You Are Fully Known

We were created to be known at a level we have yet to experience on this earth.

“You have searched me Lord, and you know me.”

Has someone ever assumed something about you that was totally off? I’m sure they have. 
Have you ever been misunderstood by someone because of your actions or words? Probably.

This is discouraging because we want to be known for who we truly are. Yet when we see ourselves for who we truly are, it is frightening. Our carnal mind is tempted to turn to condemnation.

“Because God knows my truest nature, He is disappointed.”

And yet…

Before we were formed, He knew. 

“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place…

…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be…” Psalm 139

Before we lived with this nature, He chose. He gave up the Son knowing we would betray him. He chose us ahead of time. He knew you then. He knows you now. He still offers grace.

And the only way to experience this knowing is through the Holy Spirit. He woos us to Christ, where we find a new nature. A new kind of longing that can be met. 

Every deep desire at its core is a desire for God. 

A longing for trust. A hope for a mate. A desire for friendship. We were made for community because we were created by the Triune God. Our best relationships are a picture of what the most important relationship can be. Yet they are dim in comparison. Like a negative sitting in a dark room and slowly developing over time, the picture will come forth the day we are privileged to “know as we are known.”

Though we know Him only in part on this earth, that part is more than enough to steady our hungry hearts. 

Even part of God is far superior to the whole of anything else.

No matter how close we are to another, there will always be a hunger for more because Christ is the reason we were made. 

“All things have been created through him and for him.” Col. 1:16

In our hunger to be loved, to be understood, to be known- we strive and search and grasp until all other sources fall short. And then, we look. We see a glimpse. Though dim, it warms our heart like nothing else. He beckons us- come near.

And in Him, we find a love that surpasses our knowledge. He is all-knowing AND completely loving. 

We invite him, “search my heart and know my anxious thoughts. Show me if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way that is everlasting.”

And He does. Beside still waters, He leads. 

Hand in hand we will walk with Him, fully known. 

When You Need to Know God is Working Something Good

I’ve been working on a commentary for Romans 8. And when a verse you are studying makes a head on collision with life, things become real clear in a personal way.

It’s such a beautiful and hard verse.

“God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.”

God works.

Just rest there for a minute. Just put that on the fridge today. For the striver, the worrier – for all of us – what would we do, if not for Him? Before we ever were, He worked. Before our current problem, He was at work. In the midst of the Bermuda triangle when everything around you is spinning – He works.

All things. Each thing. Each person. Individually. On our time table. He works. He works all things together. For our good.

It’s the good that makes it beautiful and hard.

It’s the defining and understanding and questioning of that word. It’s the living it out. It’s the trusting.

We see in its study the word compared to its usage in Luke when the writer is talking about fertile ground. The hard stuff is fertile ground. We don’t want to be tilled, but we must be to prepare for a planting.

And I remember what I said to my daughter yesterday about the flower she picked for me.

“No, baby, it won’t grow. It doesn’t have roots.”

We have to choose what we allow to take deep root in us.

deep root

Often a seed of hurt goes deep, deep down. We can’t nurse it. Too much attention, too much water and it rots. Ignoring it causes the dryness. So what do we do? Where do we go?

The word good here actually denotes something that is inclined towards goodness. Of course; I get it. Where does all goodness come from? Only the Lord. He allows and uses circumstances, trials and joys that our neck would turn in one direction.

That’s the working out of it. All things draw us to Him.

We want a person to say a certain thing. We imagine a certain puzzle piece locking into place. We go back a thousand times and rehearse the scenario. What if…..

And you eventually find out that no person, no pill, no scheme can touch that hurt you have. And you realize there’s got to be something more. There’s got to be something bigger.

And there is.

God.

He is. He is bigger. He is better. Only God can do this for me. Only God can turn me around when I’m running hard in the wrong direction. Only God can mend a broken heart. But it’s more than that. God isn’t just a mender. He’s a Maker.

He makes new from nothing. He creates hope. He enables us to do what we are convinced we cannot do. And it changes us. When we offer grace we didn’t think we had. When we see ourselves in the lineup of people deserving judgment and see Him pronounce us released.

