Now is the Moment to Stop Living Below Your Potential

Now is the Moment to Stop Living Below Your Potential

Visit any gravesite and you’ll see an earth-load of buried potential.

What once was and was realized…what once was and yet, never was.

Eyes that took in the world, arms that held babies and legs that danced closely with strangers…belly laughs and tears of unspoken empathy and bitter hearts that died without ever picking up the phone and making that one relationship right.

The whole lot of us get the chance to live, once we arrive here on earth. Some of the cards were dealt better for some than others from the start but at a certain point, we get to choose our own and sometimes lay the wrong ones down and other times play the perfect ones at just the right time.

(None of it is chance, by the way, no matter what it may look like. We get to choose things and there is that thing called free will, but all of it has a design and plan because of our Creator, Jesus.)

I think about these gravesites a lot lately because my father is sick and is going to need one, soon. I drove there recently, to see where he will one day lie, not really there but the shell in the ground after the soul goes to greet Jesus.

And I think about the potential represented in each headstone and if what God had planned ever came true for this name I don’t know or if death came first.

And how the truth is, so many people, beautiful people that God created by His very thought and breath, with hand picked gifts and talents, lived and died with those gifts never being exercised because silly things like comfort and fear and insecurity ran their life, instead.

  • Comfort…that secret bully that seems so nice at first and promises big but always underdelivers. Really, it’s more sinister than that. It captures and then it enslaves. Potential has been killed in far too many people because comfort ran the life. What a cruel twist of irony that the thing we most run to is the thing most likely to ruin our lives.
  • Fear…well, we know this one is bad, now don’t we, but we don’t hate it enough to let it go. It’s kept us from our potential for years – all the things we want to do but are too scared to do it. How many people who now live in those gravesites said they were scared and never did anything about it while they were here, I wonder? And how many of those fears were actually something to be afraid of…or were they things that just kept them from a better life while life was still here?
  • InsecurityI can’t are the famous words, I think, of us all in one way or another. We are insecure to try because we are more confident we will fail than we are that God will sustain us. Most of all, our life focus is inward. So all we do lies in our belief of how much we can handle. Turns out, we can’t handle much.
~We live like people who do not have power…but we walk in the authority of God.
~We live in a tone of despair…but we have every reason to hope.
~We live like victims in this mixed up world…but we have the Word to guide us.
~We live comfortable…when Jesus tells us to abandon all for the sake of the Gospel.
~We live fearful…when Jesus says to take heart, for He has overcome the world.
~We live self-focused and insecure…when Jesus says to fix our eyes on Him, the author and finisher of our faith.

This living below our potential thing is no good for us, anymore. It never has been, but especially, now.

And listen…it’s not about feeling guilty over all this — you know that, right? Guilt has never helped one step be made forward and the point of this post is the now factor, the opportunity, the let’s make much, my friends, of our beautiful, glorious life. Guilt will just thwart that mission.

One day you and I will lie in our shell in a coffin underneath the dirt in all our potential. Who God created us to be, what we did with our life, and what we never did that He had for us to do that went unrealized.

It doesn’t matter about yesterday and what we did with it so much as what we decide to do now, today.

Your potential awaits, my fellow believer.

What will you do with this life He handpicked for you?

Shareable

The #1 Fear You Were Never Meant to Have

The #1 Fear You Were Never Meant to Have

I don’t know a single fearless person.

I know some strong people, courageous folks, those tough guys who open pickle jars for we muscle challenged. (God bless them.)

But a completely fearless person on this earth I have yet to find.

Even in our very best brave moments we are no match for the constant pounding of this scary, crazy world. If we don’t depend on something deeper, we are in for deep trouble. (I’ll tell you more about what I think about this word brave in Put Your Warrior Boots On, very soon. Hint: it may surprise you.)

Jesus never wanted us to live with fear. It’s never been His intention, though He knew our flesh would constantly pull us to this posture. Over and over again in His Word He tells us why we don’t have to live with it (John 16:33b), what to do with it when it comes (Psalm 56:3) and what will combat it most of all (I John 4:18).

