Posted in Courage, Doubt, Inadequacy

Slay the Dragon

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It won’t be good enough.

In high school, I had worked for weeks on a science project and I was sure that the my miserable project would barely earn me a C, if not a D or F. Back in those days, we had no Internet, but my parents drove me to our local library regularly in the weeks before the project’s due date to research and work. I was sure it would barely pass as I knew others would have better organized, better looking projects. A cloud of impending doom hovered over me after handing it in and I dreaded finding out my grade. On that fateful day, I was so nervous; I remember creating scenarios in my mind of how I would explain my failure to my parents. The bell rang and I took my seat; my face must have betrayed my feelings, as my teacher said, “Lea, why are you so worried? Yours was one of the best projects. Congratulations on a well-deserved A.” I couldn’t believe my work was worth an A, but she did and much to my relief I would not have to explain a failing grade to my parents.

As an adult I’ve continued to battle feelings of inadequacy, not making the grade no matter how hard I try. Whatever job, ministry, or family activity I’ve taken part in, the dark cloud of inadequacy and failure has followed me; it’s like a sleeping dragon that only awakens to remind me of how impossibly inadequate I am.

I’ve learned that I’m not alone in this struggle; many of us battle daily with feelings of inadequacy at home, work, church, school, or whatever we are involved in. This world has a way of making us feel inadequate; we just don’t “cut the mustard.” That inadequacy in turn convinces us that we’re disqualified – nothing we do will ever be good enough.

These feelings often bleed into our relationships. Wives can’t believe their husbands love them or vice-versa. Everyone doubts they are good enough – and this doubt sabotages our love for one another – because we doubt ourselves, we doubt everyone else. It’s a potentially catastrophic mixture that certainly has resulted in broken friendships, marriages, and caused immeasurable tension in families.

It seems so very hopeless! It’s as if we are living in a perpetual state of overwhelming darkness; an impossible problem with no workable answer.

Enter into the equation the marvelous grace of God through Jesus Who loved us so much that He took all of our failings and inadequacies and in exchange gave us all that He is, and He is much more than adequate. He is more than enough!

Luke 1:76-79 MSG And you, my child, ‘Prophet of the Highest,’ will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways, present the offer of salvation to his people, the forgiveness of their sins. Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace.”

I love to run early in the morning, it’s a time when everything is new and life is coming alive with the rising of the sun. On most of my early morning runs, I struggle to get one foot in front of the other when I first step out of the door. Yet, as the time passes, my energy awakens and before I know it, I have found my pace: one foot in front of the other. I can’t run before the sun rises, there’s no light to show me the way. Once the sun rises, unless I step out of the house and start, I won’t go anywhere. In the same way, we can’t run in our daily lives until His light dawns on the horizons of our lives and we make that first step.

While we have lived in the dark, the sunrise has come and the light has finally dawned. Why don’t you take a look outside? It’s bright and beautiful and with Him living inside you, you have what it takes to slay the dragon of inadequacy.

The sun is rising! Isn’t it beautiful?

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Posted in Bible reading, Doubt, Faith

The Book Is Better Than The Movie

My little daughter has discovered the “Chronicles of Narnia” movie series. As we’ve watched the movies, she immediately understood the symbolism without my telling her that the Lion was representative of Jesus and how in the Witch represented Satan. “Jesus,” she said, “wins over them all.”

I love these movies – but you know I’ve read the books and the truth is that the books are better than the movies. To get the story right, you have to read the books. You see when you read the books, you get the whole story, not a brief and unreliable version of it. Movies that are made about books are brief summaries based on opinions of others who read the books – how they understood the plot, perhaps not to the liking of the author.

The “Narnia” movies are somewhat accurate in keeping the storylines to those of the books – but they leave a lot out as a 2-hour movie doesn’t lend enough time to tell the tale of several hundred pages of narrative. It’s still a “bare bones” rendition, leaving out what the original authors wanted you to get out of the story.

Some years ago the movie, “Noah” came out. I went I think a couple of days after it was released and I left thinking I had seen a science fiction movie. There were rock creatures that talked and all kinds things that weren’t present in the Book. You see, it was told as the screenwriters wanted it told so it might sell more tickets.

