Category Archives: Encouragement & Teaching

Looking Beyond

“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can You get this living water?’” John 4:10-11

Despite this woman’s ignorance to the truth Jesus was trying to share with her, she recognized the well was deep. How soon she would find out just how deep. Let’s explore a little further for some interesting and healing lessons on perspective we can apply to our own lives.

We should first understand the significance of the woman being Samaritan and Jesus being a Jew. Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans. It was rather scandalous for Jesus to ask this woman for a drink, because Jews held a belief that Samaritans were unclean, and they themselves become ceremonially unclean if they used a drinking vessel handled by a Samaritan. However, our Jesus knew better. He wasn’t interested in judging her for her lineage. He was interested in healing her heart and bringing her into the Kingdom, where the only label she will have is “Loved.” 

The first perspective is about whose eyes we are seeing through. Jesus doesn’t view people the way the world does. In Jesus’ eyes, He sees only the heart of someone and what can be. Of course He’s aware of our past and present but, with the power of God at work in our hearts, that doesn’t dictate our future. This is vitally important, so lean in a little.

You are not your sin.

You are not your past bad choices. You’re not even your present bad choices. When God looks at you, He sees only who you are in Him. He sees the potential He knit within you when you were in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). Can you receive mercy and see yourself in this light? Can you show mercy and see others around you in this light? It’s not always easy, but we all make mistakes, and Jesus tells us we will all be judged in the same way we choose to judge others – that the same measure we use will be measured to us (Matthew 7:1-2). Today seems like a good day to start looking at people a little differently, doesn’t it?

Our second perspective has to do with how we inventory our resources. In the Scripture above, the woman told Jesus He had nothing to draw the water out with. Just like the Samaritan women, we look at our own situations and believe God can’t or won’t help us because the answer we seek requires something we don’t have. Our perspective needs to change to account for two things. The first is the answer we want may not be the answer God knows is best. The second is He has what we can’t see. God has everything and anything at His disposal the moment He needs it. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it won’t be there in His perfect timing.

This leads us to our third perspective. What we see may not always be what we’re getting. If you take anything away from this reading, I pray it’s this. When the Samaritan woman asked about the living water, she understood this to be water used to quench her physical thirst. What she was unaware of in that moment, was that it wasn’t the well water He wanted to give her, but the gift of salvation. I wonder how often we’re handed something from God, only to miss the deeper and more meaningful picture.

When Jesus told her what her current life’s condition was, He didn’t condemn her. He gave her hope and the assurance of a new life in Him. He was more concerned about who she could be than who she was. The expression Jesus used to describe the “welling up” of eternal life is a vigorous one. Commentaries say it has a meaning like “leaping up.” Jesus was speaking of vigorous, abundant life. The life he offered to this Samaritan woman is the same life He offers to you and me.

Look beyond the things right in front of you to see the bigger picture. Seek out understanding and a greater wisdom for the things of this world God uses to teach you about the things of His Kingdom.

Interesting factoid: The well mentioned in the Scripture above is commonly referred to as Jacob’s well. It’s located in Shechem, a city in ancient Israel, north of Judea. Christian sources as early as the fourth century mention a well in this area that was over 100 feet deep. In 1935, there was a well cleaned out, believed to be this very well, and it did, in fact, go down 138 feet.

Be blessed,
C.K.

See

“Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.’” Joshua 6:1-5

Wait. Stop. Go back and read that again and see if you can find what’s strange about this passage. C’mon. Humor me.

What did you see? I’ll give you a hint. It actually starts with the word, “see.”

First, a little context. God is talking to Joshua, as they are preparing to end their forty-year hiatus in the dessert, and exchange their manna for milk and honey. They are within eye shot of the promised land, but they have a big problem. Jericho was surrounded by a mighty stone wall. This wall was between twelve to seventeen feet high, and five to six feet thick. No joke. In addition, there were guards all over this wall. In order to enter the promised land, they had to conquer Jericho and its stone fortress.

The story is fairly well known. God tells Joshua he and his men are to march once around the city, each day, for six days. On the seventh day, they are to march around it seven times. At the end of the seventh round, they are to give a loud shout. That’s when God, by His own mighty hand, brought the wall down and gave the Israelites victory over Jericho.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read this story and, equally, how many times I went right past a message so exciting, it has my heart racing this morning. God’s Word is truly alive.

When God spoke to Joshua, it would have made sense had God gave him instructions and waited for the dance in the end zone before confirming victory. But that’s not what He did. God said, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands…” before it happened.

Whoa. Do you need a second to process that? I sure do.

Scripture tells us God’s Word never returns void.

