Browsing Category

Faith

Faith Leadership

Why Consistency is the Key to Breakthrough

July 3, 2018

For the last week I’ve had a thought running through my head. I’m not sure when it started, but from the minute I heard it I knew it was something I wanted to hold onto.

Because the whisper I heard was this,

Consistency is the means for breakthrough.

It struck me because of how challenging I find some days in this season. I can easily get overwhelmed by meeting the necessary demands of my day – things like keeping my kids fed, napped, and bathed – that so many other tasks get set to the side. Some of that is true and natural to my current season. But I am also recognizing that there are areas in my life that mandate my consistency for God’s breakthrough.

Sometimes God works suddenly and out of nowhere moves on our behalf, causing everything to change in an instance. It’s as quick and unexpected as a clap of thunder in the middle of a hot summer afternoon. There’s no warning to it and it totally jolts us by its entrance.

Those breakthroughs are certainly exciting, but they are also rare.

Most of the time God moves through our participation in the everyday and ordinary of life, where we actively engage with and remain consistent in what matters for the long-term.

Why is consistency so central to breakthrough? Because innate to it is partnership, the act of joining with God who is with us. To show up and continue doing so means we are committing ourselves as partners in the breakthrough. There’s something so beautiful in that. It’s not solely about God doing what he wants in us, but us joining with him in what he’s already up to.

As I see it, consistency is one way we say a loud, firm yes and amen to the promises of God in our lives. Just as God is an active God who is moving on our behalf, those promises are active too, being worked out as we keep moving forward. And so they require our activity in order to ignite their transformation — from promise extended to breakthrough experienced.

Tucked into the need of consistency for breakthrough is the question of whether we are willing to move, dig, and progress little-by-little because we have caught hold of the vision beyond how we feel or what we see.

When we have grasped the larger why, we become inspired in the mundane to keep showing up. The vision promotes and enables our consistency in the small and ordinary choices.

Ultimately the most compelling why is the one that is far greater than our individual lives or limits. They encompass the impossible of Heaven crashing down and working in our realms, unfolding a story of God’s move among his people. When we are anchored to a story bigger than us, we are propelled by a why greater than us. And that, I believe, is the most effective way to build consistency. God invites us to catch a vision of him moving in, through, and around us beyond any one of our lives alone.

These are the thoughts currently at the forefront of my mind. Not because I have mastered their execution but because I am discovering that there is an undeniable correlation between consistency and breakthrough. Commitment moves God. So does perseverance and doing the hidden work of sowing seeds far below the surface.

I am becoming convinced that to be prophetic people means to see and believe for what God will do in the years and seasons ahead by way of showing up in the small, ordinary, and consistent choices of today. When we catch the vision of what God will do, we find ourselves with no choice but to put action and momentum behind it. It’s the natural, innate response.

Because if we’re really confident that what he has promised he will do, we will choose to partner with him in it for all the days required until we taste and see.

So can we hold faith by being consistent in what matters even when we may feel like giving up, sitting down, or walking away? Are we so purposed, determined, and willing to see breakthrough that we will keep going today and tomorrow and for as many days ahead even if no one sees or we wonder how it ever could be?

Showing up consistently reflects deep partnership with God and confidence that in due time he will move. And yet, even if he doesn’t, we still play our part because partnership with him in greater depths and realities is the ultimate breakthrough we could possibly uncover.

Faith

The Decisions, Moments, and Choices that Matter Most (Part 2)

June 27, 2018

Last week I wrote about how what we do in the hidden times and seasons matters a lot. But I’ve felt challenged that there’s still more. Because it’s not only about what we do. It’s also about what we believe and rest in.

When Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, over and over he repeated the same few words, “You’ve heard it said, but now I say.” He took the people deeper, challenged their paradigms even more, and turned their old system upside down in order to introduce them to a totally new way of doing life and kingdom.

