Huffington Post Blog: On Being A Dictator

Things not going the way you expected? Stop looking at the HOW and return to the WHO.

For the past few months, the Lord has really been working with me on one simple, yet significant, principle in my walk: trust My promise, don’t worry about My plan.

You see, my husband and I have been believing God for some very specific things and I found a few weeks back that what had began, for me, as bold, expectant faith, had somehow morphed into anxious, obsessive lusting after this thing.  So much so that I began trying to orchestrate for God how He could deliver said thing.

Needless to say, my plans never came to fruition.

But even as I continue to learn this lesson – the importance of guarding your focus when you’re waiting in faith – the Lord encouraged me to share it with you all, too.

I pray my latest contribution to The Huffington Post, “On Being a Dictator,” blesses you! (You can also just scroll down and check it out!)

And you can always check out my other posts here.

BeRadical. ExpectMore. ™

Things not going the way you expected? Stop looking at the HOW and return to the WHO.

 

 

Huffington Post: On Being a Dictator

You’re a bit of a dictator. And I am, too.

The Holy Spirit gave me the revelation one day as I lamented why the blessing the Lord said He’d give me wasn’t coming the way I thought it would, or should.

Imagine that: I was trying to tell the Gift Giver how to give the gift.

It happens much more easily than you might think. The Holy Spirit confirms to you that indeed the Lord heard your prayers for a new house, a new car, a way out of debt, peace about that child, or whatever.

Excited, you begin looking at your circumstances trying to figure out how He’s going to do it. And that’s when the enemy slides into the conversation.

Well, Lord, I know you said I’m the lender and not the borrower, but I don’t make enough to pay off all of these credit cards.

My God, you know I need a new car, but with a credit score like this, it’s never going to happen.

I’ve been praying for a new job for weeks, Jesus, but they gave that job to someone else even though I interviewed. What gives?

Just that quickly, your focus has shifted.

Instead of keeping your eyes on the One who is your Source and Provider, you’re looking at what He wants to give. Instead of fixing your gaze on and pursuing the face of God, you’re inexplicably fixated on His hand.

Unavoidably, when what you see in your human life doesn’t look like what God has promised you in the Spirit, you then get downright depressed and indignant.

You question God, you wonder if it was really His voice, and you quickly lose the sense of peaceful and patient expectation you once had.

How did we get here?

God’s word is clear: we are to trust God.

In fact, the Bible says in Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

When we presume to know how God will bless us or deliver our breakthrough, we go from asking of God to demanding of Him. We move to telling Him how to be God, instead of through faith trusting Him to be God.

And there are many risks associated with taking our eyes off of God.

First, we run the risk of making a little-g god of the very thing God intended to be a blessing.

Second, for the God who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we think and imagine, we also run the risk of limiting His move in our lives when we confine Him to blessing us in the way that makes sense to our human logic.

And, third, trying to force God to work within the boundaries of our plan can ultimately cause a delay in us receiving the very thing we so badly want.

It’s a no-win situation. I mean, why would we even allow ourselves to go down this path of trying to play God’s hand for Him?

We know from Isaiah 55:8 that His ways are not our ways, yet we somehow still try to plan exactly how and when He will move in our lives.

Well, as a recovering faith dictator, I share this word of hope: there is a way back.

Simply readjust your focus.

When you find that you’re obsessing about this thing, always trying to guess how and when God will deliver it, actively choose right then and there to offer praise to God for simply being God.

As your praises go up, your focus will be returned to the Gift Giver and away from the gift; and most likely your peace about that thing will also be restored.

That space – inexplicable peace in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds – is where God wants us to stay, to live. He sent His Son to die for us so that we might have eternal life and unlimited access to the peace and joy that comes with not having to worry about anything.

Do you need to check your focus? Are you now consumed with the how of God’s blessing, instead of with God Himself?

If this is you, cut yourself some slack and decide to put your eyes back on God.

And if you aren’t sure if this is you, here’s a quick test: does the idea of how God is going to do that thing for you cause you anxiety? Do you feel like you’re obsessed with getting that thing, and you find it frustrating that the way you thought it would happen didn’t come to pass?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, welcome to FDA (Faith Dictators Anonymous). We’ve saved a chair for you.

Advertisements

Stop It

Here’s a word for you:

And the Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you in drought and in dry places and make strong your bones. And you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not. (Isaiah 58:11 AMP)

Too many of us hit a little hard time and start complaining about this being a rough season.