“…so is My Word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

Whether that’s His words given to us in the Bible, or those things He speaks to us using the still, small voice, if He spoke it, it will come to pass and accomplish whatever He set out for it to do. Really take this in with me for a second. God, in all His perfection, omnipotence, and control can, with complete confidence and authority, claim the victory before it happens.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

It’s simple, really. It’s already done. It’s already known to God. It’s like the movie He made but we haven’t watched yet. He knows every moment of every person’s life. Even the ones that haven’t happened yet. He can proclaim the victory to Joshua before they even start marching because He’s already seen it happen.

I don’t know about you, but this gives me a supernatural comfort I don’t quite know how to even put into words. It also raises a very important feeling in me. Trust.

Here’s the bottom line. If God has spoken something to your heart, believe Him. He’s already seen it play out, and what He says will never return void to Him. Go ahead and do your end zone dance before you march around the city. What a fantastic act of faith and worship your dancing will be… no matter how bad the person next to you thinks it is 🙂

Be blessed,
C.K.

Facing Away

“Then He entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. ‘It is written,’ He said to them, ‘My house will be a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of robbers.’’” (Luke 19:45-46)

Last week, we learned that when we allow things that aren’t pleasing to God into our hearts, we’re allowing them into the very temple God created as a Holy dwelling, meant only for Him. It’s important for God to hold the most important place in our hearts, but it’s also important to understand how compromising that affects our character.

As I was writing last week, I felt God asking me to go back to the passages and seek moredeeply. I put my Mac aside, pulled up my Bible app, and began reading over the passages. I had already pored over several times, but I knew He was telling me to look again, which made me kind of excited, and built an expectation. As always, He did not disappoint.

Allow me, Dear One, to ask a question that I would like you to think about for a few minutes before reading any further. Do you find it at all interesting that what Jesus used in this very important lesson, to represent the thieves in our hearts, were people who were selling items?

It’s about compromise. It’s about placing a price on what can’t be bought, and selling ourselves for earthly gain, rather than Kingdom gain. Every time you compromise any portion of your convictions, you’re selling yourself to the enemy, who comes only to steal, kill and destroy you (John 10:10). The motivations of the people in the marketplace were centered around what they could gain personally, and about what they could take from others.

What God’s showing me is that these people were quite literally and spiritually facing away from the temple. God desires us to seek His face and be filled with His spiritual blessings.

At the end of the day, it won’t be about what we can take from others, but what we can giveto others.

How do we drive out the thieves in our temples and put God back in His rightful place? It’s a choice to make your heart His Throne room. If you do, this space can’t be shared with anything short of Holy. Anything less would be an insult to His Spirit which dwells in everyone who calls Him Savior.

Ask God to show you anything that might be competing in this space with Him. Once He shows you, get rid of it without hesitation, and He’ll fill that space with more of His glory. You’ll never long for what He asked you to give up, and only marvel at how you never knew how badly you wanted what He replaced it with. 

*Please note, there will be no new blog next week, 8/10, as I will be on vacation. We all need a little rest now and then.

Be blessed,
C.K.

Thieves in the Temple

“Then He entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. ‘It is written,’ He said to them, ‘My house will be a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of robbers.’’” Luke 19:45-46

There are so many beautiful teachings and parallels that are buried within God’s Word, just waiting to be uncovered. Jesus often used parables when teaching the crowds to explain things that had a much deeper meaning. On the surface, what we read is a very practical application of living the life and exhibiting the behaviors God is asking of us. However, at the heart of these applications is usually a treasure much more valuable and life breathing. We only need to dig past the surface to find it. God plainly tells us if we seek Him, we’ll find Him (Proverbs 8:17).

In Luke 19:28-44, we read of the Triumphal Entry. This is the point in Jesus’ ministry when He enters Jerusalem, openly affirming He is the Messiah. Up until this point, Jesus allowed His actions to dictate what others knew and believed of Him. But now, it was time for a much bigger plan to unfold, at the beginning of which, was making known His true identity in God. He knew proclaiming Himself as the Messiah would anger the Pharisees and Jewish leaders, ultimately putting the plan of His very death into motion.

As Jesus approached Jerusalem, He wept over it. He prophesied there would come a time when their enemies would build an embankment around them and their children to completely destroy them. His heart was grieved because He knew they wouldn’t recognize God Himself was coming to them to save them. It was then Jesus entered the temple area and saw the people using it as a market place to sell and make money. Jesus was furious over the desecration of His Father’s house and, in righteous anger, began driving the sellers out of the temple.

Pause with me here, for we’re about to uncover our parallel. On the surface, we can easily relate to the reasons Jesus may have been angered by what was happening in His Father’s house. It was intended as a place of prayer and intimacy with God, not a marketplace filled with greed and ill intentions. However, I think there’s more here. Jesus was protecting the integrity of a physical location, but I think we can use this as an example of the need to protect the integrity of our hearts. We need to overturn the thieves we place within our hearts that rob God of our intimacy with Him.