When I think about who I am in the unseen places of my life, those words “but now I say…” pull me deeper. They remind me that not only are my actions important, but even more so are my beliefs.

Because it matters what you and I choose to believe, stand on, and hold faith for in the hidden place where no one sees or knows.

The question that uncovers this best is, what are the truths we rest in when it seems like everything is against us or nothing is happening for us or all the good stuff is taking place elsewhere?

So to consider what you and I choose to believe and rehearse over in our minds when we are faced with another friend who gets his or her long-awaited breakthrough, which also happens to be the same one we’re hoping for.

Or when we receive the letter that our funding didn’t come through, book isn’t going to be published, or dream job isn’t happening.

Or when we find ourselves feeling betrayed, rejected, or hurt by those we love most or highly esteem in our lives.

Or when someone speaks words over us that belittle our identity, passion, or calling.

These moments are critical ones. They force us to wrestle with and settle on the truths we are firmly holding to despite what we see or feel. The choice is as unseen as can be, and yet it determines everything about what flows from us.

Because in the tension we are offered the chance to hold to God’s goodness and elevate our thoughts to his truth. To bless, honor, and thank even with all that is before us or around us or not happening for us. To embrace God’s promise as greater than our circumstances and resolve he is faithful and working no matter the current moment.

None of this happens when things are going as planned, but when hopes are delayed, breakthrough is happening somewhere else or when we are feeling overwhelmingly tucked away by God. Because it is on that tense, hidden ground that what we choose to believe comes to the surface — and brings its fruit with it.

We are most ripe for breakthrough when we have sown seeds in faith and trust in God in the hidden place. When no one can see and no one knows, there we are offered the opportunity to bring forth life and goodness around us by the thoughts we think, truth we stand upon, and promises we recount.

So what reveals who we are and who we are becoming are not merely our unseen actions, but also our choices to trust, thank, bless, and honor even if it comes alongside tears, pain, or unanswered questions. This isn’t easy or flawless or without its mess, but it is holy nonetheless.

Because powerful partnership with God looks like choosing when no one knows or sees (or may not even care) to believe God is good, to carry a confidence beyond our comprehension, or to speak honor and blessing elsewhere. Those are the bold choices that make all the difference.

Faith

The Decisions, Moments, & Choices that Matter Most (Part 1)

June 19, 2018

As a mom of two littles I am acutely aware of two things in this season: demands are plentiful and time is limited.

Over and over again I have to surrender to the reality that I literally cannot do it all. I cannot meet every need or pursue every dream. All isn’t an option. While it’s a good place to be, and one that I am consistently resting (or being wrestled) back into, it’s also led me to ask the question,

What does it look like to steward well today and tomorrow? The demands and the dreams? The work and the vision?

I imagine a lot of you are there with me. You may be carrying this hope for the future, whether it is to build a company, a ministry, or a family, but today looks like showing up to the same job each day to pay bills. Or maybe you’re currently enrolling in semester after semester of school to one day step out into the professional field you know you’re made for. Or maybe you’re in a season like mine where you are spending your days at home while also carrying a desire to pursue a vocation sometime and somewhere ahead.

The balancing act of living today while also holding dreams for the future is a tricky one. And while I don’t have a complete answer to offer, I have landed on a strong conviction that keeps me going on those extra mundane or overly demanding days.

Because I am convinced that the key is to steward the unseen as brilliantly and faithfully as possible.

It’s easy to spout off the big picture when someone asks us what we sense ourselves called to — to tell of where we’re heading, what it will look like, how we imagine it will feel. While keeping the end game in mind enables us to head in the right direction, what determines if we’ll get there is the everyday stuff.

We can’t afford to forget that the small, daily choices make the greatest difference.

The decisions to show up, keep going, push past emotions and believe for what God will do matter, a lot. Because what keeps us partnering with the dreams God has given us are the unseen actions of our lives. It’s the secret place where eyes are off us that determines whether we are investing in those seeds planted deep within.