They say trials bring out the heart of a man. I’ve seen mine too often. But recently, I saw the heart of a man I know and it changed me. In the thick of the fire, his heart came forth as gold. He loved those who slandered him. He reached out to those to hurt him. He listened to those who disagreed with him. And he still loved them. And he told me so. He told me how much he loved them. And it really, truly did something in  me. It was the changing point.

I’d never really seen the love of Christ lived out like that.

Christ was humiliated, and He still loved them. They spat on Him, and He still loved them. Deeply. Dearly. He lived through the hurt because His heart beat for people.

And everyone was wondering how this cruel act could cause any good. His followers were overtaken by a mob, and they scattered. Meanwhile, the seed of Christ’s pain was burying deep into the story of the world. The ground had been tilled with the truth of the gospel. Long hard days of truth-telling and miracle-working. God always works.

Christ really can make us a different kind of people. And it’s a miracle. Like the Sunday morning when the seed took root, sprouted and Christ overcame the world.

Doesn’t mean it’s not hard. To love people. To overcome. To believe for something good in every hard, confusing story. It means we can.

We turn our face towards Him. We allow His work in our heart. He waits for us. He sees the hurt. He doesn’t rush. But He offers a different way. Different than the world. Different than the direction we’ve been moving. And though we thought our way felt the most right, we feel relieved. The hurt can move on….because we’ve got Him. He really is enough.

The circumstances are trumped. Because the something good coming forth is found inside of us.

That’s His best work.

Perseverance Must Finish Its Work

I have a friend from my school days who has a son on the heart transplant list. Her family is on my heart so often these days. I’m sure I need to tell her more often how much I have been lifting her up to the Lord.

She’s been waiting 14 long months. Within that- many long days. Away from home. Hoping for a new thing.

I spoke about new things to a group of ladies yesterday. Lunches in front, small high school library, in between student testing.

I told them it’s how God defined Himself.

“Behold, I make all things new.” Rev. 21:5

Not just a hope. Not a slogan.

It’s what He does.

And I remembered a season when I needed a new thing, hoping for good news. Discouragement sat heavy and I leaned on the prayers of others.

Then I ran across a section in the book of James, while asking “how much longer Lord?”

“Perseverance must finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4

Perseverance wasn’t done in me. My faith was strong until the trial hit home. And just like the Lord told Peter, there is a faith each of us will need in the final days….and what we have now just may not cut it.

There is a work inside the believer toward the characteristic God means to observe. He doesn’t cause trials, but He uses them. If we can trust with faith — in the waiting – we attain the reward that ends up strengthening us. For what do we get when we persevere in faith? Character. And through character, the forming of our spirit after God – we gain hope. Because who knows the promise of hope more than those who have desperately needed it and found it in Him.

The winter will soon turn to spring, new life brimming with scents and colors we’ve missed in the waiting. I’m long from that season of struggle, years ago now. I have not seen the answer to my prayers in their fullness. Only part. But seeing the pieces come together slowly over time has grown patience in me. Quick answers never do that.

So for those fresh in the season of waiting and persevering, I’d offer hope. Hope that doesn’t come easy but lasts forever. Hope in the promise of God doing the making.

The verb used in the Greek for “makes” is a prolonged verb. It denotes a long passage of time. We each have our own time table. Our own story.

And I remember Paul, chained in prison, saying something about “all things” working together for the good of those who love Him. There, in the Greek, it speaks of individual things. Each circumstance, each trial, each person a part of the whole story.

They work together. Like winter, spring, summer and fall. Every season is part of our redemption story.

So we look for spring in the midst of winter. We call a friend and admit to a testing of our faith. And we hope. Mostly for the day when we are found complete in Him.

For now, we let perseverance do it’s work as we choose to believe. Something new is springing up. Even something new inside of me.

 

 

 

There is a Comforter

 

“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7

Imagine the despair of the disciples. The only One you trust is leaving. Suffering. Dying. They scatter and feel alone. It is here and only here, in suffering and solace that we are invited into a level of intimacy with the Comforter of our souls we had never known before.

Paul proclaimed that as we “share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (2 Corinthians 1:5) Who would rejoice in sharing abundantly in suffering? Yet, here we see what it leads to.

When you read this literally through the eyes of the Greek language, it actually says that an increase in suffering equals an increase in comfort. We get more of Him.

