Kingdom Building Through the Life of Jeremiah (And a Giveaway!)

Kingdom Building Through the Life of Jeremiah

Hello Friends. I hope you had a joyous Easter Sunday celebrating the resurrection of our Lord! For those of you who haven’t seen my video on social media, I want to tell you about something that will be happening here every Wednesday for the next six weeks.

Beginning next Wednesday, April 26th, we will be spending six weeks studying kingdom building through the life of Jeremiah.  I’ve had an internal struggle in my own life concerning what kingdom building looks like for me, and not only for me, but as a whole for sisters in Christ. I’m passionate about digging into the Word and letting God speak to us through lives He used to build His kingdom. We can learn so much from the life of Jeremiah. Every Wednesday for six weeks we will discuss Jeremiah’s ministry, his struggles, how he dealt with them, and what God was speaking to him throughout the process. He was known as the weeping prophet. He might feel like our best friend when we’re done. I already feel connected to his life.

As I’ve been struggling with the concept of kingdom building, I’ve been reading books from some wonderful authors who have written about their own journeys. I’ve enjoyed these books so much that I want to share them with you! That means that every Wednesday when the new blog post on Jeremiah comes out, I’m going to be giving away a book! For starters, on Wednesday, April 26th, I’m giving away Lisa-Jo Baker‘s new book Never Unfriended: The secret to finding and keeping lasting friendships. I believe EVERY WOMAN SHOULD READ THIS! I’m not kidding. That book ripped me at the seams and sewed me back up again whole. It’s a fantastic representation of what friendship looks like. Think about it this way: if we are going to be kingdom builders, we need a crash course in friendship because we all need each other. Lisa-Jo’s book is scripture laced and sealed with honest accounts of what every woman needs to hear regarding friendship.

To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is subscribe to my blog and comment in the comment section underneath the blog post. I would love to know your feelings on kingdom building and what you’re learning from the life of Jeremiah as we study. Subscribing means you’ll never miss a blog post, and you’ll be eligible for the giveaways.  (You can unsubscribe anytime. I’m not the boss of you.) If you’re already a subscriber, you can win too! I’m selecting one of my existing subscribers from my email list every week to also win a book! All you have to do is click from your email to Jenniferkostick.com and comment underneath the blog post.

I’ve created a hashtag for this series, because I think kingdom building is going to be a thing around here for a while! the hashtag is #KingdomBuildingSisters, just in case you ever want to share.

To see the video introduction about this series, click to my Facebook page.

I’m looking forward to studying Jeremiah with you!

Love,

Jennifer

Sunday is Here to Stay!

Sunday is Here to Stay!

I often wonder what it would have been like to occupy earth with Jesus before the cross. Would I have followed Him or turned away? In my mind, when I place myself in the multitude, I’m no more than a woman intrigued by a man who looks familiar, yet different. In the middle of my wondering, healthy fear begins to rise because of the uncertainty of who I would have been. I’m overtaken by what ifs…

What if I was overly sensitive or easily offended? What if my very existence defined the word skeptic? What if I didn’t like what I heard, turned around and walked away? What if I never looked back?

Once again, in my mind, I see Him there in the midst of the multitude. He’s preaching and teaching, giving away everything for every soul. I’m still there hanging onto every word while peeking behind a tree, hoping not to make eye contact, because what if He decides to speak directly to me, and what if I don’t want to accept His truth? The next thing I know, my wondering walks me straight into Peter’s shoes. What if three steps on water turned into a three time betrayal of everything holy? Here’s the question: if I were there, one of them, would I have believed?

After the resurrection, there was evidence of an empty tomb and full hearts. To this day it remains. However, we are living in a world wanting to omit what we should amen. Truth can’t be changed and yet we’ve practically made an Olympic sport out of trying.

Today is the Saturday before Easter. Two thousand years ago on this day there was a heaviness of grief that tried to choke out life and hinder hope. But little did those believing souls know what would happen only one day later. Throughout the in between time, inside the solitude of a lonely Saturday, there was a baptism happening. The heavy tears of grief baptized every heart of those who would forever stand for the peasant king, once dead yet coming alive, in preparation of purpose, second chances, and the hope of living holy.

I want to believe that had I been there, I would have given my heart while standing in the multitude, and I would have followed Him to the cross, been dumbfounded by an empty tomb, and baptized by grief in waters of tears so deep that I would have used every last breath in my mortal body to share about the immortal Savior.