When we constantly struggle with fear we expose how deeply we depend on self. And yet Jesus knows, in our natural man, it will come natural.

Out of all the fears we were never meant to have, there is one that stands above the rest. It is a fear that determines the way we view our entire life and everything flows from its belief system…

The fear that in this life, we won’t have victory.

This is what most of us walk through life believing.

We won’t say it, because that’s not spiritual. We know better than to say it out loud, for people will scold us and tell us to think more positively than that. But the way we deal with trouble, respond to the news in culture, scrambling around like mad, this way and that — trying to control our lives so we can protect ourselves and those we love — it’s obvious that we do not understand how this Jesus story goes.

I just want to remind us today: the battle is over and Jesus won. As believers in Jesus, we walk in His authority. You and I are on the winning side.

How tragic for us to be in this position and squander it everyday with our irrational fears of being taken down by a world that is weaker than our God.

How sad to waste our life by never realizing the life of the victor, the life Jesus Christ intended us to have through His sacrifice.

I want us to live better. Jesus expects us to live better. He died, so we could.

  • We must stop settling for fear. For some of us, it’s become a way of life. We are used to the grind of the fear-driven life, to the point we don’t crave freedom from it like we should. Until we get to the point we see what our fears have cost us, we will not hate them enough to let them go. Fear has cost us peace of mind, true spiritual growth, doing things for God we long to do, releasing those we love to do things God has called them to, as well (parents, that is often our big struggle). My friend, never settle for the grind of a fear-driven life.
  • We must admit we are depending on self, not God. It’s hard to own this, but we must if we want to free ourselves from it. Own our stuff, humble ourselves before God in complete honesty and repent of this. At the core, it’s a self-focus issue.
  • Practice the victory life. It is a powerful thing to saturate ourselves in the Bible (and support reads) that help us remember the victorious life that is ours. Memorize Scripture. Pray for victory from fear. Do things everyday that remind you, “God wins. Therefore, I win,” declaring to and conditioning your mind to believe it.

Jesus wants us to know and believe in our core, that no matter how it looks in this world, as believers in Jesus Christ we function from a place of victory.

Anything else was never meant for a child of God.

 

 

 

***I always love hearing from you on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram — we have such a vibrant community in all those places, so please join us there! I read every comment and often respond, as time allows…so many rich things you say inspire me and others who stop by and read. THANK YOU and KEEP THEM COMING! I love seeing you share memes from this community as well, so here are some quotable from this post for you to share with YOUR circle of influence! p.s. Love ya’ll.

Sharables

When Jesus Doesn’t Calm the Storm

When Jesus Doesn’t Calm the Storm

Hi friends!

I need to tell you a few things about Adam Weber, the guest writer of my blog, today. 1) He’s the founder and pastor of one of my favorite churches in America, Embrace Church. Anytime they ask me to speak there, I say yes. Warm, thriving, Kingdom-focused. These are the words that come to mind about Embrace. Oh, and he’s like 30. Ok maybe not 30. But close. I’m actually not sure but you get the picture: young to lead a dynamic 6-campus, one of the fastest growing churches in America. I attribute it to his humble heart. 2) He’s my friend. Not all pastors where I go and speak become my true and legit friends. Adam became one. 3) He’s written a book called Talking with God that is a really important book I hope you will go out and buy. It de-complicates prayer, which is something I’m passionate about, especially right now. Did I tell you I just finished writing a book called 5-Word Prayers? Right. I did. Coming in October. Adam and I are on such the same wavelength.

I asked Adam if I could share this post with you because it’s beautiful, and it’s something I needed to read. 

I’ve had some storms I’ve wanted Jesus to calm lately. How about you?

 

 

 

When my oldest was born, we lived hours away from family. I was a rookie dad, and when it came to the birth of tiny humans, all I knew was that it was supposed to all happen like clockwork. We did the pre-baby classes. We were ready. Just go to the hospital. Labor. Baby comes. Baby cries. Mom holds baby. And there would be nothing to worry about, right? Which was true. Until it actually came time for Hudson’s birth.

My wife Becky was at work when her water broke. I picked her up, and we drove to Saint Joseph East hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. All was great until near the end of labor. Hudson’s heart rate started going all over the place, and the doctors decided he needed to come out sooner rather than later.

