The Gift of Choice

Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.” Proverbs 16:20

God is not demanding or pushy. He tells us what will happen when we use the gift of choice to decide whether we follow His instructions or we if we choose to take the prodigal path. When you and I trust Him, when we choose to do what He asks of us it is not because He wants something from us, but for us. 

How easy is it to forget that there is power in the gift of choice? We can choose to trust Him with the whole of our lives, or we can choose to hold back pieces of it. Who am I to decide how much or how little the Creator of the universe can be trusted with? The things I think I can hold back or hide, He already knows about. In fact, He already knows that you and I are going to take a different path, the prodigal path, from time to time because none of us are as we should be. 

We have the gift of choice to listen to the nudge of the Holy Spirit; our advocate and power source behind all that we truly need in this life according to His plan.  But, if you are like me, I will attempt to ignore that nudge at times. I basically use my pride and/or strong-willed idea of what I think should happen and when as a way to try to outsmart the all knowing God. That’s not so smart, now is it? But let’s be real, if we are honest with ourselves there are so many times that we fail to properly use the gift of choice. 

He is faithful to tell us exactly what we need to hear, although it may not be exactly what we want to hear. When we listen, respond and repent from the things He has lovingly warned us not to do we are once again exercising our gift of choice. 

God chooses us every single day. No matter what. He practices the gift of choice every time we turn back towards Him, and loves us even when we don’t deserve it. My life, your life, is so much more abundantly full and blessed with what His plans are when we experience all that He wants for us through the choice to refrain or the choice to remain. 

The question is will you and I choose Him every single day? 

Let’s talk about it: How have you experienced an abundant life by following Him and doing the hard, but right thing? What hope can you share with someone who is struggling with something they should be refraining from? How can you celebrate with someone that is remaining the course, and following His instruction?


The Battle for Your Everything

When I decided to follow Jesus, I had no idea that what that meant was not only would I have a life full of new and different and abundance, but I would also have a target on my back because Satan is not thrilled that I am not on his team.

I think, if I am being honest, that had I known all that has been revealed to me since then I may have been tempted to give in and give up right then. However, God is good about what He allows us to see and when He allows us to see it. 

What I know now, is that while God wants my whole heart and my whole everything, there is a battle for control over going on and if not being equipped for the battle, I would give up instead of show up. Before Jesus, the battle was all around me, but I hadn’t yet decided whose team I was signing with. 

I have recognized in the past few months, and especially over the last few weeks, that while I am bravely choosing to give Him my everything I am also being tempted to believe lies and being temporarily bombarded with the insanity of not living in each moment as it comes. 

Here are some of the things that I have thought about for just a brief moment that maybe you can relate to: 

  1. You don’t know enough to share what you know. 
  2. People will not understand how and why you use “I and me statements.” They will think you are arrogant and prideful, looking for validation and seeking approval.
  3. You are not going to accomplish anything in this venture. 

None of those words sound like they are speaking truth and life. None of those words sound like they are coming from our loving God. None of those words offer hope and freedom. 

It sounds like the lies and schemes of satan to distract me, make me afraid, and to shut my mouth. And I know, as much as he would like to believe he can use all of that to win the battle for my everything, that I serve and follow a totally victorious God who has already fought the battle for my everything and won. 

And so, here’s the truth that I am taking hold of in the battle for my everything. 

2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 

We know that we are in training and in the battle all at the same time. We know that there is an enemy after us, as Jesus followers, we have a target on our back. Believing the word of God takes effort. It takes trust. It takes time. It takes community. It takes training which requires self-control. It takes discipline to be His disciple. 

When the battle comes, as He promises it will, we have to choose the truth. We have to choose to believe that we are bold, powerful, self-disciplined and available to be used by God in order to become it. We know is is not our power, but His.

The battle for my everything is my all-in, sold out heart for Jesus and who He is in my life. The all-in of using gifts and talents to serve Him and share Him. The all-in of spending time with Him and His community. The all-in of loving people that are not yet in His community. The all-in of doing things that require courage and discomfort at the same time. 

So those little arrows that the enemy has been launching my way? I am protected by truth, and I am committed to giving Him my everything even when it’s hard, uncomfortable and way outside of my control. God used those very thoughts and turned them into training ground and preparation for what’s next. His power, love and discipline lives in each one of us. 

Think about it: Are you giving up or showing up?


Look To Me

This year has been, by far, the most radically off-centered year I have lived so far. We can all agree on that, can’t we?

We have a pandemic and now racism and division reaching its boiling point. And people are rioting and looting and it is just bizarre how, in a matter of days, it has gone from sadness and outrage over another man’s death to the “look at me” movement. 

The people that are rioting and looting are doing no man justice. It’s become a free-for-all to see who can get the most attention. Law abiding citizens are being put on curfews for their safety and security, but seriously, for what? 

Could it be that this is just another way to switch our eyes and our thoughts from the things that are disturbing our peace to the One who is our peace? Could it be that God is saying, “Look to me instead of what you are seeing on the t.v. and on the news and everywhere around you.” Would it not be better if we kept our eyes on the One who is our perfect peace? 

Hear me, I know how easy it is to get caught up in the storm, and I am in NO WAY saying we should turn a blind eye to the situation that spurred this into motion.  I also in NO WAY saying that I have not bitten the end of my tongue off trying to keep my mouth shut about the things I am seeing go down. 

I am saying that we do move towards what we focus on. Being silent is not really an option, but there is a way to scream and cry at the top of our lungs about the injustice and violence that is seeping through our communities. The call to action is before us. Fall on your knees and pray. 

My heart hurts and I am weary. We are living in some scary times, for sure. And yet, I am confident that God has it under control. How we choose to respond is up to us. One of the fruits of the spirit is self-control. Some days I don’t have a lot of that working in my favor, but I do today. Today I am choosing to go to Jesus with my feelings and thoughts. I am choosing to go to the One that can and will make all things new.  I am asking for the strength to take every thought captive, and to love loudly. I am asking Him to deepen my compassion for those that are not exhibiting the finest in human behavior at the moment, and asking for the opportunity to share light even when it feels and looks so dark. 

For our collective weariness, He invites us to look to Him.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

I cannot understand the depth of the hurt that I have not experienced due to the color of my skin. I cannot understand the pain that the many families who have suffered loss at the hands of another human of another skin color have felt and are feeling now. 

What I do know, is that God is asking for our attention all over the place. Look to Him and remember what He says. 

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because of this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. ” 1 Peter 3:9