It’s the stuff like what you do in the early hours of the morning when the rest of the world is sleeping, the research you stay up late to do after the kids are asleep, or the schooling you squeeze into an already busy life. It may be unrecognized and overlooked, but it’s significant, holy work.

Because partnering with those God-given dreams of our lives looks like making daily choices to do the hard, hidden work to keep building momentum in the direction God is leading us.

David is a great example of this. Most of us can recount how he was called as a young boy to kill Goliath with the eyes of his people and his enemies upon him. With mere stones but in the strength of a powerful God, he brought down the giant. But what we often overlook is that he didn’t become a giant slayer when he killed Goliath. He became one when he was by himself, all alone in the fields conquering the lion and the bear with his bare hands (1 Samuel 17:32-37). His transformation in the hidden, secret place enabled him to publicly slay the giant.

The private actions and unseen decisions determine who we will become and where we will go.

So it is for all that God calls us to pursue — the small stuff matters. How we show up, believe, and move forward by those convictions when no one sees and no one knows matters. So does how we remain faithful and present in the necessary and hidden work of today. Because ultimately what forms us into the people who will carry what God will ask of us in the seasons to come is our choice to steward well what is before us right now.

*Stay tuned for more thoughts next week. Or if you don’t want to miss it, subscribe by email in the box to the right!

Faith

The Quickest Way to Turn Around Even the Hardest of Days

June 4, 2018

Recently I was driving around town with my two kiddos and could feel myself slipping into a funk. This one had been lingering for the last few days and the pull felt extra strong that morning.

At this point in life I’m pretty aware that if I don’t do something about it quickly, my whole perception will become ridiculously distorted with illusions and misconceptions about reality. I may be troubled by something specific, but if I don’t purposefully get moving toward a better place in my thoughts I’ll start convincing myself that everything is wrong, nothing is right, and all is hopeless. I tend to swing from one extreme to the other fairly easily.

So on those days I do what I know works best, quickest, and most effectively. I stop repeating what is wrong or what I am burdened by, I take my eyes off what isn’t, and I simply say thank you.

My friend Allison taught this to me years ago. She called it the “thankful game,” in which she would rapidly begin listing off everything she could thank God for in a given moment. It was particularly effective during our long half-marathon runs. As tired as we were, with miles still ahead of us, our whole mindset shifted the minute we reminded ourselves how thankful we were that we even could run, that we had healthy bodies, paved roads, and shoes on our feet. The minute we remembered what was, what wasn’t didn’t seem so all-pervasive (or dire).

So in the middle of my funk last week I looked at my two-year-old daughter in the rearview mirror and told her we were going to start thanking God for all he’d given us that day. I began by thanking him for the car we were driving, the Bible study we were about to attend, and my healthy kiddos sitting in the backseat. Eloise then reminded me that we were also thankful for carseats (heck yes!) and her buddy Beckett’s mom, which made me smile.

Instantly things shifted. I wasn’t dwelling on what wasn’t going as I wanted, but instead remembering all that has been given and all that is so good around me. The practice took seconds and it immediately moved my eyes from lack to abundance, from unmet expectations to lavished gifts in my life.

And those two words made all the difference.

I’ve never forgotten the way a close pastor has always put it for me. Over and over I’ve come to him in different seasons with tears running down my face because of my disappointment or sadness over something I was walking through, wrestling with, or struggling to find peace in.

And over and over again he has responded with the words, “But we are thankful.”

Yes life is hard, but we are thankful.

Yes that’s a serious loss, but we are thankful.

Yes that’s unfair, unfortunate, or seemingly impossible, but we are still thankful.

Thankfulness isn’t attached to circumstances, which is exactly why it’s so powerful. Because ultimately thankfulness flows from deep within us, out of our awareness that all is a gift anyway. For all that is, all that isn’t, and all that we haven’t yet seen, even still we can be thankful.

Paul, writing to a new community arising in faith, told them to “thank God no matter what happens” (1 Thess 5:18).

