed and weeded like yours. Your security and clarity comes from Christ alone!

HE is your rock and cornerstone, put your trust fully in HIM. Believe and trust in God’s word for your life today. God may only give you one word today, but know that HIS one word is enough!

*Photo(s)/Resource(s): Danielle Grehn

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The blessing is already in front of you.

“A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

power-withinWhy do we always look at what we don’t have instead of what we do have and being thankful for it? We are selfish people and always seem to want more. We think that we deserve more and forget to be grateful for the things that we have in front of us. We need to learn to see God‘s positive in what is going on. I know that I am not the only person in the world who has been guilty of this a tyme or two. The sad thing is that when we focus on what we don’t have we miss out on the real blessing that we have in front of us.

This sense of entitlement can hold us back from what God wants to do in our lives. He wants to free us and do so much more through us, but first we must learn to be grateful for the small things that HE has blessed us with. God is more interested in developing your character and HE wants to do something in you first. When God doesn’t give us what we want all the tyme, we don’t realize that it is for our best. Surrender your bad attitude and trust God that He has a better plan for your life. Too many Christians spend most of their tyme trying to get what they want instead of asking God what He wants. Don’t neglect to see what is in front of you right now!

 

*Photo(s)/Resource(s): Danielle Grehn

Fan the flame in the hard tymes!

#3Did you know that it is your responsibility to fuel yourself with more of God every day? The Bible tells us in Romans 12:11-12 “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual ferver, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Wait a minute, let’s think about what that is saying here for a minute. It is your job as a Christian to make sure that you don’t burn out, you have to keep the spark going. Serving God even if you can’t see Him or feel Him in your life.

How do you do that, especially when you are being faced with great trials, tribulations and difficulties? How do you remain “patient in affliction” as this scripture says? What if I don’t want to be patient during my affliction? Affliction really hurts and nobody wants to go through pain, let alone be joyful and patient during the tough tymes. How do you remain faithful in prayer when you can’t see beyond your pain or circumstances? It’s okay to ask these kinds of questions. I wish I could say that through all the tough tymes I faced in my life that I was perfect and served God fervently.

Nope, I failed miserably so many tymes, I ended up running away from God instead of running towards Him. I am here to tell you that God just wants to encourage you during those tough tymes in your life. How can He encourage you if you run away from Him? It is during the tough tymes of your life that you need to run to Him for help the most. I learned that the difficult way, I guess I am kind of hard headed sometymes. Romans 5:3-5 says “Suffering produces perserverance; perserverance, character; and character, hope”. I used to tell people that God must want me to have lots of hope and character because I certainly went through enough suffering to last a lifetyme.

The truth is, it is through your sufferings that God pours out His love in you and gets all the glory. So how do you run towards God in your tyme of need? You run to Him by reading your Bible everyday and being faithful in prayer, even when you don’t feel God or see any results to your current situation. It is your job to keep running to God, not away from Him. It is in your desperate moments, the kind of tymes when you throw your hands up in the air and surrender all to HIM, that God seems to give hope or light at the end of the dark tunnel. This verse is for those who feel dry, desperate, lost, hopeless, in need of a miracle. Is that you today? Are you going through something that has you feeling a little lost or desperate, but you have no idea where go?

Let me encourage you today my friend. Be joyful in hope, God is right there and He is your hope in the dark tymes of your life. Be patient during this tyme of affliction, even when you can’t see God you can trust that HE is not too far away. Be faithful in prayer, now is when you need Him the most so don’t run away, run to HIM. Call upon His name and He will answer you!

*Photo(s)/Resource(s): Danielle Grehn

You are a mighty Warrior!

#3Do you feel insecure and weak? Like you are the weakest person in the entire world. Do you feel like the dream you have inside seems so far off or impossible? In Judges 6, the Israelites felt weak and defeated. God gave them the dream of the promise land and everyone around them kept coming around and taking away everything they worked hard for. That is how we are sometymes, we get the courage to step out and do what we feel God is calling us to do and then people come and crush our dreams and put us down. So much that we feel insecure and we question God.

