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Faith. Men of faith. Women of faith. We all admire those people. When we think of the men and women in the Bible who demonstrated great faith, we applaud them, stand in awe of them, and envy the miracles they got to experience and we want to be like them. But if we were to actually live that kind of faith, believe God when no one around us did, day in and day out pray and believe even though there was no proof and experience the abnormal experiences that come with that level of faith, we would call ourselves crazy and try to deter anyone from doing such a thing. We want to be like the great men and women of faith in the Bible but don’t want to experience the pain they carried. Often, we want the faith without the struggle it took to get there.

I am not perfect in my faith. I don’t always have faith. Any faith I do have is the faith God has given me. And I rely on his ability again and again. But sometimes I wish my life could be normal. That I could live on a path that makes sense to the people around me – and that even makes sense to me. But I don’t. God has called me to live beyond the natural and because He is my life I will follow Him wherever He tells me to go. But it’s not easy. I go through high highs and low lows. God calls me to believe and pray for something again and again without seeing. I know one day I will see, but right now I’m still waiting on that promise to see. And the truth is, it’s just plain hard.

A life of faith doesn’t always make sense, look logical, or even appear sane. 

I can’t help but wonder how Joseph felt after being sold to Egypt, accused of sleeping with his boss’ wife, then thrown in prison. God gave him a dream and he carried it with him having to wait many years before it came true. His brothers thought he was crazy as did his father. No one understood him and at times I know he felt alone. It wasn’t easy being misunderstood and accused of something he didn’t do. Crazy, right?

And then there’s Abraham who believed God would give him a son. I can’t help but think that even though he should have waited and not tried to have a son before the time was right, that in his humanness, perhaps it wasn’t a lack of faith as much as that such a long delay in seeing God do what He said He would do, wore him down to the point that he just wanted to do what it took to see it happen because the waiting was so painful. I am not saying he should have had Ishmael. But I am saying that his actions came out of his insufficiency of being human. It just didn’t make sense or look like what God said was actually going to happen. It’s so easy for us to be hard on these people because we know the story from beginning to end. But they didn’t know the story until it was completed. We often overlook the struggles they faced as humans – experiencing deep and heavy human emotions while walking a supernatural path. Many of us want their faith, but not all of us are willing to pay the price for that faith.

On the other hand, I can’t help but imagine what would the heroes of the faith say to you and me who are walking a path of faith that those around us just can’t understand? What would Joseph say to you and me when we feel at our lowest and want to give up walking by faith? Would he tell us to quit and stop acting crazy and take a more sensible route? What would Abraham say, or Hannah who prayed for a son? And what about Peter who had fished all night and caught nothing, but then at Jesus’ word obeyed and threw his net on the other side and caught an abundance of fish? Would he tell you and me to stop chasing miracles and stop taking God at His word?

Child of God, I don’t know what you are struggling to have faith in and I don’t need to. But I do know that if God is calling you to believe and pray for something he wouldn’t ask you to do so in vain. He honors faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NKJV. God will always honor faith, no matter how small. I know it’s hard to walk a life that doesn’t seem to go like the other people around you. But if you will trust God, and believe His Word to you, I know that He will honor your faith and your reward will be to see what you have been praying for, fighting for, and believing for. When you are tempted to give up, look to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith and remember the heroes of faith in the Bible who endured and overcame just like you will. And whatever mountain you are facing in your life that you are wanting to see cast into the sea, remember, Jesus said if you will only have faith, it will be done unto you as you have spoken.

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Once when I was living in Chicago and traveling to the airport to visit my family in Ukraine, I decided to do the dumbest thing possible: walk to the subway aka the “el” and take the train all the way to the airport while hauling two heavy suitcases and a backpack. I thought it would be a great way to save money. Not. Even the homeless man felt sorry for me as he watched me stop to catch my breath and keep going when I had to transfer from one train to the other and walk across a long tunnel. He offered to carry my suitcases up the stairs for me and never asked me for a penny. God took care of me for sure, but it would have been a lot easier if I had spent the money on a taxi to the airport without having to haul my luggage across the city. The weight of the luggage I was carrying made it hard and more difficult to reach my destination.

This is similiar in walking out as lives as Christians. There may be things in our lives that are not sins in and of themselves but they don’t help us meet our goal or walk toward God faster. In fact, they weigh us down with unnecessary weights and keep us from moving forward as quickly as we could without them. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the [a]author and [b]finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NKJV)

We all know sin slows us down, but sometimes the things that hinders us the most is not always sin. Many times its things that simply slow us down from pushing toward God and instead “weigh” us down or distract us from our focus so that we are not able to push forward like we want to or need to.

