Abundant Bravery

“I am grabbing all you fears by the jugular because I know you are my everyday enemy. You fears are too often my cancer, my addiction, my hidden habit. You’re my jailer, my poison, my daily blade of self-harm. You’ve been my anesthetic, the thing I’ve let come freeze me every day, lock me up, and suck away my life. You’ve snuffed out my soul while you kept on breathing for years. You’re the most common brain tumor, always beginning in our minds.

“You fears may think you can divide us and conquer us and imprison us in small places, in small lives, with high fences that keep out hope and possibility and each other and the lives we really want. But you don’t know how we’re seeing things.

“You may think you can make us cynical about dreams and apathetic about hope and dubious about possibility and people and prospects. But we’re all over you: you aren’t meant to drive our lives; you’re meant to teach us something about life. You’re a chameleon that wears a thousand different masks, and there are ways to see the realest, truest, surest things.

“You can sound loud or you can strut about and rant like pride. You can grow deathly quiet and look like numbness or apathy or indifference or a dream running in the wrong direction.

“But the thing is: When I find my fears, I find my idols. When I find where you lurk, I will look you in the eye until I know your realest name. And I will say your name out loud. …

“So I will go on crushing all of your life-absorbing fears to a fine powder because this is the deal: I want to be better at letting go of you than letting go of joy. I don’t have to worry about what’s up ahead because Christ is the head of everything. And I don’t have to fear what’s around the next corner because Christ is already there too. 

“We don’t have to abide in our fears because we can abide in our Father.

“There’s believing it and then there’s abundantly living it: Fear is a liar, and love hands out keys. Love is infinite and love can’t ever end, and if love doesn’t run out, what is there ever to fear? There will still be love when the worst happens and when the hope doesn’t happen. There will still be love when everything is crumbling, and there will be enough love to rebuild. There will still be enough love to keep breathing, to keep believing, to keep being and being brave.

“For this I know: Fear can be what we feel, but brave is what we do.” —Ann Voskamp, The Way Of Abundance

Check out some other quotes from Ann’s amazing book here, here, and here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 8-11

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Isaiah 8-11

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Isaiah 8-11.]

     God did not give a progressive revelation of Himself through the Old Testament: the people progressively grasped the revelation, which is very different. …

     The remarkable thing is that when Jesus Christ comes, every one of the things the prophets have been saying fit in with one Personality, the Being whom we know as the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah never saw Jesus Christ, he could not have imagined Him, then what inspired him? The very Mind of God (see 2 Peter 1:20). … 

     Fear is apt to make us atheistic and in our outlook we enthrone the devil, not God. God is behind it all, not a thing happens but He knows all about it. …

     If we try to draw our breath from any other source we instantly get diseased. By prayer and communion with God we live out in God’s moral open air, consequently we can live in the cities and amongst the places of men and maintain the life which is in accordance with the Messiah’s life…. The enemy of our souls goes for all he is worth against our praying, against our solitudes with God, he tries to prevent us drawing our breath in the fear of the Lord. The great need is to bring every thought and imagination into captivity to the obedience of Christ until every bit of our nature is reconstructed. 

From Notes On Isaiah

In these four chapters of Isaiah, the kings of Judah are facing enemies closing in from all sides and fear is mounting. Isaiah keeps speaking a word from the Lord that amounts to God saying this: Stop focusing on your troubles and focus on Me instead!

It’s a good reminder for us still today. God is in control. Let me say that again: God is in control! Let His perfect love and His perfect power drive out fear from your heart. Keep your eyes on Him, not on the problems coming against you. Let your thoughts be captivated by Jesus, and you will be reconstructed from the inside out with the nature of Christ.

7 Quotes From “Whisper”

Mark Batterson’s newest book—Whisper—is all about learning to hear what God is speaking to you. Check out my review of Whisper by clicking here.

“Is God’s voice the loudest voice in your life? That’s the question. If the answer is no, that’s the problem.”

“If you aren’t willing to listen to everything God has to say, eventually you won’t hear anything He has to say.”

“When someone speaks in a whisper, you have to get very close to hear. … And that’s what God wants.”

“God is great not just because nothing is too big; God is great because nothing is too small. God doesn’t just know you by name; He has a unique name for you. And He speaks a language that is unique to you.”

