It’s crazy to think that we are now in the last week of October! Before we know it, the year will be over and a new one will begin, but, before all that, we still have one last movie to get to in this series! All month long I have been talking about how to face fear. Week one we looked at the importance of having people in your corner, then week two we looked at how to face fear that you created, and last week we looked at how to face fear that is out of our control. In each of those weeks, facing fear comes down to our relationship with our creator. Different circumstances, but the same loving God in all things. Today, I want to talk about how being in an active relationship with Christ, allows us to tap into great power. Power that can be used to face any fear, no matter how dark it may seem.Continue reading
Fanning the Flames of Faith
“I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give you a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7
I’ve recently started enjoying making fires. Let me explain that when I say this, I’m meaning fires in fireplaces, I have always respected Mr. Smokey Bear. Being able to create a fire in a fireplace, starting small and then building up into a fire that can warm a space is calming for me. What I’ve been able to see is that there is a key element in burning, you can’t suffocate the fire and you need to fan the flames. Fanning the flames allows for oxygen to enter into the mix, and fire can only burn if oxygen is present. I have been reading through Paul’s letters and I have begun to love the way Paul encourages Timothy. Timothy is a part of the next generation of leaders and Paul is pouring into his life, encouraging him to remain faithful even when life seems tough.Continue reading
Misfit: Learning the Power of Never Fitting in
I think many of us at one time or another have felt like an outsider. We find ourselves in seasons where we feel like we’re on our own, that we don’t have that community that we all so desperately need. We want to be the main character of our story, yet we feel like we fade into the background. That’s the feelings we get as a misfit, a person set apart from others. Lately, I’ve been feeling like a misfit. Recently graduated from university, on the hunt for ministry positions, and making it by working with an after-school program. I find myself in a transition period, and that can be hard. I feel God calling me to something more, and more and more I feel that Greensboro is not my end destination. It becomes a not very fun cycle to get into, to feel like you are called for more and that God has a plan, yet it doesn’t seem similar to those around you. In an age of social media, we see updates from those around us, giving us the idea that everyone has it all together and that you become the outsider because you don’t have your goals realized yet. As I have been feeling these feelings and thinking about what it means, God has reminded me of misfits from the bible. God used people who didn’t fit in to do a great work. I think he wants to use you too.
An Active Pursuit
The year is coming to a close, and what a wild year it has been. Filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, but no matter what has happened, you made it through. Just take a moment on that thought, the problems that you faced and all the hardship you endured throughout the year never stopped you. I know that with the end of the year it doesn’t mean that you don’t have any struggles, I’m just simply reminded you and me how God continues to be with us no matter what. In thinking about what to write about this week (yes, sometimes I have writers block too), I was looking at Pauls’ letters that he wrote to Timothy. Timothy was a young leader in the church, he was untrained, had little experience, and he was passionate about building Gods’ kingdom. So often I think we feel the same, that we are young, unexperienced, and have very little training, yet we have a passion for Christ. Paul speaks to Timothy, but at the same time he speaks to each of us. We are all experiencing hardship, or have experienced it in the past, and Paul says that we should not be passive but be active in our pursuit of Christ. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” Such an awesome message, and I do mean awesome. It is an awe inspiring message directed to each of us. To the ones who feel unexperienced, the ones who feel like they are looked down upon because of their age, and the ones who are completely sold out for the kingdom.
One of my biggest fears is that I’m not making an impact on the people and world around me. I love people, and I love this world, but it is easy for me to fear what they will think of me, or fearing the failure that may come to me. I become timid, a word that means to lack courage or confidence, someone who is easily frightened. I think many of you may be timid. You’ve been beaten down by people around you. Maybe you’ve lost someone close to you, or maybe you feel alone. Maybe people have only ever said how you can’t do something, when you know you have a passion for it. I know how it feels, because I have gone through what you’re going through, but more importantly, Jesus knows your hurt and is the one who can pick you up off the ground and tell you, “Well done.” I think a lot of us need to hear that. We need to be active in our pursuit of Christ, because Christ did not make us to be timid. We have a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline, and when we believe this and pursue Christ, he meets us in the hard times. Instead of being passive and believing that we don’t have the courage or confidence, we must be active and pursue Christ even when it seems impossible.
You have a spirit of power.
