Change Is Hard But Necessary

As we grow in Christ, God continues to remold us and reshape us into something new.  In life, change is necessary to pursue new opportunities.  It is not always easy nor is it always voluntary.  Change happens no matter we like it or not.

Currently, I have been put in a position to seek an involuntary change.  I did not realize what I was leaving behind until I took the first steps in a new direction.  But, at the same time, I cannot return to what was.  Change is a must.

I find that with change there is a moment when we grieve what was left behind as we gradually adjust to the newness of life.  There are exciting moments and sad moments blended together.  Even though a new adventure is exciting, it comes with the unknowns — the awkwardness.

The Bible tells us change is not to be feared. Deuteronomy 31:6 says for us to “be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”  God is with us and guiding us on where we should go.  We need to put our trust in Him and take another step forward into the unknown.  Jeremiah 29:11 declares that “‘God’ know[s] what [he is] doing.  ‘He has’ it all planned out — plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

When change occurs, we become anxious.  Our emotions are scattered.  Our old life seems to be fading away with every step we take.  What was familiar is not familiar anymore.  Philippians 4:6-7 tells us not to “fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”  The Bible instructs us to pray instead of worry.  It also tells us to praise God through the difficult times.  He will see us through every situation.  

God says to “forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present.  I’m about to do something brand-new” (Isaiah 43:20)  As we embrace the new and leave behind the “old”, we will see God working in our lives like never before.  We will have a closer relationship with God during the journey.  We will become stronger as we walk into a new chapter of our lives.  Yes, it may be scary but, the end result is worth it.

(Scripture – The Message Version)

 

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My Featured Blog for the Week: The Church doesn’t need more armed guards, we need more equipped saints… — Written by Tales from the Great Adventure (Derek Maul)

We need to so soak this land in the rich witness of love and light, the kind of applied grace spills all over everyone. Through you, and through me. A thousand small decisions at a time.

via The Church doesn’t need more armed guards, we need more equipped saints… — Tales from the Great Adventure (Derek Maul)

Christian Lessons from the Movie Moana

A Walt Disney Animation Studios movie called Moana was released in November 2016.  The film tells a story about a brave young woman who sets out on an adventure to save her family.  She is the daughter of a chief of a Polynesian village.  Moana has to sail across the ocean to find a demigod named Maui to return the heart of Te Fiti, that he stole, to save her people.  Maui, is a demigod who can change into any animal as long as he has his fishhook.  Moana and Maui must find his fishhook before sailing to Te Fiti.  The voyage is long and dangerous.  There are many lessons to be learned through this film and these characters.

When Maui stole Te Fiti’s heart, Te Ka’s darkness poisoned the island.  The village is running out of food, and the curse is destroying trees.  Moana’s father does not allow her to venture beyond the reef due to the dangers of the sea.  Her grandmother, Tala, gives her the heart of Te Fiti and encourages her to live out her dreams.  Tala tells Moana that she was chosen to save the village and shows her a secret cave with ships hidden inside.  The cave reveals her families past as they were voyagers.  After her grandmother’s passing, she followed after her calling and left the village to find Maui and return the heart to Te Fiti.

As Christians, we are all born with a gift, a calling from God, to do something for His kingdom.  We are all made for a purpose, and we must seek that calling.  Just like Moana, we must be brave and set out on our adventure to the unknown.  Moana was not afraid to fail, because she knew she had to save her family.  She had a destiny she must fulfill and, with courage, she fulfilled it.  Now, she did not succeed by traveling alone.  She found Maui, the demigod, and, with much resistance, he went with her to Te Fiti.  You see, when we are on our journey of learning who we are, God is guiding us in the right direction.  Maui was a skilled sailor, and guided the boat in the right direction.  Moana learned from Maui how to be a skilled sailor.  It is no different than us.  We learn from God the more we spend time with Him.  We learn His ways and His character.  Moana began to trust Maui and learned from Him on how to be strong and confident.

Moana taught Maui a lesson as well.  In this story, Maui must learn from His mistakes and face his past.  Just like in 1 Samuel 17:1-25:7 (David and Goliath), Maui had to face a giant whom he was fearful of, the volcanic demon.  The demon could throw fireballs from the palms of her hands.  After one attempt to get past the demon, Maui’s fishhook, which makes him a demigod, is cracked.  He is afraid to lose his powers, so he abandons Moana on the ship and flies off as an eagle.

Moana is defeated and alone in the ocean.  Her past grandmother came to her as a stingray to remind her of her calling, but also gave her the choice to go home.  Her grandmother would guide her home if that’s what Moana decided.  With courage, Moana decided to return the heart of Te Fiti on her own.  She repaired the ship and headed back to Te Fiti to defeat the volcanic demon.  In the middle of the battle, Maui shows up and distracts the demon while Moana attempts to return the heart.  During the battle, Maui’s fishhook is broken.  In the meantime, Maona finds that Te Fiti is missing and figures out that volcanic demon is Te Fiti.  She courageously holds out the heart, and the demon sees it from afar.  Te Fiti runs toward Moana with speed and intimidation.  Moana doesn’t run, but, yet, she gently places her head onto the demon’s forehead showing compassion.  She then returns the heart into the demon’s eye, and, immediately, the island and the ocean is cured from the curse.  Te Fiti restores Maui’s fishhook and then lays to rest at Te Ka’s Island.  Whatever damage Maui’s caused, it was healed and brought back to it’s original state.

