Own it as if…………an exhortation for you

At this point in my life, I have learned that there are things that happen in life that you do not ask for, and were outside of your control. You do everything right, or at least to the best of your ability, but things still happen. It’s a fact of life even as a Jesus following Christian.

However, your position as the steward does not change whether things are going great, or when everything has fallen apart. When “life” has happened, even if you did nothing wrong to cause it, you have to own it as if it was all your fault.

What I mean by that is that wherever you land after the event, you have to get up, take responsibility and begin (maybe better said, continue) to steward things from where you are at. Stand in your faith with confidence, be a good steward with what you have where you are at, be thankful for the growth that comes with the hard time, and start the climb.

Because of His word, I have confidence that faith pleases God, He rewards good stewards, and He has great plans in store for you.

People may or may not be around to help, but the one who has given you every spiritual blessing in heaven will be. If you will fully own it, and have faith that God is fully for you then I know you won’t stay where you landed forever. You may be there for a season, but God will use it as a springboard (the bigger the fall, the more compression on the spring) to propel you beyond where you were before.

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

The turn back…it’s God designed

Have you ever found yourself being chased by the same thing? Maybe you thought you finally got away from that issue, but it showed up again. Now let me add to it, have you ever found yourself being chased by the same thing when you know, that you know, that you know you are being obedient to God, and doing what He asked you to? I have.

Now I am not talking about repeatedly choosing to sin. I’m talking about when you are trying to do what God wants you to do, but you keep finding yourself under a barrage of attack by the enemy. Almost as if going in circles. A lot of times when this happens we start to feel like we are stuck in a rut, or feel like we are stuck in some kind of bad cycle, and maybe even start being accused of such things.

There is an interesting little piece of text in Exodus 14:1-4 where God tells Israel to turn back. God delivers Israel from slavery in Egypt, and they are on their way to the promised land free and clear. They were moving in a direction that they would not even need to cross the red sea; however, God then tells them to turn back. He says you turn back, I am going to harden Pharaohs heart, you set up camp for about a week and allow him and his army to catch up. (you can read the whole story for full context)

I’m sure the people had some thoughts about this idea. The person they were just delivered from was going to be allowed to catch back up to them, and seemingly capture them again. I’d say they probably didn’t like the plan. However, Moses assures them that God will deliver them.

So moving through the story, God allows Israel to cross the red sea on dry ground, but he drowns Pharaoh, and his whole army. What God actually did was take Israel from being delivered to being free. As long as they were afraid and looking over their shoulder for pharaoh they would never be free. Delivered from his hand, but not free.

So here’s the thing, sometimes God has you turn back in order to thoroughly destroy the thing that keeps chasing you. You may have been delivered from an attack, but not free from the fear. God wants you to be free. More importantly, when He does these things in your life it lets everyone around you know that He is God, and it glorifies Him.

Live your life kingdom first, God really is for you! I am for you!

Go as who you are.

Have you ever realized that it takes a long time to meet the real person you thought you already knew? Life and Religion have a way of making us leave who we really are at home. People send out a representative of themselves, usually because of perceived flaws. Think about some of the situations you have been in….

Dating…..You send a representative, and you meet a representative. After you’ve been married for a while, or been together for a while, you discover more and more of the real person.

Job interviews….You send a representative, all of your best qualities go into the room.

Church…..You send the best representative of yourself. You argued with your spouse all the way to church, the kids wouldn’t cooperate and get ready, but you walk in with your game face on.

I could go on with more examples, but I think you get the point, and I think you can probably relate.

Your looks might get you the date, but your character, how you treat the person, your commitment and the real you is what will determine if the relationship continues.

Your education, skills, talents, abilities, and gifts might get you the job; however, your character, how you treat the people, your commitment, and the real you will determine if you keep the job.

Your game face may hide your flaws, but it doesn’t change the reality of the situation.