Our lives with the Lord can somehow be uncannily similar; there are “screenwriters” out there making a display of what living for the Lord should look like so it can appear popular to the masses. So they can sell their movie tickets, so they will be popular among the “relevant” movements in Christianity.  The screenwriters are so wrong in their editing movies for I’ve never heard of a movie being better than the book. Yet, for some reason, people fall for their movie trailers and promises of great popcorn and perks if you sign up for their movie app.

The Father, the Author, wants to write His Book in you and live it through you – WHAT IF we allowed Him to do just that?

So, it may be that you have been watching a movie trailer or have been watching the movie itself. Maybe you read parts of the book before but the movie sounded so good; the details of the Real Story have faded in your memory. The Book is so much better – maybe the movie has changed your mind just a bit. Made the truths you knew fade into the far recesses of times past. Perhaps the screenwriter version has become so popular that you find yourself wondering at times if the Book really is true.

I wanted to bring us back today to the Greatest Storyteller of all time Who not only wrote but sent His Son to live out the story for us, to make us free. What has happened over time is that this world and even Christianity’s “make me feel better and relevant with this world” culture, waters down the truths that this, the Greatest Author of all time, wrote in His Book.

Does this new screenplay we are all watching in this day and age really make us feel better? The compromise, the belief that God’s standards are somehow “out of date” and need to be “altered” to fit today’s world. It’s outdated, they say, so it needs to be made relevant.

Yes, languages change, colour palates change from season to season, and we may even change our hairstyle (I have heard every woman has an average of 5-7 hairstyles in her lifetime and some of us still remember the colour “seafoam green”), and we have hopefully stopped wearing shoulder pads that made us look like football players.

But the Book tells us what He is really like, what living for Him is meant to be. It is easy to be persuaded to believe something else when we don’t remind ourselves of what He is like daily. When I begin to listen to what “the evidence” points to, that God doesn’t care about me, or I’m not sure if He loves me, or that I should live holy but it’s ok if I don’t, I start the process of forgetting Who He really is and replacing what I once knew to be true, for a lie.

Our enemy fights, but not overtly. He begins by telling us lies – his ambition is to take our authority from us for he wants to take as many down with him as he can. Satan’s lies begin as partial truths that are overemphasized into error – let me give you an example. Are we the righteousness of God in Christ? Yes!!! But we are also nothing without Him. If we only speak of how wonderful we are – we sway into error and forget that He is all and all and without Him we are lost!

What if we took the time to open the Book, and really remember what it says?

The Greatest Storyteller, the Author, sent His Son to live as one of us so we could reign with Him – and our Lord Jesus won His war. And now the spiritual war that wages in the heavenlies is ours to win through His wonderful victory ( see Ephesians 6).

Jesus left heaven, became fully man and was at the same time, fully God (see Hebrews 2:7) and Jesus, in His lifetime, used the authority Adam had lost. He was not the offspring of Adam; He was not subject to the laws of fallen man because He was God in man (see Hebrews 1:8). He then turned around and shared His authority with us:

Revelation 1:6 NKJ and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

 1 Peter 2:9 NKJ “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”

We don’t fight with a sword, flailing in our own strength. We stand with a scepter as kings. This is how we win – understanding what the Book, not the movie (society, popular messages and movements), says.

Today’s messages tell us to be self-centered in that we are to seek after what’s best for us and our own – but God’s wisdom says we are to serve as Jesus did Philippians 2:3-11 vs. 5 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We are to take up His mind and put away our own for using our own hasn’t worked thus far, has it?

Imagine what happened! Jesus left heaven as God, He returned as God-man as He completed the work of redemption and left us with the authority to enforce it in the earth. And then life happens, the movie trailers begin to play, and we are no longer “mindful” or full of the mind of Christ.

But you see the Book reminds us of the truths that the screenplay leaves out:

Revelation 12:11 NKJ “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

We will overcome, not by falling for the lies and deceptions of the movie trailers – but by His blood and the testimony of our lips of what He, the Son, has done for us. How do we win a war when we are in prison? What prison, you say? The one we put ourselves in when we allow our minds to be chained to the screenplay. We are in prison when we are deceived, when we believe a lie.

This was done just for our age, what will He do in ages to come?

