What’s the next right thing today? #AnywhereFaith

This week, we celebrated my son’s birthday and he loved every minute of it.   The next morning, he told me, “It’s  still my birthday” and asked for a cupcake.

There’s nothing like a good celebration!

And,  here’s another reason to celebrate—it’s the one-year anniversary of the release of my book,  Anywhere Faith.

Thanks so much to you for buying the book, reading it, sharing it with others, studying it with small groups, and sharing about it on social media.  You blessed me and encouraged me, and I’m grateful.  Here’s a little encouragement for you today:


As a teen, I attended some huge youth conferences with my church and they tended to have something in common:

There was always a tremendously dynamic speaker who had a jaw-dropping testimony of God’s grace: He did drugs.  He was in a gang.  His girlfriend got pregnant and he made her have an abortion.  He was an alcoholic, who was addicted to pornography, and homeless.

Then He met Jesus.

By the time the testimony was over, the altars were flooded with teens crying and praying for God to save them and use them.

But my story didn’t seem to fit in.  They’d ask if anyone felt “called to ministry” and I’d raise my hand and pray that God use me “anywhere” and send me “anywhere.”

Only, how could He use a girl like me?  I’m relatively boring and surely the world truly needed displays of God’s grace and mercy on a grand scale.

I prayed and searched for God’s will for my life, but I didn’t end up in foreign missions or traditional full-time ministry.  So, does that mean God didn’t call me after all?

Now, that’s my story.  How I struggled to truly let grace seep deep in my soul.

How I searched so hard for one “big calling,” that I overlooked the impact of daily obedience and the calling to follow Him right here, right now, serving Christ by serving others in small ways every single day.

Your story might be like mine.  Maybe you desperately want to follow Jesus “anywhere,” but you can’t see where He wants you to go.

Or perhaps your story is entirely different.  Maybe you have that testimony of radical transformation, but you feel like an unworthy vessel, unfit for His use.

“Calling” is a tricky subject for Christians.  It sometimes trips us up into a mess of confusion.

We talk about God “calling” me to do this or “calling” me to do that, but we don’t always know what that looks like day in and day out.

And sometimes we miss it entirely.

When I wrote in my book, Anywhere Faith, about following God anywhere He calls us to go, I shared some truths about “calling” because God wants all of us to follow Him, whether that’s around the world, across the street, or in our own homes.

GOD CALLS ALL OF US

Your past, your present and your future don’t have to look like anyone else’s in order for God to use you.  anywhere-faith

Maybe He called you to foreign missions or full-time ministry.  Maybe He called you to pray for the teachers at your kids’ school or to help young moms who need encouragement.

If we obsess over what someone else’s calling looks like, we can sometimes miss what He has planned for us.

God uses the ordinary. He uses the everyday and the mundane. He uses the untrained. He uses the sinner who repents and the prodigal who returns. He uses us despite our past and even sometimes because of it (Anywhere Faith).

CALLINGS DON’T HAVE TO BE (AND OFTEN AREN’T) GLAMOROUS OR GRAND.

I’m not a speaker at conferences talking about deliverance from addiction.  Today, I have played Play Doh with my son, scheduled doctor’s appointments for my kids, prayed for my family, written to you, washed dishes and laundry, and performed a million small and seemingly insignificant tasks that are actually ministry.

Sure, the disciples traveled with Jesus, witnessed miracles, and even healed and performed miracles themselves in Christ’s name.

But the calling wasn’t all glitz and glamor.  They packed light and traveled far. They left families and jobs behind to pursue Jesus.

Jesus told them to bend low, to do the dirty jobs, to wash feet, to love outcasts, to touch lepers.

He asks us to humbly serve others every day, too.

Your calling might not be to a stage or arena; it may be to faithfulness at work, witness in your community, and ministry to your family.  Every “calling’ is significant to Him.

GOD CAN USE YOU RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE

We can get so caught up looking for big visions for our future that we miss the ways He asks us to serve today.  I’ve done it myself, praying desperately for God to show me “His will for my life” instead of His will for this moment.

Let’s ask God to show us the next right step and walk that way.  We can trust Him with our future.

 WHEN WE TALK ABOUT CALLING, LET’S REMEMBER THIS:

God isn’t looking for the flashiest vessels; He’s looking for yielded vessels…
He uses the humble, the willing and the obedient (Anywhere Faith).

May we be yielded today, humble today, and obedient today as we follow Him “Anywhere.”

This portion God gave me is actually enough

I’m not sure that I’ve eaten more than a handful of my own meals actually on my own in over ten years.

I know maybe it’s not the absolute truth.

But it feels like the truth some days.

It’s as if whatever food I’m eating is a free-for-all for my children.