Because He knows we need more strength, His strength is poured out in greater measure. So to experience more of His power, we actually need to be in a place where we recognize how much we need Him.

If you are acutely aware of your weakness today, you are in the perfect place for God to show up. The word comfort actually means “to call beside.” He is calling, waiting. It is a calling near. To lean into Him and rest.

Does God allow suffering so you will draw near? It seems so. The God of all comfort knows just what our personal disposition will require for finally letting go and falling into His grace. You can fall into Him today. He is holding all things together. That includes you.

Lord, you are more than able to hold all things together. There is nothing you cannot do. I’m resting in your promise today that where I am weak, you will be strong. Thank you for never letting me go.

5 Ways to Go Deeper with God

Make one change for Him. Daily choices determine our habits, and habits form a life. Big changes always start with one step you take over and over again. Recently, I gave my phone to my husband as he headed out the door to work and told him I would pick it up in the afternoon. That was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. I recognized that a habit I had allowed to form was drowning the one I really desired to live out. I needed to shut down the habit of checking in with the world so I could focus on what God has for me in this season. Because we are creatures of habit, change will always challenge us. Fasting is perhaps the surest way to awaken us to what we hold quite tightly too. When I want to shake my spirit from dullness, I skip a meal and cause my mind to reflect on God. What is one change you can make….or need to make…to help your focus turn towards Him? It may just be the best decision you make.

choices

 

Pick up a pen. No other created thing God made can communicate through the written word. There is something powerful about writing. Whether it means you begin taking notes again during the sermon time, start journaling your evening prayers or just always have a pen handy when reading scripture. I thoroughly enjoyed When I Journal, He Speaks by Dr. Michelle Miner. The Holy Spirit is actively speaking to believers. Writing helps us tune in to what we think we are hearing from Him. Putting the pen to paper (or hitting the keyboard) is one way we “capture our thoughts” so we can put them up against the light of truth and combat any lies of the enemy. As King David sang unto the Lord, he declared that his tongue was the pen of a skillful writer. (Psalm 45:1) He turned his praise into written word so others would know the goodness of the Lord. Just imagine if we did not have the Psalms today! Pick up a pen, listen and lean into what the Spirit is saying.

Cultivate daily worship. When a local radio station challenged listeners to listen only to Christian music for thirty days, they saw a huge response in the attitudes of callers who participated. We were made for worship. The ironic truth is that as we worship God, it actually renews our own spirit within. Feelings won’t always come first. That’s okay. You may even feel distant from the Lord and wouldn’t know where to start. Try out a Christian station on Pandora or play soft music on your iPhone while reading the Psalms in the morning. God has promised He will inhabit the praises of His people. When you choose to enter an atmosphere of praise, you are drawing near to God. And He will draw near to you.

Read the Bible out loud. We know from studies that when you increase the modes of learning, the brain sits up to pay attention. Even visual learners will increase their memory when sound is added. One really enriching way to do this is reading to your children, but anyone can benefit. Specifically, I find that reading the Psalms or Isaiah out loud can cause the words to catch in my spirit. I find I start praying the words and coming into agreement. God chose to communicate with us through the written word. He is waiting to speak to you on every page. If reading has become old hat, try something new. Find a hidden place to go by yourself and read aloud. Turn every reading into a time of prayer by saying, “Thank you God for this truth.”

Choose community. Christianity does not flourish in isolation. My most intimate times with the Lord have surely been alone with Him, but I will bear little fruit for Him, if any, sitting in my home. Because the Lord designed us in His image, we have the built-in need for fellowship and communion. For many, this step is huge or hard. Isolation has become common in a world in which connecting includes only a screen. Many are alone or don’t know where to start. When we sink into ourselves, our spirit will become dry.  Everyone, at some time or another, has felt alone. God wants to lift you up. He sees you. But you would help his cause quite a bit if you would give Him the chance to love you through the tangible hands and feet of the church again. If you have allowed a hurt from a person to transfer to the Lord, remember that God is defined as love. Choose to attend church this week. Let the pastor put the ashes on your forehead and remind you that “from dust you came and to dust you shall return.” Then remember that the pastor will also face eternity and we are all in the same boat. Call an old friend and ask them about their faith walk these days. Attend a Bible study and take a deep breath knowing everyone else in the room needs help just as much as you.

