Tell Your Story

Every day, we decide how to use our voices.

Have you ever felt, though, like you aren’t sure what you want to say? Sometimes, it can feel like we don’t have anything to give that might matter to someone else…sometimes, it seems like anything worth saying has already been said, like the noisy world doesn’t need our words. Sometimes it feels safer to retreat into our routines and keep our stories to ourselves. Sometimes, it’s easier to stay quiet.

But through your actions, through your silence, through your words, through your art, through your work — you are going to tell your story to the world around you, one way or another. We are placed wherever we are, in this moment, for this time. So what you choose to say matters. Your voice DOES make a difference…and, YES, you have something worthwhile to offer.

Friends, we are hope-bearers.

We hold the wonder of God’s perfect love, the beauty of heart-changing mercy, the peace of our Savior’s presence.

We have words of grace, of healing, of compassion. We have Love that turns stories of sin, pain, and brokenness into stories of all-things-made-new salvation, mourning-into-dancing, ashes-into-beauty, death-into-life.

Christ within us, the love of the Father, the gift of redemption – this is the story that is needed. It is the story that matters most.

And it is yours to tell. It is mine to tell. We are children of the light, the redeemed, the beloved…and it is time for our lives to say so. May we choose, every day, His words of life. May we choose, every day, to act in His love. May we choose, every day, to allow the story of our lives to tell His.

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One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works. Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness. They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, and shall sing of Your righteousness…The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, and Your saints shall bless You. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, and talk of Your power, to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts…my mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord.” –from Psalm 145

#speaklove #tellyourstory

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Prayer for the Brave

Help us to be brave, Lord.

Because You know us. The deep-down-real us. You know how Your grace has already brought us far from where we used to be. You know how Your love picked us up when it felt like nothing could help us, when every hope proved false and every answer fell through. You know how Your grace brought us into Your presence, how Your mercy forgave what we could not overcome alone.

And so You know how we want to follow You – wholly, without hesitation, with everything. We long, maybe in the quiet moments or maybe in every moment- to give over all of our lives for Your purpose. We wonder what it would be like to follow in the way the disciples followed. Theirs was a minute-by-minute journey. You moved and they followed. You spoke and they listened. You led the way, and without any guarantee of what might happen or where they’d end up, they walked with You.

But, Lord, You also know how fear tries to grow rampant in our lives. We are so often like Peter, eagerly running towards You…but knowing how the waves around us are wild and unpredictable, we change our minds. We want to retreat, to run backwards, to hide in the steady security of the boat we know so well.

What we forget is how You stretched out Your hand, immediately, and caught him when he faltered. Even though his faith failed, You didn’t. You picked him up and set him on course again. Even knowing that he would sink again, You pursued his heart.

Because You also knew that, one day, he would be inundated by Your Spirit. You knew that, in the fullness of Your presence, Peter would become the man You created him to be: a shepherd for Your people, a voice and a testimony to turn the world upside-down in Your name and power.

Here’s what I know: this is Your promise for us, too. “We all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” As we follow You, we change to become more like You. We become the men and women You created us to be…which is what we yearn for – to have every part of our lives redeemed, not one piece of us separated from You.

And yet we hesitate. We know the transformative, ever-creative, bigger-than-us ways of Your Spirit. Sometimes, we fear letting go of what-has-been. Sometimes, we are afraid to let go of who we think we are supposed to be. Sometimes, we forget that when You lead our lives into the Unknown, our only guarantee is You…and that certainty of You is enough.

So when we feel You call…but there is no road-map or itinerary in sight…Lord, we pray like a father prayed long ago – “we believe; help our unbelief!”

We don’t know what the next step looks like. We don’t know what this new season or place or mission will look like…but we know that Your thoughts toward us are good, to give us a hope and a future. We know that You promised to never leave us or forsake us. We know that You told us our needs would be met, our lives safe in Your hands.

Let our knowledge become our action and our reality, the deep-down roots of Your unshakable Kingdom in our hearts.

Let us live Your truth, let us speak and sing and sink into Your Word, soaking in Your living water until the only seeds that grow are of faith and bold belief in Your promises and provision.

We know it won’t be easy. We know there is a cost and a cross we all will carry.

But You carried it all first…and Your arms steady ours as we build Your kingdom.

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Thought outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all. 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.”

Yes, You are our one guarantee – our Life, our Love, our Peace, the desire of our hearts – help us to be brave enough to believe this, Lord, to take You at Your Word and to find that You are true. Help us to understand in our very bones, in every bit of our being – You are faithful. If we never leave our known places, if we never yield to Your Spirit, if we never move to follow – we will never know how present and how trust-worthy You are. Help us to take those first steps and to find You there, Your strength filling the void of our weakness, Your power lighting up what we have been given until it shines brighter than we ever could have hoped for…for Your glory, for Your honor, for Your praise.

Lord, we want to wear Your name. Not ours. For only by Your name can people in this world of ours be set free…be healed…be rescued from their sin. Only in Your name is there Hope.

Help us to press forward, to leave behind the old habits and securities, the knowing-what-to-expect in favor of expecting You as we obey. It is life-shaking to give up our control. But it is also life-giving– for “the old is gone” but “the new is here!”

You are the better-than-we-can-dream, the strength of our hearts, the portion we have been freely given, the hand that reaches out to catch us when we fail.

Lord, help us to be brave as we put our trust in You…help us, as we follow, to steady our vision…to look only at You.

