Monthly Archives: April 2019

Stepping into Your Greatness

Andrew brought his brother to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which is translated as Peter).  (John 1:42)

I LOVE that Jesus said this to Peter.  He sees the best in Peter.  He sees him according to his potential.

There’s a term we use in life coaching.  We help our clients to, “step into their greatness.”  We help them to see that they can do the hard thing.  We help them to realize that they have strengths and abilities that will enable them to have wins.  We believe in them.  It’s similar to what Jesus did with Peter.

This is good for me to think about today, because I’m struggling with this need to be on top of everything.  And I have so many balls in the air, that it’s impossible.

What would God say to me?  How would he tell me to step into my greatness?

As I prayed about it, here’s what I felt he said.  Stepping into my greatness isn’t staying on top of every single thing.  I step into my greatness any time I pray.  I do it when I work in the yard and feel close to Him.  I do it when I meet someone, actively care for someone, or just listen to them.  I do it when I use the small talents he gave me by writing a blog or singing a song on the guitar.

Stepping into my greatness is being the person I was created to be.

I’m also struggling today because I just took had a big life coaching evaluation.  I had to coach another teacher for my final in my class.   I did my best.  I passed.  But I couldn’t help but feel disappointed, because I didn’t do the job I wanted to do.

Maybe that’s a metaphor for my life.  I do my best, and it’s passable.  But I want to do more.  I want to do better.  I want to be great!  Ugh, I know that can be prideful.  But it’s such a strong desire.

So I prayed, and talked to God about my discouragement, and I heard Him tell me that I did achieve greatness with my test today.  He reminded me of how, a year ago, I stepped out and actually started working towards my dream, and began studying coaching.  I took classes, including this last class, which was sometimes very scary.  I had to coach in front of my classmates and receive criticism.  I had to face my insecurities that I would never be good as a coach, and push past them, and resolve to learn and improve.  I had to try to make my business grow.  I went out and met strangers, and networked.  I developed a workshop and put it on for the women at church, and then made it available to other women.  And finally, I studied and did the assessment today, which made me feel nervous and vulnerable.

All of those things were stepping into my greatness.  It wasn’t that I had to do perfectly on the evaluation.

How will you step into your greatness today?  Will you listen to the voices that tell you that you have to be perfect?  Or will you listen to the loving voice of the one who made you, and be the person you were created to be, and know that the small things are actually big things?

Will you care about someone today?  Will you do something that’s courageous for you?  Will you act for God, and not yourself?  All of these things are stepping into greatness.

Jesus believed in Peter.  He believes in you, and your potential.  What name would he say you will be called?  A name that means compassionate, brave, gentle, faithful, leader, encouraging, resourceful, energetic?

He’s equipped you to be that person.  You might feel like you’re just “passable,” or that you don’t look like you think you “should” look.  But Jesus thinks you’re amazing!  You will light the world with who you are, one step at a time.

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Come and See

I’m starting a red letter series, studying the words of Jesus in the book of John.

This is the first red letter passage:

Jesus turned and saw them following. “What do you want?” He asked.

They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are You staying?”

“Come and see,” He replied. (John 1:38-39)

I think it’s pretty incredible that Jesus asked the two men following him, “What do you want?”  He could have just said to them, “Hey! You need to be my disciples”

And he does speak these words in other circumstances.

But in this case, he asked them what they were looking for.

This really hits me today, because I have been thinking about the aspect of choice.  I’ve been wrestling because sometimes I can feel pressured to follow Christ in certain ways. And I don’t like it.

Maybe I should be more humble.  But this makes me think about Jesus’s delivery.  How much was he emphatic, and how much did he give people a choice?

“What do you want?”

I love to think of him asking me that right now.  I don’t have to feel these heavy expectations.  I don’t have to feel the burden of all I’m working through.  I just have him care about me enough to look at me and ask, “What do you want?”

It’s one of our key life coaching questions, “What do you need for you?”  So many times people run around doing so many things.  And they forget to ask that question.

Sure, sometimes that could be an excuse for selfishness.  But that’s not the case here.  It’s a question of motivation.  I think Jesus is asking, “What are you looking for?  Why are you coming to me?  What’s the hunger of your soul?”

And if Jesus asked me that right now, it would cut through all of the struggles I’m having.  “I want you,” I would tell Jesus.  “You have something better than anything else I can find.  I don’t understand everything.  But my soul is drawn to you.”

I would ask Jesus, in a sense, what the two disciples asked him, “Where will I be today if I follow you?”  Maybe I would even say, “I’m a little scared.  I have recent wounds. Can you give me some reassurance?”

And here is Jesus’s answer, “Come and see.”  He doesn’t give me specifics.  He doesn’t say it will be safe or tidy.  He just says. “Come. The answer will be revealed.”

So I say, “Ack!!!  Well. Okay.”