What is something in your life that is not necessarily bad, or a habit you have formed that is not necessarily a sin, but is not helping you push forward toward Jesus? Ask Him to help you to lay it aside so that you can walk fully in the life you are called to, free of unnecessary weights and “luggage” that can keep you from moving forward in your walk with God.

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Last night I got to see the movie “Aquaman” with some friends and really enjoyed it. Had a handsome hero, evil foes, beautiful girl, the whole shebang. Throughout most of the movie however, the hero did not know he was the hero and had no desire to be the hero until he found a motivation stronger than his fear: to save the people he loved. The main heroine in the story told him over and over again that he was the true king and that him acting on it was the only way to save the land and sea. Even though he didn’t believe her until close to the end, she kept speaking the truth about his true identity and calling him out from the place he was to the place he was meant to be.

This is what God does with us. You see, in Him we are a new person. The old things have passed away, and all things have become knew. But even though this is the reality, we still battle the old way of thinking. We often don’t believe who Jesus says we are and instead listen to the enemy and believe our old selves is our real identity. Instead of walking in faith, we shrink in fear. But God continues to speak to our new identity and calls us to be and live like we truly are and not give in to fear by choosing to stay in our old identity. It takes a selfless and strong love like God’s to continue to see our true selves underneath all the gunk and mud in our lives and gently push us to rise higher than we feel like we can and be more than we think we can be.

What is the enemy speaking over you and your identity that are in direct opposition to who God says you are? Do not listen to him. He is a liar and the father of lies. He knows your true identity and if he can get you to doubt who you truly are, he can distract you from walking in the truth and freedom of your identity and birthright as a child of God. Do not let him take that from you. Walk as the child of the King you are and refuse to listen to anything or anyone that would tell you otherwise.

My Dream

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When I was a little girl I had a dream to become an author. I wanted to write the most amazing books and get published. I would spend hours trying to come up with the perfect story. One day I knew I was going to have a book written by me with my name on it that people would actually buy.

While the dream of having a book published is still in process, I am a published author online and have had many people read my posts from all over the world. Sometimes the beginning of a dream doesn’t always look the way you expect, but it is part of the fulfillment of it. And one day, I will have that book published with my name on it.

In more recent years I’ve had a dream that is very personal to me, yet something that I have repeatedly asked God for. There were times I thought it was a lost dream, but God kept bringing it back to me, encouraging me to pray for it to come to pass. And I will keep praying for it until I see it.

Sometimes God gives us dreams and asks us to keep praying and asking for them – even though it may take a long time for us to see it. But just like my dream of becoming a published author, sometimes God leads us through a process where part of the fulfillment of that dream is through the process. In other words, many times we mistake the completion of our dream as the only crucial part of the dream, while the process of getting there is part of the completion of it just as much as seeing it happen.

I haven’t seen the completion of my dream happen yet. But I have seen continual progress of my dream taking place. So much so, that one day, together with each part of the process, will make up the final part of it: the completion of that dream.

If there is one thing I can trust more than anything or anyone, it’s God’s leading in my life. He has always made sure to make sure I knew I was on the right path, especially when what He was saying to me was not lining up with what I was seeing. I have a track record of His faithfulness in this area again and again and cannot doubt it. I know that if He has called me on this path, He will continue to confirm it.

Do I know what the future holds? No, I do not. But I know that if God put this dream in my heart, He will make it come true – completely.

Lean on Him

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Trusting God with your mind is one thing. Changing the way you think to line up with God’s word can be challenging. But making a switch in your mind to choose to believe what you know is true even if it doesn’t look like it is not impossible. But trusting God with all of your heart? That is the difficulty.

I hate emotions and some days I wish they didn’t exist. It frustrates me to no end when my emotions do not line up with God’s word. But the harder I try to stuff the emotions instead of dealing with them, they build more and more until eventually they become something so big I am forced to deal with them. Emotions are an integral makeup of a person. They are also the outpouring of the core of a person: they make up their heart.

Trusting God with your heart is a bit more challenging than trusting Him with your mind. With you mind you can make a quick switch and will to think or believe differently. But changing the way you feel in the moment you are feeling it doesn’t always work. Trust me, if I knew how to do that I would have done that by now and told you how!

I believe this is why the Bible says in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” God doesn’t say, trust in him with all of our mind, he says to trust in him with all of our heart.  Why? Because emotions are a key component of the heart and emotions sneak up on us whether we want them to or not – sometimes accurately defining the situation and other times not. Emotions change from day to day and we cannot rely on them. Thus we must trust God with all of our heart, including our emotions when they don’t make sense.