God desires to be the very center of our being. The Word tells us Christ dwells in our hearts, and that we are a temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (1 Corinthians 3:16). As imperfect people who sin, we allow desecration of the temple, today, by allowing idols that are not of God to steal precious priority within our hearts. Our God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14). He gave Moses the command that we shall have no other gods before Him. When we hold things precious that don’t give glory to God, we’re allowing things into our hearts that take on the very nature of what Jesus drove out of the temple thousands of years ago.

Is there anything in your life that would make Jesus angry enough to want to overturn it?

I hope you’re encouraged to examine your heart and drive out the things competing with your heart for God. I sure am. This has to do with more than just our time with God, but the character He desires to build within us. 

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Be blessed,
C.K.

B Cells

I sometimes feel envious of those in the medical profession, who have had the opportunity to study the amazing complexities of our bodies in gross detail. Gross is probably a good word to use because all that study involves seeing and touching all the stuff on the inside. I guess someone has to carry that burden, and thank the Lord it isn’t me.

What I’m most enamored by, are all the amazing examples God has given us through those complexities, about who He is and how He works. Today, we’re going to take a look at one of those examples. B cells. I’ll ask all my medical friends in advance for their mercy as I oversimplify this, and hope we can all exchange the gory details for the spirit of the message.

When your body is fighting an illness, it’s fighting something called antigens, which are foreign molecules that don’t belong in your body. When an intruder is detected, your body’s alarm system goes off and sends special cells that fight those antigens. Some release enzymes that kill the foreign objects. Some turn on the body’s immune system and trigger our B cells to make antibodies. These antibodies attach themselves to the antigens, rendering them useless. The picture that comes to my mind is someone jumping on the back of an intruder, wrapping their hands around their eyes, and watching the chaos ensue. I imagine the intruder stumbling around, trying to figure out what’s going on, until they find themselves crashing into a wall and falling onto the floor. The antibody sits on the intruder until help shows up and halls him off to jail.

I allowed myself some interpretational liberty there, but I think you get the point.

That whole process is amazing in and of itself, but here’s something even more fascinating. Those B cells have memory. That’s right. Memory. That means they now recognize that intruder and, if he ever comes back, they know more about him, and how to fight him off.

The difficult things we go through in life can be a lot like this process. We get hit with foreign objects we don’t understand at first. Things that threaten our spiritual health. The Holy Spirit is like the cells that trigger and turn on our spiritual immune system, and our faith is like those B cells that fight against the attack. The antibody? Jesus, of course. No attack is pleasant, but once we walk through it, we learn and grow and equip ourselves to not only recognize, but fight it off quicker the next time.

Sometimes the most inspiring part of getting through a disease is not the healing itself, but what’s happening inside of you during the good fight.

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Jesus told us we would have trouble in this world, but He also told us not to be discouraged, because He’s already overcome them. I believe part of that story of overcoming isn’t just about overcoming illness – physical or spiritual. It’s about how you are overcoming amidst the pain of the journey, and that is what is truly inspiring.

Today’s writing was inspired by a couple I recently met, and I was deeply moved by their story. They took the terrible intruder, called Cancer, and turned it into a story of hope. Every day, since that journey began, they put out a Facebook post, “C the Good,” where they list all the ways God is good, and all the good things coming out of their trial. What an inspiration. They are vulnerably inviting people into the midst of their pain and turning it into hope for themselves and others.

Chose to be a lantern amidst your storm. Chose to be light to those around you. Be a beacon they can see and follow. In doing so, you’ll build your own spiritual immunity, and be more equipped to call on Jesus to calm the storms that come your way more quickly.

Be blessed,
C.K.

A Hairy Ordeal

It started with a simple idea. It always starts out as simple. Until you actually do it. Sometimes, you’re lucky and everything works out the way you saw it in your mind. Other times, it’s like watching your favorite ceramic mug fall off the counter, and you’re too far away to catch it. You simply have to watch it hit the floor and smash into pieces.

This bit of drama brought to you by the midlife crisis my hair seems to be having. My simple idea? Get a pixie haircut. “It will be fun,” they said. “It will look great on you,” they said.

My favorite mug lay shattered on the ground in a bazillion pieces.

I know I’m being dramatic, but that’s kind of how I felt for at least three solid minutes.  As a side note, I mean no disrespect or chiding to the woman who cuts my hair. I think she did a most excellent job, and nailed the picture I gave her to base the cut on. So after I stared dejectedly in the mirror for a couple of minutes, I gave myself a pep talk that hair grows, and it would all be okay in three to six months. Three to six months. That’s a long time. I needed a new plan, and a new plan is exactly what I came up with. I waited almost eight excruciating weeks for it to grow out a bit, and then I decided I was going to color it all. Platinum white. It would look spectacular. It would look so spectacular, I would no longer notice how much more I look like my brother. I would just be enamored by my cool hair color.