Here’s the thing…it’s ok to be you. God created you on purpose for purpose. You won’t succeed at everything you try if you stay true to who you are. You won’t get every job if you stay true to who you are. Not everybody is going to like you if you stay true to who you are. That’s ok. It really is. Some of the religious people will judge you when it was really just a bad day. That’s ok, they have bad days too. Choose not to judge them, but relate to them. You’ve been there.

Some people like coke, some like pepsi, some like sprite, and others like tea. There are people who are going to celebrate you. Don’t send your representative. Go as yourself. Acting brings you unneeded suffering. It will wear you out, and make you withdraw. Acting like you are someone else just says that God messed up your design. He didn’t. You are just the right flavor for just the right people, places, and things He has for you.

I’m not saying you need to take your bad morning in the church with you, but I am saying don’t think that you are flawed because you had the bad morning. Everybody else has them too including the leaders, and the ones who act like they don’t.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take your best qualities to the job interview or the date, but I am saying it’s ok to be yourself during the discussions even if doesn’t go the way you planned. God’s plan is better every time.

Seek first the Kingdom, and all else will be added to you. If you get that part right, He will align the right people, places, and things at the right time; furthermore, you won’t have to act. You will be energized rather than depleted.

God is for you, and I am for you! Go as who you are.

Blessing and favor….What does it look like?

What does blessing and favor on your life look like? How do you know that you are blessed, or that God has placed His favor on you? How can people look at you, and know that you are blessed?

I can tell you that the vast majority of people will relate it to money, and assets. Both personally, and externally when looking at someone else. You see someone with a lot of money, and you think they are blessed. You get a new car, you thank God, and post it on Facebook saying you are blessed. We see people living in big homes, and we think the favor of God is on them.

Sometimes it really is the favor of God. Sometimes they are taking advantage of people, and doing things they shouldn’t be doing in order to have those things.

The big question for this post is….Are the people who don’t have the things we normally equate to blessing, and favor blessed? For the people who are doing what God has asked them to do, the answer is 100% yes. Don’t just equate material things to blessing, and favor. God is so much bigger than that.

Sometimes the people who are being pressed down the most are the most blessed. I’m talking about the people who when you look at their life externally it looks like all hell is breaking loose, and their life is falling apart. God’s favor is on them in a tremendous way. You have to be pressed down, and shaken before you can run over with blessing. You have to be broken all the way down before you can be built back up into something new, and better.

When I went through basic training years ago I learned this lesson without knowing it. In the first half of basic training the drill sergeants beat you, break you down, and make you feel utterly defeated; however, it is only for the purpose of rebuilding you into a better soldier than you ever could have been before.

How can you know if God’s favor is on you? Ask yourself….Is He pressing me? Is He shaking me? Is He building me?

In the sermon on the mount Jesus tells us who the blessed people are. He talks about internal growth, not external things. Is He making you humble? Is He making you hunger, and thirst for righteousness? Have you been in a place of mourning? Not I, but Jesus says you are blessed. Those that have been in places where they needed mercy, are merciful to others. Those that have been in places of mourning, comfort others.

If you will follow Jesus no matter what might happen, or what it looks like, you will be blessed.

He is for you, and I am for you! He is only pressing you so that He can establish you!

 

Do you feel like you are suffering-a few scriptures to encourage you

Suffering is certainly not a current buzz word such as prosperity, authority, or abundance etc. However, it is something we will contend with while we live in the flesh on this earth. Be encouraged for God is working things to your good.

1 Peter 4- Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

1 Peter 4- 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

1 Peter 5- 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

Again be encouraged in your suffering for God himself is perfecting, confirming, strengthening, and establishing you even as I type this!!

 

Get your mind right!

Romans 12:2 New International Version (NIV)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Ephesians 4:23 New International Version (NIV)

23 be made new in the attitude of your minds

Conform means to comply with the rules, or standards. Do not comply with what life does to you, what the doctors say, what people say, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. You don’t have to comply with any of those things, you can comply with the Holy Spirit who is greater than anything else that can come against you. You begin to be transformed when the things and people of this world can no longer steal your peace and joy.