The reality is that there’s a difference between a season and a situation.

A season is an extended, prolonged period of time. A situation is a temporary set of circumstances.

Stop going into these short, dry places in your life talking about you’re in a drought season.

A drought is a season of lack, of depleted resources. A dry place is paramount to losing your favorite radio signal for a few moments during a long road trip.

So many of us prolong what God intended to be temporary by claiming things He didn’t ordain for you. He intended for some lessons, some trials to be short. You’re stuck in your mess because your claiming this is a tough season for you. God hasn’t planted you in a season; He intended to guide you through a dry place.

What season(s) in your life have you claimed that maybe God did not intend for you to stay in? A dead-end job. A go-nowhere relationship. A church assignment you’ve outgrown.

This may not be the warm and cuddly Word you were seeking, but I believe it is a word of confirmation for someone reading this today.

Stop giving the enemy credit for the work of God. Stop claiming you’re in a drought season in your finances or your prayer life or whatever when it’s only a dry place.

Dry places are often the transition to something better. In arid climates, a dry place comes before the oasis. In spiritual warfare, a short stint of silent prayer often comes before the breakthrough. And every divine promotion, in all areas of life, comes after a short period of testing.

I’ll say it once more: stop claiming a drought in places God has only ordained as a dry spot; stop claiming for perpetuity the temporary set of circumstances God wants to lead you through.

Just stop it! Remember instead the power of your tongue to speak life and death , lack and abundance, drought and springs of water into your life.

You want what God has for you; nothing more and nothing less!

Let the words of this song minister to you today as we rethink our confessions about the seasons in our lives:

William Murphy’s “It’s Working” (YouTube courtesy of Jack V)

Pulling a Peter

I pulled a Peter, y’all.

Somewhere in the last month I went from walking on water, completely focused on and trusting in God, to panicking and shouting out for Him to save me.

Somewhere along the lines I got so mesmerized with what was before/around me, that I took my eyes off of the one who was keeping me afloat, and now, I’m crying out for a dingy, a life preserver, something.

It’s like I woke up and what were the peaceful waters of my life were all of sudden lapping aggressively at my face and neck.  I’m flailing y’all.  And had God not shown me how close I was to going under…BUT GOD.

Are you overwhelmed?  Did you wake up one morning and all of sudden the burden of debt, or responsibilities at home or work, or challenges in your relationship, or the struggle of bad habits were all heaped on your head?

That’s where I am.

But this morning, the Lord showed me Psalm 119:147.  It goes like this in The Message version:

Psalm 119:147

145-152 I call out at the top of my lungs,
“God! Answer! I’ll do whatever you say.”
I called to you, “Save me
so I can carry out all your instructions.”
I was up before sunrise,
crying for help, hoping for a word from you.
I stayed awake all night,
prayerfully pondering your promise.
In your love, listen to me;
in your justice, God, keep me alive.
As those out to get me come closer and closer,
they go farther and farther from the truth you reveal;
But you’re the closest of all to me, God,
and all your judgments true.
I’ve known all along from the evidence of your words
that you meant them to last forever.

I read that, and here are a few things the Holy Spirit told me that may be an encouragement to you:

1. You’ve gotta rise early to find direction.  You cannot expect to hear the small, still quiet of the Lord once the cacophony of your life has begun.  Set aside some quiet time – for me it must be early, but for you it could be over lunch, or doing your commute, or whenever – and dedicate it to seeking God, praying to Him, and (most importantly) listening for instruction for the day.  And it will be JUST FOR TODAY, because remember, tomorrow will have troubles of its own.

2. God isn’t going to waive a magic wand to make it all disappear.  Nope, if you read this scripture, what you’ll come away with is peace to sustain and endure and to accomplish whatever is before you.  Nowhere does it say He’ll take the burden away.  Rather, what it says is, if you seek Him, He’ll tell you how (not if, but how) you’ll win this battle.

3. God hasn’t changed.  He is the same God of our quiet and peaceful and faith-filled season as He is when we feel like we’re drowning, in over our heads, or too far gone for saving.  His promises are still true.  His word is still true.  If something’s different, the only thing that’s changed is you/me.

4. Once we put our eyes back on him, it’s not that our enemies/challenges disappeared (sometimes they will, but…), no it’s just that the change in focus makes them seem less imminent, less menacing, farther away.  The moral? The closer we draw to Him, the more insignificant all the other drama becomes.

