When I’m Not Good Enough

photo-1520206319821-0496cfdeb31e.jpegYou caught me. I’ll confess. There are moments when I am convinced I am just not good enough. Moments where I feel so far short of the mark that I’m certain God would be better off moving on. Too honest? Probably, but maybe you can relate? Have you ever have moments where you wonder why God chose you? Maybe you’re in ministry and you feel inadequate. You could be a member of the worship team and are convinced you don’t belong. It could be as simple as the fact that God somehow saw fit to allow YOU to be a Christian. I mean, if He really knew everything that wouldn’t have happened, right? Except that He does and it did.

Why do we have these doubts?

Last week I had one of those prayer times that started off good, but the further in I got the more frustrated I became. This doesn’t happen often to me, but when it does it is so agonizing because I know what it’s like to go in burdened and come out light and I can’t understand the occasions when it just doesn’t seem to work right. That morning my mind was bringing up all of my inadequacies, unbelievably aware of all my shortcomings. I love the Word of God, but it just felt like promises for someone better than me.

Still, I know His Word is true. How I feel in any given moment doesn’t negate the power of His Word, nor disable me to stand firm on His promises. I chose to end my time that morning by shutting off my wandering thoughts and reminding myself of my sonship in Christ and simply asking God to have His way.

Perhaps there’s been enough honesty in this post already, but the truth is the older I get the less confidence I feel in anything, yet, somehow the more trust I have in the Lord. I don’t know that, as of now, I have the words for exactly what I mean by that. I doubt my reasoning skills, my knowledge, my decision making, my ability, my emotions. I don’t always have a lot of confidence that things will work out, even when I’m certain I’m doing what God is asking me.

Still, I trust the Lord. Even if the outcome isn’t what I’d hope for, the responsibility is His. A lot of times we think we have faith in God, but really we have faith in a positive outcome and when the outcome isn’t what we want or expected we don’t know what to do with that. I’m learning that It doesn’t matter if I feel “good enough”. It doesn’t matter if things go my way or if they seem to blow up in my face. He has still chosen me. It doesn’t matter if I deem myself “worthy” or not. He still loves me.

Perhaps this is surrender. Giving up all my ideas and understanding, giving up my expectation that things will always work out and simply trusting the Father to complete the work He started in me. I truly have no hope in myself. Only in the hope of the cross can there be anything of worth produced in my life. 

Except that even with that understanding, I still find myself from time to time feeling like I haven’t done enough. I know my salvation has nothing to do with my own righteousness and everything to do with His grace, yet I still feel like I haven’t prayed hard enough or that I have to do more in order to measure up.

I’ve always had a passion for the Lord, and I want to always be passionate about the things of God. Still, there are moments when I catch myself relying too much on my own driven nature rather than the strength that is found in surrendering to the strength only He can give. I find myself relating to the people of Israel in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Romans 10:1-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved.I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.

I pray that I will not have misdirected zeal. That kind of zeal leads to more insecurity and self-sufficiency. When I truly surrender, I have peace in my soul. I walk with quiet confidence knowing that nothing can separate me from God’s unrelenting love.

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An Undivided Heart

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Sometimes what I want conflicts with what I want. I mean, I want to have a closer relationship with the Lord, but I also want to watch the office (for probably the 74th time). I want to pass the test, but I also want to go hang out with my friends during the only time I have to study. What I want in the moment conflicts with what I want in the long run. There is a division that happens inside of me and it is terrible.

I like to believe there is NOTHING I truly want more than to honor God and grow in my walk with Him. Deep down I’m sure you’re the same way. We want to do what is right and to make good choices. We want to love people, treat them with kindness and help them find hope during life’s dark moments. Unfortunately, there have been too many moments in my life when I also want something that is in conflict with my desire to please the Lord. This is why I find the word God gave to Israel through His prophet Jeremiah so important.

Jeremiah 29:13 (NLT) If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Wholeheartedly. With all of my heart. All of my affection. If I take all my desire and seek after the Lord alone, I will find Him. That is what I want, but too often I have found myself with a divided heart. James tells us what it’s like to have a divided heart.

James 1:5-8 (NLT) If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

When I read this, it has hit home more times than I can count. I have had divided loyalty between God and the world. Have you experienced that? Divided loyalty leads to us feeling unstable and unable to receive from God. It’s an incredibly frustrating experience because I know that His ways are best for me and I want to receive everything He has for me. More than that what we need to receive most is God’s Himself, to be in His presence. Yes, it is His presence that sustains us through the highs and lows of life. His presence is our source of peace, strength and joy.