Paul says this to Timothy for a reason. Not to boost his pride or make him feel like he is better than someone else, but it is a call to action. It’s a call to action for all of us. When you have a relationship with God, you have power. Not the kind of power that lets you walk on walls, or gives you a spider-sense, but one that gives you strength to make it through the hard times. It’s a power that lets you know that you have an all mighty creator who made a plan for you, it allows you to live in freedom rather than in fear. You have the power to have a conversation with the creator through prayer, no long a slave, but a part of royalty. It gives you the confidence to stand up for what you know is right, and speak life into those around you who are hurting. As a kid, I loved the X-men comics. It was always a bunch of misfits who had great power but were rejected by the world they lived in. They were hunted by people who hated them because they were different. The reason I loved these characters (and still do), is because they still used their power to save the people that hated them. What a beautiful picture of the Christian walk, even when people hate you and try to put you down, you have the power to save them. You have power. You may not be a mutant, but you have the power to save lives. Don’t live in fear, live with a spirit of power.
You have a spirit of love.
I like this one a lot. No, it isn’t referring to the chick-flick/ teen romance movie kind of love, but a love that is active. This is the type of love that does work, a type of love that works hard and doesn’t leave when problems happen. Love means taking risks, going up to the person that looks like they’ve had a rough day, listening to your sister share her struggles with you, or helping a friend laugh after they’ve only been able to cry. My sister demonstrates this all the time. It’s been a tough year for her, yet each and every week she leads a team and listens to their struggles and empowers them to lead the next generation. She comforts those around her and has a desire to actively pursue Christ no matter what. She shows love to everyone, even though she owes nothing. I’ll always remember in high school my sister would drive me home after I would have a rough day. She would listen to my struggles and be there for me, she was always there for me and loved me. Jesus showed us the perfect example, he died for us so that we could be saved. He was perfect, a sinless man, yet he chose to take on all our sin and shame so that we could be free. My sister has that spirit in her, I have it, and you have that spirit too. You have a spirit of love, one that is a choice, and one that requires you to take action. So step out in love, sometimes it may require a sacrifice of time, it may mean you don’t get to catch a favorite show, or do everything you want, but it is worth it. Don’t live in passivity, live with a spirit of love.
You have a spirit of self-discipline.
This is the nuts and bolts of what it means to be active. Just like if you were starting to exercise, you need a plan. You start to eat right, set a schedule, and set goals. The same is true in our walk with Christ. You need to fill your mind with the good stuff, so you read the word, spend time in prayer, and cut out the junk. What is the junk you ask? Well, it’s different for each of us. For me, it’s the endless hours of Netflix, the unlimited time on my laptop, and the endless hours of Call of Duty. These things are not inherently bad, but when I don’t set limits, I can get lost in them. So I set a schedule, I wake up and pray. Simple start to each morning. Each day I set a schedule, like on Monday’s I get up, head to Geeksboro, and write. Then you set goals. Maybe for you it’s to read more books this year, maybe it’s to start a quiet time, and maybe it means to start serving in some capacity. For me, I plan to read more books, continue to do my quiet times, and to write a book this year. I want to take this idea of self-discipline seriously, because I am serious in my active pursuit of Christ. The new year is a great time to set goals (I’ll talk more about this next week.), so I’ve set goals for myself and chose a word that I want to live through in the coming year, similar to what I’ve done in the past. I plan on reading more and keeping a section on the blog updated with what I’ve read so that I can help you read some great books that I have enjoyed. I plan on writing an eBook this year, and I will talk more about that later (Spoilers). Christ wants us to live a disciplined life so that we can grow ourselves and be effective in all aspects of our lives. Don’t live a lazy life, live with a spirit of self-discipline.
An active pursuit. Complacency hates when we are active, complacency feels safe, but it only brings death. Complacency means that we are okay with the world around us, that we feel like life is fine. This is such a lie. We are surrounded by hurting people, people who need to be saved and need to find value in something greater than themselves. We ourselves have struggles this past year. We have seen people leave, experienced heartache, and have been beaten down. One of my favorite movie quotes is from Batman Begins. There is a scene when young Bruce Wayne falls into a well, and his father rescues him. Thomas Wayne then says to Bruce, “And why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” Throughout all of our lives we continue to fall, and each time we learn to pick ourselves back up and continue our pursuit. You see, when we are with Christ, we understand that struggles produce perseverance. We no longer have to live timidly, but we understand that we have a spirit of power, and of love, and of self-discipline.
Actively pursue Christ with your life, and you will find true courage.