Just like this story, God gives us chance after chance to make things right.  We cannot change the past, but we can change our future.  Just like Maui, he caused the curse of the island and the ocean by stealing the heart of Te Fiti.  Te Fiti held a grudge and became a “monster”.  Think about it….when we hold grudges against someone or something, then we become like a monster with our vengeance.  We may not have the ability to throw fireballs at someone or something, but we do it with our words and action.  Once Te Fiti saw her heart, she melted, and turned into a beautiful island again.  She restored Maui’s power by fixing his fishhook.  Te Fiti forgave Maui, and Maui was grateful for her gesture.  As Christians, God calls us to forgive.  A grudge only makes us do irrational things which only brings more hurt.  I encourage all of us to stop throwing fireballs at each other and start acknowledging our wrongs.  Let us heal hearts; not break them.

Throughout this movie, it shows us:

  • sacrifice (Moana: leaving home)
  • love (Moana: family)
  • life’s purpose (Moana: her calling)
  • bravery (Moana and Maui: the unknown and facing their fears)
  • defiance (Maui: resistance to go with Moana to Te Fiti)
  • acceptance (Maui: returning to save Moana’s village)
  • grudge (Te Fiti: wanting her heart back)
  • compassion (Moana: showing compassion to Te Fiti)
  • healing (Moana and Maui: healing Te Fiti’s heart)
  • forgiveness (Te Fiti: restoring Maui’s power)

God is all these things and much more!

APPLICATION

I challenge you this week to face your fears and walk out your destiny.  What has God called you to do?  Is fear is getting in the way?  I pray you find the faith to step out and go on a wild adventure with God.  He will guide you every step of the way!

I also challenge you to read the list above and see what areas you struggle in.  I encourage you to pray with God over these matters.   If you need to forgive or ask for forgiveness, I pray you find the courage to confront the issue face-to-face.  If you do not know your purpose in life, I pray you seek God for answers.  Just like the fishhook giving Maui powers, praying to God is the most powerful thing you can do, because prayer heals and restores.

 

How to Overcome Rejection

Studies show that rejection affects the physical pathways in our brain (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  Rejection is a deep rooted issue that people face every day, and it stirs up our emotions to make us think negative about ourselves or to something.  It can be defined as not “just an emotional feeling, [but] a message that alters what you believe about yourself” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  Rejection has the power to change who we are as an individual.  It can change the way we think about a situation.  It is a physical pain that reminds us of loss and feeling unwanted.  “Rejection can make [us] question [God’s] goodness” in our lives (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).

If we don’t want rejection to ruin our lives, we need to have a new perspective on how we handle rejection.  In the Spiritual realm, we can think of it as a blessing.  Lysa TerKeurst stated that “today’s disappointment is making room for tomorrow’s appointment” (Uninvited).  We do not always understand why God says no to our prayers or requests when we want it so badly, but we do not want to miss God’s opportunities by always remembering the disappointments of our past.  We never move past the disappointment if we always ask “why” questions rather than “what” questions.  “‘What’ questions increase our ability to become more self-aware, while ‘why’ questions only focus on things out of control (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  When we ask “why” we see what we lack rather than what is ahead of us.

So…”What’s a brokenhearted person to do?” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  How do we overcome rejection?  We “praise, seek, and look to God” for comfort.  We “experience, learn from, and draw near to God” in every situation (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  Rejection does not label us, and it is not a permanent condition.  It does not keep us from succeeding in our future; It just means we had a setback.  “If we give [rejection] the power to define us, it will haunt us long-term.  But if we only allow it enough power to refine us, the hurt will give way to healing” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  TerKeurst also states to “not let [rejection] destroy [us but to] use it in good ways to make [us] stronger” (Uninvited).  We need to use it to empower us to become better.  “Don’t let today’s reaction become tomorrow’s regret” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  What this statement is saying is do not allow your emotions to get in the way of wisdom.

Our past rejections do not have to define our future.  It is our choice to change rejection for the good.  Maybe God wanted you to take another path than the one you prayed about.  Maybe God allowed you to experience a hurtful situation so you could understand compassion towards others.  “The enemy loves to take our rejection and twist it into a raw, irrational fear that God really doesn’t have a good plan for us” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  Do not believe that lie, because “God is always at work” in our lives.  “He is a present, loving Father, aware of our deepest hurts and even our deeper needs” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).

Even if you don’t hear His voice, He is there!
Even though you don’t feel His touch, He is there!
Even if you lost your faith, He is there!

