Monthly Archives: June 2019

Going Beyond

The Bible tells us we are to imitate Christ in all things. What about giving? I’m not talking about money. We are called to do that too, but the kind of giving I’m talking about today is the giving of ourselves to others.

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2

It can be really hard to die to self. We are born with a sin nature, and therefore we’re wired to think about ourselves first. Yesterday I went to the grocery store. I had a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in, so I was in go mode. You know, that mode where your brain becomes a human scoreboard and winning means checking off all the boxes on your list. I typically perform exceedingly well in this mode. I’m focused. I have a plan. A good plan. I have things in my cart I didn’t even plan on getting and I’m still slightly ahead of schedule. There’s the checkout. And there’s a lane with the light on with no one in it. And it says, “We bag.” Jackpot.

Sometimes life throws elderly women at us.

I was making a quick bee line to the open lane when I saw her. She was coming from the opposite direction, and looking at the same open lane. My lane. And her cart was loaded.

Even though she was closer to it than I was, a quick round of mathematics told me I could easily make it there before she did. Train A is moving north at 4mph, at a distance of 30 feet from destination, while Train B is moving south at 2mph, at a distance of 15 feet and closing. If Train A increases speed to 5mph… you get the idea, and have now been made privy to the scarier parts of my thought processes.

I’m embarrassed to say I authorized Train A to increase speed. I was right. I did beat her to the lane, but there was no victory lap, for it was clear what I had done. I knew it. She knew it. The cashier knew it. The kid sitting in the cart one lane over, picking his nose, knew it. There was no relief. Only guilt and conviction. My cart got lighter as I unloaded it, but my heart got a lot heavier. 

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” Ephesians 3:20

Was that ridiculous and immature display of selfishness a good example of me doing immeasurably more? Definitely not. Not only was I selfish, but I was impatient too. We could probably throw a little bit of disrespect in there for good measure. It wasn’t even worth it because of how it made me feel. Selfishness never rewards as well as thoughtfulness.

You want to know what else bothered my heart after the fact? In addition to that just being plain rude, I found myself wondering if my doing what I did made her feel bad about herself. Did my actions cause her to feel slower than she should be or older than she wanted to be? I couldn’t help but wonder just what my actions caused her to feel. With a little patience, a smile, and a compliment, I could have made that moment feel very different for both of us.

We have opportunities all around us every single day to go above and beyond for people. My blog last week was about nature being a silent witness to the existence of God. So are our actions. As Christ followers, we are called to a higher level. Let an elderly person get in line in front of you. You could even help them lift something heavy out of their cart and onto the conveyer belt. There are a million little ways to go above and beyond if you’re looking.

This isn’t just for strangers. A great place to start is with the people we know and love. For example, how often do you go above and beyond for your spouse? Give them more than they ask for? My throw down for you today is to pray for an opportunity to do more for someone than they expect. It doesn’t have to be big. It could be as simple as helping a vertically challenged person (like me) get something off a high shelf, or paying for a stranger’s cup of coffee.

Let your actions be a silent witness. Do more. Be more. Why? Because Jesus was our example first.

Be blessed,
C.K.

Silent Witness

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words, to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun…. it rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. Psalm 19:1-4, 6

In my quiet time, God brought me to this Psalm above. I drank in the words above like a warm beverage that illuminated me from my head to my toes. It was a tender reminder that His glory surrounds our every moment. There isn’t a direction we can take without the blessing of His handiwork and the assurance that His very hands are ever upon us.

I used to wonder about the verse that says all people would have an opportunity to know God. How could this be? Surely, there could be an exception. What about an isolated tribe of people high in the mountains of the Talamanca Range? Or what about people in the rain forests of the Congo? I believe this verse gives us insight into a witness not of flesh and blood, but of earth and sky. 

God calls His believers to be witnesses for Jesus. He calls us to spread the Gospel and the love of Christ to everyone around us. We are an important part of that Gospel plan, but He also leaves an obvious mark all around us that can speak without words. Nature is a universal proclamation of God’s existence! To let your gaze fall on such a wonder of creation is to undeniably see the existence of a higher power. This stunning complexity bares a constant witness to God’s supreme knowledge and power. In the Scripture above, God says there is no speech or language where the voice of His Heavens and sky are not heard. Whether high in the mountains or down in the Congo, His creation gives testament to those who will have eyes to see and ears to hear. We only need to exhaust ourselves trying to count the stars in the heavens to know that Someone much more powerful than us had to have placed them there to count.