As he was coming out, it became clear that something was terribly wrong. I could see it on the faces of the nurses. Out of nowhere, fifteen different people, doctors and nurses, appeared in the room. The heart monitor was beeping, and Hudson was blue, not making a sound.

Wasn’t he supposed to start crying? Then I saw it. The umbilical cord was tightly wrapped around his neck. Instead of handing us our baby to hold, they quickly took him away and a team of people worked frantically to help him breathe.

In that moment, my heart was torn into pieces for someone I had seen for less than a minute. I was scared. And broken.

All I could do was cry out. Literally, I was crying as I prayed. I didn’t even think about it. The words just came out from the deepest part of me.

God, are you sleeping?

Is he going to be okay?

Would you be with my new son?

Help him to breathe, Lord.

Father, I’m scared!

If you struggle to “pray,” do you know how to yell? Can you scream? Have you ever cried out to God? Shouted at the sky? Shaken your fist in the air? Maybe you’ve been praying for years and didn’t know it.

***

The night Hudson was born, I cried more than I thought was humanly possible. My eyes hurt because I cried so much. Thankfully, the next morning Hudson was cleared by the nurses and I was able to hold my healthy son. I give thanks for Hudson daily, and I only wish every story ended like this. I wish the storm was calmed every time. Sadly, that’s not the case.

What happens when the storms come, we cry out to God, and the worst still takes place? What happens when it feels like God is silent?

Have you been there before? Have you endured a storm that seemed to shake everything, including the foundation of all that you know about God? I without question have been in this place.

Sometimes I don’t pray because I question whether it will change anything. Does it really matter if I do? Other times I don’t pray because I don’t want to be disappointed by God. What if I pray and nothing happens? Will it shake my faith in prayer? Will it shake my belief in God?

For the past five years, my dad has had a pain issue. The pain has completely altered his life. He went from being one of the most active, healthy people I’ve ever known to lying in bed a majority of each day because of the pain. Mom and Dad now have a bed in their living room so he doesn’t have to be alone in the bedroom during the day. He walks with a cane. He is in constant pain. It’s horrible.

I can honestly say that I’ve never prayed more faithfully for anyone in my life. I’ve prayed for years that he would be healed. On my knees, crying out, yelling at God—I’ve done it all. Yet in spite of my cries, Dad’s condition has continued to worsen. Even now, I cry just thinking about it. I want so much for him to be healed.

I could attempt to explain the unexplainable. I could offer reasons and explanations to your questions and mine, but at times there simply aren’t any. None that satisfy. I’ve found that trite answers only cause more hurt than good.

When I ask my dad his thoughts on what he’s going through, specifically the times his very life has been in jeopardy, he’s the first to admit that he has questions too. At times he cries about it. Having had to retire early, he’s worried about finances. If something were to happen to him, he worries about my mom being alone. Yet he’s also quick to say that more than ever before, he realizes that God is truly good, that he’s in control of all things, and that he’ll provide everything we need. He’s realized that even death itself isn’t a bad thing.

A few years ago, Dad had a surgery and had complications afterward. He had to go back into surgery again that same day. Before being wheeled into the operating room for the second time, at one of his worst moments, he asked my mom to play the song “10,000 Reasons” on her cell phone so he could listen to it.

It’s a song that talks about praising God, and all the reasons that we have to thank God, regardless of what we’re facing. Matt Redman reminds us that though our days may draw to a close, our souls will still “sing your praise unending.”

I can’t say it any better. I guess my dad is choosing to focus on Jesus in the midst of the storm. In the end, isn’t that what storms do? They remind us of what’s important. They remind us who is in control. They remind us to keep focusing on the main thing—Jesus. And if we keep talking with him through the storm, we might come to understand that he’s all we’ve ever really needed.


Adam lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He likes typewriters, drives a Rambler, cheers for the Cincinnati Bengals, has 4 chickens, and a dog named Daisy. He’s the Lead Pastor of Embrace, a 10-year-old church that has grown to 6 campuses in two states.He and his beautiful wife, Becky, have four kids. Fun fact: He once made worldwide news when a turkey vulture fell out of the sky and onto his back porch during an ice storm. Google it.

