365 pages – Faith

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“Faith is believing in something that isn’t yet so, as if it is so, so that it becomes so.”

This is a paraphrase of Hebrews 11:1 that I learned to embrace during my college years.  That verse actually reads: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

When we talk about our 365 pages, we must not only consider the fact that we have to begin by overcoming the intimidation of the blank page but we also have to contend with “how” we approach our story. 

Activity does not equal productivity.  Movement isn’t always progress.  “Any” story isn’t guaranteed to be a God-story.  A God-story has a special type of ink.  Faith.  

There are plenty of church people who display all the activity of a flounder pulled onto a boat but they never seem to be moving forward in their faith-life.  For professional Christians, activity never seems to lead to becoming more confident or more dependent on Jesus as their only source of hope and strength.

There is a HUGE difference between a man or woman of God with faith and a man or woman of the world who attend church services. 

As you write your 365 pages this year I want to encourage you to do so in faith.

Each day write your pages as though you were living out a vision that has already been written on eternal scrolls.  God Himself has penned your days so live them out as though the ink is fresh before your footsteps.

Every encounter, every disappointment, every success has crossed the sovereign desk of God.  There is no panic button in Heaven and our Heavenly Father doesn’t ever have to apologize for forgetting your plight.  He knows.  In fact, he knew what you’d face before you faced it.  Talk about quantum-mechanic other-dimension stuff!

So what does this mean for your year ahead?   God has a vision for your life.

Faith sees God’s purpose as past tense.

If you grab ahold of God’s vision for your life.  Not a delusional ‘vision’ of hitting the lottery and escaping the confines of reality; I’m talking about God’s vision.  You will soon see that the only thing standing between the vision God has for your life and you participating in seeing it come to pass is…FAITH.  Believing in a yet to come as if it has already come.

Faith sees God’s purpose as past tense.  It’s already done.  If you have that kind of faith, you walk forward in an unexplainable confidence.  Frankly speaking, faith makes a person look nuts.  It’s insane.  And that’s okay.

Faith doesn’t run on the adage that “Past performance is the best predictor of future behavior.”  

Faith says “What God has called me to, He will bring me through.”

Why?

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?Numbers 23:19

God doesn’t lie.  If you’ve heard from God you can take it to the bank.

God has never bounced a check of promise.  

So as you approach your 365 pages… approach with a full confidence in Jesus.  He is the Author and perfecter of your faith!  It is by faith you know Him.  It is by faith you please Him.  It is by faith you can and will honor him by setting out to accomplish what He has birthed in your heart.

Let me press pause and give you this bit of caution:

As you put your pen to paper on your 365 pages… keep something in mind.

Faith is a gift.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. -Ephesians 2:8-9 

You can’t manufacture faith.  You can’t force it.  You can’t generate faith.  You can’t work your way into faith.

Faith not a commodity to be created or traded.  It’s a gift of God to be received.   

You can’t demand faith.  You can’t create it yourself because if you could, it would no longer be a ‘gift’.

So as you look forward to your 365 pages and you WANT to see God move on your behalf… what CAN you do?

Beg.  

If you want to build up a great faith.  Get on your face before God.  Learn the smell of your carpet.  Beg him to give you faith.  It’s His gift to give.   

Ask God for greater faith.  Ask again.  Ask again. 

-       Do you want to believe that God can move mountains with your life?

-       Do you want to believe that when God tells you to do a hard thing, you will do it out of faith?

-       Do you want to believe that when you go through a hard time, God is on the other side and that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes?

As you start into this new year I must ask you…

Are you asking God for faith to fill the blank pages? 

Give God your blank pages.  Then give him a request.

“God, I need faith to trust you and believe.  I long for you to give me so much faith that when you speak I listen and I listen with full assurance that you will indeed do whatever you promise.  God you are faithful, help me to have faith.”

Get with God.  Seek Him as your source of faith.  Believe that He will do it.  