I love the verses about the sun and the picture He paints of it making its circuit over us. The sun is often used as a representation of God’s glory. Just as the sun rises on one end and sets in the other, covering every creature with its heat, so the glory of the Lord fills the expanse of the skies and all the earth, leaving every creature to feel the very presence of their Creator. Even now, I pause to close my eyes and think about some of the most beautiful things God has allowed my eyes to be graced with – everything from majestic volcanoes to the simple yet profound beauty of colored leaves dancing on the ground. My heart expands whenever I drink in these sites. They are like a personal love letter to me from Him.

What impacts me the most is a thought my heart returns to again and again. True artists create what’s inside of them. As a writer, I can tell you I only write what exists in my heart. Realizing that, when I look at the beauty of all God has created, my heart falls in love with Him because I know that what I’m seeing is merely a reflection of what’s on the inside of Him – of who He is. I’m a hopeless romantic at heart, and it makes me smile to know that God is the ultimate romantic, and that He longs to woo us close to Him with every beautiful thing around us.

The beauty of nature is mysterious and comforting. It’s a witness that never sleeps, and whether by sun or moon, displays its ever-changing shapes of beauty reflective of God’s own. With every breeze that brushes your sweet cheeks and every rain drop that wets your adorable head, He is making Himself real to you and asking you to see. Will you take a moment to gaze upon Him? In doing so, you’ll build your faith in His absolute power and grow your love for Him for His absolute beauty.

Speaking of beauty, one of God’s finest masterpieces is you. Everything He creates is beautiful, and you are no exception.

You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship You. Nehemiah 9:6

Be blessed,
C.K.

The Waiting Room Released Today!

The Waiting Room is now available for purchase on Amazon
Available in Paperback and eBook

If you’re in need of a miracle, interceding for a loved one, or believing in God to move a mountain, getting on your knees is the easy part. The hard part is waiting. Not seeing the answers we long for can leave us feeling depressed and even doubtful. We begin fixing our eyes on the world around us, rather than the One who made the world.

Whether it’s been a day or a decade, don’t lose hope. You serve a mighty God, capable of doing immeasurably more than you could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Join me as we dive into God’s Word for insights and reassurance during your wait. He has a plan for your life, and His timing is always perfect.

Labor Pains

The following is taken from my new book, The Waiting Roomavailable for pre-order on Amazon. The book releases on June 18th.

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. John 16:20-21

Jesus is comforting His disciples in this passage. They’ve just learned they’ll soon be without Him, and they’re completely dismayed at the thought. Jesus is helping them understand the glory in His death, and the necessary pain required to birth a joy that is everlasting. You can apply these words as a healing balm to your own suffering heart while experiencing a time of waiting.

There are times when God chooses to deliver us out of a trial or bring an answer very quickly. Can I get an amen? However, there are times God will require us to walk what feels like a very long road. This requires a lot of trust in Him but, let me assure you, God doesn’t do anything haphazardly. Stop with me for a moment and think about the fact that every day of your life was written in God’s book before one of them came into being (Psalm 139:16). Really digest that concept. Powerful stuff, right? I don’t know about you, but my mind gets completely blown when I really try to process the forethought God has on every day of every one of our lives. Our God is a planner, and there is order to everything He does. You can be confident in His forethought of your present situation, and the steps required to bring it to fruition. This brings us to the heart of our time together today.

Within our journey, a crucial developmental process is taking place. Just as a baby in the womb, if we force it out too soon, there are complications, and often, death. The development of a baby in utero is a stunning process. When we recognize the great mysteries and profound complexity of this process, God can use this to teach us an important lesson about waiting for His deliverance. The gestational period of a baby is very exact, and things develop in a very specific and important order. When God speaks something to your heart, He’s doing so with the knowledge of what’s to come, and exactly how it is to come about. What He requires of you is trust, patience, and obedience. Regardless of moments of fear or disobedience, God ultimately knows what it will take to bring what He has spoken to pass. He knows what He’s doing. It may be painful, but I’ve learned the more painful it becomes, the closer you usually are to your answer.

When I was seven months pregnant with my daughter, I was taking the required Lamaze class, in which they help to prepare you physically and mentally for the painful birthing process ahead. The instructor was demonstrating with a plastic baby and skeletal representation of a woman’s hips and pelvic bones, how the baby descends and is birthed. All eyes were riveted on the instructor as she placed the baby inside the skeleton and began moving it downward, laughing as the baby got stuck midway through the pelvis. This required her to jam her hand down on it to free it from its position. Nervous laughter turned into several nauseatingly green faces. Other than learning the final stages of dilation are termed “the hurricane hour” for very painful reasons, I don’t think I remembered a single word she said after that. My mind was fixated on the terrifying reality this baby had to come out, and it was going to hurt – a lot.

