For the last couple of days, I have been sharing a crazy story with you. The story of following a crazy God prompting to get on an airplane and fly to the other side of the country for coffee and church. If you have missed the first two posts in this story I encourage you to get caught up here: #Crazyfaith and a Side of Coffee and #crazyfaith and GAP Crashing.
When I left off last I had shared with you that there were two destinations that I knew we had to get to on our journey; Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse, and National Community Church. I told you that each one of those destinations ended up teaching me something unique and powerful.
At Ebenezer’s I learned to never underestimate the lengths that God will go to reach out to one of his children. In Luke 15: 4-6 Jesus tells us that, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.”
Holly, who came on this crazy trip with me posted on Facebook that she was in DC. Within moments a friend of hers from Colorado commented that she was living in DC now… long story short… we ended up meeting this sweet friend for coffee and conversation. She shared that she had yet to get plugged into a church in the area — so guess who joined us for church Sunday morning? The entire trip was worth it just to help her get connected with a church where she can grow in her faith and find God’s purpose for her in the city!
At National Community Church I had two opportunities to be blessed. In the morning, I heard a powerful sermon from Mark Batterson. The most meaningful takeaway for me of that message was this statement that he made: “Courage doesn’t wait for situational circumstances to be perfect. Courage only needs a green light from God.” That one statement summed up the entire motivation of this crazy trip that I found myself on. Did it make sense- no. Where the circumstances and timing perfect- no. Did God give us a green light- yes… and that was the only thing we needed to say yes and Go All In.
Then in the evening we were able to attend their All Church celebration where all six of their campuses came together. It was the most powerful worship experience of my life. Two hours of worship while celebrating the baptisms of THIRTY NINE new believers. Every time that one of those thirty nine people would come up from the water… the entire theater would erupt in celebration. It truly felt like we were joining the Heavenly Party that is described in Luke 15!
I learned so much on this trip. I learned that:
- When God calls you he cares for you.
- Where God gives you a calling he will give you clarity. God does not author confusion or uncertainty.
- I do not have to know exactly where I am going… if I trust who I am following.
- I can be all in with God without knowing the destination because he knows the directions.
However, the most important thing that I learned on this trip was this truth: When God calls- we have to be focused on sanctification rather than justification. To be sanctified is to be set apart or purposed for God’s use… however, all too often we fail to accept a sanctified invitation from God because it is too scary or uncomfortable. We have developed the habit of justifying disobedience when we find ourselves at the crossroads of calling and comfort.
Too many of us, have become experts at responding to God’s crazy faith invitations with reasoning. We tell God all the reasons that it doesn’t make sense to follow him or step out. We worry about what people will think. We struggle to be spontaneous. Faith is not always going to make sense, it is not always going to add up, it cannot be scheduled, and it will not please everyone. God may not be calling you to fly across the country to have coffee and go to church… but he is calling you to something. The question is… are you going to answer the call… or try to justify not answering it?
For those of you that missed yesterday’s post… I began telling a #crazyfaith story that God has been taking me on the last few days. Today I continue telling that story.
Saturday morning I boarded a plane with a ticket that I had only been able to buy only hours before thanks to the amazing provision of God. He had called me to go and he had provided for me to go. The anticipation and excitement of what God was doing and about to do on this #crazyfaith trip filled my heart to the brim. I had brought two things to read on the plane: my Bible, and Mark Batterson’s In the Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. I started where I like to start every day… by opening my Bible. I turned to the book of 1 John as we began to taxi down the runway in the darkness of the early morning light. Two verses in that book really lept out at me in the darkness of the plane that morning:
“And now dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame.” 1 John 2:28
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” 1 John 4:18
In my Bible, on I wrote one sentence near those verses: Faith and Fear cannot co-exist.
I thought that I pondered as I opened up the other book that I brought with me. It took me 48 pages of reading before I came across this POWERFUL statement just as we were landing, “The only God-ordained fear is the fear of God. And if we fear God then we don’t have to fear anyone or anything else. Unlearning our fears is really a process of learning to trust God more and more.”
With all of those words fresh in my mind we deplaned at Regan International airport… I knew that we had three places we needed to get to…our hotel, Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse, and National Community Church. The problem was… I did not even know how to get out of the airport let alone find these three locations in the vast maze of concrete that is our nation’s capital.