“We worry way too much about what people think, which is evidence that we don’t worry enough about what God thinks. It’s the fear of people that keeps us from hearing and heeding the voice of God. We let the expectations of others override the desires God has put in our hearts.”

“Every thought that fires across our eighty-six billion neurons is a tribute to the God who knit us together in our mothers’ wombs. But when we have a thought that is better than our best thoughts on our best day, it might be from God. That doesn’t make it equal with Scripture, but it’s a step above a ‘good idea.’ Is it easy differentiating between good ideas and God ideas? No, it’s not. And again, even what we perceive to be God ideas must be screened by Scripture. But when God gives us ideas that we don’t believe originated with us, we must be careful to give credit where credit is due. And it’s our job to take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.”

“If your life is off-key, maybe it’s because you’ve been deafened by the negative self-talk that doesn’t let God get a word in edgewise. Maybe you’ve listened to the voice of shame so long that you can’t believe anything else about yourself. Or maybe it’s the enemy’s voice of condemnation that speaks lies about who you really are.”

More quotes from Whisper coming soon!

Poetry Saturday—A Private Litany Of Humility

From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of comfort and ease, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being criticized, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being passed over, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being lonely, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being hurt, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering, deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like Yours.
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, strengthen me with Your Spirit.
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, teach me Your ways.
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart,
help me put my self-importance aside
to learn the kind of cooperation with others
that makes possible the presence of your Abba’s household. Amen. —Rafael Cardinal Merry Del Val

The Transparency That God Loves

Have mercy … heal me … deliver me … save me … (Psalm 6:2, 4).

A mark of a godly leader is one who is not afraid to share his vulnerabilities.

David freely admits his fear of punishment, his need for God’s help, and his grief that robbed him of sleep.

But he also admitted just as freely his rock-solid assurance of God’s help:

  • The Lord has heard my weeping
  • The Lord has heard my supplication
  • The Lord will receive my prayer

Godly leaders are confidently transparent before God and before those around them. God delights in that transparency, and He delights to answer vulnerable prayers.

This is Part 17 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

Brave Enough

I originally wrote this seven years ago. This morning I felt like someone else needed to see this again…

Craig T. Owens

If God asks me to give $1, I can quickly and easily say, “Yes!”

If God asks me to give $10, I say, “Okay!”

If God asks me to give $100, I say, “Um, well, if You say so.”

If God asks me to give $1000, I say, “I need to pray about this ‘faith promise.’”

If God asks me to give $10,000, I say, “As soon as You bless me, I’ll be able to do this.”

This same principle holds true for anything else:

  • Used clothing? Sure. Brand new stuff? I’m not so sure.
  • Volunteer an hour? Okay! Make a commitment for an hour every week? Let me think about it.
  • Pray for someone? No problem. Add them to my daily prayer list? Whoa!
  • Support missionaries? Yes! Become a missionary? Well….

It’s easy to obey when the stakes are low. But the more “zeroes” that get added to the…

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Saturday In The Psalms—Don’t Be A Fool

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 53).

You can choose this paradigm if you like. But if you do, here’s what you can expect—

Corruption … you will reap from others the corruption you sow

No one seems trustworthy … you will live your life untrusting and not being trusted

Limited understanding … “without God we’re just a lucky convergence of matter and energy, and after death there’s a vast nothing,” says the fool. But anyone who’s ever fallen in love knows there is something more than just matter and energy.

Everyone seeks his own self-interest … no one does good just to do good (we’re back to the untrusting lifestyle again!)

Fear and terror of the unknown … these lurk constantly in the back of your mind

Missing out on eternal blessings … what if you’re wrong? what if there really is a God who wants to be in relationship with you? If that’s true, you are squandering your life. You are living for the moment, and about to miss out on an eternity of pleasure in God’s presence.

A fool sticks his fingers in his ears, closes his eyes, and refuses to even consider an alternative—“There. Is. No. God!”

Don’t be a fool!

Will you at least be willing to consider the possibility that this Universe was created on purpose? Will you at least be willing to consider that the Creator made you to have a relationship with Him?

The fool tries to make all of life fit into his tiny box. The wise person knows there’s so much more.

Don’t be a fool!

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