February 24, 2012

"The Funny Thing About Family"

Maybe it’s just me, but when you were little did you ever question why you were born into the family you were in? Don’t get me wrong, I loved my family growing up, but there was always hecka people in the house. You try having 11 people in the house with one bathroom and try getting ready for school. There were tons of times when I just wanted to be outside, hang out with friends or stay a night at someone’s house.

However, the older I got the more I realized I wasn’t the only one who wrestled with those thoughts. I mean with the divorce rate in America being about 50% I don’t know if there is even a definition for family in our culture. If we were to be honest I think many of us would not even be able to give a solid definition of what ‘family’ is. What does a dad look like? What does a mom look like? What does it mean to be a brother or sister? What are aunts, uncles, cousins or grandparents?

Honestly, the more people I talk to people the more I discover that America is longing for family. So many of us have placed our pursuit of the “American Dream” over the resolve to cherish & pursue family.

The funny thing about family is that many of
us want to run from it,
but we have been created for it.

The older I get the more I long to know my family, grow in the sense of belonging to it and love the family that God has placed me in. I believe that God’s desire is for us to believe for the best for our families, to not just love them from a distance, but to love them the way that Christ does.

I believe that it is time for the body of Christ to rise & believe for the transformational work of the Gospel to begin with us in our homes, no matter how broken they may seem or whether they seem to exist or not. It has to start somewhere, it has to start with someone.

Rather than waiting for your family members to take the first step, allow God to empower you to bridge the gaps!

Far too long Christians have been more spiritual in the church than they have in their homes. Far too long Christians have loved everyone else but their family. Far too long Christians have believed God to restore the gravest of situations, but give up on their family. Far too long Christians have sacrificed their families to see the work of God complete outside their home.

The more I mature in Christ, the more my love for my family increases. Our natural families are meant to be a representation of the family of God, just as our natural fathers are meant to be a physical representation of our heavenly Father. The funny thing about family is that you can't choose it, but God did & there must be a reason for it. It’s time we begin to believe for God to move in our families and it’s time that we put our hands to the plow. It’s time to work through the hurt, to allow God to give us His love for our families.

It’s time to be inconvenienced & be willing to sacrifice our ‘individual’ rights, pursuits & even dreams to see transformation
in our families!

The funny thing about family is that you can’t choose it, but the closer you draw to God
the closer you will want to draw
to your family too!

February 14, 2012

"Encouraged Beyond Logic"

Can't Wait For
New Car
Encouragement is something that I think is very underrated. This week I had numerous, let’s say opportunities to either freak out or faith up. Here are a few things that happened: one of my good friends being in the hospital for heart issues, receiving an emergency phone call at midnight for a family situation and my car hood flying up on the freeway (at 11:30pm) smashing my windshield. Not to mention that numerous nights I was up past 2:30am, had work, school & all that other good stuff. Let’s just say there were plenty of things that could have caused me to shrink back.
However, in the midst of all these seemingly difficult situations I see great
things happening.

 After much prayer, after my friend had tests done the doctors said they found nothing wrong with his heart! Through the family emergency my family is coming together in a way like never before – we’re discovering what it truly means to be a family & love as a family. With my car, I’m alive, there was no accident & I can’t wait to see how God is going to bless me with a new car. In the late night & early morning study times (like waking up this morning, on my day off, at 6am to finish an assignment) my friends & wife have shown me how loved & supported I am (thanks Carlos for studying with me last night!!!).
To some it may not make sense to be encouraged in all these things, but I truly believe that in ALL things we are more than conquerors!
Some would look at the situations above & think that things are falling apart, but I am soooooo encouraged. To be encouraged means to be infused with courage, to be empowered with the strength to face struggle with confidence/boldness/tenacity, or to be strengthened in heart to face daunting situations. It's to be filled with a 'never say die' faith & attitude in the midst of a 'it looks like death' situation.
Encouragement is not the absence of difficulty, but a wind of courage that rushes through your heart in the midst of these types of situations.
I have felt stronger than ever, full of faith for these situations & excited to see how God is working them out for good. My friends, church & family have been there to infuse me with courage by their words, actions & tons of love. My friends, family & situations have reminded me of God’s promises over me & I know that goodness & mercy cannot help but chase me down the street & take me over!
Take some time to encourage someone today with words, actions & gestures.
God wants to use you to infuse someone with courage, to empower them to face their day with confidence & to pour into them a tenacity to never say die! Encouragement is far more powerful than you think!

"So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word," (2 Thessalonians 2:15-17).

February 10, 2012

"Some Things Just Don't Seem Good, Right?"