For a split second fear threatened to overtake my heart. However, I refused to let the weed of fear take root in my heart. Prayer is a great weed killer. I prayed those two verses in 1 John over the uncertainty that I was feeling. “God in your perfect love you have called me here for your purposes… fill me with peace and expel out fear. Fill me full of courage so that I do not shrink back from anything you have for me this weekend.”
A call to do something big and crazy for God can be scary.
The destinations that he calls us to can be scary.
However, it is often the distance between the two that is the most scary.
Many of you that are part of our LeadHer Chapters around the country have heard me talk about this time in our lives… I call it the GAPS. Those times between when God calls you to do something and the time when you complete it. Those times between when God makes a promise to you and when he fulfills that promise. I found myself in a GAP as we stood in the airport of an unfamiliar city.
This was not the first GAP I have faced… and I know it will not be the last. Each of them have taught me something unique and distinct; however, they all had something in common: the presence of God. I have come to see that G.A.P stands for: God’s Abiding Presence.
There is no GAP that we go into without God. If he called us into something… he is going to go with us through something. He never just drops us off at the starting point and says, “Good luck- I will meet you at the finish.” No… rather he says… “There will never be one step of this journey that you are going to be alone.”
GAPS are hard. GAPS are scary. GAPS grow us because GAPS stretch us. If God calls you to a GAP then approach it with holy anticipation rather than human apprehension. GAPS force us to lean into God like no other time at our life.
I desire to be a GAP Crasher in my life. I never want to shy away from those moments where God says take a step… and I have no idea where that step will lead. I want boldly go into the GAPS of life because I know they are the ONLY way to go where God is calling and grow into the person he desires me to be.
Prayer and the Presence of God filled me with the confidence and courage to crash the gap of the unknown and figure out how to navigate a city in search of three known destinations (and a few unknown ones as well). Each one God used to teach me something unique and powerful… I will share them one at a time in the posts to come.
For today- I want to challenge you. What GAP are you or being called into in your life?There is always a GAP, that place between who we are today and who God wants to grow us into in the future. Spend some time today praying about what this looks like in your life and what he is asking you to do in response to it… I know it is scary. I also know that it is worth it to become a GAP Crasher who lets God guide you! Go ahead… crash the GAP.
I am sitting in the back corner of a coffee house. This is not just a run of the mill coffeehouse down the street from my home in Springfield, MO… but rather this is a much written about and greatly prayed over coffeehouse in the shadow of Capitol Hill in Washington DC. I literally flew across the country to have a cup of coffee here this weekend and pray. Was it because they have the most amazing coffee in the world… while the Pumpkin Spice Latte is amazing (I have had two) the quality of the java is not what drew me here. God asked me to come… so I came.
Let me back up a little and share the back story with you. One of my favorite books is The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. I am currently taking our LeadHer Director team through a study of this book as we have been circling our ministry in prayer. As I was re-reading chapter nine of the book with our team… God placed a strange thought in my mind. I felt like he was asking me to travel to Washington DC to visit the crack house turned coffee house that Batterson shares about in his book. The building was transformed not through the power of construction permits but through the circling of prayer by a man who had a vision.
On September 24th I wrote in my prayer journal that I felt like God was calling me to travel to DC. I asked him to make that clear for me and provide for that trip if it really was something he was asking and not just something that I was imagining.
Two weeks later… I shared this crazy thought with our LeadHer Directors. In true God fashion… several of them spoke up to say that they felt like God had been telling them that I was supposed to go to Washington DC as well. Proof that where God is calling… God is confirming.
So we looked at the calendar and found the ONE weekend that would make a crazy cross country trip possible… November 2-4. We all decided to agree in prayer that again, if I really was supposed to go that God would provide the resources for me to go. We prayed this prayer all the way up to October 31st… when I assumed that we were not going. I started to make other plans for the weekend.
On Friday, November 1st I met with a leadership mentor for a casual cup of coffee that taught me a powerful lesson: Our deadlines never sync up with God’s deadlines. She provided me with a financial gift Friday morning… a personal one… which was a HUGE blessing! It came with one instruction to NOT use it for bills but for something that I need personally right now. My first thought when I saw the amount was awe at God… it was the exact amount of money that we needed to finish paying bills this month. My instinct was to not follow her instructions and be practical instead of prayerful. Yet as soon as I told one of our fellow directors about the gift… she said, “that is your DC money Christie.”
