▪️PURSUE YOUR PASSION

Pleasure.

in the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire Eric Liddell says this,  “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” Pleasure. Depending on your view of who God is and what He is like will radically impact your perception of whether or not He desires you to feel pleasure.

There are plenty of negative references toward pleasures that you may be aware of; usually what may be cloaked in pleasure is vice. And God’s desire is for us to be free, so He steers us away from vices. Instead He offers us a liberating alternative, the pursuit of our passion.

When you truly find a passion, something good for you that you were designed to do, you experience God’s good pleasure. Very few find it. Hear me load and clear, if you are still looking for the thing that makes you feel free and fully alive, don’t stop. If I could reach through my laptop and sit with you today, I would do everything I could to help you on your quest. It’s not an easy pursuit. It takes courage to pursue freedom.

What I can offer you are arrows that might help you discover what it is you might be passionate about, I offer because on the journey of life it will help keep your candle burning. So here it goes, grab pen and paper if this is for you and take a few quite minutes to drift away. For reflection and self discovery begin to answer these questions.

What am I good at AND enjoy doing? Think making something (a product) OR giving of self (a service) .

If you have difficulty with the first question – and think it might be both outline which is the driver. Example: I like to teach and encourage, however I prefer to do this via a product rather than providing a service. I choose to make products and tools to deliver the teaching and encouragement rather than acting as a facilitator. I hope that helps.

Will you take some time this week to invest in your passion?

Will you take time journaling how you feel after the investment?

If you choose to invest in yourself in this way you might find that you have more to give in the other areas of your life. Be a whole person, pursue your passion and bring something uniquely you to the world. We are waiting, we need you . You can do it.

Be strong and courageous.

▪️PICK YOUR BATTLES

God working with you.

After she finished detailing the progress she’s made on her latest work endeavor I asked her, “do you feel like God is working with you?” This is a question I’ve asked myself lately. It’s an important question that all people of faith should ask themselves.

Life is full of battles, and when you’re in one wouldn’t you want God fighting with you. Although He is close and with us at all times, He’s not necessarily fighting all our battles with us. He chooses carefully, and so should we.

This week’s attribute is all about picking the right battles and how standing up for yourself and others is the right thing to do. And as far as God fighting with us is concerned, we can be assured that He is always fighting with us when we choose the way that requires virtue and courage, because those paths are aligned with who God is. Yes, like the warm air slowly churning outside my door informs me of what I can see on the radar about the impending hurricane coming my way, God is always present. However, He is not always picking up the battles we choose.

In both my daily reading today, by today I am referring to the day that I am crafting this piece to you in cyberspace, and on the verse of the day from the Bible app these same words are before me;

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV

If you want to feel God working with you then you better start fighting battles that require faith. It takes courage to have faith.

We’re told in scripture that faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the substance of what is unseen. I hope you didn’t miss that. Unseen.

If you want to see the invisible God step into your life and begin to fight your battles with you; then you need to choose the battles He would choose. He always chooses the battles that require courage. The one’s that require virtue.

Be strong and courageous in your choosing my friend,

▪️PAIN HAS A PURPOSE

Redemption.

I’ve been appropriately hemmed in between two messages of late. And much like the body weight needed to balance a seesaw, these two are also designed to bring me into alignment, they are pain and healing. When we’ve experienced both we are able to move throughout life with wisdom and strength. When we lack one or the other, we can remain juvenile and weak; for which there is no need for courage.

Here are a few things I was reminded over the past few weeks that I extend to you in an offering of love.

While visiting a church recently the preacher, popular Christian hip hop recording artist Lecrae, shared an excellent message with those in attendance. He talked about the different kinds of storms we will all experience in life, and how we need to respond to those storms. These storms are; those we bring upon ourselves as a result of poor choices, those others bring into our life as a result of their poor choices, and of course the those we all experience because we live in a fallen world. I am paraphrasing his outline here for brevity of course.

While all of the above are true, the storm summary was designed to lay a foundation for a deeper message that we can all relate to. A message about perspective. We all like to think our storms are bigger, harder, and well, more special than someone else’s. Even in our pain we want to feel “special.” As if it would help us feel better. That desire feeds our ability to make excuses to run away from our storms, rather than face them.