Sometimes I grab breakfast out of the cabinet and carry it to the minivan as we rush out the door. The very second I open the cereal bar, an alarm system must be triggered because children in all corners of the vehicle ask if they can have some.

Perhaps I should be grateful.  Thank you, dear children, I did not actually need the calories from this breakfast-on-the-go anyway.

But there is something so illogical about this mothering phenomenon.

As soon as my children graduate from pureed squash in a jar to their very own mini-portions of actual human food, they want to have what I am eating from my very own plate.

Even though we are eating the same food.

The same food!!!!

I may have had to cut it up into non-chokeable portions before putting it on a highchair tray; nevertheless, my lasagna did taste the same as their lasagna.

And the Cheerios in my cereal bowl are (earth-shattering announcement, here) the same Cheerios in my child’s bowl.

I know older moms are probably chuckling.  Surely my own mom is.  Because this is probably a universal mothering struggle going back generations upon generations.

Let’s face it, Eve should have gotten used to sharing her fruit with another person because once Cain and Abel came along, she’d never eat completely on her own again.

The thing is, my kids are buying into the same lie that trips us up all the time.

It’s the lie that whatever she has is better than what I have.

Maybe we’re even eating the same food.

Or maybe it really is different.  Maybe she’s sitting down to steak and potatoes while we pick at boxed macaroni and cheese.  Or maybe we’re the ones with the gourmet fare while she wolfs down some PB&J.

No matter what the dish, so often we just really want what she has.

We want the same.  And we want it to be the same quality.  And we want it to be the same amount.

We don’t trust God to care for us uniquely, personally, individually.  We don’t trust Him enough to accept what He gives with gratitude, knowing that He loves us and cares for us, knowing that anything He gives us is far more than we deserve or merit.

I read in Numbers how Moses divied up supplies to the people of Israel.

He gave two carts and four oxen to the sons of Gershon.

He gave four carts and eight oxen to the sons of Merari.

He didn’t give any carts or oxen to the sons of Kohath.

Sounds like a rip-off.  Sounds like a big, unfair, scam.

Those sons of Kohath could have raised a mighty fine protest about injustice and favoritism and the need for equal distribution of all goods.

But Moses gave out the oxen and the carts “according to their service,” and the sons of Kohath cared for “the holy objects, which they carried on the shoulder” (Numbers 7:7-9).

Every one of them received what they needed for their particular, God-chosen, unique job.  He equipped them for their calling.

He does the same for us.

Some days, I’ll confess, it feels like I don’t have enough.

I don’t just mean material goods.  I mean enough patience or enough time or enough patience or enough creativity or enough patience or enough sleep—or enough patience.  Did I already mention that one?

So many others around me seem to have plates heaped full with the very gifts and traits I feel so desperately in need of.

But I take my need to Him.

Because I don’t need any thing.  I don’t need a specific gifting or a particular object.

I don’t need to be the same or have the same as anyone else.

I NEED JESUS.  HE IS ENOUGH FOR ME.

HE EQUIPS US FOR OUR CALLING.

YES, HE GIVES ME ALL I NEED TO DO WHAT HE WANTS ME TO DO RIGHT HERE IN THIS MOMENT.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:24 NIV)

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure (Psalm 16:5 NIV)

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26 NIV).

You are my portion, LORD; I have promised to obey your words (Psalm 119:57).

Originally published March 25, 2015

God Gives us What We Need When We Need It #AnywhereFaith

anywhere-faith-quote-3

Sometimes we want to see the provision in advance.

Before we step out in “faith,” we want to know we have enough: time, money, strength, ideas, training, support.  We want our offerings to God and our ministry for Him to be perfect.

But in Hebrews, we’re told:

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

God helps us in our time of need—not as a stockpile for our seasons of neediness.

This is a lesson I’m learning inch by inch.

For just about a whole year before it ever happened, I worried over a “need.”  My oldest daughter started middle school this September and I’ve been running over questions about the transition since last September.

When will the bus come?  How will she adjust to earlier morning hours?  How do we get her to school on time without waking up all the other kids? Will she need to take showers in the morning or at night?  How will her after school activities fit into the schedule?  

Maybe it all sounds a bit extreme to you, but still I stressed, planned, and considered possibilities.

I prayed.

Here’s what happened.  On the first day of school, she got up, got ready, and went to school.  She’s done that every day this month.

Just like that.

A new ministry, a schedule adjustment, an extra activity thrown in, a needy friend, a season of pouring out to others—these aren’t opportunities to freak out; they are opportunities to see God come through.

God gives US what We need when WE need it, and not often before.

One of my favorite “callings” in Scripture is the moment God spoke to Jeremiah:

Then I said, “Alas, Lord God!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth.”
But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
“Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 1:6-8 ESV). 

On the surface, It sounds like Jeremiah thought he was too young for prophetic ministry.