You begin to be transformed when the attitude of your mind says this is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I will means you have decided to rejoice and be glad no matter what happens.

If you don’t get your mind right, everything you invest in yourself will fail because of a weak mind, or leak out (even pour out) of a mind that refuses to change. If you want to lose weight, get stronger, read the bible more, overcome low self-esteem, overcome lack of emotional control, whatever it is first get your mind right. Your body likes spinach, but your mind will tell you it likes donuts. The word of God is alive and powerful in the things you need to understand, but your mind will tell you it doesn’t have time to read it. You have to get your mind right. Just like you can have the will to rejoice and be glad, you can have the will to eat spinach, and study the word of God. (hopefully you can connect to those simple examples)

Get rid of envy, blaming others, blaming your childhood, pettiness, unforgiveness, etc get all of that poison out your mind. It is only hindering you, and wasting your precious time. You can’t afford to waste another year with an old mentality. You have to step into your moments with a new mind. You have to have a new perspective and way of looking at your situations and circumstances.

If you are letting people, things, expectations, whatever keep you from rejoicing and having peace you are wasting time being miserable. Let the past go, let the words go, let the hurts go, let it all go, forgive and go. Don’t waste another year, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. If you have Jesus, and you are still struggling, you can have a complete metamorphosis right now. None of the junk in the old mind is worth hanging on to anyway.

As a man thinks so is he. The devil doesn’t have to manifest, beat you up, and bind you in chains. He just has to chain your mind down with stress, worry, envy, jealousy, pride, low self-esteem, anger, pettiness, etc. If he can chain your mind, he can chain all of you. He can make you physically sick just by making your mind sick.

Today is the day for you to be transformed and free.

Setting your mind free will set your life free. A transformed mind = a transformed life.

Foundations

From Luke 6

A wise builder dug deep, and laid a foundation on the rock and his house was not shaken.

Foundations aren’t flashy. They don’t display the beautiful modern design, and concepts. Foundations are work. Foundations require blood, sweat, and tears. Your foundation work does not bring you recognition, nobody compliments you on your great foundation work. So why dig so deep, and spend so much time on the foundation? Because life is going to try to shake you, but because you took the time to dig deep you will still be standing when the storm passes.

Everybody wants to skip the hard work, preparation, and pain. Everybody wants to focus on the flash, flair and attention, but these things can not with stand the storm. If you will take the time to dig deep, sweat, fight through, cry, and bleed, when you get to where you are going you will be able to hold it down, withstand the test of time, and you won’t let anybody take it from you.

If you skip the hard work, preparation, and pain only to work on the flash you will get to a place you can’t handle. You may get there, but you won’t be able to bear the storms of where you are at over time. You will throw it down and quit, or let someone come in and take it.

When you have worked for it, bled for it, fought for it, cried for it, learned through it, when it has cost you a piece of you, no devil on another level is going to take it from you. Work, prepare, withstand the pain, and build your foundation now because when you get to the next level you won’t have time. The storm is already there waiting on you; however, a wise builder has no worry because the storm can not shake you.

 

 

The trouble with growth….an observation

Whether it has been me having a hand in helping something grow, or watching something grow, I have made an observation.

There is a consistent problem that arises in the growth cycle of any organism….. It comes to a peak. It’s not that the peak is such a bad thing, in fact the peak always brings celebration. The trouble is that directly after the peak comes the decline; furthermore, you don’t recognize that you have peaked until after you have already started the decline.

So here is something I think you can do to turn the decline into a new trajectory for a new peak. CHANGE. Change how you do things, change what you read, change your environment, you may just need to change everything. You should always be willing to scrap your model of how you do things.

The trouble with growth is it will leave you in a spiraling decline if you are not willing to change.