The storms we face; are the opportunities for us to experience pain and suffering. That’s what we are avoiding… PAIN.

In his talk, Lecrae, was able to relate in the most human way to the listeners when he said, “you’re right, I’ve never experienced your exact same circumstances, just like I’ve never experienced the circumstances that Joseph faced, or David faced, your right; the circumstances are different but guess what – SAME GOD.” Don’t miss that; different storms but SAME GOD.

We all want someone to go through our pain with us; but no one can do that, they can’t ever feel exactly how we feel, that’s why we can be so thankful that Jesus can walk through our pain with us. Because the God who redeemed all things did it by facing His own pain. Once we learn to lean on Him for courage to face our pain we can get through to the other side and experience healing.

While reading, The Good and Beautiful God, by James Bryan Smith, book one in a spiritual formation series that I have returned to on many occasions, I came to this passage.

“All of us have to face pain and difficulty, sometimes even tragedy. As we come to know and draw close to the God Jesus knows, we find a new kind of strength to deal with our struggles. If we do not know God as our Abba Father, then we will never have the courage to face our problems. But as we come to know the Good and beautiful God that Jesus knows, our struggles take on a whole new meaning. If God is truly good and looking out for our good, then we can come to him with complete honesty. We can practice honesty when we pray – bearing our soul and confronting those hurts that make us doubt God’s goodness by handing them over to him for healing.” (pg. 64)

When we allow healing to take place we can see God’s redemptive work in our lives. If we’ve never experienced pain there would be nothing to redeem. If we never allow the process of healing to take place we block God’s desire to show us His redemptive work in our lives.

When we are open to receive God’s healing in our lives we are courageously suffering so that our pain has a purpose. Wether the pain is physical or emotional the same truth applies.

I was once told that even broken bones when healed properly can become stronger than they were before the break. This means that healed brokenness can make us stronger. I offer you this tough truth as a companion, whose no stranger to seeing God redeem both physical and emotional pain through the healing process. I can also share that this is an excessively hard road to travel, and requires much courage.

Quite possibly this is why I share a reflection on courage with you regularly, because life is hard, my life is hard, and we all need encouragement to take the courageous way with Jesus. So, this week I leave you with this somber but powerful reminder; Jesus redeemed more through 3 days of pain, than He did in 3 years of ministry, with 3 decades of preparation.

Let us not forget that to follow the Jesus way you must be strong and courageous my friend,

▪️FACE YOUR FEAR

TRUST.

In my scattered spontaneity earlier this summer I decided I would host a “book club” via a Facebook Group. I started a Facebook group only because I was advised it would be a good idea, somehow supporting my writing, the book club came about simply as a need to “do” something as a group. So here we are Facebook grouping together. I chose a book that would be good for me to read since I offer you a thought on courage on a weekly basis. The title is “Do It Scared” written by Ruth Soukup. As a group we’ve been slogging along through the content, that is, until now. Now, it’s time to move from slog to jog and take action.

Ruth says, on several occasions in her book, “Action is the antidote to fear.” This is wise advice. When you allow your fears to hold you back and paralyze you from moving into the good things that God has for you, you’re letting the feeling of fear win. I say feeling because it’s this emotional kind of fear that can control our physical ability to move forward if we don’t learn how to tame it. That’s why the book has such an appropriate title “Do It Scared.” Literally you will feel scared until you take action and move through your fear.

Do you realize there is a whole other form of fear that most of us deal with at some point in our life?

I’ve spent the last six months probing courage for all of its essence and the last six weeks learning about fear, thanks to the book, and have found they have a very unlikely intersection. They converge in relationships. There is a space where courage and fear are essentially the same, that space is something we call trust. A few years ago, when I was home schooling my kiddos, I learned about an invention that Leonardo DaVinci conceived during his stent working as a military engineer. It’s called the DaVinci bridge. The design is so fascinating I actually purchased my own model.