The next tyme we step out, we feel that we have to try to do it in secret or hide it from others. We loose our confidence and boldness. Maybe you are at a point in your life right now where you feel weak and defeated. I want to encourage you today with the words that the Lord spoke to Gideon in Judges 6. “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” I know that you may not believe it yet, trust me Gideon even questioned God at first by basically saying to the Angel of the Lord. “Dude, how can God be with us, have you been watching what has been happening to us? We have been defeated over and over again. These big bullies keep destroying everything we try to do.

Where is God in all of this? Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” Doesn’t that response sound kind of familiar? Do you feel like God has abandoned you in your tyme of need or insecurity? I want to tell you that God responds back to Gideon and you by saying “Go in the strength you have…” What, are you kidding me, what strength? I am the weakest of the weakest. I am the scum of the scum of the pond. I am nobody. Who am I that I can defeat anyone? Have you or do you feel like that? I know that I have and I have told God some of those very things. But we are forgetting something very important, the word that the Lord has spoken over us. He proclaims that “YOU ARE A MIGHTY WARRIOR and that HE IS WITH YOU!

That is something to be excited about now. You need to realize that God has no enemies and that HE has already won every battle. If HE is on our side then that means, we have no enemies and that we have already won every battle that we face, not because of who we are, but because of WHO HE IS! Philippians 4:13 says that you can do ALL things because Christ is with you and in you!  Let me repeat, it is not because of who you are but ONLY because of WHO HE IS! You are a strong and mighty warrior because of who HE IS IN YOU! It’s tyme that you get excited about the word of the Lord and rise up and become who HE has called you to be! If you only discover an ounce of the potential that you have in Christ, then you can change the world around you.

God has already given you the strength, confidence and boldness you need to face the problems in your life. If you continue to read on in Judges 6 & 7, you will see that Gideon finally understood the words that the Lord was speaking to him and all of his enemies were defeated, not by his own power and might, but by the power and might of GOD. RISE UP YOU MIGHTY WARRIOR AND GO CHANGE THE WORLD AROUND YOU!!!

*Photo(s)/Resource(s): Danielle Grehn

You don’t have to know the roadmap if you know who created the map

If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, Any Road Will Take You There!

There is a passage from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll which cleverly illustrates why it’s important to know where you are headed in life:

Cheshire Puss, she began, rather timidly, as she did not know at all whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. Come, it’s pleased so far, thought Alice, and she went on. Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?

That depends a good deal on where you want to get to said the cat.

I don’t much care where, said Alice.

Then it doesn’t matter which way you go, said the cat.

… So long as I get somewhere, Alice added as an explanation.

Oh, your sure to do that, said the cat, if you only walk long enough”

How many people do you know who just seem to be wandering aimlessly through their lives, without any apparent sense of direction? Another way of phrasing the quote would be to say, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

To put this into Life Coaching parlance, every goal should have a Well Formed Outcome.

So what then, is a Well Formed Outcome? Quite simply, it means being very clear….. crystal clear, on the outcome you want from a particular goal. Notice that we use the word “outcome” rather than “objective” for the goal. This is because outcomes consider the consequences of achieving the goal, rather than just the goal itself. For instance, let’s imagine someone sets themselves a goal to get promoted in their career – that is, the objective of the goal is promotion. So they work very hard, put in lots of hours and take on lots of extra work that no-one else wants to do, and after 2 long hard years they achieve their objective and are rewarded with promotion. Unfortunately though, their marriage is at breakdown point and their kids hardly know them, because they have not been around for the last 2 years!

In considering promotion as an outcome, you would think about the conditions of achieving it – for example, “Is it worth the cost to my relationships?”, or “What else might suffer if I really go for this?”

Another feature of a Well Formed Outcome is that it is stated in the positive. Let me just ask you not to think of a pink elephant…. What did you think of? This is because the way the subconscious mind works is that it can’t represent negatives without first turning them into positives. So saying, for example, “I must stop smoking” focuses the mind on exactly the thing you want to stop. By saying “I am a non-smoker“, you are giving your subconscious an alternative self image to focus on, and one which is aligned to the outcome you want to produce.

Remember, don’t say what you don’t want, say what you do!