The divisions of our heart create division from God’s presence. Our heart longs for the closeness found beneath the shadow of His wings. There is safety and security in the closeness found under His wings and I long for it. To be so close that I can hear His heartbeat, that my heart would begin beating for the things His heart does.

Yes, how many times has my faith not been fully established in Christ? I ask the Lord to deliver me from the storm, but I also run to anyone who will listen or I try to avoid dealing with the problem by staying busy and occupying my mind.

How many times have I asked God for wisdom, but have failed to trust God alone for the provision? Our actions always reveal where our faith is placed. Do our actions reveal that we are turning to God alone or are we grasping at anything that seems like it will work?

Are we seeking God wholeheartedly or are we divided? The good news is that our hearts don’t have to stay divided. We can choose to cut out false pursuits and give all our affection to the Lord. So today I will choose to do exactly that. Later on tonight, I will make that choice again. Come morning I will make that choice again. This is not a choice I can make only once and be done with it, because my affections constantly shift and my desires come and go, however, I still have the power to choose. So I will remind myself of God’s Word and renew my pursuit of God every single day. Or as many times a day as it takes.

Reflection Question: What are some desires you have that conflict with your desire to pursue Jesus?

A Change of Heart

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“I’ve had a change of heart.” Has anyone ever said that to you? Have you ever said that to anyone? We often use that expression to indicate a change of affection. Meaning, I was feeling one thing and therefore choosing to act a certain way, but now I’m feeling differently and will act accordingly. When we come to know Jesus there should be a change of affections that takes place inside of us.

Romans 2:28-29 (NLT) For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. 29 No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.

Firstly, I want to point out that we are not made right with God because of our heritage. I know your grandma founded the church, but you are not in a better spiritual condition because your dad was a pastor. You become a true Christian when genuine heart change takes place inside of you. We naturally place our affections in worldly things. These are not necessarily bad or sinful. It is just our nature to desire the satisfaction of the world. We seek out peace and comfort from worldly possessions, entertainment or people. As we mature in Christ there should be a change that takes place. We desire less of worldly pleasure and more of the presence of God and to see the Kingdom of Heaven advance.

This should result in a visible change in how we spend our time. Our affections always drive our actions. Equally true, our actions always reveal where our affections truly lie. I am reminded of the words of John the baptist.

Matthew 3:8 (NLT) Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.

Does the way you spend your time, the choices you make, the words you speak reveal the heart change inside of you? How has being a Christian affected your life in the last year? How have you advanced the Kingdom?

These questions are challenging, but important. Too often, we let large sums of time pass by and we have sadly done very little. I do not write these words to belittle you, but to encourage you. God is not in Heaven wagging His finger at our lack of achievement. He is a loving God, patiently waiting for us to acknowledge Him and allow Him more involvement in our daily lives.

I only share these words, because I too have fallen so very short of the mark, more than I would care to admit. It is also because I know first hand the grace of our Lord and His faithfulness to forgive our shortcomings.

Romans 3:22 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

It is our faith that makes us right with God and because of our right standing with Him, our desires and affections begin to transition from the world to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Take some time today to sit quietly in prayer and ask the Lord to increase your affections the things of Heaven. Time spent in His presence is never wasted. In fact, the quickest way to increase affection for anything is to invest more time into it.

Routine Matters

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Time is elusive. We never seem to have enough of it. How many times do deadlines sneak up on us? Vacations slip by before we’ve truly begun to relax? A year is gone in the blink of an eye and we realize we haven’t accomplished what we had hoped.

Deep down, we know that time is not the real culprit. We too often fail to make ourselves accountable for how we spend our time. That is why I have worked to build routines into my life.

The word “routine” often evokes the image of being stuck in a rut. That’s not what I’m referring to.  Routine for me is the habits I create in my life so that I do what is truly important first, and consistently rather than scrambling trying to figure out how to fit them in.

The purpose of the routine is to help me, not to make me a slave to its rigid demands. In the past, I failed to allow for flexibility and would feel like a failure if I missed a day. Now I realize that there are times and seasons where things are just not going to go the way you want and that is ok! The routine helps me achieve what is truly important and to grow in the areas I need to grow.

It is so easy to go through life without ever stopping to take stock of what we truly are aiming to accomplish. What relationships we want to develop. How can we better build God’s Kingdom? Are we living with integrity? Are we actually happy? Satisfied? Fulfilled?

The most important things for me is creating built in time to spend with Jesus and studying His Word. Working to stay healthy physically. Reading books to help me grow both spiritually and as a leader. Building stronger relationships, both in ministry and personally.