Dear friend, Sunday isn’t only coming, it’s here to stay. There will be no more darkness because Light has resurrected. May you amen the hard words in His book so the sweet ones can be sweeter. May you live and love and find freedom in the midst of a world who wants to live for themselves rather than for a God they cannot see. May you know that when deep grief wants to settle inside your bones, you can be baptized by your tears because your Savior lives and breathes. He’s working for you, and He will never stop working for you. But make no mistake, He already won, which means you’ve already won, because Sunday is here to stay.

 

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

Who Kingdom Builders Really Are…

Who Kingdom Builders Really Are...

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to encourage a group of women on the topic of being kingdom builders and how it relates to purpose. God etched the word purpose on my heart two years ago. I’m thinking He did it because I often need reminded of mine. As I prepared for my talk, the Lord brought back to my memory a spring day in 1980-something. Like most days, after school, I boarded my big, yellow bus home. As it approached my stop, I stood up to make my exit. I remember wearing an acid washed Guess jean jacket. Yes, I said acid washed.  I loved that jacket – the way I used to wear it with the collar popped up. It made me feel good. As I walked off the bus, my foot somehow missed the bottom step causing me to land flat on my back in the middle of the road. It only took a fraction of a second for the eruption of laughter to pour out from inside the bus. I have to admit, It was funny.

As I stood up to begin my walk home, I noticed the pain in my elbow. I instantly worried that I ripped my expensive jean jacket. I checked immediately, breathing a sigh of relief that it was still in perfect condition. When I arrived home, I took off the jacket to inspect my aching elbow. As soon as I removed it, I noticed a huge rip in my blouse and a nasty brush burn on my skin. I remember being dumbfounded as to how my jacket stayed perfectly intact, yet I had rips and wounds underneath.

As I prepared to speak last weekend, the Lord brought back that moment to my mind showing me that as women we serve as wives, mothers, daughters, granddaughters, sisters, nieces, cousins, friends, coworkers, volunteers, and the list goes on… We find ourselves working to make every area of our lives appear as perfect as possible. We “wear our jackets” to look the part.  And then at the end of a long day, when no one is around, we “take our jackets off.” Underneath are rips and wounds that we haven’t shared with anyone. We are in desperate need of repair, but we won’t allow anyone but God to know. And, we often lament to Him that until the healing process is finished, we won’t be any good at kingdom building.

Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic priest and theologian wrote about primary and secondary causation. To break just a small section of this theology down into very simple terms, it means God is first.  He is uncreated and creates everyone.  Secondary causation says that He uses those whom He has created to accomplish his will and purpose on earth. We are His hands and feet.

While living through infertility, miscarriage, and stillbirth, I didn’t think I could be used. I was broken. And at the time I didn’t have a miracle ending. The last thing I wanted anyone to know was that I was struggling with an inner pain so deep it threatened to destroy the call of God on my life. After losing my daughter, I understood it was possible to die from a broken heart. It wasn’t until God showed me His power is made perfect in weakness, that I was able to “take off my jacket” and show people my wounds.  I found a promise of scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that unleashed a powerful truth stating that my responsibility in kingdom building has nothing to do with my state of wholeness. It’s about His filling of my holes along the way, and how He works repairing the broken pieces as I do the work He’s called me to do.

I had to rise up in the middle of my wounds before the healing took place.

You need to rise up in the middle of your wounds before the healing takes place!

Nehemiah said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”  (See Nehemiah 8:10) It doesn’t matter the situation, or our interpretation of it. It doesn’t matter whether we are happy, sad, or somewhere in between. It isn’t about our joy. It’s about His joy, and we will draw our strength from Him.

I often lie awake thinking about the moment in the Garden of Eden when Eve took that first bite. (See Genesis 3) It was all about what she wanted, what she felt she needed. Selfishness always leads to sin. If we aren’t careful, we will cover up our wounds in an attempt to be what we want and rob ourselves from the blessing of being what someone else needs from us. Selfishness will impede our relationships and we will be manipulated, just like Eve, into thinking we are justified in our choices because we’re broken and broken people can’t be used. Lies, lies, all lies.

Though my trials and tribulations are far different now than they once were, I still have them. As long as we are walking this earth, we will deal with difficulty. There are days I need reminded to “take off my jacket.”  None of us are perfect; we all have wounds underneath and we must remember that God chooses to use us in the midst of them. It’s deep inside the core of what pains us most where He reaches in and draws us out – out to encourage a friend, out to visit a neighbor, out to be an example to our children, and out to be the partner our spouses need.