Two of Merriam Webster’s dictionary definitions of “lean” is the following: to cast one’s weight to one side for support; and to rely for support or inspiration. Literally in that verse, God is telling us to trust in him with all of our heart and to not rely for support on our own understanding. In other words, he tells us not to trust our own undertanding of a situation, but trust and rely on God with our whole heart.

You see, sometimes God takes us through paths that just don’t make any sense. God’s word might be saying one thing, but what we are seeing may look like the complete opposite. But the good news is, the circumstances surrounding us don’t have to look like it makes sense for God’s word to be true. And we don’t have to understand and make sense of it in the moment in order to trust God. He is the only one we can trust in these situations. And even though it’s a painful process to get there, it’s the safest place to be once we get there. There is truly nothing more freeing than looking at a situation and being able to say, “God, I don’t get this. Nothing makes sense. But I am going to trust you and not my understanding. And you promise when I submit to you and trust you that you will make my paths straight.”

It doesn’t have to make sense in order for God’s word to be true to you. And it definitely doesn’t have to make sense before we can trust our God. Our emotions and circumstances may seem to contradict what God is saying to us. God’s word is true no matter what it looks like and no matter what it feels like. He’s got this. Don’t lean on your own understanding; instead, lean on his.

Way to see your real enemy

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“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV).

It’s so easy to not see the real enemy of our souls at work when we can’t physically see him. Instead, it’s so easy to mistake the real enemy for the people we can see. And if Satan can get us to focus on what we can see he will be able to get us everytime. But the truth is, he is the real enemy and is constantly at work trying to discourage, destroy, and persuade us to believe anything other than what is true. He is a liar and the father of lies. And he will use anyone or anything to stop us from walking in the life that God has called us to.

But the good news is, God in us is stronger than Satan and always will be. And not only that, we already have the victory over our enemy. So remember the next time Satan tries to discourage you and get you to believe his lies, he is the real enemy you are fighting with and only him. It’s not your relationships, the people around you, or the world you live in. It’s Satan.

Therefore, do not quench the Spirit and do not allow yourself to open the door to Satan’s influence by allowing yourself to be fooled by him so that you shut the door on God’s Spirit from working in you and giving you the ability to love the people around you that God loves and sent His son to die for. Satan is like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Don’t let him take your focus off of your Savior and what Jesus came to set you free from. Resist Satan and remember he is the one you are fighting with, and he will flee from you.

And when you can recognize the real enemy, you will know who to speak the Word of God to and stand firm against knowing you already have the victory.

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When we look at our lives, our circumstances, the people around us and the world, it’s so easy to see it all through only our human lens. And while some of the things we perceive may or may not be true, by only relying on our own logic leaves our perception incomplete and limited. It’s not that what we perceive is entirely untrue; it’s simply not the whole picture. Looking through our lives through the lens of God’s word is the only way we can see the full picture. You see, God is truth. He doesn’t just show us truth. He is truth. And without seeing things through His perspective, we will never see the big picture fully.

Whenever I take a road trip, I use my google maps on my phone to get to where I want to go. Why? Because if I don’t its a lot harder for me to navigate to where I want to go. I might make a wrong turn or get on the wrong interstate. Using a map, gps, or google maps helps me to avoid getting lost and reach my destination smoothly. I could try to get somewhere I’ve never been without directions. Eventually I might find it on my own. But I guarantee you I would be turning around many times and having to take a different route and in the end would make my trip twice if not three times longer than it should have been. All because I chose to drive somewhere without directions. That would be stupid right?

This is the exact same way we try to navigate through life without God. We go to God for some things, but separate him out from others. We blindly think that applying God to every situation is stupid and doesn’t make sense. But it’s actually the opposite. If we don’t choose to bring God into every area of our life, it is much like taking a road trip we have never driven on without any kind of direction. Our human logic will perhaps get us on the road and moving, but it can only get us so far. Eventually we will get worn out from trying to find our destination without any type of guide. And the same is true in the game of life. The longer we try to navigate our lives by relying upon ourselves instead of God, eventually we will burn out and crumble. Why? Because we are incomplete without God. His logic and wisdom will always more than surpass ours. Having Him in our lives is the only way our lives make sense.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” It doesn’t just say acknowledge Him in some of your ways – it says acknowledge Him in all of your ways. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. We need Him to bring to light the things that our human logic fails us in allowing us to see. 

In what areas of your life do you need to acknowledge God and ask Him to help you see those things from His perspective? Ask Him to reveal to you what those things are and ask Him to help you to view those areas through His eyes.