Sometimes we panic when faced with a trial we know is going to hurt. With childbirth, it’s a bit easier to come to the realization that we have to go through it in order to receive that bundle of joy into our arms. In life’s journeys, it’s not always easy to continue walking, because we may not be able to see the joy that lies ahead of us in a tangible form. However, if God promised a blessing, we can be certain it’s there in the heavenly realm and waiting for His perfect timing – and looking exactly as He knows is best. It comes down to a question of who you believe God is. It comes down to whether or not you’re going to choose to believe what He spoke to your heart. If God is asking you to walk a difficult path, you can trust it’s for a very good reason – one He will reveal to you in His timing.

For those of us who have had the honor of birthing a baby, we remember the joy of being told we were pregnant – or for those of us on our journeys, the moment God spoke a promise to our hearts. For nine long months, or whatever the length of your journey, we watch our bodies change and our hearts grow deep with love for a child or a promise we have not yet seen. We spend hours, days, or even years in immeasurable pain and discomfort, until that moment – that beautiful, life-breathing moment – when we are looking our promise in the face. The pain subsides, and all that’s left is a battle scar full of stories of triumph.

Just as every day in the womb is a time of growth for new life, as you walk through a time of fiery trial, you can rest assured every step you take is a necessary detail in the growth of your character and the maturing of your faith. I pray you will never lose heart and give up.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are Your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Psalm 139:16-17

Be blessed,
C.K.

First Things First

The following is taken from my new book, The Waiting Roomavailable for pre-order on Amazon. The book releases on June 18th.

Being on your knees and sending your prayers up to the Father of the heavenly lights is the most important thing you can be doing. But let’s be real. It’s hard. Especially when it’s for people or situations near and dear to our hearts. I know firsthand how it feels to be praying fervently for something and watching it unfold in the complete opposite direction. Not only is that crushing to see, but it threatens to deflate our faith like air from a blown tire. When those things happen, you’ve got to decide to see with spiritual eyes rather than earthly eyes. You have to get out your patch kit, plug the hole that’s leaking faith, and keep moving forward. That means you keep getting on your knees and resolve to keep bringing your requests to God, despite what your earthly circumstances are telling you.

I know I just made that sound easy, but I also know the reality that it can be a daily struggle. The writings in this book were born out of some of my personal struggles, so I want to take a moment to appreciate and acknowledge wherever you’re at.

So, how do we move past these emotions? This first step is all about reminding our hearts of some very important things that give us the right perspective while we’re in the waiting room. Let’s look at a few of those.

There is an Order to Things

God’s vantage point is well beyond ours. If you see the trees, He sees the planet. If you see the planet, He sees the galaxies. There isn’t anything that escapes His view, and there is no element of anything that exists – past, present, or future – that He doesn’t consider. God operates in an entirely different dimension than we do. In His world, there is no dimension of time or space. It’s all fluid and He sees beyond the boundaries in which we tend to think.

You and I may have trouble grasping all of that, and although we may feel uncomfortable, God is perfectly comfortable and supernaturally capable. Because of all He sees and knows, He is uniquely and solely qualified to set the order of things that will maximize the glory for His Kingdom. He knows what you need and when you need it. He knows what every person needs and when they need it. All of those things fit together like one, glorious cosmic puzzle, and He drew the picture of that puzzle long before you or I even existed. Trust if God is asking you to wait just a little bit longer, He has a very good reason, and He will give you everything you need to be comfortable and at peace during your wait.

He’s a Heart God

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the promise we’re looking to receive. It becomes our single focus, and obtaining it is the culmination of what we call victory. We have to consider that God’s definition of victory might be a little different than ours. What I’m about to say isn’t always what we want to hear, but the sooner we grasp it, the sooner (I believe) we can stop wandering around in the desert, like the Israelites did for forty years (Exodus).

The wait is not always about what we’re getting, but what God is doing in us and who we’re becoming while we’re waiting.

God is much more concerned with who you are than what you have.

