Habit of Circle

There's a place to share your God-given dream, it's in the circle of trust. The circle of trust isn't for perfect people but it is for folks who can handle what God has shown us, without letting it be used by the enemy. Sharing the dream God has shown us needs to be handled more carefully than a secret mission from a governing authority.  

The simple fact is that we're in a spiritual war and anything God gives us, the enemy will try to steal from us. Some will flatter us and tell us they love us but they can still be our “enemy”. Wisdom watches to see over time if a person can be trusted and invited in. “The wounds of a friend” are better than the kisses of an enemy. This is no small thing. Better to take the time to determine who is who and then keep it in the circle.

Defining your circle of trust is fairly simple. Keeping it in that circle is the challenge. There are two kinds of people to bring into the circle. Clearly defining these people is important to the integrity of the circle and ultimately protecting the promise. The primary group are "Key Players". Key players are part of the God-given dream need to be in the circle of trust. These are the people who are directly part of the journey or who God will strategically use to pull off what he's revealed. They are share-holders who have a vested interest in your success, because it directly impacts them. Another group are "Critical Supporters". Critical supporters are people who breathe life into us as we pursue the dream. They are seasoned, wise, and have "been there...done that". People with sage wisdom are secure in their own skin. Critical supporters can't have alternate agenda's or be in any kind of competition with us. Here's the test: If they can genuinely cheer us up when we're down and cheer for us when we win - bring them in.

There's no perfect way to protect the circle. Breaches are a part of this fallen world. But this is true: Be ruthlessly wise and measured in who you bring in, so that you won't be naively ravaged by fools in wise men's robes. If we're intentional and prayerfully building the circle, the structure and strength of the circle will be strong. And when the circle is strong, the promise is secure. Keep it in the circle! 

Proverbs 27:5-6

Habit Of Dependency

God promises to make a way so that none of his children are enslaved to mediocrity. But the ways of God are much different than our perception of how power is brokered and who wins in this life. When God invites us to take his yoke onto our life, he’s proposing that our only hope for peace and strength is a new authority structure. We must come under the leadership of God. And here’s the real challenge for many of God’s children: We claim to love God, but we’re not living in dependence on God. We’re trusting in our own strength and coming up powerless.

The strongest people on this planet are those who recognize and can celebrate their weaknesses. The people who embrace their limitations have the greatest conquests. The people who know they don’t have what it takes and surrender to the God who does are the ones who mark the journey to extraordinary.

Celebrating weakness is counterintuitive and countercultural even in Christian circles. One of the dominant challenges in the church is an independent spirit. God may well be knocking at your heart’s door to let strength back in again. Self-will is deceptive and deadly. We can so often be lulled to spiritual sleep, and we need to be awakened to our deep desperation for God. We can’t pretend that we have the power to live abundantly.

Your life has more capacity than you can imagine. Celebrating our weaknesses is all about us surrendering control to God so he can open up his floodgates. We can be conduits of God’s power in ways that cause us to be amazed. Here’s the reality: Life lived in our strength is like a malfunctioning squirt gun—a whole lot of work and very little water. Living surrendered to God’s strength in us is like an open water main—an abundance of water for us and plenty to share with others. Celebrating your weaknesses won’t land you in a dark hole of despair; it can be a discovery of true strength and amazing power.

Our greatest enemy might not be an evil spirit; it may well be an independent spirit. An independent spirit can live in anyone. You can serve independently, be married independently, work independently, parent independently, and preachers can even preach independently. Almost anything can be done independent of God. But independent living is exhausting, and long-term it produces only weariness and regret.

I suspect you’re humble enough to admit that an independent spirit becomes a weary spirit. I have some good news for you: “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength” (Isaiah 40:29).

Build a habit of celebrating your weaknesses. It may seem odd at first, but tell God how glad you are that you recognize your weaknesses and list all that you see. Never settle for less than God’s best again. It’s liberating and empowering to live in the truth. 

