2015 Fasting Devotion, Day EIGHTEEN

Read Matthew 6:25-34 (MSG)

A new year causes us to both reflect on last years wins/losses as well as plan for the year to come. How can we get ahead? Earn more money. Ensure our kids have a good year in school. Lose weight. Pay off debt. Buy a house. Grow our church! Stay on top of schedules, school work, housework! Cook healthier meals. Keep closets organised. Make new friends. And the list goes on…

We must not turn all this planning and forward thinking into WORRY. Jesus reminds us to focus on today and encourages us to look around at how well he takes care of the birds and flowers. Don’t we matter much more?

When we spend all our time preoccupied with “getting,” we miss out on God’s amazing “giving.” The more we get to know God and the way he works, the less we should worry about the future. God is at work in our TODAY. Beauty and blessing all around. Learning to BE in the moment with our families brings honour to God. Finding rest in our crazy lives means trusting Him with our tomorrow. Turning our focus outward instead of on ourselves and our problems shines the light of Christ in a dark world. God is doing his best for us, working on our behalf. Let’s allow this to be enough for today.

Jesus, you bring great perspective and wisdom to my situations and worries. Thank you for reminding me that you’re in control of my life and that you WILL provide everything I need. As I set goals and look toward the future, help me to trust YOU ultimately and receive what you’re giving each day with gladness. You’re the giver of all good things and for that I am grateful. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

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No Turning Back

Today is a landmark day for Greg and me.  It ends our time on staff at Celebration Church as well as our time as distributors in AdvoCare.  Both have had significant impact on who we are as leaders, pastors, and entrepreneurs.  Both provided us with community and relationships that will last a lifetime.  Both have given us fulfillment and purpose.  To close the door on those two chapters in the same day feels somewhat like we have closed one of those huge floor-to-ceiling bank vaults; neither of us have the code to re-open it.  No turning back.

All day, I have been singing the old hymn:

I have decided to follow Jesus

Verse 1:

I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus.
I have decided to follow Jesus;
no turning back, no turning back.

Verse 2:
Though none go with me, still I will follow,
though none go with me, still I will follow.
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
no turning back, no turning back.

Verse 3:
The world behind me, the cross before me,
the world behind me, the cross before me.
The world behind me, the cross before me;
no turning back, no turning back.

The words are significant and powerful. I feel like we are jumping off a cliff into an unknown abyss.  No turning back!  Whether anyone goes with us, still we will follow.  No turning back!  Soon, Texas will be behind us.  Only the cross, our calling, and Australia will be before us.  No turning back!

Sometimes “following Jesus” scares us because of what we think we will have to leave behind or give up.  What we don’t realize is great peace comes in knowing you are right in the center of God’s will for your life.  For every thing I can think of that we are giving up (and trust me, I’ve thought of them all; there are a lot), I can think of 5 possible replacements God might have in store. As a matter of fact, Ephesians chapter 3 promises that God has more planned for us than we can even think up or imagine.  That’s exciting considering I have a great imagination!

The Bible tells us to “deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him.”  This is contrary to everything the world encourages us to do.  Hollywood, TV, and self-help books will tell us to “follow our hearts” or to do what makes us happy.  We are encouraged to deny ourselves nothing.

Did you know God created each of us for a purpose?  Whatever your “gift and passion” are, they were given to you by God Himself.  He desires nothing more than for you to step into that passion and change the world for Him.  Taking up our cross and denying ourselves just means deciding that even if His path seems less convenient or harder, we are willing.  It means that even if we initially feel ill-equipped and worried about the details, we will follow Him anyway.

You can bet moving across the world feels quite inconvenient.  It feels hard and lonely.  I feel like I have no business “starting a church” when I don’t even exhibit the “fruit of the spirit” in my own four walls when it comes to patience with my kids.  Even though the Bible tells me not to worry, you can bet I’ve been up half the night more than once worrying about finances, schools, my kids, losing my friends, and more.

The thought of not walking in my calling far outweighs the weight of all this.  The thought of looking back at my life and knowing I let fear or worry stop me from taking a leap of faith with God is unbearable.

To know that the God of the universe, the ONE who created me, has given Greg and me vision, desire, and training for Lift Church outweighs the sadness I feel about closing that vault.  I remind myself that if God is for me who can be against me ?  This propels me to jump off the cliff.  Knowing there are hurting people living in Newcastle whose lives and eternities will be changed because of our obedience makes me want to run forward as fast as I can.  No turning back, no turning back!