#365pages

365 Pages – Blank Page

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A blank page.

For most people, the blank page is the most intimidating aspect in the act of starting… anything.  A book, a work of art, a letter or even a holiday card all begin with a void waiting to be filled.  A blank page can feel intimidating.

For most people, the beginning of a new year can feel this way as well.  It’s rather daunting.  It seems as though the entire world is expecting to see you fail. It has become a running joke to talk about making the same resolutions year after year only to see them all fall short.  People who hold gym memberships deal with the annoying January rush of new members because they know that within weeks the gym will thin out again.  It’s almost tragic how many people make great resolutions only to watch them fade with time, difficulty and doubt.

Often times the doubt that plagues us comes from within.  We all have our own history that seemingly shouts out over our present moment saying:

“You will fail.  You’re not going to accomplish anything.  You will fail just like you did last year!” 

Here is what you must keep in mind:

A resolution becomes a revolution not by a change of your calendar but by the change of your heart.

Christians should be among the world’s foremost experts in the concept of “renewal”.  Because of Christ, we are to be in a perpetual state of renewal and evaluation.  Unfortunately, we seldom take advantage of the opportunity to ‘start again’.  One reason we fail to act is due to the fear of the all-too-intimidating blank page.

But it doesn’t have to be that way:

A blank page is an opportunity not an obligation. 

Your God is a God of renewal.  Redemption.  U-turns.  Starting over.  Again and again.  The bible declares that His mercies are new everyday! (Lamentations 3:22-23)

This year can be different.  It doesn’t have to be hype to say: “This year WILL be better for you.”

You can change the world with your life… and it starts by changing your view of the blank page!

Here’s the deal.  A book will be written in 2014.  It’s the book of your life. Whether you want to do so or not, you will have written 365 pages when it’s all said and done.  I want to encourage you to make this the best volume yet.

Forget asking “What will people say if I fail?”  Start asking “What will God say if I refuse to start?”

Over the next few posts I want to give you some encouragement from scripture about how you can look at the 365 pages in front of you called your 2014.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19-22

Your greatest battle has already been won.

Listen to those words.  Confidence.  Assurance.  Washed.  

This is how the people of God should embark on their new year.  Our greatest battle has been won thanks to Christ on the cross.  Therefore we must walk forward knowing that while we have challenges to come, the greatest battle has been won. If God has already defeated sin and the grave, nothing I will face in the year ahead can tear me down.  I may suffer, I may experience loss.  Yes, there is likely tragedy ahead but you know what?  My God goes before me.  My God saw that the greatest battle I had was my own sin and the resulting death.  He conquered both at the cross.

This is how God works.  There is no battle as important as the battle he has already won on your behalf. 

As you approach your 2014 and as you stare at that blank page, keep in mind… “My greatest battle has already been won.”  You can have confidence because the One who conquered sin, death and the grave has power over this world.  He can and will guide you. Resist the temptation to quit.  Resist the temptation to walk away and curl up in a ball.  So what if you miss your workout? Get back at it!  So what if you fall off the bike?  Get back up!  God has gone before you in your greatest battle, surely He will be with you as you aim to honor him by making changes with your mind, body or soul.

None of your present challenges are as great of an obstacle as your sin condition. Thanks be to God, Jesus conquered that.  Rise up this year.  Have faith.  March forward.  Christ has defeated your greatest problem.  Put something to that blank page and do it with confidence! This can be your year of faith.

#365pages

Speak Life, Give Life

As you may know by now, I went to Kenya this summer.  We spent time in Nairobi and the the Kibera Slum as well as the most south-western area of Kenya known as Muhuru Bay.

In Muhuru Bay, Kenya we were introduced to a community with no safe drinking water, a high prevelance of HIV/AIDS and an educational system that is leaving generations of children behind.