Deeper

Our church is asking a question during Lent: How can you go deeper with God? We’ll be discussing the vows we take upon joining a church and what that means for a follower of Christ. What are some ways you go deeper with Him? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share via your favorite social media. Be sure to use #deeper to share with others about your faith journey this Lenten season.

 

 

5 Ways Every Mom Can Capture a Child’s Heart

I’ve always been moved by the truth we often miss in the midst of evangelism amongst the poor.

Empty stomachs have no ears.

Hungry bellies can’t focus on our lessons about God’s provision like the moment we give them a warm roll to chew on. It’s a hard balance for the church today. Thankfully, by His mercy, we learned that gospel truth plants more deeply in the warm soil of love in action.

We nourish their physical hunger and the spiritual antenna goes up. Love can soften the hardest heart.

It’s the same, I’m learning, with the children we raise up.

My son doesn’t really hear my frustrated words about treating his sister with kindness after I made him feel less important than the book I was reading twenty minutes earlier.

My daughter will nod to please because she wants to be liked but her heart will wonder where my priorities are when I say “in a minute” one more time to her request for playing with her.

I pray they are passionate and courageous and sold out for God. I think most days of how and in what ways I will try to teach them the better ways of life. But the truth here in the home where world changers are meant to be nurtured, is that needy hearts have no ears. 

Children need to feel loved first.

mom child

When any relationship is based solely on duty, behaviors may adapt short term while the heart only hardens or breaks.

Forced obedience is one route, but it won’t follow them out the door. Or bring them back. Souls return to grace over law every time.

If I want my influence to go deep and long, it must be rooted in something other than my authority.

Authority is a gift to be stewarded well. All Moms know it’s a daily struggle to balance law and grace. Lately, in our home, grace has just been needed much more.

I don’t want perfect behavior; even I can’t pull that off. I’m praying for molded hearts. Here are five ways I’m working to earn the ears and mold the hearts of my children:

My promises are “Yes”

All of God’s promises are yes in Christ. As a bearer of His goodness, I want to keep my promises. We are careful in our home about using the word, and when we do, we consider it important to follow through. We will all fall short of God’s faithfulness, but we can then point our children to the One who keeps every promise. When I forget, I try to apologize quickly and tell my kids I need their grace. When I do keep my word, I build credibility with my kids. So when the day comes that they have hard questions, they come to me as trustworthy. Words only go so far when the actions don’t match. How can I focus mostly on their actions but ask them to focus on my word alone? I’m paying attention to see that my actions match my words.

Strategic Prayer

We don’t need to wait for the hard teen years or the various school challenges to arise for our prayers to truly matter. Only parents know the most specific emotional, physical and spiritual needs of our families. Every single need can be targeted in prayer with scripture. We can even pray for their hearts to be receptive before we teach them a principle we value. For the things you see in your children, have you tried prayer as a first approach? It is powerful and provides a peace in our home and heart as Moms. One important note: let them hear you praying. The seeds may not be visible, but the fruit will follow.

Quick Response

If quick obedience is requested, will our children have ever seen us respond as quickly to them? How long do they wait on us to give them our full attention? What priority do they hold in our day? How long do we really have to capture their hearts? I’m working on dropping what I’m doing the moment they ask me to hold them or play for five minutes. We can’t always do this. What if we responded quickly when we can? It trickles over to their quick obedience. Children need to know they are a priority to us. They need to see it, feel it, experience it first hand.

Praise

For all the days of discipline, praise can go a long way. Kids are as hungry for praise as we are. Some are just plain starving for it. When my days are heavy with “No’s” (and that’s often in the younger years) – the house can start to feel heavy with frustration. How often are we looking for opportunities to encourage with our words? Positive affirmations often work much better than constant correction. I’ve found the more I praise, the more often my kids want to obey. We talk about praise in our home. Praising God and sharing His love with others. We invite the kids to think about how they can encourage others. We can’t make their choices for them, but we can lead their hearts. We start by praising them.