The military at that time was in need of a solution to transport large supplies of ammunition and the like during combat. When they would reach a creek or river crossing, they would be forced to travel miles out of their way to find a land bridge to pass and then spend days backtracking to their original route. That is until the DaVinci Bridge.

This bridge uses the weight and natural force created by stacking its precut logs together, very similar to Lincoln logs, to form a stable walkway that could be crossed. DaVinci designed this bridge in a way that they could carry it with them and erect as needed on the go. No mortar necessary. The simple act of fitting one piece together at a time was all that was needed. Quick to build and quick to tear down.

Eventually, when the bridge was built there would a time to cross over, testing its ability to sustain the weight of the people and supplies that were being transported. The test would call for both courage and fear, a complete balance. I call this trust. Trust requires both courage and fear.

Trust is both hard to build and easy to tear down. This week’s post is about facing your fear. If you’ve been hurt by people and trusting them is hard for you, you are not alone.

I encourage you to begin building bridges to cross, one person at a time. The only thing that can heal you of this kind of fear is your own courage.

You’ve got this.

▪️DON'T QUIT

I stopped.

I can say with all honesty that it has been a “non-stop” summer for me. I’ve been running full throttle since June 1st. All the while wondering when there would be rest in my schedule. Some days I pined for margin, even so I dragged myself to do the next thing in front of me. I’ve been careful not to glance or think too much about what’s coming up on my calendar. Instead I kept to the task of making short “must do” lists, added regularly to the ongoing, “must do soon” list I was keeping, and focused on getting things crossed off. One by one. It’s not been ideal, but somehow I’ve navigated the demands of the summer and reached my port of call, back to school week.

It’s right here at this intersection where I am tempted to stop. Sure, I wouldn’t call it quitting, I’d just stop. Like a silent death I’d slow down all the doings of my agenda and let the momentum wain. Until eventually there would be nothing. That is how we stop. Permanently.

A port of call is designed to be an intermittent stop on a longer journey, not a destination. Giving into the hustle and bustle of everyone else’s life is a deadly temptation, not for them, but for me. Yes, it makes the sailing in your life smooth. There is nothing to rock the boat. Because you have no course charted, no destination to reach.

I can’t give in, I must adopt a NO QUIT mantra, even if it’s only for this week, or even today.

That’s what happened to me 3 years ago. I stopped. Just after I reached 50 blog posts, life happened and I stopped. I could probably cry and ocean of tears thinking what might have been if I’d only kept going. Steadily moving forward, one word at a time. Where would I be now? Why did I stop? I’ll tell you…lack of perseverance. I didn’t have what it takes to push through the choppy water and stay on course. Guess what… here I am, just over 50 blog posts again and what am I most tempted to do? You guessed it, stop.

As I tie off this week to get everyone else’s life moving forward, I am tempted to stop, rest just a little too long, put the engine in idle. If I hadn’t already learned what stopping does, I would have an excuse, but this time it would be QUITTING.

When you’re tired and worn out, you are tempted to quit. However, when you don’t, eventually perseverance will kick in and you’ll make it through to the other side. Take a brief rest and move toward what’s next. It takes courage to do what’s next.

Even if you don’t want to, you don’t like it, or it’s boring. You do it because every time you choose not to quit you make yourself stronger. And that stronger you is who you want to be when you’re not bogged down by all the day to day stuff. You want to be that stronger version of yourself when you have the margin to travel, because traveling all be it fun, requires a lot of work and energy. Or margin for you to go back to school, which by the way also requires a lot of stamina. Or wherever your destination might be. The reality is that most of the things you wish you could be doing if you weren’t consumed with the day to day rigors of life and being there for all your people, require you to be strong.

Isn’t that what perseverance is for, to make us stronger? If you’re like me and are thirsty for margin, take a drink from the promise that right now you are strength training and your future self will thank you for it. This summer I settled for less margin knowing that an hour or two here and there would need to be enough to get me through. Even though I wanted much more. And this week will be the same, tie off for a few then get back on course.

Here’s to pushing through the tough and facing the head winds that lead to a fulfilling destination. Don’t stop, don’t quit, keep with me. We can be courageous together.