Make a Difference

Recently I was given a book of Puritan Prayers and Devotions entitled The Valley of Vision.

This photo is an excerpt of the prayer I read before sitting down to my desk to start work this Monday morning.

Only a few minutes in, I went to find a pencil in my collection of unused writing utensils. The first one I grabbed had the engraving “I Am Someone Who Makes A Difference.”

I saw a connection that we could all use. May we all pray to submit ourselves to make a difference in our God-given disposition. May we walk, therefore, confidently, purposefully, and observantly to make a difference.

3 Things That Matter

In this read of Ravi Zacharias’s The Grand Weaver, three things stood out to me. They, like all eight chapters in the book, discuss what matters.


Your disappointments matter

In chapter two, he wrote this about the end of life:

One of three things will happen to your heart: it will grow hard, it will be broken, or it will be tender.

He looks at the lives of David, Job, and Habakkuk to illustrate the importance of communion with God to carry us through pain, to make us “tender by that which makes the heart of God tender.” God’s presence is more essential than answers.

Your calling matters

In chapter three, these three statements can breathe life into any searcher:

When your will becomes aligned with God’s will, his calling upon you has found its home.

God often reinforces our faith after we trust him, not before.

No follower of Christ does secular work.  We all have a sacred calling.

Your worship matters

Chapter eight may be the best chapter you’ll ever read about worship. In it, he discusses the five main components of worship taken from the book of Acts: the Lord’s Supper, teaching, prayer, praise, and giving. This line speaks deeply to why worship matters:

When worship and praise lose their focus and purpose, the finite finds the Infinite boring and the creature finds the Creator insufficient.

Tenderness matters.  Trust matters.  Worship matters.

Fruity Fridays: 5 Ways to Own Your Faithfulness 

(A series about the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5)

The fruit of faithfulness is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit which require the most use of Galatians 5:24, which says,

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Faithfulness is not a natural trait we are born with. It flies in the face of our natural bend toward selfishness. Left to our own desires and passions, we keep moving from job to job, bed to bed, habit to habit, relationship to relationship because it’s just too hard to be faithful when you are wrapped up in “what’s in it for me?”

We have to give that bend to God. We have to choose to own faithfulness rather than selfishness and pursue it with the Holy Spirit’s aid. So how can we own our faithfulness? Here are five thoughts:

Own Your Purpose

Yes, your purpose is God-given. But he doesn’t make you pursue education. He doesn’t make you go on the job interview. He doesn’t make you leave a purposeless job to pursue the purposeful job. He gives you a purpose, but you have to own it. Chances are when you do own his given purpose, faithfulness will follow. (Biblical example: John the Baptist)

Own Your Margin

We all have the same amount of time. We haven’t all learned the value of margin, the value of saying “no,” or the hurt created by a flippant, inattentive “yes.” Your margin is yours; your time is yours to obediently and wisely fulfill your God-given purpose. Chances are when you own your margin, faithfulness will follow. (Biblical example: Jethro)

Own Your Commitments

If we take care of owning purpose and margin, this one is a lot easier. Commitments should not be causal, quick, or thoughtless. If the commitment is entered into only after checking it against purpose and margin, the odds of its longevity increase. Chances are when you own your commitments, faithfulness will follow. (Biblical examples: David and Jonathan)

Own Your Distractions

Owning purpose, margin, and commitments don’t negate self-imposed or enemy-induced distractions. You can be your own worst enemy; and, you are always target practice for enemy attacks to your mind, body, and soul. Know your susceptibilities. Know your distractions. Chances are when you own your distractions, faithfulness will follow. (Biblical example: Daniel)

Own Your Tendencies

Very few people know you like you know you. It may be that no human really knows you. We should all own the truth that God knows us, every part of us, even when we forget he does or try to behave like he doesn’t. Knowing your tendency to leave when you should stay, run when you should walk, talk when you should listen, or obsess when you should forget will move you along in owning your selfishness. Chances are when you own your tendencies, faithfulness will follow. (Biblical example: Paul)

Good Crying

Crying. When you think of that action, most likely you think of something bad or sad happening. It ain’t good if you’re crying.

During a segment on 60 Minutes tonight, a NASA engineer described going home the night after a stressful but successful project of landing Curiosity, a car-sized robotic rover exploring Gale Crater on Mars. He said, “I crawled into bed with my wife and wept.” He didn’t sound sad at all. He sounded joyfully spent, exhaustedly happy. 

Have you ever experienced that kind of crying? You might call it having a good cry. I’ve had some. One that particularly comes to mind was at the end of my last marathon in 2012. I tried to control it, but there was no controlling it. I was joyfully spent, exhaustedly happy.