Have you ever been placed in a situation, or placed yourself in a situation, and then asked, “How the heck did I get here?” One of the greatest reality checks I have ever had was coming to the realization that life doesn’t always work out the way I want it too… I can’t always control what happens around me, I can’t control how other people are going to respond to me, I can’t always control the situations I am in, but I can control how I respond. One of the greatest lies that the enemy feeds us is that we are powerless in these situations & that God left us to fend for ourselves.
It's not about the size
of the boat, it's about Who
is in control of the storm...
What it really comes down to is do you believe God is good, His plan is good, He is in control & that ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose,’ (Romans 8:28)?
Let’s keep it real. Some of the situations we face in life are out right horrible. Some of the situations we were born into were extremely hard. Some of the people around us just don’t seem to care. Some of the things that are going around us just don’t seem ‘good.’
However, I truly believe what Paul said to the Athenians about how God, “determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us,” (Acts 17:27). Paul declared that you are where you are for a reason. You are in the family that you are in for a reason. You are in the country you are in for a reason. You are in the city you are in for a reason.
And that reason is that you would turn to God & reach out for Him, though He is
not far from you!
There is a reason you were born
where & when you were born...
However, so often our situations, struggles, confusion, hurt, fear & disillusionment compel us to do the opposite. We react out of our hurt & run from God. We react out of anger & we blame God. We react out of our frustration & we question God. What if you changed the way that you saw why you are where you are? What if you began to let the foundation of your perspective on life be that God is good & somehow He is working this for His good & your good?
What if you came to the realization that you are not powerless, but the same power that rose Christ from the dead is living inside of you so that you could respond to your situations with the heart of God? How different would your life be?
What if you started to look at your life with the perspective that your greatest struggle is meant to be the place of God’s greatest victory in your life? It is time we changed the way we see where we are & why we are. It is as Mark Batterson writes, in his book, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day, “God is in the business of strategically positioning us in the right place at the right time. But the right place often seems like the wrong place, and the right time often seems like the wrong time.”
Where & why you are is intentional. It’s time to begin to interpret your life through the goodness of God & His goodness towards you. Maybe you’re thinking, ‘Well, I put myself in this situation.’ Do you believe that God is good enough to turn you around & turn your situation around for your good?
What happens may not always look good,
but in it & through it God is working for your good!

February 8, 2012

"To Risk Or Not To Risk?"

As I started school this semester I knew that it would be nothing sort of a major risk. I knew that if I was going to do it I would have to give it my very best. I mean, why invest money, time, energy, emotion and passion if I was just going to go through the motions? Why risk the tensions it could bring on my marriage? Why risk how it would affect my weeks? Why risk the late nights & sacrificing of sleep? Why risk having to say ‘no’ to hanging out with friends & family which goes against every fiber of my extrovert, people & event-oriented being???!!!

The reason is because the risk is worth it!

Too often we cower when it comes to taking risk. Many times we allow fear to so paralyze us that we either don’t move a muscle in any direction or we frantically retreat! Trying new thing is not always easy. Matter of fact, it is way easier to not try something new then it is to try something new. I mean, who wants to be humiliated if you mess up? Who wants to look crazy or like you don’t know what you’re doing? Who wants to fail?

You know what I’m talking about right? I mean it is way easier to not dream then to dream big & have those dreams dashed, right? Who wants to pursue something & then have it all fall apart? Who wants to exert tons of energy, time, money or emotions into something for it to just not work out? Do any of these questions sound familiar? Have you asked them before?

We need to change our ways of thinking...
We need to dream beyond our ability
to make things happen!

For fear of the fall
we miss the experience
of the jump...
 When it comes to relationships, ministry, work and things God has placed on our heart we cannot afford to not try new things, to not dream big & to not pursue the dreams God has placed on our hearts! We often say, “It’s too much of a risk…” What we’re really saying is, “I’m too afraid to try…. I’m too afraid to fail… I’m too afraid to be let down…”

In either case, we’re making ourselves the focus & taking the possibility of these things happening out of God’s hands. If we really get to the root of what we are saying it is, “God is not big enough… God is not strong enough… All things except this thing are possible for God… Not all things are possible for him who believes, only some things are…” Show me in the Bible where God’s people are identified by Him as fearful or timid. Where does God say His people should play it safe or lack confidence? I see the opposite.

I read that they are bold as lions, confident, strong, powerful, do mighty exploits,
defy the odds & do it with the
strength of God.

You'll never know
unless you try...
If we were really honest, we would recognize that playing it safe is really us trusting in our own ability to make things happen in our lives. When it doesn’t seem like we can make it happen then we play it safe. It’s time that we change the way we think & live. Too often we have missed out on the miraculous work of God in our lives because we have played it safe… It’s time to rise up in the strength of our God & move forward with courage! If we look at our families, our neighborhoods, our nation & our world we can clearly see that we can’t afford to not risks because the risks that God calls us to take are worth it!

February 4, 2012

"We Cannot Diminish"

This week I got a bit sick. My body started to shut down, head felt woozy, nose hecka stuffy and I just felt straight up weak. However, I was still at work, still had school and while I tried to rest a bit I knew I still had to move forward.

Call me crazy, but there is something inside me that never says die!

"If you are going to expect great things,
you must attempt great things"
 I know that rest is necessary, good & a gift from God. Don't get me wrong, I loooooove to sleep. But, if the kingdom of God is forcefully advancing & Jesus says that the kingdom of God is within me then I should be forcefully advancing too.

This means that when things are pushing against me: emotions, thoughts, physical tiredness or discouragement then I am to force my way through it. Yet, I know this is not meant to happen by my own strength, but by the resurrection power of Jesus in me through the Holy Spirit. Too often we ‘always say die.’ Too often we throw in the towel to early. Too often we turn and run in the face of adversity when Jesus did the opposite.

Jesus stood in the midst of adversity & pursued the purpose of the Father with
great love & tenacity!

"Our strength never
diminishes in adversity"
I want to live as one who truly believes that as the people of God we cannot diminish. The kingdom of God knows no retreat! The kingdom of God knows no defeat! Defeat is not in our God's vocabulary! Show me in Scripture where God was defeated... Show me where Jesus was defeated! God did not abandon Him to the grave & He is right now seated at God’s right hand!

We cannot diminish. We are a people that moves forward in hope, love, strength & power even in the midst of weakness. For in our weakness, God's power is made perfect! We think our weakness disqualifies us for victory. But, Paul saw his weakness as that which qualified him for victory. It was his weakness that opened the door for God’s power to manifest in that area of his life. As the Lord told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you!"

It's time to wake up, shake ourselves & live as a people who know that no matter what comes,
hell or high waters,
we cannot diminish!