Tag Archives: faith

I. Still. Believe.

People ask me from time to time how I can still believe for things that have seemed so completely hopeless for years.

I love this question. It gives me an opportunity to share my unwavering faith in a God who specializes in the “impossible.”

“Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.
– Romans 4:20-21

I didn’t always have this kind of faith.

Actually, I don’t always have this kind of faith.

Believe me, there are many days, when I feel much closer to the Centurion than Peter.

In fact, there aren’t too many days that I don’t think those very words, “I believe, help my unbelief.”

I grew up reading the stories about these men and women of great faith and thinking, “well, that’s not me.”

It discouraged me tremendously.

See, I wanted to believe that kind of faith was possible, but it didn’t feel very real to me. At least not in my life.

Looking back though, I realize that, by definition, I had no faith.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
– Hebrews 11:1

The truth is, I pretty much only believed in what I could see.

I believed in my circumstances.

I believed in my feelings.

I believed in things I could define, in what I could understand.

Too often my feelings told me that my circumstances proved God wasn’t there and didn’t care. When the exact opposite was true. (And still is.)

Those tough times were opportunities to build my faith, for me to trust and obey and for God to show himself to be real and active in my life.

God always uses the challenges in our lives to build our faith, bring us closer to Him and do great things in and through us.

– God’s glory was demonstrated to both His people and enemies when David had the courage to face Goliath.
– Mary and Martha had to suffer the loss of their brother, Lazarus, to really understand Jesus’ love for them.
– Paul and Silas had to be imprisoned to bring the jailer and his whole family to Jesus.
– The apostles had to be in the middle of a storm for Jesus to calm it.
– The man had to be born blind for Jesus to heal him, and more importantly, reveal himself to him.
– The disciples had to live through the pain of watching jesus die, to experience the joy of his resurrection.

Listen, if we want to be men and women of great faith–we’re going to be put in some circumstances that require great faith.

There is no other way.

There are no short cuts.

It’s gotta be lived through, tried by fire, earned in battle,

Now, even stepping in to those circumstances, and each step through them, requires some faith.

We need enough faith to obey.

That’s the critical first step, the key to our breakthrough.

Do we have enough faith to obey?

Even when it isn’t what we want to do?
Even if we’ll lose some friends?
Even if it hurts?
Even if it makes no sense to us?

Joshua had faith that God’s unorthodox battle plan would work. But how much more faith did he have when it actually did?

That’s the reward on the other side.

Charles Spurgeon said, “Faith is the fountain, the foundation, the fosterer of obedience.”

It is also true that obedience leads to greater faith.

See, I believed that God could, but wasn’t quite convinced that He would. So I did what I wanted. I did what was most expedient for me. I did not obey.

Today, I am striving to do what God says. To do it His way, no matter the cost.

From an earthly perspective it might seem more convenient and comfortable to find my own solution, but I know how that ends.

And please don’t believe that God understands our disobedience and that He’s okay with it. That we can blow off what God says because “our situation is special.” That we are some sort of an “exception.”

That is a lie straight from Hell. A lie that’s tempting to believe because it feels so good.

But God warns against doing what we think is right, over and over again in His word: Proverbs 14:12, Proverbs 3:5-7, Jeremiah 17:39.

God is never ok with our disobedience.

Don’t trust books, gurus, experts, TV preachers or blog writers. Check with the Word.

Even well-meaning Christian friends and family will encourage us to choose our own path, in direct contradiction to what God’s Word tells us, by saying things like, “Hey God wants us to be happy.”

And He no doubt does. But the path to the joy He has for us–peace that we can’t comprehend–isn’t in choosing our own way. It’s in exercising enough faith to obey.

Its trusting that if I do what God says, I will always be better off. And that my obedience will bring glory to God and point others toward Him.

So, back to that original question. How can we trust enough to obey, even through the hardest of times, when there seems to be no hope?

The writer of Hebrews tells us, “By faith Abraham obeyed…

We just have to have enough faith to obey. That faith is rewarded with confidence in God and deeper faith. And the process, the journey, is key, as Paul reminds us, because it ultimately ends in the hope we’re so desperately searching for:

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope..”
– Romans 5:3-4

And know this, God is trustworthy. There’s a purpose to your pain. Whatever you’re walking through right now, He’s got this.