Kingdom builders are often broken people who make a choice each day to allow God to bind their wounds. Doesn’t that make you want to exhale? We don’t have to be perfect to accomplish our purpose. We just have to be willing.

If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.

-Isaiah 1:19 (NIV)

Love,

Jennifer

 

Kingdom Building is not About Popularity, It’s About Humility…

Kingdom building is not about popularity, it’s about humility.

For days I’ve debated as to whether I should write this post, but sometimes a subject matter weighs so heavy that one cannot escape the burden.  So here’s what’s on my mind:

I’ve been writing my blog since September 19, 2012. That means in six short months I can say I’ve been chasing this dream for five years. This dream… how do I define what this dream even is?  There’s a lengthy list of women I’ve become acquainted with that have dreamed of becoming writers and speakers for as long as they can remember. But that was never my dream.  As 1950’s offensive as this may seem to some, my dream was to become a wife, mother, and create a happy household. It’s the scars I still wear from that dream which brought me to this one.

I need to be honest and let you know that I haven’t always been happy with God for leading me to the place I’m standing in now. The place where He whispers, “write” and I shout, “I’m going to sound stupid. I’m not smart, I’m no theologian, and I’m not good enough.” And I’m not one for taking any biblical thought out of context, so let me tell you that in a world where everyone is screaming, “You’re enough,” I’m usually adding two words to the end of that statement: with Jesus. Let’s just be honest, you’ll always be enough with Jesus and you’ll never be enough without Him. I can’t sugar coat that phrase, so I won’t even try. Fulfillment comes from learning who we are in Christ.

This dream started when I was asked to speak in a child development class at a local community college. It was a favor for someone. She would receive extra credit, and little did I know, I would receive a calling.  Other than in classrooms full of elementary students, I never spoke anywhere before. But that day in front of real, live adults I shared my pain and eternal hope. After that, I sat down and wrote my testimony about miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility in manuscript form. Before this, I had never written anything other than parent letters. In the meantime, while trying to figure out what to do with my little book, I began writing my blog.

I had no idea what blogging really was. I had never even read a blog before I started writing one. I learned quickly about link-ups, online twitter parties, and making internet friends. I was naïve, because I had no idea all of this led to an ugly word: platform. Everyone was after their platform – working hard to build an audience. And, for a fraction of a second, I was caught up, too. And then I realized that when you try to fit into a mold, you lose your unique calling. I stopped working to build an audience and focused on my audience of One. Don’t pat me on the back for this, I told you I’m not very happy with the dream God placed in my heart. Some days I don’t want to do this. In fact, most days I don’t want to do this. Rejection hurts.

You see, even though I’ve chosen not to work overtime building a platform, rejection is still part of the place I’m living now. God gave me words to say and with all my heart I know He wants me to say them. However, I also know I’m not meant to follow a step-by-step cookie cutter blueprint. He didn’t make me that way.

I had one of the top literary agencies in the country give beautiful accolades about my writing. I even scored a phone meeting after they read my manuscript. I thought this had to be great news. I was wrong.  They said they would not be able to sell my book to a publisher because of the small subscriber count on my blog, the tiny number of Facebook fans I have, and the fact that I’ve almost zero twitter presence. They couldn’t risk signing me even though they believed in my words. Instead, they wanted to encourage me to keep writing in hopes I could contact them in the near future with much higher numbers. Well, I don’t know what to do about increasing my numbers, because I hate looking at people as if their nothing more than sums of subscribers lumped together for my gain. It’s gross.

I’ve experienced fellow bloggers with taglines speaking of how passionate they are about following Jesus, and then as soon as they build a small online rapport and think they have assurance that I will continue following them, they slyly unfollow me. (There are apps for these things, people. We can tell who unfollows us. That’s another thing I learned during my platform building phase.) I don’t think the people who are working hard to build platforms using the name of Jesus realize what an oxymoron it is to click the unfollow button so that they can give the illusion of popularity. The worst part about all of this is at the beginning of my journey, for a very short period of time, I did this myself. Yuck!  But that’s not me, and I just couldn’t continue on that path. It’s a common method, though, regardless of how “famous” someone is. Do you know that I had someone who is very well known with tens of thousands of followers do this to me not two weeks ago?

When is enough, really enough? How can you tell people they are “enough” but then drop them to make your follower ratio seem plentiful? Seriously, when?