Don’t get me wrong – the things you want could very well be God-given promises having great significance for the Kingdom. But I don’t think it’s worth as much to God if you are lost in it along the way. God tells us He works all things for the good of those who are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). You might be praying for physical healing and miss the opportunity for spiritual or emotional healing along your journey. Think about it this way – if God heals your physical body, you sure would have a great testimony to share the power of Christ with others. But if you’re an emotional mess inside as a result of the wait, how powerful will that testimony be for the Kingdom?

Consider this. The promise God wants to bless you with may not rest in what you receive at the end of your wait, but what happens inside of you during it.

* End of Excerpt *

Be blessed,
C.K.

Surrender

The following is taken from my new book, The Waiting Room, available for pre-order on Amazon. Only eBook is available for pre-order, but both eBook and paperback will be available for purchase when the book releases on June 18th.


“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’” Matthew 16:24-45

I imagine the title alone may have sent waves of discomfort through you. It sure did to me for a number of years. As Christians, we like to sing about surrender, but walking that talk is a lot harder than it sounds on Sunday morning. If we look to Merriam-Webster to help us define surrender, we find the following:

“a: to yield to the power, control, or possession of another or b:to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another.”

When we surrender to God, we’re giving Him authority to exercise His sovereign judgment in our lives. To clarify, this isn’t God overruling our ability to have free will. It’s us giving to God what we think is best, in return for what He knows is best.

If you have kids, particularly teenagers, then you’re well aware of a thing I like to call the “Omni Effect.” The Omni Effect is the result of a child turning the age at which they know the answer to every question ever asked. They no longer need the wisdom of their parents because they’re smarter and far wiser in the ways of the world, despite experiencing only a fraction of what their parents have. They know what’s best, so they feel they should be able to do what they like. They believe the world has changed so dramatically, that we, as parents, couldn’t possibly be smart enough to guide and educate them.

Are you parents out there rolling your eyes yet? I thought so. This is a pretty easy concept for us to grasp, right? What if we applied this to our all-knowing God? News flash: we are those kids. We’re the ones who have experienced only a fraction of what God has. I don’t think we could even call it a fraction. That would be far too generous. He knows all because He created all. The Bible tells us every day was written before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). He’s the only One able to provide perfect guidance in perfect timing.

Perhaps the greatest testimony of surrender happens when we, amidst the charge of the enemy, lay down our shield, get on our knees, and lift our hands. It’s not a white flag we hold, but the offering of our will to God, whatever the outcome may be. To give yourself wholly and completely to the will of God, without regard to your own personal desires, is the epitome of surrender.

It’s also terrifying.

Why is it so scary? Why is there fear in surrender? We fall into the trap of fear when one of two things happen. The first is we believe the lies of the enemy. Satan doesn’t want you to be close to God. In fact, he wants nothing but misery and death for you (John 10:10). He’s going to whisper lies into your ear about why what God wants for you isn’t going to make you happy. He’s going to stir confusion and doubt. There’s a way to combat that. Fall on the Word. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Search the Scriptures on what God has to say about your situation and who He created you to be.

The second reason we fall into fear is because we don’t know, or choose not to rely on, the character of our God. Do you know Him well enough to know He loves you beyond measure (Ephesians 3:17-19); that He, Himself is love (1 John 4:8)? Do you trust His heart enough to know He longs to bless you and give you every good thing (Psalm 37:4, Matthew 7:9-11)? It’s impossible for God to lie and it’s impossible for God to do anything outside the character of goodness. For these reasons, you can trust Him completely.

It’s a spiritual truth that you can never out-give God. If God’s asking you to give Him something, don’t place such a high value on it and cling to it for fear of losing the joy or security you think it brings. When you surrender it to God, you’ll find He returns something of even greater value. As I’ve often told my daughter, doing what’s asked of us isn’t the extent of obedience. God desires our right attitudes as well. The attitude of surrender should be one of prostration in the presence of an all-knowing God, comforted in the assurance that He knows what you don’t. He’ll only ask of you what He knows will ultimately lead to both your blessing and His glory. In keeping with our spiritual truth, God will never ask you for something and then return something less than you gave to Him.

Surrendering doesn’t make you weak. It’s what you do when you are weak, so God can be your strength. However difficult this may be for you, take your treasure – your money, time, job, relationship, food, home, hobbies, whatever He’s asking for – and lay it at His feet. He’ll return what you never thought possible, including freedom. Don’t be bound in slavery to the things you refuse to let go of out of fear. It’s keeping you from a greater blessing and a beautiful display of His Glory.

“Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Be blessed,
C.K.