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Its All About the Little Moves

Sometimes I feel like life is at a stand still and nothing that I am doing is effecting the long-term goal of my life. I see this friend and that friend doing huge great things with their life and celebrate with them and then as soon as I am alone I wonder when it will be my turn? When I get to call everyone to have them celebrate with me? This has been a recurring theme in my life in the last year or so. I dont mean to be all "woe is me" or anything just trying to be transparent.

These thoughts were running rampant in my everyday until about a month ago when I was reading in my Bible. Philippians 3:14, "Daily, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." I sat there for a moment and let it sink in....

I keep waiting for the big moment to happen where everything makes sense and my life is figured out, but thats not the way it happens. "Daily, I press..." Pressing towards a mark doesnt mean to take one big jump and make it all the way to the goal. What it resonates to me, is that I am going to have to take steps to complete a goal. There isnt a shortcut to take, an easy button to push, or magic genie that pops out and gives me three wishes. 

If I am going to complete something, and do it right, I have to take it one step at a time and make sure each step helps me take the next step to achieving my purpose. Its like going climbing. Climbers dont stand at the bottom of a rock face and do some kind of awesome Matrix style super jump to the top. They strategically plan out their route making sure that they are taking the small steps to achieve their goal. 

This is what I have been dealing with for a while now with TRAIL. I felt like I was just chasing my tail around in circles. But this scripture reminded me to press on that God is with me and He is peeling back the layers. And when all the small steps have been taken it will be time. "Daily, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

TRAIL

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Into the River

Fly fishing has become one of my favorite times to get away with God. Usually its the old man in movies that goes fly fishing to get away from his wife and to find peace and quiet, but here I am at age 25 retreating to the river to clear my head. Theres something organic and enchanting about being able to escape it all and get into the river. 

I had a friend in college named Jonathan Hull. Whenever I asked J Hull, "How are you doing?" He would always respond, "Im in the river man." He was neither a hippie or a drug addict. He was/is one of the few young men that genuinely understood that God is the best thing for our lives. He also knew that to ultimately understand what God is up to and truly see God do big things, we have to let go of control and let God guide us. Whenever he would respond to my question that way it would always make me smile because I could tell that he was truly just letting God guide him. And the key to this was JHull had given up control.

Control has always been something that I struggle with. I have always felt that if something was going to happen then I was going to have to the one who forced or controlled it to happen. This has been an essential flaw in my life. There cant be and growth in life, ministry, or relationships with me controlling their every move. There has to freedom and trust for those to blossom. 

Control, in my life atleast, has been just a symptom of the real issue, fear. Fear of failure, hurt, transparency, losing control not just by other people, but ultimately by God. I was reading in my Bible the other day and I came across a scripture that has been given to me in the past, but heard so much that it became stale to me,but this time it hit home. "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." 1 John 4:18 Another friend of mine told me once that, "Fear is the faith of evil. God is love. The two cannot co-exist. One has to take control." 

Since then it has been a constant though and intentional progression to trust God more and love HIm more deeply. I am not perfect at all, but am releasing control more and more everyday and letting God perfect His love within me. Maybe that is why I love fly fishing so much. Its my way to get away from the noise and into the river.


TRAIL
 

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Darkness Defeated

It is so easy to get so distracted and weighed down by the things we are presently dealing with that we forget about all of the ways God has shown up in GRAND RADIANCE shining the light into our dark situations. Yes we are at war; yes life on this earth does seem like it is hopeless at times, but we have to stop and look back at the times He has come to our rescue. Help doesnt come when we can still fight off darkness without God; help comes when all hope seems gone. God will show up and blast through the darkness in His GRAND RADIANCE, like Gandalf coming over the hill at Helms Deep, He is running to our rescue destroying evil and coming to the aid of those who believe. I have seen it. 

I have experienced this truth in my life over and over again. What I have to keep reminding myself is that I am not alone. As The Psalmist, David, wrote in Psalm 27: 3 "Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident." He's not confident that he has the strength to slay thousands. He is confident in the power and ability of God to rescue him from his enemies and from his ever present darkness. David knew the vastness of God's love and willingness to be our rescue. 

We have to remind ourselves that the world always seems the darkest right before dawn and know that our Father is going to destroy the darkness. 


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Just Believe

John 6: 28-29
Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works that God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one that God has sent." 

Wait thats it? All I have to do is believe? Theres no other requirement? Then why do we get so caught up in "the ministry" of God and trying to outreach each other's outreach as believers? 

Because we have lost focus. I am the most guilty of this. I constantly feel like I have to perform and keep up with the Joneses of Christianity. Be the best speaker, most relevant church or ministry, have the best programs...etc. But what does God want? ...just for us to believe.