 

 

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The Counterintuitive Law of Productivity

Then I asked,

“How long, O Lord?”

And He replied,

“Until cities lie in ruins

without an inhabitant,

until the houses are left unoccupied,

and the land is desolate and ravaged,

until the LORD has driven men far away,

and the land is utterly forsaken.

And though a tenth remains in the land,

it will be burned again.

As the terebinth and oak leave stumps when felled,

so the holy seed will be a stump in the land.” (Is 6:11-13)

The thing that catches my attention about this prophesy is that it is focuses on the land, more than the people.  I put the word “land” in bold so you can see the emphasis.

Strange.  Why would God care about something inanimate?

But it’s not so strange if we look at Leviticus.  Check out the warning God gave the Israelites at the time of Moses:

But if in spite of all this you do not obey Me, . . . I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out a sword after you as your land becomes desolate . . . . As long as it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not receive during the Sabbaths when you lived in it.  (Lev. 26:27, 33, 35)

God actually wanted the land to have rest.

This is totally interesting.  It reminds us that God set down very specific laws regarding how his people were to treat the land they received.

Then the LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai, “Speak to the Israelites and say, ‘When you enter the land I am giving you, the land itself must observe a Sabbath to the LORD.  For six years you may sow your field and prune your vineyard and gather its crops. But in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of complete rest for the land—a Sabbath to the LORD. ” Leviticus 25:2-4

What’s so cool about this is that today we have tons of technology that shows us that soil does indeed need a rest.  Farmers often allow their fields to fallow over a season.  And our government pays over a billion dollars to farmers for letting portions of their land lie dormant.  The USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program website says that doing this improves water quality, reduces soil erosion, and increases habitat for endangered and threatened species.

God knows best.

But the Israelites couldn’t wrap their heads around this.  Evidently, they had to be busy.  They had to produce.  They had to be hands on, in control.  They couldn’t slow down.

Does this remind us of something?  Oh yes, we can be that way!

Isaiah 57 defines the problem well:  “Though you tired yourself out by running after idols, you refused to stop. Your desires were so strong that they kept you going.” Is 57:10

We’re frazzled and worn out, but we can’t get ourselves to stop.   We stay up too late.  We pack out our schedules.  We’re driven by our desires, not our faith.

And God wants us to rest, just like he wants the land to rest.

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”  Isa 30:15

It’s so counterintuitive to us.  Doesn’t God want us to work hard, be productive and fruitful, and do the most with what he has given us?

So what is this rest thing?  Busier is better!  Let’s get things accomplished!

We have to get it through our heads that God structured his creation to require both work and a time of replenishment.

We can’t keep depleting ourselves, like Israelites depleted the land.

If we continue to do so, God may take steps to put us in the proper order.

He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, and every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes to make it even more fruitful. . .  Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.”

God wants us to find the source of true replenishment, which is him and Christ.  We have to learn to connect, and stay connected to him.

Rest in God alone, O my soul, for my hope comes from Him. Ps 62:5 

Again, we find this counterintuitive principle.  In pruning, a farmer limits productivity to create productivity.  God limits our productivity at times, so a productivity in him can be achieved.

God teaches us to be still, and drink from the spring that will truly quench our thirst.  (John 4:14)

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul .  . . Ps 23:2-3a

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.  Ex 14:14

Will we still our efforts, and find rest and replenishment in the Lord?

Will we still not only our constant striving, but our constant fretting?

I’m totally guilty of this.  My thoughts can be as busy as my schedule.  My mind whirls with fears and “shoulds.”   I micromanage.  I spin.  I edit.  I keep devising ways for everything to work out.

And the irony is that the only thing that’s going to work out is the thing I put in God’s hands. Because he is the source.

I’m so afraid of a lack of productivity.  I need to work and plan, so things will go right!

Yet I come back to this passage.  God made the land desolate. It seemed like the end.  But he left a “holy seed” that would be a  “stump in the land.”  This is how he achieved his purpose.

You know, growth is so crazy.  I have plants in my yard that look dead all winter, but with the spring, they are leafy and blooming again.  I have trees I’ve cut down, and you would think that would be the end of them.  But before long, shoots grow out of the cut wood.

And the last verse of Isaiah 6 foretells this kind of growth — a seed planted in a ravaged land, a hewn tree that still has life in it.

God specializes in the circle of life.  The season of inactivity leads to a season of abundance.  It isn’t the end.  It is, in fact, necessary.

God wants the land to rest, so it will be more productive.  God wants us to rest in him, so we will be more productive.

Will we listen to him, or will we be like the Israelites, endlessly toiling?

It’s counterintuitive.  Everything in us screams to stay in control, to make things happen.

But the efforts that are fruitful spring from the seed that sits quietly in the soil and connects to the nutrients.

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Filed under Isaiah, Strength in God, Surrender, Uncategorized