Choose Wisely

When you experience a move of God all you want to do is tell people about what God has done.  Filled with such hope and confidence, all you want to do is share it.  So here I was completely intent on telling my story any and every chance I got when something unexpected happened. All of a sudden, I lost all motivation to tell my story. The bizarre confidence I had gained in telling my story was gone. I looked up and all of a sudden my story had lost its excitement. What I once felt could not be stopped had come to a screeching halt.  So hold on...what has just happened here?! I was just soaring above the trees telling my story of hope to all who might come along and then...thud.

I awoke with a mouth full of dirt, face firmly planted on the ground. I picked myself up and dusted off the soil from my clothes.  Now, I had mentioned in my prior two posts that my story was becoming increasingly more real the more that I told it. So what would happen if I stopped telling it? Would my story be any different?  If my story loses steam what happens?  Does it change my story?

A lesson I have learned in other areas of my life is that what we do not know has the potential to hurt us.  Early in the sharing of our story, we must learn to choose wisely who we share it with.  When God moves we want to shout it from the mountaintops, but what we may not realize is there is a time for everything.  Early in the process of telling your story, the response of others can play a crucial role in fueling your story.

Who we choose to share it with can have damaging consequences.  It can fan the flame or it has the power to extinguish your flame.  This is the perfect time to take it to God.  Ask Him who you should share your story with and when.  Seek His guidance before you blurt out all that God has done!  The time will come when you share your story with anyone willing to listen, but now is not the time.  Pray often and choose wisely...

A Story To Tell

So, here I stood a new person! I was so excited and so scared at the same time. Excited for what God had done, scared to go back to the Spirit of Fear I knew too well. I had yet to tell a soul. Until one morning when God told me to tell my daughter who was nine at the time. We had about twenty or thirty minutes drive to get where we were going. So how do I explain this to a nine year old? Somehow God gave me the words to say. The more I told, the more excitement and confidence I gained. I dropped her off at her grandma’s and headed to my counselor’s office. On my drive there God told me to tell my counselor. After telling my counselor, I left his office and began my way back home.

I can not remember how, but before I knew it I was telling my mom over the phone. My story was becoming real the more I told it. The next thing I remember was being at a client’s office and God telling me to tell my client. God began to use my story to speak to other people. He was saying things to people I do not remember saying. Weird, I know.

During my time with my client, she asked me to stop so she could write something down. I was baffled that God would say something to others through my story. It was clear by now that I had to continue telling my story. I remember distinctly having a conversation with God before telling my client. I say conversation, but I was largely debating with God as to why I should tell my client.

I was silly to try and debate with God, but I was being real. In this conversation/debate God revealed two things to me. One, God did not write my story so I could keep it to myself. Two, I needed to tell my story as much as other people needed to hear it. Telling it was essential to my healing.

So I had told most of the people who needed to hear it, but I shied away from telling my wife Kristi. Of anyone who needed to hear it, She did, but I was afraid. What if it did not last? How hard it would be for her to hear this and then see me backslide towards a Sprit of Fear. The time had come to tell her and I could not hide from it anymore.

Of anyone who needed this story besides myself, Kristi was on the top of my list. She had seen me at my worst and knew my anxiety might not go away. She had taken care of me when I could not take care of myself. I feel she was as hesitant to believe in this miracle as I was. Mainly because it would change everything about our lives going forward.

A Bizarre Confidence

God, I remember when you did the impossible. I was taking a basic programming class in a long line of classes working towards finishing a degree I had started years before. I knew the concepts in this class, I just was not familiar with this specific language. I was dreading going through a class as basic as this as my knowledge was more adept than this class would lead you to believe. I would not say that the class was beneath me, but I was not thrilled about having to spend my time going through it. At the same time, it was a programming class which was the focus of my degree. So I was somewhat happy to be taking a core class which would lead me to towards completing my degree. It was here, in the basic, in the mundane, where God chose to do the impossible. Finishing this whole degree was something I felt God led me to do. I was still experiencing chronic anxiety on a regular basis. My anxiety level had quickly increased while taking classes. I believe my wife Kristi was irritated with me and my insistence on finishing this degree. I was stuck trying to defend my decision while trying to gain confidence in my field of programming. I was stuck on an assignment which was taking far too long for what it was worth.

It was here in the middle of my frustration where God showed up. This assignment tripped me up and I was exhausted from trying to solve it. It was a defining moment where God said, “Craig what is the simplest, most unelegant way you could solve this problem?” In less than thirty minutes, I solved the problem I had just spent four hours trying to figure out. I was blown away!

So I approached my next problem. Within thirty minutes I had solved this one. I continued with my next one and yet again I completed it. I began to feel this bizarre confidence, not in myself, but that God had created me for this. I felt confident that with God’s help, I could solve any programming problem that was put in front of me. I did not know all of this language, but I had no doubt I could face any challenge with God’s help.

Over the next twenty-four hours I experienced something I will never forget. I awoke the next morning still bearing this bizarre confidence I had discovered the day before. There was this freedom, I was significantly lighter than before. Anxiety which had held me captive just the day before was GONE! I went through the day in disbelief. This couldn’t be right?!? I had prayed for God to help me with my anxiety before, but this time it was completely gone.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It was at this time I remembere a verse in the Bible which says that God prays on our behalf even when we do not know what to pray. Another twenty-four hours went by and I still felt this way. Could this be my new normal?