Believing in Christ isnt a simple decision.All God wants is our belief and through our belief He will make it evident that we believe. Its not about our works. When we truly believe we give way to God. When we truly believe we release control and give our lives to Christ. Choosing to believe in Christ brings about the works/ deeds that we are striving for. Believing in Christ oozes into and affects every aspect and choice I make; the way I think, the words I speak, the friends I do life with, the music I listen to, the movies I watch. Everything will change when I believe in Christ. If it doesnt change my life then have I truly believed in something or am I just pretending?

For me, I have tasted the greatness of life composed by Christ and I cannot go back to a life composed by myself. My prayer is that everyday my control and need to perform is overcome more and more by a passion for new depths in my personal belief in Christ and the friendship we share. Out of that friendship the world will know of a God who loves and believes in them even if unrequited.

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Journaling

Journaling can be one of the many ways to connect with God and really come to know His voice and His heart towards you. It has become something that I do everyday and has helped me to be transparent before the Lord and even with myself. I know that spending time with the Lord can be intimidating but if we are to know His heart and will for our lives we have to spend time with Him. Here's a quick list of the few things I go through as I am writing each morning. 

1. Check In—Ask, “What am I feeling?” Write a few sentences of what you are feeling—
anxious, happy, sad, angry, fearful, joyful, encouraged, depressed, etc.

2. Recap Yesterday—Take a few sentences to write what happened yesterday—only the
high points not necessarily a list of "I went to the store, jogged 5 miles, went to Publix
etc.”, but instead writing what happened that was significant and how it affected your
heart and life.Also write out very briefly any instances where you overreacted. An overreaction could be when you withdrew/went silent/hid or it could be when you got really angry or felt
your stomach churning. You will begin to see a pattern which will lead you to your
core lie and open the door to more freedom and healing in that place.

3. Talk to God—For a few sentences tell God what you appreciate about Him or whatever
else comes to your heart and mind. (Be real here).

4. Confess—Write down any sins/attitudes and then surrender to Jesus and invite him into
your day and all that you are doing.

5. Invite Him to Speak to You—“Jesus I so much want to learn how to hear your voice. Do
you have anything you want to say to me? Do you have any words for me?”
a. Listen for a few minutes and write what he tells you. b. Then ask him some very specific questions and type out what you sense or what impression comes to your heart/mind.
• Jesus, would you show me how much you love me? Give me a picture, a memory, a verse, that shows me. • What do you think of my heart? • What do you think of my life?• What do you think of me as a man?

6. Refer to your Bible—Consider reading a paragraph from one of the gospels(try Luke for
starters.) Ask Father, “What do you have to say to me?”

7.Keep in Mind:—A. The temptation will be to self check— "God couldn't be saying that to me, I’m making this up." Be aware of this, and trust in faith what you are hearing is of God. B. Be sensitive to the enemy and his attempts to rob you of life in this time. Guilt, fear, condemnation, reproach, shame— you must say "NO!" . Be confident that God will not speak to you in a voice that brings guilt, condemnation, shame, reproach or dread. Refer to James 4:7 in the Message by Eugene Peterson.

Note: If you really want to capture a great summary of all that God speaks to you in your times with Him, highlight His words to you in a different color. Then open up another file and copy and paste His highlighted words to you into that file. (i.e. Fathers Words June 2011). Then at the end of the week read over Father’s words. You will be blown away. Consider having a separate file of His words for each month so you can reference His guidance/affirmation throughout the year.


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Confession

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Growing up you always hear the scripture that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I can quote it like a poem I memorized in Mrs. Kennedy's 12th Grade English Class. But there's so much more happening here.

1 John 1:9 KJV
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Confession isn't a general prayer of "God forgive me for my sins" as I have done most of my life. Confession in this is specific repentance of a sin in front of an audience even if your audience is only one. Confession is a 2-part process- 1. Specified prayer for forgiveness of sin 2. Claiming the salvation and cleansing of Christ. Both steps are essential. One without the other leaves the work that God offers incomplete. 

There a reason that God wants us to confess our sins out-loud. Confession brings an awareness of our sin that opens our eyes to how much we have been forgiven of and those who have been forgiven much love much. 

Luke 7:47 KJV
"Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little."

Even through our sin all He's trying to do is win our hearts.

Confession is a proclamation to the spiritual realm that you are running back to Christ as well. There's no better way to defeat the works of the evil one than to proclaim out-loud that he has no place, no grip, not even a foothold in or on your heart. He cant hear your prayers when they are only prayed in your head. Confession puts the devil in his place, under the heel of Christ. And your heart back where it belongs, under the influence of Christ.

There's more to be had here... 

Deuteronomy 10:16-18
"16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing."

Confession is a circumcising of the heart. Its an uncomfortable cutting away of the flesh to prevent disease and to allow healing to move in. That healing is Christ. There is no other way. 

And so confession gives way to not only a deeper love and understanding of the Lord and His ways, but more importantly confession brings healing.

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