Here’s the thing: there are a million women just like me doing the exact same thing just as well or a whole lot better, and that’s okay with me. Most of us won’t be offered contracts with well-known agents or ever sign deals with huge publishing houses. That in no way means we aren’t kingdom builders working for the cause of Christ. Maybe you’re reading this and you aren’t a writer or speaker and can’t even believe I’m writing so off topic today compared to my regular devotionals. Sorry. However, this applies to you as well.

You, too, are a kingdom builder. In your own unique way you’ve been called to participate in the work of God. You are meant to do big things, bigger than you can imagine. But, here’s what you need to grasp: your definition of big might be very different from God’s. This life is about living for Christ and leading others to Him. We are to be kingdom building spouses, kingdom building parents, kingdom building friends and so on… When we sow into another life, it has eternal value. It’s not here today gone tomorrow. It’s forever.

Kingdom building is not about popularity, it’s about humility.

Listen, I would love to have the opportunity to speak to large groups and have my words become more widespread, but if that’s not what God is doing then He has something better, and I better shift my definition of what “big” is and catch His vision while tossing my own aside. And, maybe you do too. Maybe we all need to remember that changing our baby’s diapers, and reading bedtime stories have eternal value. Maybe we need to remember that kissing our husbands passionately builds our relationships and affords us love and support that enables us to build the kingdom with our best friend by our side. Maybe, just maybe, we need to remember that sharing our beauty from ashes story with only one person can mean a life pointed toward Christ that could possibly be the biggest thing we ever do. This is about eternity. It’s about people. It’s about living real life in our own communities while sharing our stories in unique ways.

If you have talked to one person today, had one person read your social media status, or have one subscriber on your blog, then YOU have had an opportunity to invest in the kingdom. It’s no small thing…

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

-2 Corinthians 5:20 (ESV)

You are meant to be a kingdom builder!

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

When You Can No Longer Envision the Promise

 

He is able

One night last week, as my husband and I were unloading our sleeping kids from the car, I looked up to see a completely clear sky. I’ve been studying the Old Testament for an upcoming speaking engagement, and so as soon as I saw those twinkling lights above me, I thought about a moment where God gives us a beautiful picture of promise.

Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

-Genesis 15:5

When I looked up at the sky on that clear night last week, I was in awe of what I saw. But, I was much more overwhelmed at what I couldn’t see. Do you know that as of April 1, 2014 Hubble revealed an estimation of 100 billion galaxies, and then predicted that number would increase as technology improves?  And guess what? According to the Atlantic Daily, as of October 2016, that number now stands at 2 trillion.  Look at the following quote from Atlantic Daily writer Marina Koren on October 14, 2016: “There’s only one way to count galaxies with existing technology: Point a telescope at a small chunk of sky, tally up the number you see, and then extrapolate that across the whole sky. But when the Nottingham researchers examined the masses of the galaxies in those patches of sky, they realized there must be missing galaxies that are ‘too faint and too far away’ to be imaged by modern technology, even the most powerful telescopes in the world.”

I can’t help but imagine myself being there on that very night God took Abram (Soon to be renamed Abraham) outside and showed him the stars. It appears to me that Abram probably gazed up at that sky and took it at face value. He was probably overcome by the great number of glowing stars above him mingled with the promise God made for his life. I’m not sure Abram ever thought about the stars he couldn’t see. How could he have known the great expanse of the universe? We look at stars in the year 2017 with all modern technology has to offer, and still, we cannot see everything there is in space.

I recently read there are 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone. Let me repeat that: In the Milky Way galaxy, one galaxy out of what now appears to be 2 trillion, there are 100 thousand million stars. Honestly, I didn’t even know that was a real number! Friend, I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around that number, and yet we serve a God who made a numeric promise based on the number of stars He created. And our God knows exactly how many there are. In fact, He even named each one. (See Psalm 147:4) He told Abram, “Look toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” He knew Abram couldn’t number them, and that is the whole point.

We serve a God who has spoken promises so great that it is beyond our human vision and comprehension to see the fullness of them. There is so much more for each life than we can begin to know. I need to say this to you today:

GOD IS ABLE!
GOD IS ABLE!
GOD IS ABLE!

The creator of the universe is God of the impossible, and there is more to His Word than we will ever grasp.

After Abram looked up at the sky on that clear night so long ago, he modeled something for each of us.

“And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”

-Genesis 15:6

Up to this point, Abram didn’t have one child. Not one.  And, yet, he was promised descendants matching the number of stars. Abraham made a choice to believe the promise, and because he believed, God counted him righteous.