Reality vs. Fiction, and Human Power versus the Power of God

#1This past weekend my wife and I watched with our nieces the “Oz The Great and Powerful. I had very mixed feelings about the prospect of a “prequel” to “The Wizard of Oz” – which some say is one of the top 100 movies. But it’s not one of my favorite movies. I’ll give the movie it’s props, according to the Library of Congress, The Wizard of Oz is the most watched movie of all time. Now, almost 75 years later, comes the release of the “origin story” entitled Oz the Great and Powerful

#1Over the last few years, we have had so many “origin” stories in film that it could be argued that they represent a new genre.  In reality, this is not entirely a new method of movie storytelling (think: Godfather 2, where we learn of Don Corleone’s origin), but it certainly has become much more prolific of late.  My personal favorites are Batman Begins and X-Men: First Class.  X-Men: Wolverine is pretty good too.  Now, if you’ve seen some of these#1 origin movies, they appear to follow a pattern of a tragedy or crisis which changes a “normal” person into something/someone entirely new.  Bruce Wayne becomes Batman after the death of his parents.  A group of outcast mutants overcome personal tragedy to become a band of superheroes.  Oz the Great and Powerful is the current offering of this movie genre, and I bet we’ll see some sort of crisis that changes one normal man into the powerful wizard.

“Oz The Great and Powerful” actually kept me awake! It is a fantastic movie visually, The the special effects were amazing (colors and images) diffidently Oscar worthy! They did take artistic liberty that stays true to the original spirit of Oz! The film is rated PG – and I strongly suggest to all parents they use caution when taking their small children to view this movie. It is dark, and much scarier than the original “Wizard of Oz”. My nieces we took are 6-year-old and 14-year-old. Ironically the younger one handled it without a problem, but my older one was too scared of the flying monkeys, as well as the Lion.

As a Christian parent, I truly believe that instilling a strong sense of imagination in our children is important. This film provides the perfect opportunity to discuss reality vs. fiction, and human power versus the Power of God. I pray that you will be able to enjoy the artistic fiction in this film, while remembering how much God has blessed us with the depiction of our world through the masterful eyes and works of the filmmakers!

When I first read this movie’s plot summary, I thought about the story of how the people of Lystra treated the Apostle Paul and Barnabas.  Because of this duo’s miracles and healings, the people thought they were gods come to earth in human form, thereby worshiping them as Zeus and Hermes.  But unlike Oscar Diggs, Paul and Barnabas didn’t attempt to falsely act as wizards and rescue the people.  They refused to be worshiped, and pointed people to Jesus Christ as the only One who could save them from their sins.

But the even better contrasting parallel in this origin film is between Oscar Diggs and Jesus Christ.  Oscar came from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz.  Jesus came from vibrant and perfect Heaven to dusty old earth.  In pride and arrogance, Oscar looked for fame and fortune.  In perfect humility, Jesus came to sacrifice and serve.  Oscar is reluctantly drawn into the epic problems of Oz, while Christ willingly came as the solution to mankind’s problems.  Oscar emerges as the powerful Wizard of Oz through the use of illusion, ingenuity, and even wizardry.  Our Lord emerged as King Jesus because He had REAL power as the Son of God.

In the end, Oz the Great and Powerful is just a story of a mythical man who goes from somewhat of a rascal to a good man–masking himself as an all-powerful wizard.  Do you remember Dorothy’s scolding of the wizard in The Wizard of Oz?  She told Oscar that he was a very bad man for deceiving the people of Oz (as well as herself and her friends).  The wizard’s response is classic: “On no, my dear…I’m a very good man.  I’m just a very bad wizard.”  In other words, Oscar Diggs was a horrible GOD even if he did become a good MAN.

Well, contrary to what many people believe, Jesus was NOT a really good man, or simply a prophet who left us with insightful moral teachings.  And, He was NOT a good man who somehow pretended to be God or even emerged as God later in His life.  He was not God who sort of looked like a human being.  The truth of the matter is that Jesus is the perfect God-Man, fully God and fully Man.  And, as the perfect God-Man, He fulfilled all of the law’s demands, satisfied the righteous wrath of God, and gave His people salvation from sin and a relationship with God.

