Tag Archives: Faith

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.

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.

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.

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.

Forget the Former Things

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

We all have expectations and desires for our tomorrows, but we sometimes allow our yesterdays to get in the way. No matter what your current situation in life, I pray this leaves you excited about the great things our God has waiting for you, as well as a changed perspective about where you’ve been. I’m excited to look with you in Isaiah, where we’ll learn about the amazing power of transformation available to us, and how God encourages us to keep our eye on the prize.

Visualize a wasteland. Webster defines this as “an ugly often devastated or barely inhabitable place or area.” Imagine what would happen if a stream of fresh, clean water is planted right in the middle of that wasteland. Over time, the ground around it begins to absorb the water. As the water spreads farther into the ground, it’s the catalyst for new life. Slowly, the seeds that once fell on hard and dry soil now have soft dirt to cultivate in. In a matter of time, what was once ugly and barren is full of lush, green life. When you choose to call God the Lord of your life, you are choosing life itself. You are allowing His living water to be deposited into the deepest part of you.

Let’s look to a common scientific principle – water was meant to flow. As you read His Word and spend time with Him, increasing your understanding of who God is and His will for you, that repository of water begins to flow, not only into every part of you but, into the lives of those around you. That water changes you. It changes your heart and transforms your mind (Romans 12:2). Transforming your mind and heart will transform your life. 

What prevents us from embracing the change and walking in transformation? Often times, it’s because we’re too busy dwelling on our past. You know the phrase, “the best predictor of the future is the past.” There’s usually no shortage of people reminding us of our mistakes and shortcomings. After hearing these messages enough times, we begin to believe the limitations others set for us.

God takes a different approach on things. He’s telling us to forget the former things. One of the amazing gifts afforded to us through our relationship with Christ is the ability to wipe our slates clean. If you’re in doubt, look at Paul’s story (Acts 9), and the amazing works he was able to do for Christ afterthe years he spent murdering Christians. I sometimes wonder what self-deprecating thoughts Paul had to overcome after his own transformation. How many times did he have to tell himself God was bigger than his murderous rampage of the brothers that were now his?

I’m not saying it’s easy to forget our past, but we must reconcile the misgiving that our failures make us unworthy. Sweet One, our being human makes us unworthy, but the power of Christ’s death and resurrection created a way for us to forget the former things and set ourselves on a new path.

Don’t let Satan use your past as a means to limit your future.

Understand our mistakes only serve to glorify the One who can make all things new (Romans 8:28-30). I believe this glory comes in two forms. The first is simple – Jesus saves. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done – there isn’t anything the cross didn’t overcome. When Jesus hung on that cross, bloody and beaten, he bore the pain and shame of every sin ever committed and yet to be committed. Nothing was forgotten. No one was forgotten.

The second form of glory is more subjective, but equally valuable – your story. Think of survivor stories and how individuals use those to inspire and motivate others. In our Christian walks, it’s vital for us to relate to others in a way that makes faith real and even tangible. We do this through sharing our stories and triumphs of overcoming sin and hardship. People need to know and believe we’ve walked in their shoes before they will trust what we say to them.

Being real about who we were before Christ transformed us, and the ways we fall on our face amidst our Christian walks today, serves to fortify the hope available for those who choose to believe.

Dwelling on your past will lead you back to a drought. Don’t forget the lessons in them, but don’t let your past limit your future. We serve an amazing God – able to do immeasurably more than we could possibly ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21). If God believes you can, shouldn’t you?

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? …. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31, 37-39

Be blessed,
C.K.

Extreme Home Makeover

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. Psalm 127:1

Do you remember the old ABC hit show, Extreme Home Makeover? Ty Pennington and his team would travel the nation, rebuilding the homes of people whose lives had been marked with struggle, illness, or the death of their loved ones. The families would be excursioned off for a week while the makeover team demolished what was there and put something incredibly beautiful in its place.

As Christians, we should take inventory of our spiritual houses. When you stand at a central point looking at the walls around you, what do you see? Do you see a clean and beautiful structure or do you see cracked walls and rotting boards? What in your spiritual house needs to be demolished and rebuilt?