I had not even thought of that. I assumed that a ticket on this short of notice would be so expensive the trip would be impossible at this point. Yet, I looked up the ticket and found that I could get not one ticket… but two within the amount I was gifted and still have a little left over for food and money for the Metro. God not only wanted me to step out in crazy faith… he allowed me to challenge someone else to step out in crazy faith too.
So I purchased two tickets, packed a suitcase, and drove three hours to an airport that started this #crazyfaith weekend.
As I was sitting here in Ebenezer’s today sipping my yummy Pumpkin Pie Latte trying to process my thoughts I felt like God screamed at my spirit… “Don’t just process the thoughts Christie… Post them. These experiences are not for your benefit only.” Understanding the full weight of this command from God means that I have to confess to you that I have struggled with the WORST case of writer’s block for more than a year now. Writing has long been my passion but for more than a year now the very thought of putting fingers to keyboard is physically painful for me.
Then I remembered a sentence that I circled in The Circle Maker on page 58, “writing is praying with a keyboard.” I have stopped writing and blogging because I have stopped praying through the writer’s block. Instead I had waved the white flag and focused on other areas of my calling like speaking and teaching, only writing a handful of posts and articles this last year.
I have believed that I was “All in for God” and challenged other women to be All in… but it took a #crazyfaith trip and with a side of coffee to make me realize that I was only 3/4 of the way in… I was using almost all of my gifts… but I was allowing Satan to silence the one that I was called to before anything else.
No more. I am going to dive back into the daily habit of writing by starting with sharing the stories from this weekend… I trust God to show me where to write from there. This is the first of MANY things that I am taking away from this #crazyfaith weekend! I can’t wait to share the rest with you over the days, weeks, and months to come…
About a decade ago, a craze of WWJD bracelets swept the world. Everyone wearing these bracelets was supposed to see them and be reminded to ask themselves, “What Would Jesus Do?” in each situation that they faced.
I loved the concept behind this bracelet and wore one for awhile before it became a victim of my bad memory or frequent purse changes. Though the bracelet itself disappeared… the reminder has always stuck with me.
Recently, our family has been dealing with some serious struggles in our life. The kind of struggles that the enemy can use to zap your joy and rob you of your peace if you allow him to. I have had to focus each day on not just asking myself “What would Jesus Do?” but also, “How Would Jesus React?”
I came across this passage in Philippians Chapter 2 recently and realized that this was my answer to that second question of how Jesus would react:
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Did Jesus always like the things that he had to do or endure? I am sure he did not… yet he was willing to be submissive to his Father and complete the challenging tasks that he was sent for. He did not do this so that he could be glorified… but so that he could bring glory to his Father in Heaven.
Jesus’s attitude was one of submission, service, and trust.
As I read and re-read this passage I began to ask myself: Does my attitude always reflect one of submission, service, and trust?
I knew the answer before I even finished asking the question… no. There are too many times that I allow fears to creep in or let doubts color my attitude when I react to our struggles.
I am seeing that God does not only use challenging times to deepen our faith in him and his timing… but also reprogram our reactions and attitudes in response to them.
This week the verse that I have chosen to meditate on and memorize is Philippians 2:5:
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”
This week and beyond, instead of asking myself, “What would Jesus Do?” I will focus on:
I know that if I can get my attitude to match Jesus’s — then my actions will follow his example each time as well.
I invite you to focus on this same question in your life… together let’s cultivate a culture that is focused on developing the attitudes and actions of Jesus! Imagine how that new focus in your life would impact the world and the people around you!
- Do these jeans make my butt look too big?
- I need to get my big butt to the gym.
- I can’t eat that cookie- or else I will be sitting on it for the next three years.
As I finished that article I thought about what would happen if we asked God to make a top ten list of things he was frustrated by and wanted to see changed the most about us. I have a feeling that it would not be our BUTTS but our “BUT”S would probably be near the top of that list.
In fact I would be so bold as to say that: God gave us one butt— and he did not intend that we sit on it while we give him a list of our “but”s.