APPLICATION

Yes, rejection hurts, but we can overcome it through Jesus Christ.  We are all overcomers through Him.  We do not have to live in defeat by our own insecurities.  Rejection is only a temporary setback to make us stronger.  Our past hurts and failures do not have to hinder our future.  We get up, dust ourselves off, and walk towards Jesus.  Jesus is our Healer and our Comforter.  He is the One who guides us towards our future with confidence and self-worth.

I encourage all of us to remove the labels in our lives and let God redefine who we are through His promises and love.  We live in victory when we live for Christ!  Our success comes from Him.  It does not come from our past.  It does not come from the devil.  It only comes from God.

Letters To God

I’m currently in a Bible study at my church called, “Goliath Must Fall” by Louie Giglio.  In one of the weekly exercises it asked me to write a letter to God.  I could write about anything–my feelings, my hurt, my joy, my love for Him, etc.  No limitations.  As I was writing this letter to God, I was reminded of how sweet His presence is, and how I missed spending more time with Him.  I would like to take a moment to share with you what I wrote:

“Dear Daddy,

I know I do not express my love for you as much as I should.  I know I fail you so many times.  But, yet, you always have your arms stretched out whenever I need you.

You know my needs.  You know my hurt.  You know my every tear, and you wipe them away one-by-one.  I do not deserve your love, but, yet, you always give love without hesitation.

You know the shame I carry.  You know the loneliness I feel.  You know the secrets that I keep tucked inside for no one to know.  But, yet, you still love me.  I’m an imperfect being loved by You.  You never expect me to be perfect.  You simply ask me to come as I am — flawed and broken.

In this moment, I feel you holding me and whispering: “You are going to be okay.  Yes, life is a bit confusing, but, I tell you, you do not have to have everything figured out.  I will guide your future, and it will be everything you dreamed of plus more.  Trust Me my Child.  Now, put your feet onto Mine and let Me lead.  I know the way!'”


APPLICATION

I encourage you to write a letter to God and express how you feel about Him.  Acknowledge who He is in your life.  Tell God your troubles, and how you feel about life.  Cry out to Him in humbleness and gratefulness.  Be transparent.  Remember, there are no limitations.

What Is A Blessing?

Many people think a blessed person is someone who has it all — lives in a big house, drives an expensive car, has the best job, and so forth.  This way of thinking is distorted.  If we see a blessing just as material things then we miss a blessing in our lives, because we compare our lives to others.

The word “blessing” means “a favor or gift bestowed by God or the invoking of God’s favor upon a person.”  It also is defined as “approval” and “good wishes” (www.dictionary.com/browse/blessing).  A blessing comes in many forms.  It can come directly from God.  Or a blessing can come from family members, friends, or complete strangers through God working in them.

Before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the world was full of chaos and hate.  After the hurricane, we saw people working together.  Complete strangers risking their lives to save others.  As Christians, we need to be watchful on how we say we are blessed.  I am guilty of this as well.  I said, “I was blessed to have minor damage in my home.  A home I can still live in after the storm.”  But, we all have to understand those who have lost everything due to the storm, they are still blessed.  God protected their family, and, in the past three weeks, people have seen complete strangers help them rebuild their home.  In Philippians 4:19 declares that “MY God will supply every need to yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  In Isaiah 41:10, God says “fear no, for I am with you; be no dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  “And from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16).  I encourage everyone who is going through hardship to declare these Scriptures over your life.

Many who have lost their homes have asked, “What shall we eat?” “What shall we drink?” What shall we wear?” (Matthew 6:30-33).  They have lost all their belongs.  They have lost all their food.  They only have the clothes on their back.  But, be encouraged today.  God clothes you every day with His blessings and righteousness.  Churches and business have opened their doors to give food, clothes, furniture, and toiletries to those in need.  God put it on their hearts to bless you with items that you have lost.  It may be heartbreaking and difficult to ask for help, but never turn down a blessing.

There may be some who are too broken to see God’s blessing in their lives.  And, that is okay.  Having any kind of loss is devastating and finding hope again may take time.  Sometimes all we can do is get on our knees and cry out to God for help.  Through prayer we all will find “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).  Psalm 144:2 is a prayer of declaration in time of need: “He is My steadfast love and My fortress, My stronghold and My deliverer, My shield and He in whom I take refuge.”  This Scripture not only gives you hope again, but it also gives you renewed strength through Christ.  Matthew 5:4 states the “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Let these words wash over you and remind you that you are not alone.  God is ALWAYS with you.

And, always remember that a blessing is not all about material things.  A blessing is simply God loving on us through a prayer being answered.  His continuous protection over your life and family.  A blessing is helping people in need.  We are blessed every day through Christ.

 

How To Be Used By God Challenge

If you completed this sentence, what would you say? “More than anything I want God to use me to _________________________.” (“The End of Me” by Kyle Idleman)  You don’t have to answer on my page. It is just to challenge all of us to seek God more.

I also want to challenge all of us to not just long or dream about God using us for His glory. I want us to pray that God equips us to use us in that way. And, for us to believe God can.