What was the pinnacle or turning point in the lives of the families on this show? They either asked for help or someone close to them made a plea on their behalf. Sound familiar? I hope so, because this, my friend, is prayer. Whether you’re crying out to God for help, or someone who loves you is interceding for you, God hears the prayers of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). 

Some of us have developed in our spiritual maturity, and just need God to come in and renovate a few problematic rooms. However, sometimes we have too much damage for mere renovation. Our walls might be crumbling and, just as we can’t pour new wine into old wineskins (Matthew 9:17), God won’t build a new home on top of a foundation that’s damaged. In these situations, we find ourselves surrendered and requiring all the trust we can muster as the walls are brought down around us.

Sweet one, I know all too well how frightening this can be. There was a point in my life when everything seemed to be crumbling down around me. Anything and everything that held significance to me seemed to get ripped away in some fashion. As I mentally and emotionally walked through the rubble, tears streaming over the broken items, it was then God picked me up and held me in His arms. He pulled me far enough away so my focus was no longer on the broken pieces, but on the crew that was waiting in the distance to clear away the rubble and rebuild. What I first thought was demise was, in reality, the hope for something better.

I love to redecorate rooms. I love finding one unique item and patterning everything else around it as a compliment. We all have rooms that need a little redecorating. As you allow God into those rooms, He places His Son Jesus inside as the unique centerpiece. Over time, He develops and adds pieces of your character that compliment your centerpiece. This is a life-long process that should never be stagnant.

If you were having guests over, would you be quick to make sure it’s clean? With your spiritual home, every time you interact with people, you’re inviting them into an open house. If it’s less than what God desires, I’d encourage you to see your cracks as opportunities to grow.

Take heart, for help is on the way! When you surrender your spiritual house to the Almighty Designer, He will come in and transform you room by room, until what’s left is your palace (Hebrews 11:10).

I’ll leave you with one more thought. Why did the families on Extreme Home Makeover trust the crew? They were familiar with the show and had seen the results time and time again. If these families can put their homes into the hands of a crew that existed for only a few years, then certainly, you and I can put our homes in the hands of an infinitely-existing, all-knowing, ever-present God, whose record of victories existed before time began.

Be blessed,
C.K.

Exponential Impacts

Do you wonder what kind of an impact you’re making? Do you get discouraged when it seems like what’s going on around you might be taking you farther from the goal? When God’s in control, never underestimate the impacts. You may not see them right in front of you, but they are there. Let’s look at an incredible example of this – one that continually blows my mind every time I really think about it.

“…and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong.”

Romans 1:10-11

In 60 A.D., Rome was estimated to have more than four million people. In comparison, it would be like taking the city of Green Bay, WI and multiplying that forty times over. It would take fifty Lambeau Field stadiums to hold everyone! Paul had been hearing reports on the faith growing among the people and expressed his longing to visit them. Simply put, he was stoked to walk into this great imperial city and put on his preacher show at the Colosseum. It was the city center amphitheater which dreams were made of. Paul made it to Rome alright. But it wasn’t the colosseum he sat in. It was a prison cell. He landed himself on house arrest as a result of freeing a slave girl from a demon (Acts 16:16-24).

For the next two years, the only people Paul saw were the Roman guard and any visitors allowed to him. Can you imagine the discouragement he must have battled, feeling so far from the goal? Hardly a colosseum of people. But he made the most of his time preaching to his captive audience. He also did something quite extraordinary. During his time in prison, Paul wrote four books of the New Testament – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Now let’s get to the really cool part.

Statistically, the Bible is recorded to be the best selling book of all time, with over five billion Bibles in circulation. Combine this with all of the Bible apps, like YouVersion, that people can download for free. Now add in every person who’s ever listened to a message from one of these four books. I don’t know if I even know how to do the math correctly to come up with that number. All I know is, it’s staggering. That’s as scientific as I’ll get on one cup of coffee.

Paul expected to preach to a colosseum of people in Rome, but God had a much bigger plan in mind. The impact from the writings he did there were completely exponential to what he would have ever imagined, and those numbers grow daily! It’s mind blowing, really. Is Paul sitting in heaven feeling disappointed now? I think not.

If you’re working toward the things God laid on your heart, be confident the impacts will be both exponential and eternal, in His timing. If you expect Him to do immeasurably more (Ephesians 3:20), He’ll never disappoint you.

Be blessed,
C.K.