So enjoy the origin story of the Great and Powerful Oz.  Use it to remind yourself and train your children about the person and work of King Jesus.  Rejoice in the fact that He is the Great and Powerful Lord that delivers us from the need for any mythical wizard.  And, as a bonus, there are no flying monkeys in Christ’s kingdom!

*Photo(s)/ Resource(s): Disney, Sam Raimi Kristen Miles & John C. Kwasny

asked:

Do you ever feel like you just aren’t getting anywhere? Like you’ve been in the same position for a very long time and you just need change? I’ve been in a standstill with God and the world in general and this is sort of embarrassing but it’s really been screwing with my vibes, man. Especially now during the summer, because that’s when my depression peaks. I don’t know how to move forward, or what He wants me to do or anything, but I know i have to keep moving. Any advice?

On a long enough timeline, when I talk with friends who are of any and every belief, race, age, and gender — I always find a restless discontent that plagues them everywhere they go.  Me too.  It doesn’t matter how happy we are with God, with our marriages, with our career or college or kids.  It’s always the same itchy awkward gap between who I want to be and who I really am.  Almost no one is truly satisfied with their lot in life, and sometimes it’s because they could definitely do better, but other times they just know that this world isn’t our real home.

In some ways, this dissatisfaction is easy, and entire blogs are dedicated to yelling at everything that’s wrong.  But it’s a symptom of the real issue. I think the huge expectations we have over life can feel like knocking backwards on the door of nostalgia, to an unreachable fountain of unquenched thirst that won’t happen on our side of the door.  Of course, we must strive for joy and fight against evil and pursue healing.  But when you feel like you’ve stalled out or that your faith is dry or you’re all worn down, it’s perfectly natural to feel restless and itchy in your soul sometimes.

So please have grace for yourself on this.  We all experience these up-and-down seasons as much as the weather changes, and I think if we were told this from the start, then preparation would already win half the battle.  When my body gets into that strange rhythm of sudden discontent, I can already tell myself, “I’m on to you, bro.  You don’t get to tell me who I am.”  I find contentment in knowing that tiny little itch will always throb at me, and that’s part of being human.

Sure, all this stirring could indicate that you need to change a few things.  It could mean to let go of something or start some things anew.  Maybe God has for you a totally new vision, a new city, a change of career.  I would talk this out with a friend, face-to-face, one-on-one, to share that disembodied urge.  It can help for someone to say, “Yeah man, me too.”  If you feel depressed, please please please talk that out in safety with a friend.  We need honesty to move forward. And it helps to share our discontent before we make decisions from it.

But there is always this inconsolable longing for Eden that will remain a wounded vacuum which can drive you crazy.  And it’s okay.  It’s there.  It shouldn’t be so foreign to us that we feel like foreigners on earth.  And in the midst of that, even a tiny mustard seed of faith is enough to move the mountain and keep climbing.  God is cool with our weak hearts, and maybe prefers them.

To bring it down to ground level: one thing you can do is Try Everything.  I don’t mean you do black tar heroin and punch babies and race cops.  I mean, just do off-the-wall things you would normally would do or have always wanted to try.  I mean life is too short to second-guess “God’s Plan” all the time, and sometimes God’s Plan is to enjoy His creation and His people.

So serve at the soup kitchen like we always wanted to.  Learn salsa and jujitsu.  Read to the elderly.  Get a dog.  Volunteer at the nursery.  Read a huge Steinbeck novel.  Take a bath with flowers.  Build a house.  Buy a plane ticket.  Cook a gross hamburger. Teach a class.  Audit a class.  Attend a mass.  Find an inner city ministry.  Talk to strangers for a day.  Take pictures of nothing.  Actually call someone on the phone and speak with their human voice.  Ask someone “How are you?” and let them vent for an hour.

I know I could say all the usual things like read your Bible and sing praise and pray hard and talk to your pastor.  Those are very crucial things, by the way, and as a pastor I would never diminish them.  But along with our Christian disciplines, usually the way forward through a rut is to make a sharp left turn outside of your safety, and I think if more people did this, there would be less crime and more artists, more beauty and less slumber, more happiness all around.  God is found in both Scripture and the stream.  You can make that happen, and He’ll be there.

Photo(s)/Resource(s)— J.S.