Laughter

There is just nothing like the breaking of laughter in the midst of stress. It is absolutely healing. For grief, frustration….and even anger. For our kids, it just helps break the ice. Tickling is quite common here. When awkward comes in, the tickle monster comes out. Parents need laughter too. Sometimes the family just needs to remember that we are on the same team. That not every issue is worth fighting over. That we can even laugh at ourselves. When children struggle to communicate, they understand touch – whether it’s through tickling hands or loving hugs. It’s about a return to joy and the bigger perspective. Perhaps the issue is not as important as us loving each other in the moment.

We live with needy hearts. Little or all grown up, all anyone needs to know is that they are loved. It’s a daily goal to capture those little hearts with grace so they will desire the law of the Lord. Perhaps, along the way, we will learn more about grace ourselves.

One Way to Encourage Your Child: Name the Gift

I sat down to write a note of thanks and found another drawing on the table.

annieart

Scribble to some. Imagination and vision to another. The creator always knows. Isn’t it always how we see it?

And I remember the one I should have saved.

There were about eleven copies. Annie brought them to me one day and presented them as usual. “For you, Mom.”

They were all of the exact same thing. It seemed like mountains. And each picture had a circle at the bottom with a dot in the middle. I said, “Annie, what is this?”

“It’s a foot, and that’s a boo boo.”

“Ann, is your foot hurting?’

We found out that day Ann had an abscess on her foot. She didn’t just come up and tell me her foot hurt. She expressed herself through art. And right then at that moment, I said it.

Annie, you are an artist. You express your feelings through art.”

She smiled. And I believed. I spoke out what I believed for her future. For her right now.

If words have power, and they do…..and if parents have influence….and we do….what have we spoken over the life of our children? Is there something waiting to spring forth when we activate that faith in a child?

To name the gift is to believe in what we see developing within them. We open doors to hope and purpose when we are specific and intentional with our words.

What life can you speak forth in your child today? Name the gift and watch that child shine.

What Michael Phelps Can Teach Us About Prayer: Pushing Through

After Michael Phelps received his eighth gold metal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games someone asked him what made the difference. What separated him from all the other swimmers? He said that after all the other swimmers were done with practice and got out of the pool, he remained.

Michael Phelps just stayed in the pool.

When the last splash of water hit the pavement from the drip of a lesson done, this Olympian pushed harder. He took one more lap, one more backstroke and dreamed once more of a greater story. Many times, I’m sure he was alone.

Dreams for something bigger and better will include some isolation. To push along when you feel alone is not easy. Doing the hard thing over and over again separates great from good. And what we do in our places when no one is watching prepares us for when millions are.

Perseverance and longevity are not just physical strength lessons. They are the price we pay for spiritual maturity. George Muller was the Michael Phelps of prayer. He just kept praying when everyone else gave up.

I began reading Muller’s journals in the midst of a deep born hunger for prayer about three years ago. His was the only lesson I could not grasp. The term “pushing through” felt rough and hard. I wondered why we ever needed to pray more than once for something. If God really heard and we had as much faith as we could muster at the time and dotted all the right i’s, why did we have to play it on repeat? If we really believed we would receive, didn’t asking for it again negate that faith?

In the midst of these questions, I was finding myself praying for things which did not seem to bring fruit fast enough for me. As my prayer life was strengthened through long times of listening, adoration and targeted Scriptural prayers, my mind still wondered about the practice of “praying through.” I knew that, too often, I would give up too soon.

When my daughter was facing a possible serious medical procedure at a very young age, the Lord directed me to the first chapter of James. My faith was faltering because I wasn’t seeing results from my prayer the way I wanted to. A friend of my husband even felt moved to drive three hours to our home and prayer over her. That day I had very little faith to agree. I missed a great opportunity to believe in agreement with a man I barely knew because my worry trumped my faith. When our deepest concerns for those we love the most come head to head with our prayer life, we find our default faith. Sometimes the fear of losing what we love masks the love He wants to fill us with. (This is why hard days need friends. When you can’t see past your feelings, ask someone to believe for you). I’m so thankful that friend believed.

In that season something directed me to the book of James because verse four was for me.

“Let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Just that portion and that portion alone in the midst of this known section on trial made my heart burn within. God was not finished yet. I was pulling out early. I needed to get back in the pool.

But it was more than wrestling in prayer for one thing. It always is.

Praying through is about answering the same question we wake up to every day:

“Do you believe?”