But I don’t want to go tell that person about Jesus in the middle of the mall- people might stare.
But I like my job God, I don’t want to quit it to go into ministry full time.
This morning I got up early to spend some quiet time with God before the busyness of the day begins.
It was amazing to me how in just the short walk from my bedroom to our dinning room table how many distractions I allowed to detour me from my destination with God. The things left on the table the night before, the coffee maker that needed to be started, the dishwasher that needed to be emptied, the dog that needed to be fed. As I finally settled back down with my bible and my coffee I thought about how quickly we as people get distracted and detoured daily.
As God’s people we are called to be his hands and feet to a hurting world. We are tasked with reaching out to others in need but so often we are blinded by our own needs, worries, fears, concerns, hurts, hangup, and to do lists that we fail to even see the needs of others around us. This constant pattern of distraction in our lives is one of Satan’s greatest tools to keep us from being effective… if he can keep us focused on ourselves instead of others then God’s calls to reach out to those in need of HIS touch go unanswered.
I was reading in Colossians today and came across this verse in the NIV version:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
After reading it I made this list as a reminder to myself:
If I am being honest- my heart’s desire is to focus on the things above; however, my heart and mind are often distracted by the earthly things that are in my path each day. If that makes my heart sad… I have to wonder how it makes God’s heart feel?
When I looked that same verse in Colossians up in the Message Translation I knew that I had found my verse to memorize this week:
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.
I am working hard to trade my perspective for His daily and this verse will be a great reminder to me when I start to take a detour or give in to a distraction in my actions, thoughts, or heart. I am fixing my thoughts on things above and I invite you to do the same this week. Start by memorizing this verse with me and pondering it’s meaning and application to your own life and walk with God.
Today I had one of those amazing ah-ha moments in my bible study that shook me to the foundation of my faith. This was such a powerful light bulb moment for me that I wanted to share it with you in hopes that you can see things in your life differently in the light of this perspective.
I was doing a word study on our verse of the week, Isaiah 30:18. I had written down the verse on a sheet of paper and circled the words and phrases that added extra meaning to the meaning. As I looked up the meanings, roots, and translations of the various words I began to see a powerful picture coming together through this verse!
In the New Living Translation of this verse the first part of the verse reads:
So the LORD must wait for you to come to him
so he can show you his love and compassion.
Must wait? Why must the God of heaven and earth wait for anyone… let alone me? Why MUST the God who created me wait for for me before he can show his love and compassion to me?
I looked up the Webster’s Dictonary defination of “wait” and found this “to wait for another person to catch up to you.” All of the sudden I had this beautiful picture in my mind of my Heavenly Father waiting for me to catch up to him so that I was close enough for him to show me his love and compassion. He must wait because he needs me close to him to best show his love and compassion to me.
Tears filled my eyes as I saw something powerful… God is WILLING to wait on me so that I can walk with him!
It is not his desire that I be on my own path so he willingly waits for me to join him on his. He does not want me stuck in the mistakes of the past so he willingly waits for me to join him in the present. He does not desire for me to race ahead of him trying to do things my own way so he willingly waits for me to come back to him for direction and guidance so we can walk together into His future for my life.
The end of the verse says:
For the LORD is a faithful God.
Blessed are those who wait for his help.
As I studied this verse closely I believe that there are two separate kinds of waiting being talked about. The faithful waiting that God does on us to return to him and then the waiting that we must do once we come to him.
Often when we finally turn to God we expect that he is going to act immediately! We are impatient with Him because we feel that he should move as soon as we are ready. A second definition that Webster’s gave for “wait” was this: “Stay in a place of expectation.” Often God does not move the moment we turn to him… rather he keeps us in a place of expectation to teach us about his timing and the importance of trusting him.
So what do we do while we wait on him? We wait on him… the third definition that I found for “Wait” means: To Serve. In other words, While we wait on him to move us in His time to where we need go… we wait on him by serving him where we are.
So here is the perspective that I have been pondering today: God is so willing to wait FOR us to come to him yet when we finally come to him we are often too impatient to wait ON Him.
It is no wonder this verse says, “Blessed are all who wait on the Lord.” it is often a small and sincere group who are willing to overcome our impatience long enough to truly be willing to wait while we wait.