For King & Country put it this way in their new song, Shoulders:

You mend what once was shattered
And You turn my tears to laughter
Your forgiveness is my fortress
Oh Your mercy is relentless

MORE: Charles Spurgeon’s mind blowing message on Faith

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Love Believes | Five Years Later

On November 30, 2009, I received some devastating news. The kind of thing that knocks you off your feet and causes a lot of strong people to completely crumble.

There have been many difficult days, some torturous. Some where I honestly didn’t know if I’d make it through.

I’ve felt immense pain and heartache every single day.

I’ve watched those I love dearly hurt deeply, and felt worries and challenges I never imagined.

Yet God has sustained, provided and seen us through it all, one day at a time.

But don’t mistake strong faith and confidence in God for easy. It’s not. It’s also not supposed to be.

Tom Petty was right, the waiting is the hardest part. At least for me. I’m naturally impatient, maybe we all are to some extent.

We want answers and easy fixes RIGHT NOW. And it’s easy to be discouraged when we don’t get them.

But God grows us through trials and difficult circumstances.

And it only seems like nothing’s happening.

God is always at work on the other side of the mountain.

I don’t regret, for even a minute, making the decision to not give up in the face of seemingly hopeless circumstances. And I have found joy in perseverance, even on the worst days. (Romans 5:3-4).

Again, I’m not pretending it’s easy. If you want to give up, good. That means you’re normal.

What I’m saying is, just don’t.

Nobody’s walking around with massive stockpiles of faith, reserves they can just dip into on demand. That’s not how God works.

He says to renew our minds daily.

Even Jesus had to make time to be alone with God at the beginning and end of every day.

God really does give us the manna our soul needs today.

I’m convinced that the greatest place to be in life is totally dependent on God.

He’s got this.

And so do we, if we trust and obey and if, as Galatians 6:9 says, we do not quit.

Isaiah 40:31 promises strength for those who wait on God. And Psalm 40:1 reminds us that even the king had to wait.

I love what David Mathis says about waiting:

“When you feel the first resistance, let it be a reminder to go Godward. Recalibrate the focus of your faith. Move the weight of your trust off self, where it keeps gravitating back, and consciously reorient on God. Whether it’s simply spare moments or seemingly endless days, waiting is no waste in God’s economy. It is in the delays and the pauses, and in becoming aware of our lack of patience, that he works to save us from self-reliance and revitalize our faith and hope in him.”

I trust in God’s perfect timing and His ability, and desire, to do the impossible and to truly heal.

Don’t you dare tell me that my God can’t. He specializes in fixing what’s broken, breathing life into that which was dead and doing the impossible.

So, yeah, I believe God can. And I believe God will.

And although there isn’t a pretty little bow on this story yet, I can look you in the eye and tell you that I believe more today than ever. (Hebrews 11:1) The fact that I can say that is a testament to God’s grace and love. Nothing else…

For all those who’ve prayed, believed, encouraged or lent support throughout this time–emotionally, logistically, provisionally and/or spiritually–all I can say is, thanks. Especially you late night pep talkers. I am grateful beyond words.

Keep praying. Keep believing…

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Un-stuck In The Middle

Saw a great tweet today from @ChristineCaine:

Throughout the Bible, God says things to us like ‘fear not‘ and ‘don’t be afraid‘.

In fact, He says them a lot.

He tells us to be anxious for nothing and to trust in Him. He promises to never leave us and to never forsake us.

And the pages of God’s Word are packed with the stories of normal, broken people who, despite their fears, frailties and failures in their past, trusted Him enough to obey Him, and did crazy awesome things for God.

Fear and faith cannot exist together.

Faith is described in Hebrews 11:1 as being “certain of what we do not see.” It is an absolute belief that God is constantly working behind the scenes in every area of our lives, even when there is no tangible evidence to support that fact.
– via gotquestions.org

If you’ve got a level hanging around the house, pull it out of the toolbox and play with it for a minute. Try to get that bubble in the middle.

See, that level almost perfectly illustrates the struggle between fear and faith in our lives.

Think of the left side as FEAR and the right side as FAITH. When the bubble is on the left, it’s as far away from faith as possible–there’s nothing but fear.

When it’s on the right side, faith is in control and there’s no fear to be found.

The problem is, most of us live in the middle. We’re living a delicate, exhausting balancing act where any little bump can send us one way or the other.