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” –Hebrews 12:1-2

{I am working on a few soon-to-be-shared posts about courage in prayer and bold faith…so I decided to share this prayer today that I originally posted back in May of 2014.}

As Sure As the Sun (Scripture & Song for Music Monday)

The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deut. 31:8

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“There is good news, there’s a promise that no matter where you go

you will never be alone.

In the dark, in the doubting – when you can’t feel anything,

His love remains the same.”

Against All Hope

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Everything we see, everything we hear, everything we feel – it can all tell us that it’s time to quit trying, to give up our dream and our calling, to give into despair.

And, sometimes, it would be easier to slide right into believing all of these things that are right in front of us. It would be easier to stop expecting better things. It would be less disappointing and less heart-breaking to just accept what is and to throw away that vision of what could be.

If this is where you are right now,  pleasehold on. Don’t give up.

If your heart is breaking, if your faith is fragile, if you are afraid – don’t give up.

It may be an outright battle to keep hope in your hands, but it is a fight you can win through the power of the Holy Spirit.

We have an enemy and he is going to fight you to the finish – John 10:10 tells us plainly that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. He wants to devour your God-given purpose and your calling to speak out the name of Jesus into this world. He wants to take your faith and your hope in the promises of our Father.

When everything seems to be going wrong, when things don’t work out – there’s his voice, bearer of hopelessness. It might sound a little like Job’s wife – why don’t you just curse God and die? It might sound like the voice of the Israelites – did God bring us here to hunger, to thirst, to fall by the sword? We would have been better off as slaves in Egypt! It might sound like the voice of a giant – Are you fighting me with little sticks? Come here and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals! It might sound like the voice of a king ready to attack – on what are you basing your confidence, that you remain under siege? Who of all the gods of these nations that my predecessors destroyed has been able to save his people from me? How then can your God deliver you from my hand?

It might sound like the voices of the elders, scornful at the foot of the cross – He saved others, but He can’t save Himself!

It sounds like a stone is rolling into place – like it is pushing your purpose, your relationship, your hope of a life full and free into an airless and dark tomb.

It sounds like all is lost. It sounds like you have failed – maybe it even sounds like God has failed.

But listen –your expectations…your promises…your hope is in “the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. “

Romans 4 goes on to say that “against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead- since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.”

Abraham saw the facts and it looked hopeless. That voice was loud and clear – it was over.

There was no reason to think that he and Sarah could have a child, not when their youth was gone and the spark of life taken from their bodies. There was no reason to think that they’d ever have the joy they’d wanted for so long.

No reason – but God. God had promised. God had spoken to Abraham and said – Yes, this is going to be your blessing and through it all men shall be blessed. Yes, you will be the father of nations and Sarah will be their mother.

Yes- the years, they passed. The perfect timing and the perfect circumstances passed.

But still Abraham in hope believed, against all hope – against all the facts and all the fears – that God had the power to do what He had promised.

When he least expected it, when the odds were fully against it – a baby boy came kicking and laughing into this world. God fulfilled His promise in the better way, in the miraculous way that no other could accomplish.

It’s His way, to bring salvation in the strangest of ways. It’s His way to show up in the can’t-be-done and the it’s-too-late now. It’s His way to leave no doubt that He and He alone is Lord over all – because who else could do what our God has done?

Who else could part a sea to make way for escape from an enemy? Who else could bring down a city with a march and a shout? Who else could knock down a giant with a single stone? Who else could shut the lion’s mouth? Who else could bring men out of a fire, without the slightest singe? Who else could make an army flee from Jerusalem without a single man of Israel lifting a sword against them? Who else could use a giant fish to save a drowning man? Who else could feed thousands with one basket of food?  Who else could speak to the days-dead in their grave and watch life walk out?

Who else could defeat death by sacrificing His own life?

No, your facts might not be what you want them to be. Your situation may be far from the promise for which you’ve been waiting.

But, friend, dig your heels in. Raise your hands in victory. Because your hope is in the God of the impossible. Nothing is too hard for our God and He will not abandon you to that dark tomb. The thief may be trying to steal, kill, and destroy you but here’s the end of that verse in John 10 – Jesus came that you may have life, and have it abundantly.

He knows exactly where you are. He knows exactly what is going on. He knows your need. He knows how long you have waited.

He also knows the best way, the better way – the glory-only-to-the-God-of-the-Impossible way to fulfill His promises for you.

I love what He says in Isaiah 55: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn-bush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”

We can’t always understand how He is working. We usually don’t understand why we are in a season of waiting.

But trust in Him because you know who He is: mighty, merciful, faithful to His every Word. He will accomplish what He desires for your life – He will bring you that beautiful place of peace and so much joy that creation itself cannot help but burst into song!

He has saved you and called you because of His unending love for you – and He is not going to leave you alone. Even as you wait, even as you hold onto your hope – His divine power has given us everything we need for a Godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3).

Never, ever give up your hope that is in His name.

When you hear the voice of the enemy telling you to abandon your purpose, that your prayers are pointless – do not be discouraged and do not be afraid. Instead, ‘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. Pick up your sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and stand your ground. ‘Press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus too hold of’ for you. Hope in His promises!

I am confident – because He never changes! – that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. This (all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-gracious!) God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.   (from Phil. 1:6 & Psalm 48:14)

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. –Hebrews 10:23

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. –Romans 5:5

…but He will bind up our wounds…He will revive us, He will restore us that we may live in His presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth. -from Hosea 6

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.-Psalm 138:8

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