At our church, Captivate Church, we live with a motto “A need seen is an assignment given.” We felt called by God to address the most pressing needs we were seeing.  One of the projects we took on was the creation of a much needed school for the region.  Children had a literal mountain to climb if they were to attend school at all.  The distance and mountain made it impossible for children younger than 11 to actually even begin to receive instruction.  We decided to create a primary school to help children get an education prior to 3rd grade so that when they were strong enough to climb the mountain they could do so and not have to start with kindergarten at 11 years old.  What was occurring was that many children would simply avoid school completely because they felt that they were so far behind.  It made more sense for them to tend to the family cattle or worse yet, go into the type of life that brought about the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Our visit was in July.  We made a decision while we were on the ground that we would be part of the solution and rally others to join us.  By God’s grace and favor, in September, only two months later, we were able to launch the “Captivate Christian Academy” in Muhuru Bay, Kenya!  Our church is so excited about this project and the great reports we are already seeing from the ground. Check out some pictures of our inaugural classes of students!

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In addition to the lack of education for primary school, we saw that only three people among these thousands had gone on to University.  In my preaching I shared with them (through my interpreter and brother, Shadrack) that I believe we will see the day when it becomes NORMAL to see University students coming from Muhuru Bay, Kenya!  I said that in faith because I see no reason why God cannot do for the people of Muhuru Bay what he has done for this kid from Baltimore City, MD, USA.  He took me from poverty and helped me become the first in my family tree to graduate High School and attend University… He can do that in Kenya!

Today I received a most encouraging email from my brother Shadrack.  He gave me this report:  (edited for length)

Samuel  was born in 1988 to a very poor family in my community just like many of our parents, uneducated and had no knowledge about education. After repeating grade 8 two times, some of us in the community took a bold step to enroll him in a local high school.

Unable to attend University, he was just volunteering at our local high school, offering free services in the school. 

When we visited in July this year., he told me that while you were preaching, you repeatedly said that going to the University will be normal to the community and many students will be enrolled in the universities. He literally took it as his message. Come September 2013, he was surprised to get a direct enrollment letter from one of the government Universities where he was chosen to go.

He told me that he called the Church members and the community and they prayed with him. Later, they did some fundraising for him which they only got USD100.00 which was less than a third of the required fees for the 1st semester and other things. Being blessed by the strong words you spoke, last week, he went to the University with only USD 100.00

When he reported, he was told to pay at least a half of the semester money before asking for even changing the course. He called me and told me the whole episode and I asked him how much is needed to reach the half. I sent him USD 300.00 more, and he was enrolled and changed his course and he is really really grateful for the message which he believes changed his life for good. 

He is the third person of my community to have enrolled in the University.

We are all proud of him. So he has told me to inform you that your strong message you passed across in July may fulfill the vision he has and many more students in the community to follow his steps.

Wow!  What a testimony!

I don’t know about you, but it sends chills up my arms when I read that a young man who had lost hope that he may ever receive University-level education will now enter University!  To see God provide for a faithful young man who was volunteering his time to educate others in his community… a community without clean drinking water.

Samuel is now the third from this community to enter University.  Not the third from a class or the third of a family…. the third of an entire region!  Ohh that God would allow all of us to speak life based on faith to see Him do the miraculous.

I don’t know what your situation is today but what I do know is that we serve a God of the miracle.  This miracle-working God still shows up and shows off today for people who trust and believe.  I can’t say that in every case and at every time God will match His plans with your desires but what I can say is that He moves when our desires match His plans!

Please pray for my friends in Muhuru Bay, Kenya.  Please pray for my friend Samuel.  Please pray for the Captivate Christian Academy.  I sincerely believe that we will see it become the norm that children from this remote area go on to University.  I’m believing God for it but I’m also putting my money behind my beliefs.  Would you consider joining me?  Please visit Kenya50k.com for more info.  Don’t just visit, support these kids and their God-given dreams!

Maybe you have a church that is interested in missions.  I would be honored to share with you how your church could partner with ours and change the lives of thousands by meeting practical needs and spreading the message of the gospel of Christ!  Have them contact me!

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