Today, I want you to believe in a God who sees everything, not just what is within the line of human vision. I want you to believe there is power in His promises, and that He has promises for you. No matter what you see or how you feel, it does not change the power of God’s promises or the depth to which they reach.  This weekend, if you’re have difficulty holding tightly to a promise He’s made, walk outside and look up. Even if the sky isn’t clear, just think about what you cannot see, and what God calls by name.

He is able.

Love,

Jennifer

 

You Are Not Missing

You Are Not Missing

(Hi, Friends! As part of today’s post, I’ve included an introductory video that gives some insight as to why I chose to write on this topic. It’s just over five minutes long. I hope it gives you some encouragement!)

As I’m journeying through the Lenten season, committing myself to certain disciplines, I’ve been spending some time in the book of John. In this particular gospel, chapter fourteen is one of my favorites because Jesus reveals the promise of the Holy Spirit. I want to share the verse I’ve been meditating on the last few days:

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”

-John 14:23

The disciples could not understand that Jesus was preparing them for His departure, while at the same time promising He wouldn’t leave. And, to this day, two thousand years later, we all seem to get hung up on those same words. The human mind understands tangibility and reason, while the spiritual expedition requires faith and supernatural acceptance without humanity’s logic. It’s enough to make the head spin, and the heart wander, in search for understanding that is not meant to be entirely understood. (I know that sounds confusing; stick with me for a minute.)

For me, I’m not sure there’s any greater comfort than knowing there’s been a home built inside me that is forever occupied by the living God – The One true God, who can hold the entire universe in His hand, yet chooses to dwell in my heart. Isn’t that mind boggling?

A great big God can make His home in you. And He will!

The Bible actually tells us that God has placed eternity in our hearts. (See Ecclesiastes 3:11)

There’s a longing inside causing every soul to search for Greater. It’s a yearning that cannot be satisfied by anything other than the One who we are meant to search for. The problem is that most of us get caught up in using our heads rather than our hearts, and so the search is, therefore, limited to everything in this world other than God.

I know it sounds crazy that searching for everything this world has to offer would be considered limited. But, friend, if a great big God can live in you, and satisfy your every need, then what do the tangible realities of this world have to offer you? Nothing that’s eternal, that’s for sure. And so you’ll keep searching, because eternity has been placed in your heart and the quest for it cannot be satisfied by any other than Jesus Christ.

Lent is a time to refocus and reposition ourselves at the throne of justice and mercy. We don’t have to look far for that throne. We don’t have to walk around hungry and thirsty for what can satisfy immediately. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have designed a home to occupy inside of you. He wants you to grab tightly to faith, forgoing earthly logic surrounded by limitations.

There is a limitless God wanting to do limitless workings throughout your life.

(Click to tweet)

 

Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all my name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; NOT ONE IS MISSING.

-Isaiah 40:26

In all of this, it’s important I communicate that you are NOT MISSING! You are held in the hollow of His hand, known by God, loved by God, and meant for more than you can see with human eyes. There is an Almighty with the ability to dwell inside you, who created you for the purpose of making your heart His home. He knows you by name and you will NEVER go missing.

If today you are bogged down by the world, feeling overwhelmed and overlooked, let me tell you with all certainty the Bible says differently. Amen and Amen!

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

Why I Was Wrong about Lent

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Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness, and He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him. -Mark 1:12-13 Today is the first day of Lent, which represents the forty days Jesus fasted, prayed, and was tempted before beginning His […]

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5 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Calling…

Five Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Calling...

I had the opportunity to livestream some of the IF:Gathering conference last weekend. I enjoyed the speakers, and this week there are many quotes floating around social media. In case you missed it, here is a quote by Jill Briscoe I want to share with you: “You go where you’re sent, and you stay where […]

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A Life-Giving Perspective on Purpose

activating-your-purpose-1

This idea of purpose, and that we all need one, is something I’m constantly reminded of each and every day. In fact, I haven’t been able to shake this concept for at least two years. I know there’s mercy in our purpose, justice in our purpose, and spiritual wholeness in our purpose in a way […]

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Why I Haven’t Been Writing, and some Encouragement for the New Year

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Hello, Friends! I hope you had a very Merry Christmas! I’ve been on a bit of a writing sabbatical the last couple months and will continue in this season until mid-February. Thank you so much for all who have reached out to me. Your words of encouragement and prayers mean so much! I’m looking forward […]

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