Important thoughts for where you are going….

Here are a few thoughts that have been formed over the last couple years of my journey….I think they will apply to you as well.

  1. There is no easy way, nor is there a shortcut to the full expression of who God has called you to be.
  2. Your capacity to endure determines if you will make it there or not.
  3.  Your character determines if you will stay there or not.

 

What would you say?

What would you say to yourself if you walked in a room, and had the chance to have a serious sit down meeting with yourself at 18? I was recently challenged by this question while listening to a podcast.

I try to keep my posts to 750 words, or less so that they are a quick read. Sometimes it leaves me feeling like they are incomplete; however, I know that I would feel that way if I wrote 2,000+ words. Needless to say with this topic it would take a lot of words to be complete; however, I will try to keep it short.

Honestly the first thing I would tell myself is that it will take us months worth of meetings to get everything straightened out. It’s kind of funny, but true. When I thought deeply about this, and went through some serious self-reflection, I came up with two primary subjects I would talk about. You only have one meeting so you have to make it count.

Subject 1. Don’t let other people shape your understanding of who God is, get to know Him deeply for yourself. Listen, and learn from people; however, seek Him first. This will save you a lot of struggle in the near future, and a lot of time spent unlearning things in your life. In knowing Him deeply you will find that you come to know yourself as well. After all, He designed you to be who you are on purpose, and for purpose. Don’t let other people shape the vision you have for your life. If you do you will spend a lot of time fulfilling other people’s expectations, and never walking in fulfillment of your own vision and expectations. Celebrate other people’s vision, help other people with their vision, but know that it’s ok to blaze the trail towards the God-given vision that burns in your heart. Seek first the Kingdom in your decisions, not what other people will think or say. The people who matter will celebrate you.

Subject 2. You are very driven, and a very hard worker. You get that from your closest family, as it is a core value. It is a very good characteristic to have; however, it will not be enough on its own. You will have to couple some things to your drive, and hard work. Things like patience, persistence, and wisdom. The wisdom you will need will come from God, and Godly people. The wisdom of the world looks good, but looks can be deceiving. Godly wisdom will show you that good credit is simply your relationship with debt, the wisdom of the world will tell you establishing good credit (meaning putting yourself in debt) is one of the most important things you can do. The wisdom of the economic machine in America will tell you there is good debt, bad debt, and you can leverage debt to become wealthy. Godly wisdom will tell you to owe no one anything except to love them, and to multiply what you have. Remember looks can be deceiving, it can look like you have many assets, but let’s be really honest, if that asset carries debt with anyone it’s not really your asset anyway. This can lead to many troubles. These are just examples, and it’s ok for you to have this conviction even if it isn’t popular. It is also ok for you to support others that don’t carry your same convictions, whether it is this example or others. I will tell you that I’ve just stumbled onto an equation that you can use now, and in your future. I have never heard it exactly like this before. Drive and hard work + patience + persistance = wisdom = growth. Walk toward your vision, be patient and persist in the harder times, and you will gain wisdom as well as grow as a son of God. Of course it’s not a bad thing to learn from the wisdom gained by other people around you. Take this useful knowledge, and apply it to your life, it’s easier. However, you will find that applying this knowledge does not equate to the same growth in your life as earning wisdom through the before mentioned equation. It is harder, but it’s still worth it.

Bonus: Seek to be the most impressive to your wife, daughter, and family. They matter the most.

If you take this advice you will get where you want to be a lot faster, and a lot easier. If you don’t you will try a lot of things, and get caught up in other people’s ideas, but you will learn, grow, and be ok. Know your Father, and become who He created you to be.

There is so much more to be said within these two subjects, but I will bring this post to an end.

I am happy to have been able to share a piece of my heart with you. Leave a comment, tell me your thoughts, or share your heart. I challenge you to look at your 18-year-old self, and reflect. I would love to hear from you.

Live your life Kingdom first!

Levi