But then I consider context:

the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign (Jeremiah 1:2 ESV).

Jeremiah began prophesying during the reign of Josiah, who became king when he was only eight years old.

So even if Jeremiah was in his teens or early 20s when God spoke to him, he had seen God use an eight-year-old king to lead the nation of Judah in one of its greatest spiritual revivals.

“I’m too young” doesn’t seem like a good excuse.

Maybe what Jeremiah really felt was unready and unprepared.

And that’s where I totally understand Jeremiah.

Sometimes I feel unready, too.

Like this whole transition to middle school, I wanted to know all the answers in advance and have the perfect plan already in place.

You too?

When God calls you, do you ask Him to wait until you feel “ready?”

Maybe if we train a little longer, stock up a little more, save a bit, work it all out on paper, and prepare, prepare, prepare, then we can follow God’s call.

We wait until we have extra money to give.

We wait until our gifts are perfected to offer them to others.

We wait for free time before we serve.

But the time to serve God isn’t when we feel ready; it’s when He asks us to follow.

After all, God told Jeremiah, “I am with you.”

He promises us His presence, too!

If we wait until we’re “ready,” until we’re prepared, until we’re fully trained, until our gift and our offering are perfect, until we feel like enough, we’ll wait and wait and never take that step of faith and obedience.

We’ll be trusting in ourselves rather than relying on God to be with us and to be enough for us.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 says:

If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done (TLB).

What is it you feel the Holy Spirit nudging you to do?  What season are you entering?  What task has He laid at your feet?

God will be enough for you.  He will give you everything you need exactly when you need it.  So, don’t pause until you feel ready or until you’re perfect and your gift is worthy.

Right now, right where you are, with what you have, you can follow Him where He’s calling you to go and trust Him for provision and strength for the journey.

To read more about what people in the Bible said to God when He called them, please check out my new book, Anywhere Faith (releasing October 3rd).  

Maybe We Need to Rethink “Calling” #AnywhereFaith

img_8616

As a teen, I attended some huge youth conferences with my church and they tended to have something in common:

There was always a tremendously dynamic speaker who had a jaw-dropping testimony of God’s grace: He did drugs.  He was in a gang.  His girlfriend got pregnant and he made her have an abortion.  He was an alcoholic, who was addicted to pornography, and homeless.

Then He met Jesus.

By the time the testimony was over, the altars were flooded with teens crying and praying for God to save them and use them.

But my story didn’t seem to fit in.  They’d ask if anyone felt “called to ministry” and I’d raise my hand and pray that God use me “anywhere” and send me “anywhere.”

Only, how could He use a girl like me?  I’m relatively boring and surely the world truly needed displays of God’s grace and mercy on a grand scale.

I prayed and searched for God’s will for my life, but I didn’t end up in foreign missions or traditional full-time ministry.  So, does that mean God didn’t call me after all?

Now, that’s my story.  How I struggled to truly let grace seep deep in my soul.

How I searched so hard for one “big calling,” that I overlooked the impact of daily obedience and the calling to follow Him right here, right now, serving Christ by serving others in small ways every single day.

Your story might be like mine.  Maybe you desperately want to follow Jesus “anywhere,” but you can’t see where He wants you to go.

Or perhaps your story is entirely different.  Maybe you have that testimony of radical transformation, but you feel like an unworthy vessel, unfit for His use.

“Calling” is a tricky subject for Christians.  It sometimes trips us up into a mess of confusion.

We talk about God “calling” me to do this or “calling” me to do that, but we don’t always know what that looks like day in and day out.

And sometimes we miss it entirely.

When I wrote in my book, Anywhere Faith, about following God anywhere He calls us to go, I shared some truths about “calling” because God wants all of us to follow Him, whether that’s around the world, across the street, or in our own homes.

God calls all of us

Your past, your present and your future don’t have to look like anyone else’s in order for God to use you.  anywhere-faith

Maybe He called you to foreign missions or full-time ministry.  Maybe He called you to pray for the teachers at your kids’ school or to help young moms who need encouragement.

If we obsess over what someone else’s calling looks like, we can sometimes miss what He has planned for us.

God uses the ordinary. He uses the everyday and the mundane. He uses the untrained. He uses the sinner who repents and the prodigal who returns. He uses us despite our past and even sometimes because of our past (Anywhere Faith).

Callings don’t have to be (And often aren’t) glamorous or grand.

I’m not a speaker at conferences talking about deliverance from addiction.  Today, I have played Play Doh with my son, scheduled doctor’s appointments for my kids, prayed for my family, written to you, washed dishes and laundry, and performed a million small and seemingly insignificant tasks that are actually ministry.

Sure, the disciples traveled with Jesus, witnessed miracles, and even healed and performed miracles themselves in Christ’s name.