Matthew 11:29; Revelation 3:14–20; Isaiah 40:29

 

Don't Count - Count On God

Why did King David get in hot water with God for doing a head-count of his army? Simply this: Anything good in David’s life came from the hand of God. All the wars were won with God’s strength. Any big decisions that went in the win-column were led by God’s wisdom. And even when David should have been killed in a cave, God kept him safe. God wanted David – and US – to get this: The greatest life to live is all-in with God and trusting God alone – all the time!

God’s power is like a hockey horn for our soul – it should signal a huge spiritual score in at least two ways: It means 1. We are not alone. 2. We are not on our own. God’s grace broke through our spiritual isolation and offered friendship. And God’s power gives us strength to go beyond our personal ability.

So how do we honor God’s friendship and power? Don’t count how many people are on our side – God can win battles when massively outnumbered. Never list the good things we’ve done as a way to give us worth – we needed the righteousness of Christ to save us AND to carry us. Resist measuring our personal abilities when looking at God-given dreams – God gets more joy out of using humble submission, than great skills, to do great exploits. Stop looking at our circumstances when God is simply calling us to walk by faith – the good stuff isn’t from God unless it causes us to swallow hard and step into the unknown. If we’re gonna count anything…count on God!

II Sam. 24

The Fear of Risking Everything for Something Empty (Part 1)

Going "all-in" with God is not a simple proposition. It can be terrifying to let go of whatever life we’ve made for ourselves and surrender to a promise God has given. We’ve all been burned by empty promises. Empty pitches from a salesman, empty words from someone we loved and trusted and empty dreams that filled our mind but never came to fruition. So many things come up empty in a broken world that even God-given dreams can seem risky. When we can firmly stake a claim to scripture and are fairly confident God has spoken, we question whether God will deliver. Fear can grip our heart when the time comes to risk everything. Many settle for too little because of the simple fear that the dream God's given, may come up empty. We need help with this fear. 

Nothing can drive out the darkness of fear, like the light of God's fulfilled promises. Nothing can inspire us like getting a taste of God's provision - it opens our spiritual eyes. Nothing can cause us to risk everything, like rehearsing all that God has already given us. God's promises are more believable when we have evidence of his faithfulness. It gets us motivated to chase our God-given dreams. Tastes of God's grace keeps us moving toward a richer future. Chasing God's greater plan is best done when reveling in the contentment of his presence and the work he's already done. 

So this fear must be dealt with at the cross. Laying down our fears to God is our greatest hope. God needs to quite our heart and bring stillness to our mind. When we allow God's peace to flood us, faith to risk everything can be born again. Fixing our eyes on both God's promises and the gifts he's already given us is spiritual sedative for our fears. A healthy mix of moving toward God's promises and resting into God's presence is the remedy for anxiousness, apathy, and even garden-variety discouragement. The way to deal with what we don't yet have, is to focus on what we absolutely do have. The only way to wait for what is yet to come, is to enjoy what has already arrived. Through the noise of fear God is whispering to us, "...I have given to you”. 

Joshua 1:3

The Fear of Taking that First Big Step (Part 5)

Don't Wait For Doubters, Stragglers Or Pretenders

Compassion is a dynamite character quality. It reflects the image of God to a cynical world. Compassion is the stuff that drove God to save us. But it's never compassionate to stay back with doubters, stragglers or pretenders when God says "go over…”. The very best leverage we can have in the life of someone we love or people group we care for is from a position of strength. God asks us to "seek first the kingdom of God". The best gift for anyone captive to the kingdom of darkness is to offer a lifeline from the kingdom of light. Don’t fear stepping away from doubters, stragglers or pretenders. When we keep in step with God we’ll have something to offer those we left behind.

This may require us to tear ourselves away from people who are not ready to "go over...". God uses people who are strong in Christ and fully alive to spiritually resuscitate the struggling. So the best gift we can give anyone is to never compromise our proximity to God, no matter how tough that love may appear. Love will leave people for a time, in order to watch God work over the long haul. Jesus said it, "YOU must follow me".