Ephesians 2:7 NKJ “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

For there are more Books to be written, more stories He will tell – this is only our beginning. The Father has been forever; there’s never been a time that He wasn’t and He has chosen to include us in this journey. Why not join Him and read the Book – stop watching the movies – and break off those chains.

He is good, His purposes are good, and the Book is definitely better than the movie.

 

Posted in Doubt, New Year Fast

Day 5 – When All Seems Lost

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John 20:19 “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut…Jesus came and stood in the midst.”

Fear is a relentlessly vicious master; it pushes you to uncharacteristic behaviours. Fear’s twin, doubt, travels with fear since fear can’t operate without doubt. Doubt in God’s power, God’s plan and His love for us. Once we have gone through a few valleys in life, when optimism gives way to pessimism and our faith takes a back seat to reason, we are imprisoned by the evil twins of doubt and fear.

The disciples were in deep fear after Jesus’ death. They were sure that they would be pursued and killed just like Jesus. They doubted His power, that He would rise again, so much so that they had shut themselves into a house, they were in hiding. They did this “for fear of the Jews.” (John 20:20) Fear of what might happen or what seemed to be inevitable caused them to shut the doors of the house. Reading this passage I wonder what their plans, at that time they were shut in, were for the future? Since Jesus wasn’t part of their lives, would they steal out of the city? Resume living as they had before? Would the rest of their lives be lived in fear? What would they say to their families?

Just when they thought all was lost and no hope was to be found, Jesus miraculously appeared among them. He spoke with them, encouraging them, and even gave them a future assignment. God, in His great mercy knowing the frailty of humanity, met the disciples in a way that would drive fear and doubt away in the blink of an eye.

Life’s blows can cause us to lose our focus and faith: finances are tight, family members may be sick, trouble on the job, and trouble at home. It may seem that all the doors of escape have been shut and there is nothing that can bring us the relief that we are longing for – as the disciples felt so do we, all seems lost.

These struggles with doubt and fear often come at the end of a great season. Jesus’ death came after He had spent 3 years ministering to people: thousands were drawn to His meetings, He healed countless sick people, raised the dead, and forgave sin. His was a ministry that took His world literally by storm and turned things around so much that it put the religious leaders of the day in fear of their positions of prominence. The stage was set: Jesus was condemned to death and a seemingly horrible defeat came on the heels of a wonderful season of victory.

Elijah, who seemed by all accounts to be a fearless Prophet, even struggled with doubt and fear. He lived from victory to victory, never fearing what the next day would bring: he predicted drought and rain, saved a widow and her son from starvation, raised another widow’s son from the dead. He was fearless until an amazing victory God worked through him at Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:20-40). At Mount Carmel all false prophets were put to shame openly and executed when God demonstrated His power. Immediately after this event, the King’s wife Jezebel heard what had happened and she made it known that she would kill Elijah. Elijah fled for his life into the wilderness. What happened in that brief time period to make this mighty, fearless man of God whimper away into the wilderness, fearful for his life?

God, in His mercy, did for Elijah as He did for the disciples when they were shut away. He spoke to Elijah (1 Kings 19:11-18), strengthening him and giving him a new assignment. He stepped into Elijah’s room, as it were, and met Elijah in a way that would make all his doubt and fear evaporate.

What room have you shut yourself into? How has life made you lose your focus? When was the last time fear and doubt were far and you lived life in fearless faith? Faith gives us the focus we need to get through those times when we’d rather sit indoors and blitz our lives away on Netflix reruns.

The doors of your room may be shut but I assure you that Jesus Himself is standing there with you, ready to speak a word that will wash all your fears away. Where can you find His word to you? In His book, the Bible, there are countless words waiting to be discovered so you can, in faith, stand up from where doubt and fear have trapped you and open the door to find a new adventure waiting on the other side.


 

Today is Day 5! We’ve made it this far, there’s no turning back now. This year we have had quite a trial come in the middle of our fast: a strong storm came and blew down our tent where the new church in Blantyre, Malawi is meeting. No one was hurt thankfully, but the damage to the tent is extreme. We are working hard to fix the issue – but there are more storms on the horizon both spiritually and physically. No matter, we will get through them and keep pursuing the will of God for us. This is no time to shut ourselves away. Please pray with us for safety and security of the tent.