Why is it important for me to identify that? Because it’s so easy to wake up, lazily check my phone, shower, rush off to work, come home, watch tv until I go to bed. In fact, that might be my default setting. Unfortunately, I know that if I live my life in such a manner I will not grow into the person I want to become. I will be lazy, overweight, isolated, spiritually weak and for sure not live with the character I want to live.

I refuse to let my default setting dictate how I will spend my time. I will choose to invest in my life by doing things that will help me be healthy, spiritually, physically and in my soul. This means I can’t always do “what I want” because what I want has gotten in the way of my true and deepest desires long enough.

Remember, routines are not one size fits all. I’m not suggesting that you should do what I do, however, I am hoping that by letting you in on how I spend my time, you might be encouraged to think about what you truly want and what habits can help you get there.

I am in the process of evaluating my routines, so what I am about to share my change even within the month, but this is what I’m aiming for right now. I set my alarm for 6am. I take a few minutes to wake up, drink water, stretch a little and make coffee. Next, I take an hour or so to pray, read my Bible, Journal. I don’t have a set pattern for that time, but every morning I will accomplish those elements in some capacity. Finally, I hit the gym, shower and head to work.

I start my evening routine around 8pm. I turn off all entertainment, turn on my worship music and prepare to spend a little bit of time just worshipping and reading. I am always reading a leadership book and a spiritual growth book. I don’t try to read excessively,  only a minimum of 5 pages in each. If I am really enjoying it, I’ll read more. But if I can stick to just 5 pages in each, I can usually read them both in pretty close to a month. After reading I will sit for a few minutes and try to write. Sometimes it’s easy and words pour out and other times it feels impossible. But I am committed because I have found that writing helps me clarify my thoughts, stirs up my creativity and makes me feel useful and I find that very satisfying. Finally, I will get in bed and read a little bit in a fiction book before sleep takes me, usually around ten.

The challenge of an evening routine is that if I’m hanging out with people, or busy with church events it’s not possible to have such an extensive ritual before bed. And I’m learning that it is ok. The important thing isn’t that I do the same thing, but I do something healthy rather than unhealthy. Relationship building is another important goal for me, so it is worth exchanging my routine to help build stronger relationships with people.

The important thing is that all of these things, from my routines to spending time with people help fill up my soul and help me find rest in an often noisy and restless world. If you take nothing from this, know that you are the only one who can create space for yourself to rest. It is incredibly important and we all need it. We also all find rest in different ways. Discover what restores your energy and make it apart of your everyday life.

One final point I would like to make is that in this blog, I have talked a lot about what we can add to our routines to help make us more healthy and pursue our goals. Please know that while this does require effort on our part, the most important thing we can do is acknowledge our greatest need is to allow God to work in our lives. We need a deeper relationship with Him above all else. The number one priority in my routines is not to see what I can accomplish in my effort, but to position myself to allow God to work in me.

Let me know in the comments something you truly desire and one habit you can incorporate into your routines to help you meet it.

What Went Wrong?

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It was a sneak attack. It came out of nowhere and left me feeling crippled and unsure of what step to take next. Of course, it didn’t really come out of nowhere, I just refused to pay attention to the warning signs.

I am a positive person, preferring to look on the bright side of any situation. I am quick to tell myself that I will get through this. I am ok. If I can convince myself that I am ok then I will be.

The challenge this time is that I was carrying more than I’d ever carried before. I had just moved 1200 miles away from home. For the first time in my life, one of my parents was dealing with a sudden and life-altering medical crisis and I was powerless to do anything about it or even be there for them due to the distance. Add to that a handful of personal matters that caught me off guard and defied my expectations. I was also starting a new job, learning a new culture, realizing the challenge of maintaining friendships from a distance and didn’t yet have any close friends at my new home. All of this left me with more time on my hands than I’d had before.

In my quest to convince myself I was OK, I did not even realize how much I was walking through and how heavy the burden was. I was circling depression and losing sense of who I was. In my previous season, I was the most confident I had ever been and suddenly I felt like I was losing myself. It is only by the grace of God I didn’t.

When your hurting and feeling isolated, decision making is not as strong as it could be. We tend to choose the easy thing rather than the healthy thing. Grab the oreos and leftover pizza rather than cooking a healthy dinner. Spend a little more time watching television rather than pressing in through prayer and study of scripture. Go to the gym? Not on your life.

Before I moved, the beauty of the routines I had put in place, plus the busyness of my previous job and time spent with very close friends, was that it left little time for entertainment. I appreciate being entertained. Movies, television and an occasional video game (Hello, Kingdom Hearts) can be incredibly enjoyable and relaxing for me. I do, however, think that our entertainment choices should be guarded, both in content and in time consumed. Moderation is king.