To order Talking With God, CLICK HERE.

 

 

 

If You Need to Remember the Great I AM

**Friends, please welcome my friend, Michele Cushatt, to the blog. She’s just released a new book called I AM: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because Of Who He Is, and I hope for your sake you will go get it. A few things you should know. 1) Michele’s my real life friend, as in we have spent overnight together, shared meals, prayed & cried and regularly text. She’s the Michele in the opening story of my next book, so that’s a fun fact for you. :) 2) I’ve watched her walk through cancer, and she is a wrestler, lover of God, and deep well. Any hard question she will ask herself, first. 3) I endorsed her new book, I AM: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is because it ministered to me and is a tool I can eagerly recommend to my friends to go with your daily Bible reading. So do yourself a favor and get it, today. For real. And I don’t say that often.

*********************************************************

The gift arrived when I least expected it. And when I most needed it.

A small corked jar, no bigger than a thimble. Filled with dozens of yellow-brown mustard seeds, each smaller than the head of a pin.

For months, I’d been struggling with my faith. After too many years of physical pain, I came up for a brief reprieve only to face a vast sea of spiritual pain. For nearly five years, I’d prayed for God to deliver me from cancer and suffering, to restore my life to health and protect my family from further heartache. Beyond my own prayers, thousands of friends and family and strangers offered up theirs. Add it all up and it equaled far more than a thimble jar filled with faith.

Even so, illness and death continued to stalk me. In spite of my pleas, God didn’t seem inclined to intervene.

What about my mustard seed of faith, God? I thought You said it was enough.

With books and Bibles and journals gathered around me, I searched for answers and wrestled with the God I’d always loved. I still loved Him, still believed in Him. I just didn’t understand Him. I didn’t understand His promise of power coupled with His apparent unwillingness to deliver it. We’d prayed. Fasted. Believed promises and memorized Bible verses.

Where was God?

Thus, my friend, Traci, sent mustard seeds. A Matthew 17:20 reminder for the girl who feared her fragile faith and nagging doubts meant she was a terrible Christian after all. With one glance at her thimble-sized jar, I remembered:

It isn’t the size of a girl’s faith but the presence of it that counts.

I wonder if the disciples experienced a similar angst when their best efforts to heal a boy came up short. They’d been given power to heal diseases and cast out demons. By that point, they’d done it enough times to feel a measure of confidence that healing would come once again.

Only it didn’t. No matter how many times they tried. So the boy’s father asked Jesus for help, and Jesus came through. When the disciples asked why their efforts didn’t produce results, Jesus said simply, “Because you have so little faith” (Matt. 17:20).

So little faith?

I’m confused. It seems to me they had far more faith than most.

But the disciples’ shortage of faith wasn’t a lack of belief in the power of God. They knew Jesus was able. They didn’t doubt His reality or capability.

But their expectation wasn’t sourced in relationship. They’d failed to submit their will to the will of their Father. Only there, in full submission, is a mustard seed of faith a powerful mountain- moving thing.

I do not know why some mountains move and others remain firmly in place. I’ve seen people of tall and true faith baffled by God’s lack of response. And I’ve seen people stuck in a mire of doubt and unbelief surprised by a miracle their faith doesn’t seem to deserve.

I know that belief and faith are critical pieces of this spiritual journey to the glory of heaven. But I also know that Jesus believed fully in God’s ability to deliver when He begged for deliverance the night before His death. He had more than a thimble-sized jar of faith, and yet God chose not to move His mountain.

Or, perhaps, His mountain moved after all. In the size and shape of a tomb-sealing stone. In a moment, faith moved it from here to there, and the Son of God walked out, alive.

No, God didn’t move the mountain of His crucifixion. But God moved the mountain of His death in a beautiful resurrection.

I don’t claim to have all the answers, nor can I unravel the mysteries of our unfathomable God. But perhaps the greatest faith, a mountain- moving faith, is one that bends low. One that submits to the will of the Father and allows the power of God to move in ways we wouldn’t have imagined.