5. Even though you’re going through, being pursued by challenges on every side, God is still there.  In fact, He’s closest during your times of peril.  I remember being told that the teacher is always silent during the test.  That seems an appropriate reminder right here.

I’ll be honest with you.  Even after this revelation from the Holy Spirit, there’s still a small, infinitesimal part of me that still feels overwhelmed, but God told me very clearly: write down all you have to do (make a to-do list) and together, you and I will, work through it.

Bottom line?  Life won’t get easier when it’s hard.  LOL.  I know that seems like common sense, but it’s often what we’re looking for: a secret escape from the hard times so we can mystically teleport ourselves back to peace and reassurance.  It doesn’t exit Family.  How else can God grow us and stretch us and deepen our dependance on Him if not by going through things from time to time?

But even though you can’t escape the tough times, he will give us the strength to endure if we seek Him, listen to/out for Him, and remind ourselves through the Word and our memories (because as Tye Tribbett said, “If He did it before/He’ll do it again/Same God right now/Same God back then) we’ll live to have HIm fight for us another day.

Isaiah 50:4

New International Version (NIV)

4 The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

Forward

This song has been running on repeat in my Spirit all day:

What a moment You have brought me to
Such a freedom I have found in You
You’re the healer who makes all things new, yeah, yeah, yeah

I’m not going back, I’m moving ahead
Here to declare to You my past is over in You
All things are made new, surrendered my life to Christ
I’m moving, moving forward, oh

You have risen with all power in Your hands
You have given me a second chance
Hallelujah, hallelujah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, oh

I’m not going back, I’m moving ahead
Here to declare to You my past is over in You
All things are made new, surrendered my life to Christ
I’m moving

Not going back, moving ahead
Here to declare to You, my past is over in You
All things are made new, surrendered my life to Chris
tI’m moving, moving forward
Said I’m moving forward, oh yeah

Singing You make all things new
Yes, You make all things new and I will follow You forward, oh
You make all things new
You make all things new and I will follow You forward
You make all things new
Yes, You make all things new and I will follow You forward
You make all things new
Yes, You make all things new and I will follow You forward
I will follow You forward, yeah, oh, oh
(lyrics from Metro Lyrics)

There are so many things that excite me about this song.  Chief among them is the realization that we have an invitation to move on.  Right now, right here, you and I can leave the anxieties, the worries, the regrets, the shame, the hurt, the sadness.  We can leave all of that behind right now and move forward with God.

This is bigger than God forgiving us for our sins, this is an invitation to forget them.  To never look back.  To never be held hostage  by our pasts.

We’re guilty of having a horrible memory.  We forget the victories Christ won for us in our past and allow doubt and fear to seize up the hope in our present and our futures.  If He made a way then — if He paid the bills then — if He healed the body then — if He gave you peace then — if He fought AND WON the battle then — if He’s every done anything for you, He’s faithful to do it again.

So move forward!

The Bible says it like this – I like this! – in Isaiah 43:16-21:

This is what the Lord says—
he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters,
17 who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
20 The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21     the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.

Look, God is doing a new thing!  Yes, He’s done great things in the past.  Yes, we’ve all fallen in the past.  But right now, in this moment, He wants us to acknowledge that He is STILL working for our behalf.  With the undefeated track record He already boasts in performing miracle after miracle in our lives, He’s saying, “Don’t even sweat that.  Look what I’m doing now!”

Look, I don’t know where you are in your lives.  I don’t know what you’re praying for, trust God for, fasting and seeking Him for.  But I know this: He’s working for you right now and He’s doing something new.

Your breakthrough this time won’t look like what it did the last time.  That money won’t come from that same source.  That deliverance won’t come from the same source.  That’s breakthrough won’t come from the same source.

BUT IT’S HERE.  IT’S STILL YOURS FOR THE TAKING IN THE NEW THING THAT GOD IS DOING RIGHT NOW.

The Word says it’s ‘BURSTING OUT.”  Let’s be clear, things burst out when what’s holding them isn’t large enough.  So the blessings, the peace, the faith, the deliverance, the healing, the breakthrough.  What He’s doing for you right now is SO much bigger than your sins, your past, your guilt, it’s so much bigger even than what He’s done before that He needs you to just be open to the now.  Be present and accept His present!

I don’t know what you need today, but if you’re like me, you’ve got prayer requests out that you believe God will answer but that you’re waiting to see materialize in the natural.

All I can say — what God is saying to me — is I’m doing it right now.  Get ready, get ready, get ready, because this new thing is bigger and badder than what you’ve expected.