When I suddenly had more time on my hands, entertainment began to take over.

Slowly at first. I was overjoyed to have a little more personal time. Honestly, I was tired and needed a little rest. However, as time went on and I began my downward emotional spiral I began losing self-control. My routines began to take a back seat to my own personal comfort.

I knew that the principles of sticking to my routines and seeking Jesus, going to the gym, working to build new relationships would eventually help lift me out of my spiral and lead me back to emotional health, but I didn’t want to do any of that. Eventually, I forced myself to do so and climbed out of the pit, but it took a great deal of intentionality.

On the other side of that, I have come to realize I have been at times a bit too rigid in my routine. There was no room for flexibility. If there wasn’t time to do everything I needed to do, I would be overcome with a sense of failure. If I missed a day I would feel a bit down on myself. Especially with my book reading. I was bent on reading two books each month no matter what. I somewhat enjoy statistics and numbers, so I even had a spreadsheet to tell me how many pages I HAD to read each day to meet my goal. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, but once I lose flexibility and fall behind I feel overwhelmed and lose the desire to read at all.

I want to have healthy habits and routines to help me continue to grow, but I don’t want to be so formulaic that it takes all the life out of my time with the Lord and robs me of the joy of learning.

So what will my routines look like in 2019? How will I create room for flexibility? I’ll share my starting point in tomorrow’s post.

In the comments let me know something in the past that went wrong for you.

Daily Pursuit 2.0

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New year. New beginnings. New hopes.

I confess, I have on occasion started off enthusiastically, faltered in the middle and then ended up far less further along than I intended. When we are staring down the barrel of a new year, ahead of us lie endless possibilities. This could be the year we finally get in shape, prioritize our relationships, or get more involved in church.

Alternatively, it could just be a continuation of the same choices you’ve previously made.

Ok. It definitely will be.

Unless you make new choices and make them consistently.

Endings and beginnings have a way of bringing into clarity our shortcomings or successes from the past year. We often realize, “I want to do better next year.” And so we set out with our resolutions and hope to succeed where we have in the past failed.

My challenge always happens when I’m in the midst of the grind. Add some distance from my starting point and everything I’m doing starts to feel a little less important. I fail to consistently remind myself WHY I started doing this in the first place. I allow lower priorities to become more important because… at that moment my desire for instant satisfaction outweighs my desire for discipline.

In the grind, the longterm reward of discipline loses its appeal.

So why will 2019 be different?

I truly believe that God has called us to live “on purpose”.  There is a difference between letting life happen and choosing to live life with intentionality. We get to choose who we will become and we are in control of how we spend our time.

I have in the past discovered the power of self-discipline and pursuing Jesus daily. I set in my life a consistent morning routine that involved of specific time set apart for prayer, scripture, and journaling. Included was also time for reading spiritual growth books and leadership books. I discovered the rewards of working out and eating healthier (sort of healthier anyway). I learned the value of genuine friendships. All of these ingredients working together led to one of the most fulfilled seasons of my life.

However, in the last year, everything about my life has changed. I started a new job, moved to a new state where I knew next to no one. For the first time, I no longer have roommates. All of my closest friends live a great distance away.

Everything changed, except my morning routine. And I hated it.

Over the last several months, my routine became more and more frustrating and ineffective.

I understand that routines are not ONE SIZE FITS ALL. What works for one person likely won’t be an exact match for everyone, but it never occurred to me that what had worked so well for two years would stop being effective.

For me, 2019 means rediscovering the best way to spend my time in the mornings and evenings to best refresh and satisfy my soul. What is the key to renewing my passion to spend time with Jesus? I will be trying some new things and experimenting with the timing of it all.

In the past, when I consistently wrote in this blog, I would take about half an hour every morning and write. I didn’t do that in 2018, however, in 2019 I will be adding some writing time into my evening routine. I don’t know how often I will post, or even exactly what the content will be. I only know that my heart is to pursue Jesus and encourage you to do the same.

No doubt I will continue to discuss scripture and things that the Lord reveals during my personal study, but I also have a feeling things will be a bit more personal this time around.

I hope you will join me during this second iteration of daily pursuits. If you’re in, please subscribe to have these delivered directly to your e-mail. If you’re already subscribed, thank you for your support!

I look forward to growing together and pray that 2019 will be an unprecedented year of personal growth, encounters with God and divine opportunities to demonstrate God’s love to His people.

Happy New Year.

Let me know in the comments one small way you’re going to make 2019 better than last year.