Being Made Holy

The life we were meant to live is in His kingdom. A real life without celebrity, worldly wealth or glamor. A life which starts by our realization of how badly we need a savior, Jesus. Our only reasonable response to this realization is complete surrender and awe to Jesus. A cornerstone in the foundation of a kingdom life is one's ability to learn to live by faith. If you examen the most influential people of the Bible, you will quickly notice they have one thing in common. Theses individuals learned to live by faith.

Take David, not King David, but David before becoming king over Israel. David remembered God's faithfulness in past events and went out to fight Goliath. He was appalled by this man's lack of respect for God. He didn't see this 9 foot giant as the rest of the Israelites did. David saw just one more of these little battles he had been fighting all his life.

The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” (1 Samuel 17:37 NIV84)

David realized he had the power of God behind him and that God fights differently than man. God had prepared David through each small battle while watching over sheep. Each seemingly small fight to protect sheep was a faith builder. People only saw a shepherd boy, but God saw a mighty warrior.

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. (1 Samuel 17:45 NIV84)

Our actions or inactions cannot make us holy. There is only one who makes us holy and this battle has been won. Jesus makes us holy, we just have to be willing to accept His gift. Our next reasonable response is to wholly surrender to Him. Our lives are not our own.

Being made holy is not about our actions, but the condition of our heart. God is refining us through each small or seemingly large battle. After each battle we come out of the fire a little closer to God. We learn to leave the things of this world behind and pickup our cross.

The Dangers of Flying Blind

If you have ever attended a leadership training or a team building event, you have most likely experienced an exercise I like to call Flying Blind. The exercise typically involves pairing up with another person you do not know well. Next one person is assigned to be the eyes for each pair. The other person is blindfolded and is told to allow the verbal instructions from their partner to direct their steps. There are times in following Christ where one might feel like the blindfolded person in the training exercise. I can tell you from experience that your ability to hone in on the Father’s voice is the key to successfully following God. We must intentionally guard against all forms of distraction, mental fog, or disruption in our line of communication with God.

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This is a point in our walk where we are extremely vulnerable. We must be extremely diligent in pursuing the things of God. Sometimes we make the mistake of reading too much into what God is showing us. If we do not take intentional steps to remain impartial, there is the potential for us to use what God has shown us to affirm things we want deep in our hearts.

So what do we do to remain impartial? We must seek humility and guard against all forms of pride. We ask our brothers or sisters in Christ to hold us accountable in advance. We regularly meet with them and allow them to speak into our lives. We allow our own assumptions about things God has shown or told us to be tested by God and our brothers or sisters in Christ. If we do not test these assumptions, the consequences can be devastating. Any of our assumptions which are proven wrong we destroy.

We use God’s promises to sustain us and error on the side of humility. This is a time where your prayer life will take a drastic turn. It becomes a place to LISTEN and HEAR from God and not solely a place to voice our wants or desires. One tactic I have found incredibly beneficial is that of taking the perspective of a steward. Pray from this perspective and it will change your life. Go ahead! Try it!

Pray this prayer... God we(I) surrender these gifts and abilities you have blessed us with. We seek to do only YOUR will. Provide us with clarity and help us to remain humble while following you. In Your Hands. -Amen

Agreements - The Enemy of God and Man - Part 1

The human brain is one of the most fascinating creations on planet Earth. One could spend their entire life devoted to studying the brain and not scratch the surface of all it has to offer. What we choose to believe in our lives has the power to raise us up or derail our lives for all eternity. It is no wonder that our Enemy, The Devil, spends vasts amount of time and energy right in the middle of shaping or reshaping our belief system. It is in our belief system where most of the battle is won or lost. If this area is so important to the human condition, why do we as believers not spend more time here? Shaping our childrens’ beliefs should be at the top of our lists as parents. Still we spend time on things like not raising one of “those” types of kids. Largely as parents, I believe we make parenting about ourselves and not about the kids. Yep, I said it, we are selfish.

I do not have to spend much time to show you that humans are selfish, do I? As parents we do not teach our kids to say “mine.” This response is innate, something we come out of the womb with. So why so much hostility when I suggest that parents are selfish? Usually when we fight some type of feedback it is because deep down we know there is truth in it.

It is not that shaping our children into being a well-mannered, productive member of society is such a bad thing. The problem lies in that we are not giving our kids, essential truth (Bible-based), to take with them into adulthood. We fail in teaching our kids about identity in Christ, what it means to live for Christ, finding our Chazown or dream. Why? I believe it is because we, as adults, do not have a good grip on what these things mean for us. We cannot teach what we do not understand.

I am not suggesting nor do I believe that we are doomed as a species. I am saying we need to wake up to what is really important as humans, as parents, and as Believers. This topic is extremely broad, so I will begin by covering the lies which we believe which have such a strong pull on our lives. Being able to discern lies from truth is one of the essentials of living as a believer. If we cannot tell the difference, we will fall for lies every time.

How can I tell we as humans cannot tell the difference between the truth and lies? I am guilty of believing lies and applying those lies to my life. These lies or agreements, are beliefs about life or anything which set themselves up against the knowledge of God(the Bible). As long as these agreements present themselves as truth in our lives, they have the power to prevent us as Believers from living the lives God has planned for us as His children.