The thing is, God hates the middle. And so do we, if we’re honest.

We’re just close enough to great faith to taste it and feel its power–to know it’s really there–but never take that leap of faith and experience the life God intended for us. A life not ruled by our fears.

Yet it’s the very fear we want to overcome that keeps us from the faith we need to do so.

That’s why they call it a leap of faith.

We’ve gotta get as far away from the fear that keeps us from faith, as possible.

The beauty is, the more we move toward faith, the further we get from those fears. And the stronger our faith grows, the smaller our fears become.

As a boy, David fought a bear and a lion, which gave him the faith to believe that God would help him take on Goliath.

In 1 Samuel 17:37, David says, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear WILL DELIVER ME from the hand of this Philistine.”

David chose to feed his faith and starve his fear, but imagine if he had done the opposite.

What if after the first run-in with a lion or bear he had never gone back to that field?

Or what if David had chosen to run away from that first ferocious animal and spent the rest of his life telling anyone who would listen about the night he barely got away from that lion? Cool story, but so much less than God had planned for him.

His destiny and, as it turns out, all of human history would’ve been completely different.

Instead, his faith was rewarded with victory, diminishing his fear and building his faith even further. Those successes gave him the confidence to be courageous and do even greater things. And eventually be king!

And yet, doubt and fear never completely go away. Even for a man like David. But he knew the key to keeping fear at bay. Look what he wrote in Psalm 56:3, “when I am afraid, I will trust in You!”

That’s a good plan for us too.

Let’s be brave. Let’s trust in God, stop living in the middle and take that leap of faith.

More: Christine Caine
Bethel Music

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Quick Thought | Tune Out The Haters

Don’t see yourself through the eyes of the haters and naysayers. Don’t for one minute believe you are who they say you are.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made!

Got it?

God doesn’t lie.

Psalm 139:13-14

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More:

Quick Quote | Augustine: On Faith

Man, that’s good. Brilliantly put!

I have nothing to add, except to suggest that you read Hebrews 11 when you get a chance. Even if you’ve read it before, it’s one of this chapters we’d be well-served by reading every week. (In fact, I’m going to start doing that.)

“We live by faith, not by sight.”
– 2 Corinthians 5:7

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Quick Thought: We’re Not All Jumping From Mountain Top To Mountain Top Here, People!

Don’t let failures throw you off mission.

We all have moments of glorious victory and stinging defeat.

Before Peter fell into the ocean, he walked on it. And just weeks after he denied Christ, he preached the seminal message of the Christian faith (other than Jesus, of course!)

Like us, when Peter relied on his own strength, he failed. When he kept his eyes on Christ and relied on the power of the Holy Spirit, he was bold and effective.

“…Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
– Hebrews 12:2

Don’t give up! Fix your gaze and press on!
#NoteToSelf

Hope

Hope Meme - copyright 2013 growingingracetoday.wordpress.com - All Rights Reserved

Hope really is about perspective. Look closely at that picture. The clouds seem to have completely taken over the sky. To the people traveling this road behind me, there is no hope in sight. But alas (I’ve never had a chance to use that phrase in every day conversation until now), up ahead, far off in the distance, something remarkable…

Blue skies. Hope for a better day.

We all need hope.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.
– Proverbs 13:12

Hope is an anomaly. It’s a highly desired commodity, available in unlimited supply, yet eludes so many of us for so long.

It can’t be bought at any price, but has a cost: Surrender. Faith. Trust. Control.

There’s an inexhaustible supply of hope, available on demand to any one at any time, yet it is rare in the human existence.

Some deny or don’t know it even exists. Others of us forget, lose faith, or become distracted. We buy counterfeits, chase mirages and listen to beautiful lies, all in the frantic pursuit of it.

But they’re all fool’s errands.

See, there’s only one source of hope.

But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.
– Psalm 39:7

We try to anesthetize our sufferings, look for shortcuts AROUND them, not realizing that in persevering THROUGH them we find the very hope we’re seeking.

We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
– Romans 5:3-4

Don’t be discouraged when the clouds come. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “when it’s dark enough, you can see the stars.” Embrace the gray skies and the trials, they’re reminding us to look for hope.

Hold on… Hope exists. It’s within our reach…

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
– Romans 12:12

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