Not because we deserve it.  Not because we’ve earned it.  But because that’s just how big and GOOD our God is.

Let all that other stuff go.  Thank God now.  Praise Him now.  Rejoice now for this new thing that He’s already doing for you.

Move forward today.

Move forward with God and don’t look back.

I’m moving forward…with faith and expectation.

Move forward!

Don’t Hate the Wait

So, this post is going to just be real. And the real deal is that even when God has promised us things, sometimes – often times, perhaps – we have to wait to receive those blessings.

And let’s be honest: waiting sucks.

I mean really. The time between confirmation and taking possession can seem painfully long and uneventful.

In that time, it is easy to become discouraged; to doubt what’s God’s said; and to even question your faith.

So, as I am in a season of waiting now, I thought I’d share with you some things we can do while we wait.

  1. Praise God. Once we receive word that more or better or next is coming, we should immediately go into a season of worshipping and praising God to thank Him for His favor, His provision, and His blessings. Thanking Him with praise, especially before you take possession is a line in the sand to God. God I believe your Word, I believe your power and I know it’s coming. Thank you.
  2. Excel Where You’re Planted. If you’re anything like me, once you know new/next/promotion is coming, it can be hard to remain focused on the task – or job – at hand. But the reality is that at some point THIS was what you were waiting for God to provide. So we honor God by doing everything as to His service and to honor Him. So what better way to say thank you Lord for making a way than by ensuring that you continue to take care of what He’s already given you…while you wait for what He’s promised?
  3. Serve Others. In the moments when God says, “OK [insert your name here], this is what I’m going to do for you,” it’s all about you. But we must be careful not to stay in a self-centered mode as we prepare for promotion. In fact, the best way to remain humble and to prepare for the new levels of service you’ll be expected to meet when God promotes you is to serve others now. Stop thinking about yourself – no matter how great and exciting the news is – and start focusing on others. Are there folks God’s placed in your circle that could use your encouragement, time, resources or kind words? There are no coincidences in Christ. Likewise we are called to minister from every place in our lives because there’s always someone you can help.
  4. Be Present. When I get confirmation of what’s to come, I have a habit of sprinting far off into the future, planning future events based on what I don’t even have yet. Don’t do that! Remain present in the here and now. Besides the fact that the Word is clear that tomorrow will have its own cares and troubles, we must always remember that tomorrow isn’t promised. Sure, allow yourself a few minutes to daydream about what God is capable of, but then come back and firmly anchor yourself in today. The best way to be prepared for tomorrow is to make it through today. We miss so much of our life’s journey while racing into the what could be of our futures.
  5. Take Inventory. The reality is that even when God says He’s got a blessing for us, we won’t be released from our present season until our work is done; until we’ve given what we’ve come to give and received what we’ve come to get. Bottom line. So it is imperative that we are even more diligent in seeking God’s guidance in the moments after confirmation of a new season/new blessing so we can be clear what work we must wrap up where we are. If you think waiting to take possession of your blessing is hard, imagine how hard it is to realize some time later that you could have had it sooner if only you’d sought God’s roadmap.
  6. Be Grateful. I mean be grateful for what you already have. Be grateful that God loves you enough and cares enough for you to want to bless you and give you more. Be grateful that He’s given you health and strength to walk the road He has you on. Be grateful for life and family and for another day. Decide that your joy won’t be anchored in the gifts, but in the Gift-Giver. This his how you ensure that your head is in the right space – and your heart – when it’s finally time to receive.

Look, I know it isn’t easy. And it isn’t fun. But waiting – with faith and patience and grace – are necessary for God to perfect us and for His will to be done.

And, as not helpful as this might seem, the reality is that we aren’t called to wait in our strength, our own way. In fact, we are reminded that even our waiting should be done His way, so that He can be glorified and so that our faith in Him can grow. Consider these two scriptures:

Galatians 6:9 – Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Isaiah 40:31 – but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Yes, there is even a way to wait victoriously and to honor God!

So, here’s my final thought: don’t hate the wait! It’s a part of life – natural and spiritual – and plays a critical role in our development. Follow these tips, and whatever other instructions you’re led to follow in your waiting season, and you’ll be walking into your “new” before you know it!

The B-Side

I’ll start this post by providing a disclaimer: for some, this post may be uncomfortable.

It was uncomfortable for me to receive this loving conviction this morning, but it was a necessary reality check.