In our tiniest mustard seed of faith, we too have access to that kind of power.

When we bow our desires to the plan of a God we love and trust, we have access to a far greater power than we’ve ever known. Resurrection power. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in you and in me. That means when we pray for mountains to move, they move. Sometimes it’s the mountain right in front of us. Other times, it’s the bigger mountain we don’t yet see.

I still pray for healing, hoping God will grant my heart’s desire. I still pray for a body that’s renewed and a life that’s long.

But I also pray those healing prayers on bent knees, knowing God may choose to move a mountain bigger than this one.

Either way, I can trust Him to empower me. Even if all I can muster up is a mustard seed of faith.

*********************************************************

About I AM:

Pulling from her experiences of raising children from trauma, a personal life-threatening illness, and the devastating identity crises that came to her family as a result, Michele creates safe spaces for honest conversations around the tensions between real faith and real life.

The words of Michele’s most recent book — I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is—were penned during her long and grueling recovery from a third diagnosis of cancer during which she was permanently altered physically, emotionally and spiritually. In it, she speaks with raw honesty and hard-earned insight about our current identity epidemic and the reasons why our best self-help and self-esteem tools aren’t enough to heal our deepest wounds.

Michele and the love of her life, Troy, live in the mountains of Colorado with their six children, ages 9 to 24. She enjoys a good novel, a long run, and a kitchen table filled with people. Learn more about Michele at michelecushatt.com.

2 Questions to Ask Before Responding on Social Media

 

This world, the recent election, the personal pressure cooker we are all in of fears and family issues and job woes and daily struggle has pushed out some of our ugly, lately.

None of us want it. I hear us, we lament it. Where did that come from, we wonder to ourselves as the ugly seeps through our cracks in late night tweets and Facebook comments.

It hurts us. We hurt. We hurt each other. It all becomes a mess.

For days, maybe weeks, I’ve been holding a lot in. I would like to say I’ve been praying every moment but the truth is, I’ve not been praying enough. Last night, I needed to get off Twitter and pray. But I didn’t. This was my great judgment lapse, and I dare say, where most great online judgment lapses start.

I had enough.

I responded back to a few wild generalizations tweeted about some of the best people I know doing Kingdom work. I spoke firmly, steadily and not out of turn. I refused to fight online – all good things. But I spoke up, for this has always been my bend: to honor my justice meter, fight for the underdog if need be, and yes, regrettably and far less spiritual, to be feisty and mouthy when I feel misrepresented, condescended and wronged. Flesh brings out my southside, and I didn’t even grow up on the southside. God has whispered to me on more than one occasion, Thanks, Lisa. Now how about you let me handle this thing? I’m a scrappy one, I’ll admit.

But even if I’m right. Even if they need to be put in their place. I am to be of higher mindset. We, the Jesus followers, are servants of the most high, and as we face difficult people and conversations we need to remember the message of I Thess. 4:1 to “…live in a way that pleases God.” Tweet in a way that pleases God. Facebook in a way that pleases God. Text in a way that pleases God. That is the only thing. All our right-fighting arguments pale in light of this message.

As I was tempted this morning to respond on social media even further, I was reminded of my own words in my forthcoming book, Put Your Warrior Boots On“Flesh anger is the reaction of things done against us…holy anger is a response to things done against God.” And I was convicted in my flesh, confronted by the Holy Spirit with two questions to ask myself before I did:

1) Is this of offense to me, personally, or an offense to the Gospel?
2) Does God want to use me to speak boldly for Him in this moment or is my flesh needing to learn the discipline of Godly silence?

I want to get it right. I don’t always get it right. Jesus…the Kingdom of God and what is at stake is worth getting it right. Fighting for me can’t be in this, no matter how right I may feel.

The only way to know the answer to either question? Prayer. For discernment and wisdom. Otherwise, it’s tough to know the difference.

In this loud and ugly time on social media, these are the things God is speaking to me. Trusting they might also have some value for you.

Onward and forward. Only offended for the Gospel. We can do this, friends. We love Jesus enough.

 

 

 

 

p.s. I love you.