I made that appointment for Thursday. It was going to be fantastic. I could feel it. I’m not exactly sure what chemicals are used to lighten hair, but I’m pretty sure it’s a combination of hydrochloric acid and sulfur acid. Maybe a touch of gasoline. My scalp was on fire. But as my daughter used to say when she was in high school, “Beauty for pain.” I guess she was right.

After two rounds of the acid-like treatment, we learned the hard way that my hair is stubborn, and doesn’t like to lighten. So instead of the platinum white picture of perfection, I now had Ronald McDonald yellow hair with some white highlights.

I needed another plan.

I acquired something called a purple mask, which is a thick, purple cream you put into shampooed hair. You let it sit on your hair for five to ten minutes and then rinse it out. It’s supposed to tame the brassy/yellow color and restore it to platinum white. I packed it with the things I was taking to the boat this weekend, and headed to Door County. This morning, after my shower, I used the purple people eater cream, as directed, and busied myself for approximately seven and a half minutes. During which time, one of the marina dockhands stopped by with a question.

[look askance]

A few minutes after that embarrassing moment, Siri kindly told me it was time to rinse it out. I did so with optimism, and then ran to the mirror. I wanted to say abracadabra, presto change-o, but there were other words that made it out first. Now, instead of yellow hair with white highlights, I had yellow hair with purple highlights. No pictures this weekend, please.

One of the things I appreciate about God, besides His sense of humor, is His ability to show Himself in all the things around us. Hair is no exception. Here’s the moral of this story.

Sometimes, you just need to let your hair grow. Things happen in life that aren’t always pleasant, and we can’t fast forward our way through them. Sometimes, we just need to be patient within our present circumstances, while God is growing the things we are praying for. Trying to interfere and speed up the natural process can make the situation worse than before. And using purple people eater cream may only make you want to hide more. I should know.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

Trust in God’s plan, and be patient. Just let your hair grow. 

Be blessed,
C.K.

Count the Cost

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” Luke 14:28

When counting the cost of something, that may be our time, money, conveniences, etc. To live a life for Christ demands the sum of these. It’s all our material possessions, emotional comforts and physical well-being tossed onto the proverbial table. In our Scripture above, His analogy of building a tower is simple – Christ is not demanding anything of us. He simply instructs us to take inventory of what a life of service and discipleship will require, to ensure we can finish the job.

Imagine a road. Imagine its long and winding path, sheltered and encased by the branches of majestic trees, whose roots are deep with life. You are ready. Your eye is on the finish. With each step along the narrow path you’re drawn more forward by the longing in your spirit for the Greatness you know lies ahead at your destination. Along the way, you pick up weary travelers, lifeless in spirit. You tell them of this Greatness – that which can breathe life into them again, heal their wounds and satisfy any hunger. More and more follow. You assure them, where you’re going, there is plenty of room for all (John 14:2).

The journey is long and the bottoms of your shoes become worn. The night falls steadily, along with the hope that sparked your first steps. Your pace ceases as you find yourself staring dejectedly at the unexpected mountain before you. There is no way around this mountain. Only over it. To take such a journey of strength will require a lightened load and the use of your hands for climbing. This means abandoning all your possessions for the sake of the climb. Disillusionment creeps in as you are taunted by your own ill-preparedness. Fear tells you to turn around. In that moment, you’re faced with a choice that will impact not only your own life, but the lives of so many others.

In your weakness and fear, you turn. When you do, you are face to face with all the weary travelers who are following you, uncertain of why you stopped. As you pass through the sea of searching faces, your actions of retreat make words unnecessary. The travelers who were once filled with hope are now standing in silence, gazing back and forth between their retreating leader and the mountain before them. The cloaks of dejectedness and disillusionment are passed through the crowd as the vision of Greatness you spoke of fades with every step backwards you take. For many, hurt turns to anger and bitterness for leading them so far for nothing. They leave the path, never to return (2 Peter 2:21). Others ridicule you. For others, they continue to follow you, turning back to the place that took the life within them and made them weary in the first place.

But there is one. There is one who remains staring at the mountain. He takes his time to think about the journey and all it will require. When weighed against the reward of the Greatness that waits on the other side, there is no hesitation in his spirit (Isaiah 6:8). He gathers those who are still found motionless in the confusion and calls out to those who have already turned around to see if any will follow with him. They leave any unnecessary thing and, together, begin the climb.

Which one will you be?

Be blessed,
C.K.

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.

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.