Consider this post the B-side to all of the “He’s gonna bless you/Wait on Him/It’s Coming” posts of late.

Let’s start with the scripture…

Isaiah 43:16-24 MSG

[16-21] This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, The God who summons horses and chariots and armies— they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’ —the coyotes and the buzzards—Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.

[22-24] “But you didn’t pay a bit of attention to me, Jacob. You so quickly tired of me, Israel. You wouldn’t even bring sheep for offerings in worship. You couldn’t be bothered with sacrifices. It wasn’t that I asked that much from you. I didn’t expect expensive presents. But you didn’t even do the minimum— so stingy with me, so closefisted. Yet you haven’t been stingy with your sins. You’ve been plenty generous with them—and I’m fed up.

Anyone else saying ouch, yet?

As  I sought God in my quiet time this morning, pouring out my frustrations and needs and wants for what must be the millionth time, the Lord led me to this scripture.

As I read it, two things became clear to me.

1. God knows what I need.  He knew before I asked and He is working things out for me even now.  But I’ve been so self-absorbed, so focused on the job applications that were denied; the doors that were shut; the temporary circumstances around me that I’d fail to see the new connections He’d blessed me with; the new opportunities He was placing before me; and the BIGGER, BETTER plan that He has for me.

I bet I’m not alone in this.  Sometimes we reach a point where the sum total of our woes appear to overwhelm us; they’re all we can think about.  And instead of seeking the Blesser and the Way Maker, we begin looking only for His blessings and for a way to be made on our behalf.

We must never allow our temporary circumstances to cause us to take our eyes off of what’s important and Who is important.  In fact,  when I asked God this morning, “Well, what should I be thinking about? I feel like this is all I can see.”  He took me to Matthew 6:25-34 (to remind me that indeed He is aware of my situation) and Philippians 4:8-9 (to tell me what I should be focused on).  And then, as if to drive the point home of what order my priorities should be in, He reminded me of Matthew 6:33 again: SEEK. GOD. FIRST.

2. God isn’t an ATM.  I cannot continue to go to Him, broken, seeking and desperate, taking withdrawal after withdrawal of his peace, reassurance, favor, and grace.  The reality is, this is a relationship, a two-way street of give and take.  Will it ever be balanced?  No, I will never be as faithful as God nor is it possible to out-give Him.  But He blesses and appreciates my effort.

The second part of the scripture above – “You did not even do the minimum” – really struck me.  At a minimum, God wants us to take note of all He’s done for us.  At a minimum, God wants us to say thank you, to give Him the worship and honor and glory and praise that He’s due.  At a minimum, He wants us to at least look around, consider how our lives could be and praise Him like the God who has saved our raggedy behinds time after time after time.  Like the God who made ways out of no way.  Who healed us.  Saved us. Protects Us. Calls us.  Anoints and appoints us.  AT A MINIMUM.  Doesn’t that God – that all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God – deserve the best worship we can give Him?   And not our sloppy seconds.  I’m guilty.  Thinking I’m going to stay up for a few minutes longer to get my prayer and Bible time in after I’ve given my best and my all to my job, my kids, my husband, my house, and my own interests.

How dare I?  I have not been giving God the minimum of what He’s due.

Lord, I repent.  I am so sorry.  Please forgive me.

***

This post isn’t for everyone.  I know that.  But I believe that there is someone like me who finds themselves weighed down with all the “stuff” in their lives: responsibilities, desires, wants, needs, even God-given dreams and visions.  And we’re in a place where those things are now so all-consuming that even though we desire to get back to God, we don’t know the way back.  We feel stuck, overwhelmed with a reality we no longer recognize or want.

If that’s you, know that the only things you need to do to reclaim the joy and peace that is rightfully ours through Christ Jesus are to repent for your selfish thoughts; receive God’s forgiveness; refocus on what He’s done (count your blessings! — perhaps literally!); and start giving God the worship and honor and praise that He’s due.

Period.

He’s a good God.  He won’t hold it against us that we got lost, that we ended up in this “It’s All About Me” wasteland.  And He won’t change His BIGGER, BETTER plans for us either.  He’ll just keep loving us, blessing us, protecting us, and being the awesome God that He is.

We can praise that, can’t we?  At a minimum?

I decided this morning, when I emerged from my prayer closet, that I’m taking back the joy and the peace that is mine.  I’m shifting my focus from me to others and am committed to thanking God with each breath I take through my actions, thoughts and words.

He’s just that good.

It’s the least I can do.