And I’ve found out that there is a faith only found in the process of praying through. Coming to Him over and over again about the same thing provides a depth to our prayer life that we need and don’t even recognize. It’s not a begging. It’s not a fight against God. There is a wrestling within ourselves, our death to self. To busyness about the wrong things – always. But there is also an opening up over time. A listening. A sensitivity to the request….”teach me, Lord, how to pray.”

It means I haven’t figured it all out and that’s okay. It means He wants to draw us to Himself instead of a formula.

George Muller prayed for twenty years for a lost friend to be saved. What did he say in year ten that he hadn’t said by year eight? I don’t know. But that man gave his heart to the Lord as Muller was dying. To pray for that long means he found a contentment in the asking. He found contentment in the One he was asking. His persevering prayer became a conversation.

This is where our talking meets up with listening and we adjust the need. We grow up in Him as we allow the Teacher to walk us through the asking.

Some days we just say, “I trust you.”

Other days we say, “Help me believe.”

And, finally, other days He does the speaking. “Just rest. I’ve got this.”

No matter the need, the circumstance or the prayer, perseverance seems to be the ticket. How many people have quit just short of a breakthrough?

I’m still praying for people I’ve been praying over for years. My prayers have changed. And so have I. And I just bet there are about a million people out there today in the same place. Waiting, hoping, still waiting. Possibly tempted to get out of the pool and wonder if any of the work, the time, the faith is worth it all? Perhaps other people would say it’s foolish. To believe for such big things only God could do. To get up early and get on my knees again. To go above for others when it doesn’t seem to matter. To serve behind the scenes or give generously when the world says to hold tight.

Faith won’t always make sense.

But I’m writing this today for myself and everyone else out there who just knows in your gut that God always comes through.

Whether it’s been two days or twenty years, it’s worth it to believe. For that dream. That healing. That restoration.

God is still in the business of redemption. He is the God who answers prayer. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Get back in the pool.

Get back in the pool

One more lap. One more prayer. Today. Because I’m walking my spirit into hope.

“..suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Rom. 5:3-4

When Anger Sets up Camp

My four-year-old daughter stomped her foot, placed her hands on her hips and huffed, “I’m mad.”

Way to own it, sister.

We don’t have to look long today to witness anger in society. We may just find it inside. For some, a spirit of anger was passed down. You don’t even know how to respond without anger. For others, it’s just one disappointment after another, stuffed down to rise another day.

Anger says: I want my way and I must take it by force.

As we look into scripture we will see that anger itself is not the major problem. It’s what we do about it.

“In your anger, do not sin.” Eph. 4:26

You and I were made with beautiful threads of emotion to enrich and fulfill our lives. God made you with emotion. He did not make emotion to rule over you. This verse helps us see we will FEEL those emotions. But it also tells me there is a space between my feelings and my actions. That space is crunch time for the Christian. What we do there and how much of the Spirit we allow to flow will affect our maturity, our harvest and our joy.

“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Don’t read this so literally that you miss the point. This doesn’t mean that you have to fix ALL YOUR STUFF before your head hits the pillow or it’s too late. The point is the longer you wait the harder it is. Because the longer anger visits, the more likely it will set up camp.

set up camp

King Solomon said that “anger resides in the lap of fools.”

Let’s define reside: to dwell permanently; to settle; remain for a long time.

When you let anger it, it means to stay. There are many, many people walking around today on the brink of rage because anger came to visit and stayed too long.

God asked Cain why he was so angry. He stepped into that space between anger and the first murder recorded in scripture…to help. Cain let the tent pegs go into the ground, and anger turned to rage.

The longer you play the tape in your mind concerning that circumstance and how wronged you have been, the deeper the lies take hold. And one of the deepest lies anger can tell is this: revenge provides relief.

lie anger tells

I call anger the black widow of emotion. Because the more we feed it, the more it strangles us. We can rationalize anger probably more than any other negative emotion. We’ve all been “wronged” at some point. For some today, you may not even remember the last time you liked people. Because somewhere along the way frustration led to anger and anger led to bitterness.

Here is what you and I need to know as Christians in this discussion: Our yesterday does not have to define our next days. You really can KNOW what it’s like to laugh again. To find joy in people again. To take a deep breath of release.