Connecting with people who are hurting is never an option. But compromising our calling to assist someone in danger is like a suicide pact, both of you will ultimately die. Yes we can help someone get a win, but only when we take a bold personal step toward victory. When God clearly says "go over...", don't wait for doubters, stragglers or pretenders. Doubters need to see the evidence of God's hand on our life. Stragglers need to witness the reward of courage and commitment. And pretenders need a vivid picture of how God honors authenticity. Never fear stepping out in faith, God can help people more through a healthy you, than an enabling you. 

Take that first big step. Never turn back until your foot is on the rock that God has set before us. If you feel like you're going it alone (from a human standpoint), you might well be for a time. But you're in the company of a loving, mighty and friendly God. Walk the road less traveled, climb the mountain that appears impassable, and swim the river if we must. But for God's glory, our joy and any who may be watching - "go over…".

Matthew 6:33, John 21:20-22

The Fear of Taking that First Big Step (Part 4)

Plan To Get Wet

When dealing with a fear of taking that first step we have to be honest enough to own what could potentially happen. When you put your toe in the Jordan that stands before you, you may witness a parting of the waters, but you may well not. God is always at work and He may do a miracle, but we might have to get wet. We can't impose on God how He delivers us, just know that He will. When Joshua was initially called by God to make his crossing he had no idea how the miracle of crossing the Jordan would happen. He didn't know if God would send rafts or provide the strength for the entire nation to swim for it. But Joshua knew one critical thing, and this we must allow God to etch on the walls of our minds: If God has placed a dream on our heart, he has the plan and the power to get us from here to there.

Every crossing in our life must be a God thing. But a “God thing” doesn’t come in a tidy package. Faith is at the heart of every crossing. And faith without a little trembling would be a little odd. So we need to anchor ourselves in truth when we step out in faith. God is "doing a new thing" and he will “make a way”. Just when we think we will die of thirst in a wilderness, God will bring river for relief and to quench our thirst. Faith doesn't remove fear, but faith in God to make a way can bust us trough our fears.

So we have one thing to do. Make plans for the obvious. If there is a mountain in front of us, plan to climb it. If there are tar pits, plan to weave carefully and step gingerly around them. And if there is a river, plan to get wet. The Jordan was ultimately stopped up and the river bed wasn't even damp - it was dry. But that came after the crossing began. Don't wait for the miracle. Maybe you are the miracle. Don't look around, jump in. In all the forecasting God gives us, he almost never gives us the details of the plan. That's for one simple reason: The dream God has given us can only been realized through utter dependence. Faith is what keeps us from falling away, and faith is what gives us follow-through. I don't know how God will get you there. He may do something for you he's never pulled off before. But either way, plan to get wet. 

Isaiah 43:19

The Fear of Leaving What is Familiar (Part 2)

We Can't Fix Anything 

Optimism is a strong trait, but blind optimism is a sign of weakness. Seeing a cup half full is noble, but if the cup is slightly cracked and can't hold water unless we keep filling it, then we're just being foolish. Sometimes we find ourselves in drawn out situations, toxic relationships, unwise endeavors, and general life circumstances that are simply broken. Since we live in a broken world and perfection is not our goal, God may call you to be part of the solution. But often times we are only hurting ourselves and preventing God from doing a great work, simply because we're in the way. We can't fix anything.

When God says "arise" it's because our time, where we've been, is complete. God will never move us on unless he's got a new plan for us and a better plan for all we'll leave behind. Fear is a natural response to leaving what is familiar. Fear will cause us to protest even when we know it's best that we go. It's in the familiar that we can so easily find our worth, our identity, and our security. But there in lies the problem. We were never designed to find those things in anyone or anything but God. God loves us more than to give earthly crutches. All the attempts to get strong while living with what is familiar leaves us weaker still. That's why God says "arise" because we can't fix anything, not even ourselves.

When we finally realize that we can't fix anything, the fear of leaving everything that is familiar begins to fade. Fear causes us to lean heavily on our own understanding, while trusting God with all our heart will stand us up and make our path straight. It's true you can't fix anything, but fear not, God's got everything you're leaving and wherever you're going, fully under control. 

Proverbs 3:5-6