What are you working on that you are so committed to that when it’s over you could have a good cry? What life mission are you following that makes you have a good cry occasionally? When was your last good cry?

Go after being joyfully spent. Go after good crying.

Turning Back

Been here?

  • Standing at a very familiar life intersection wondering how many times you have to keep crossing
  • Staring in the face of prior pain dreading its possible return
  • Knowing you’ve taken a step backwards but not sure how or why
  • Believing you heard and followed the right path but unsure it’s going to be as advertised

Congratulations! Welcome to the human race! It’s been going on for centuries. Here’s an example:

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites to turn back and camp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you must camp in front of Baal-zephon, facing it by the sea. Pharaoh will say of the Israelites: They are wandering around the land in confusion; the wilderness has boxed them in. I will harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he will pursue them. Then I will receive glory by means of Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh.” So the Israelites did this.”

‭‭Exodus‬ ‭14:1-4

Yes, they turned back as instructed, but soon began to challenge the decision. That’s what we all are tempted to do. 

  • “What are you doing, God?”
  • “Why are you making me turn around into the face of pain that I thought you had rescued me from?”
  • “This makes no sense at all. God, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

We find ourselves at the intersection of Faith and Pain, or Trust and Doubt, or Follower and Fool. We are faced with the choices from being turned back. 

  • Will we believe in God’s salvation for this moment
  • Do we believe that He truly cares
  • Can we trust this God who dishes out unbelievable promises

If He says it’s for His glory, shouldn’t we want to see the outcome? Getting to the other side of the sea ain’t easy when all we do is question God. It’s much more awe-filled, beautiful and serene when all we’re doing is resting, walking and trusting in all His knowledge and power. When He says, “Turn back,” our response should be, “How Far?”

Here’s a Turning Back Prayer you might say if you’re having a difficult time saying, “How Far”:

God, thank you for Exodus 14. Thank you for turning them back so now all of mankind is still talking about your power, your glory, and your willingness to fight for your people. I have no reason to fear. I have no reason to believe you will make a mistake. I have every reason to remember you have always remembered me. Forgive me for wanting to run forward when you may want me to turn back so you can be glorified. Fight for me. I’ll do my best to be quiet.

You Are Not a Clone

You were created – you are not an accident, an afterthought nor an experiment

You were created by God – just like everything and everyone 

You were created uniquely – DNA

You were created with purpose – without flippancy but with design

You were created for a purpose – like a puzzle piece, a body part, a team member 

Your purpose is found through relation with your Creator – no one knows you better

Your happiness is found through experiencing your Creator’s purpose for you – all other sources will fail

Your happiness and purpose are not found by blindly following the same sources and directions as the masses – you are not a clone

As a uniquely, purposefully created being, find your happiness by not living like a clone but by pursuing knowing and experiencing your Creator through a growing relationship.

A Verse for Life

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭138:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The first phrase of this verse is a statement of conviction, a reminder of God’s ongoing work in every person’s life.

  • God has a purpose for you. He intends to fulfill it. He is always at work on your behalf.

The second phrase of this verse is a statement of belief, a reminder of the how and why of God’s ongoing work in every person’s life.

  • Time doesn’t contain God. He has, is, will always be. That’s the how. The why is His love for you.

The third phrase of this verse is a request through submission, a commitment of surrender to the completion of God’s work in a person’s life.

  • You are in the best hands when surrendered to God’s plan and work in your life. This phase would be worth memorizing and maybe even becoming a life mantra.

Moses: 40 Years of Captured Awe

Exodus 3&4 recount the call of Moses out of a 40-year exile to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. God’s awe-filled display is dismissed by Moses’ fear. Read Paul David Tripp’s words on this scene (chapter 2 of Awe):

At the end of God’s glorious display of power, Moses begs God to send someone else. It’s as if fear of personal inadequacy and political danger has completely blinded his eyes to the awesome glory of the One sending him. Moses is not in awe of God. No, the awe capacity of his heart has been captured by fear of the Egyptians, and all he can think of is being released from the task to which God has appointed him.

Captured. Has your awe been captured? What does that even mean?

It means your awe has been redirected toward something or someone that doesn’t represent your best option, purpose, or worship. In Moses’ 40-year-captured case, this happened because of fear. 

You may think a lack of focus or maybe thoughts of doubt or confusion are to blame. Most likely, the root of your captured awe isn’t doubtful, confusing thoughts or inability to focus. Most likely, a fear is responsible.

Might it be a fear of comparison…of failure…of rejection…of success…of loss…of uncertainty…of loneliness…of pain…of expectations?

What if you saw God as the source of love…of purpose…of forgiveness…of healing…of power…of everything?

What if you remembered that God filled your lungs with breath…took you as you were…brought you out of the dark?

What if you released fear and gave God back your captured awe?