Christ makes me better. He calls me to better. I don’t want to excuse my behavior or my response. I want to look different to the world. I want a harvest. You can decide today to start over in Him and redefine your label. If you see yourself as angry, began to say “I’m free in Him. I release those who have wronged me.” If others have seen you as angry, let God show them through you what redemption looks like. He can do it.

You don’t have to live angry. There is a better way for you. It’s through Him.

10 Catalyst Conference TakeAways

Don’t you give your life to something small. –Andy Stanley

Andy is telling the story of the man who would walk into the room every Tuesday and ask him, “Watcha workin on big?”….and I’m dreaming for my own children. Because story does that.

We weren’t meant to think small, dream small or settle. When we dream in the image of a BIG GOD, small stays at the drawing board and we walk out into the mystery of miracles.

Doubt dies unborn if it’s never spoken. – Christine Caine

Your mouth, believer! Your mouth. What power resides there! It’s not question of IF doubts will assail. They will. It’s about what we do with that doubt. What faith will we give life to today? What will we speak forth about our family, ourselves, our city, our church? What are you saying? Do you believe? Let’s shut down doubt at the door of our minds and say, NO – if my God said it, He can do it. We are well able to take the land.

Stir and Disturb. – Andy Stanley

Leaders are called to stir up the dreams within the people they serve. Are we disturbing the status quo enough to make a lasting difference and cause others to dream again? We must keep wonder alive in the hearts of those we love. Who knows but what dream they have that will change the world.

Awakening starts with thanking. –Chris Brown

To awaken our world to the crisp morning joy of our Lord, we must be grateful. We take light into the darkness of despair when we rebuke the lie that He is not enough. He cannot inhabit praise we never bring forth. But when we do, walking through the doubt, the darkness and the thoughts of lack – we find a new song. It’s a song the world needs to hear. To give thanks is to bring Him glory right where we are. It’s why we were made. And it will awaken the wonder of those around us to the God we worship.

Be a student, not a critic. – Andy Stanley

Because if you are a critic before you are a student, you shut down the wonder. What if progress is disguised as a different you don’t like. What if you don’t have the entire background story of someone’s life or theological stance. What if the church thought well of each other first.

Impossible is where God starts! – Christine Caine

If you were sitting in the room with 11,000 people and your spirit didn’t jump, you missed it. THIS can stir and disturb and rock your maybe into a big wide open YES for His call. But it starts with HOW we see what is right in front of us. When  you hear impossible, will you know God is about to enter the circumstance? Why do we pray for miracles and then live within our own power, giving Him absolutely no room to bring a miracle. If your dreams are small enough to accomplish on your own, they are not big enough. If what you are asking for is just NOT done, that’s the realm God has room to move in. Recently, I came against a statement about what could not happen with prayer – and guess what? God answered. He specializes in impossible. Don’t miss it!

Replace how with wow.  – Andy Stanley 

Ideas make the world go round. Details come later. When we shut down an idea because it feels TOO BIG, TOO UNDOABLE – we miss the opportunity to display the power of God to the world. What if we responded first with “WOW” instead of I just don’t know how that will happen. Let’s choose to wow the world with the dreams stirring within. Be the one in the room that says, “What if God did this for us, through us?” What if…….

If you are in Christ, you are always on the other side of the Red Sea. – Trip Lee

He HAS rescued us. He HAS redeemed us. He HAS moved on our behalf. How often do we talk about what prayer He has not seemed to answer instead of counting the miracles lined up behind us. Perhaps our nighttime ritual should be to count the miracles. Remember – God created the heavens and the earth with his outstretched arm. NOTHING is too hard for Him.

Here’s my job: when you’re drowning, I find you and bring you to the surface. – Brene’ Brown

We are family. It starts at home and moves into the church. When we see someone drowning – we reach down. We get down on their level and pull them up. None of my stuff matters when my husband is drowning in life. To flourish best, we flourish together. If one is weak, we are all weaker than we are strong.

Remain suspicious that God is up to something good. – Margaret Feinberg

In the midst of it all. Right there. Right now. He can make something good spring up. Are you making room for Him. Are you on the edge of giving up today? Call someone. Reach out. Pray again. Don’t you give up on a God who is out for your very best.