But the calling wasn’t all glitz and glamor.  They packed light and traveled far. They left families and jobs behind to pursue Jesus.

Jesus told them to bend low, to do the dirty jobs, to wash feet, to love outcasts, to touch lepers.

He asks us to humbly serve others every day, too.

Your calling might not be to a stage or arena; it may be to faithfulness at work, witness in your community, and ministry to your family.  Every “calling’ is significant to Him.

God can use you right where you are

We can get so caught up looking for big visions for our future that we miss the ways He asks us to serve today.  I’ve done it myself, praying desperately for God to show me “His will for my life” instead of His will for this moment.

Let’s ask God to show us the next right step and walk that way.  We can trust Him with our future.

 When we talk about calling, let’s remember this:

God isn’t looking for the flashiest vessels; He’s looking for yielded vessels…
He uses the humble, the willing and the obedient (Anywhere Faith).

May we be yielded today, humble today, and obedient today as we follow Him “Anywhere.”

To read more about how to overcome our excuses and insecurities and follow God “Anywhere,” i hope you’ll read my new book Anywhere Faith, which releases on October 3, 2016.

For the times you want to hide

psalm 139-1

My daughter tried a stealth move.

I set my cup down on the floor next to the sofa where I was sitting.

She crawled over and paused.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her glance my way without fully turning her head, just flitting her eyes up to see if I was watching.

The she made her move.  She swooped down, sucked on the straw and gulped down my drink.

And….

She grimaced.  Her whole body bounced back as she crawled to the other side of the room with a combination look of utter confusion and a little disgust.

She didn’t know I’ve been drinking green tea instead of Cherry Coke recently.

“Didn’t expect that, did ya?” I teased her and she laughs because she knows she deserved that little shock to her palate.

Since then, she’s been asking me, “Mom is that water in your cup or is it the other stuff?

She was surprised by what she found in my tumbler that day, and she doesn’t want it to happen again.

Her little encounter with my green tea has me thinking:

Others might be surprised by what’s within us sometimes.

We might be surprised by what’s within us sometimes, too.

We think we’ll find fresh water, and it’s something gross instead.

We think it’ll be a delight, and instead it’s disgust.

Not God, though.  God is never surprised by what He finds within our hearts and lives.

He knows.

Psalm 139:1 says:

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!  (ESV).

Some part of me wants to hide from that.

God, please don’t see the worst in me. 

I don’t want Him to see the mixed motives or the idolatry, the way I fight with perfectionism and feeling not-enough.

I don’t want Him to see me lose my temper or get annoyed or feel like giving up.

I want to bury that jealousy or coveting and hope he doesn’t notice the bump in my backyard.

I want to cover over the mistakes and mess-ups or fatigue or worry, the bad moments and the bad days.

If God sees my worst, surely He’ll give up on me.  He’ll use someone better, call someone purer, bless someone holier, because I’m such a broken vessel.

Then I think of Nathanael.

When Jesus called out to Peter, James, John and Andrew, they were hauling nets along the sea, just another day of work.  He said, “Follow me,” and they dropped the fishing gear and stepped into discipleship.

Jesus called Matthew and immediately the tax collector hopped up from his papers and pencils and followed.

It’s such a beautiful calling.  It’s the calling of the willing and the obedient, the receptive and ready.

Then there’s Nathanael.

When Philip saw Nathanael that day, he told his friend all about how they had found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

Nathaniel mocked the thought.  It was a joke, surely.  He asked:

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” John 1:46 ESV

It wasn’t a beautiful moment of faith or instant belief.  He didn’t seem receptive or ready.  He was doubtful and disdainful.

Then Jesus came along, saw Nathanael and said:

“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:47-49 ESV).

How do you know me?

That’s what Nathanael asked.

Then, realizing that Jesus did in fact see into his very heart, Nathanael confessed faith.  He worshiped.

He followed Christ and became one of the 12 disciples of Jesus.

Even now, the Armenian church claims Nathanael as their founder.  Church tradition says he preached as far as India and was martyred there.

He became sold out for Jesus.

But here’s what I love.

Jesus knew everything about him right from the beginning, the skeptical side, his mocking jest with Philip, and still called him and commissioned him.

There are days when I’m surprised myself at the sin still clogging up my heart.

But not Jesus.

And then that shame ensnares me.  I think I need to clean myself up and fix myself and get to work on my sin problem before God could bless any offering I bring.

But that’s not what God says.

That’s not what Jesus does.

Jesus bids us come and follow here and now, just as we are, not as we ought to be.

He loves me now, the imperfect me, the me that wants to be like Jesus but isn’t there yet.

Jesus doesn’t know you and reject you or set you aside.

He knows you.

And He loves you.

He knows you.

And He calls you.