Not only because we can and because we should, but because it changes everything. Each day shifts the minute we say thank you. Every conversation, relationship, worry – it all changes when we stop and remember again all that is good, all that is gifted, and all that God has done.

So how are you today? What’s weighing on you or worrying you? Instead of giving more thoughts and emotions to what isn’t, what if you stop, remember again how God has come through in the past, and start spouting off all that you are grateful for in the present?

Because fresh faith and fuel for today is found by pausing, lifting our eyes off our problems, and saying again those words powerfully detached from present circumstances or emotions. Thank you.

Faith

The Cost of Revelation

May 16, 2016

Last week I submitted a giant paper – 39 pages in total. In high school 4 pages felt like an eternal task to overcome. But somehow I sent in that thing and it felt so good. So good.

So what did I write on?

Well, a whole 3 verses.

It sounds crazy to imagine writing so much on so little, but it’s easier than you might think. The minute I started reading over those verses, reciting and hearing myself speak them, opening books and pulling back the veil on the words, a world opened of connection, meaning and understanding.

Out it came, 3 verses, 4 months, 39 pages and more hours than I could ever count.

Not only was I up before dawn most days to squeeze in some writing before the first peep came from the nursery above, but so many others made this possible. At the beginning of the semester Mark and I assessed what needed to get done for my school along with his work (and our move) and looked at each other knowing we literally could not do this without help. That’s the thing about parenthood – it will get you so dependent on community that no matter what your feelings are prior to kiddos, the minute you have a little one you will need the help of others.

So the paper was made possible by our village. Friends took Eloise for an afternoon when we had no coverage. Family flew down for a weekend while I flew up to school. Others housed and fed me while I was away. And still another drove hours one evening to give me a big hug after a weekend of Hebrew (and a long month of moving).

Those verses demanded more than I was ever prepared to give. So when I pushed submit I was in total shock. I couldn’t believe it. My eyes were red and blurry from staring at the computer for so long, my hair hadn’t been washed in days, and my clothes were on repeat for the nth time that week.

But I was done.

I sat back, exhaled a huge sigh of relief and took a moment to let it soak in. There it hit me.

Revelation comes by hard work. And it will always cost.

lightstock_82173_medium_caroline

We think (hope) revelation has to do with luck. We bank on hitting the jackpot on some beautiful secret of the Kingdom that will provide understanding and intimacy and knowledge of God.

It’s easy to sit in church, at a conference, or listen to a podcast and hear some speaker release this incredible word of insight about God’s Kingdom. They may teach on a scripture we’ve heard for years, but something is so fresh. We’ve never heard it like that before. We leave hungry for more with excitement high and wonder if maybe we can grab hold of some nugget of truth with the same ease as when they taught it.

But not long after, we’re as dried up, burned out, and weary as ever.

Why? Two reasons.

1. We’re camping out in the false land that says the secrets of the Kingdom come by ease, quickness, or luck. They don’t. They never will.

2. We’ve feasted on the revelation of another as if it were our own. We stopped going to the source, willing to trade true nourishment for the quick fix of another’s treasure.

But the truth is that revelation has everything to do with cultivation, hard work, and blistered up hands from digging into the ground ourselves. The words of great anointing that set people free and release the Spirit of God are always anchored in stories of wrestling and struggling and plain old-fashioned hard work.

We say we want to know God more, to understand the greater depths of the Kingdom and to release something fresh upon this earth. But the question is, how much will we let it cost?

Revelation bears the price of life experience and it demands hard work. We can never carry or release a word we have not lived. Knowing God requires patience, seasons of obscurity, struggle or heartache, and a willingness to work hard for our own bread.

The only way to satisfy our hunger to know God is to dig into it for ourselves so we reap what will truly nourish the weary parts of us. There is no shortcut.

Subscribe for Updates

Join my mailing list so you never miss a post!

You have Successfully Subscribed!