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 ministry. As a younger woman I didn’t observe lent. I’m not catholic, and so I lumped Catholicism and lent together as if it had nothing to do with me. I was wrong.

Over the years while studying the word, I learned that the season of Lent, in my life specifically, reflects a refocusing of what Jesus endured for me. Think about it like this: Everything Jesus did, He did for the salvation of mankind. That means the time He spent enduring temptation in the wilderness was for us. It was a stripping away of distractions before enduring a three year long ministry that would eventually lead Him to the cross, and those who chose to believe Him to repentance and salvation.

Throughout this season of Lent I’ve chosen to give some things up, and even add certain disciplines in to my day-to-day life. I want to be cognizant of what the cross means in a way I’ve never been before. I want these 40 days to draw me toward the Lord in newness.

I don’t know about you, but I often need refocusing. I have to purge distractions and force awareness of what is important. Life gets crazy. All of us have family responsibilities, work duties, and everyday life tasks that make the cross more distant than it should be. Putting the cross back into our line of vision grounds us in His love. It’s not that those of us who serve Christ allow a gap between us and the cross on purpose, but life and all its obligations sometimes adds a haze to what happened on Calvary.  We become so wrapped up in the right now, that we need reminded of what made us whole and able to breathe the air of freedom in the first place.

Maybe you do a better job than I do at staying focused on spiritual disciplines. Maybe you don’t allow the constant struggle of real life to get in your way. But, maybe you identify with me and need a time to reawaken your senses by placing the cross front and center in your line of vision. If so, my prayer is that you will take the Lenten season as a time of redirection, making a choice to spend more time remembering what He did, who He is, and what He means to your life.

For me, the point isn’t really about what exactly I give up or what I choose to do differently. It’s about forcing myself to make new habits that remind me of the true gospel story which brings forth the revelation of Christ in my life.

Throughout this season of Lent, may the revelation of who He is and what He’s done come alive to you all over again.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

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 you’re put, and you give what you’ve got”

-Jill Briscoe

Friend, that preaches.

It’s not a finger pointing, fire and brimstone type of quote. It’s not meant to guilt you into volunteering at church, or change you into someone different than who you’ve been designed to become. It’s meant to make you think about your calling. It made me think. I began asking myself the following questions:

  • Where am I sent?
  • Am I willing to go to that place?
  • Am I willing to stay there once I arrive?
  • Am I willing to give so much of myself, that I become emptied of everything I have when I’m there?
  • Can I fully depend on who He is, and allow Him to work in my life, even when it doesn’t feel good?

Let’s take these questions and quickly break them down. We will begin with the first two:

  1. Where am I sent?
  2. Am I willing to go to that place?

If you are a church goer, this is usually the easy part, because we all have gifts leading to passions and desires placed by the living God. Most of us want to use them, and the local church usually provides a place, or platform, for that to happen. It’s when we become active in that space that the difficulty begins…

It’s all too easy to become distracted by our gifts rather than stay focused on the giver. People quickly praise what other people have to offer, instead of praising the One who freely gave the greatest offering on the cross. And, if we aren’t careful, finding ourselves swept up inside the calling rather than the One who called us in the first place, will happen before we know it.

Guilty or not of the above statements, we will all come to a place where ministry hurts. I know this is a real shocker, but people don’t always agree! I know, right?!? It’s in those times that scriptures warning us about powers and principalities seem to be erased from memory, even if the pastor just preached his best sermon on that topic only five minutes before. The defense of an eye for an eye is at the forefront of our brains, conveniently allowing us to forget what follows in the next passages. (You know what I’m talking about, that whole turning the other cheek thing…) Let me be very honest about something concerning the enemy: he’s the master manipulator of the Word of God. Manipulation of God’s Word is the only weapon the enemy of our souls has ever used; beginning way back in the Garden of Eden, and unfortunately, it’s still working to this day.

  1. Am I willing to stay there once I arrive?

Staying where we are called is tough, because when we are emptied of giving everything we have, we feel hungry and hunger pains hurt. The Bible instructs us to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Guess what? Hunger pains and dehydration can end life. Yes, when we seek God we will find Him and He will fill us. That’s not the issue. (See Matthew 5:6) The issue lies in the following questions: Are we willing to humble ourselves when others have wronged us, or when we feel wronged, so that we can be filled? Are we willing to fight for the place we’ve been called to occupy? And I’m not talking about fighting people, although it sometimes feels like that. Our callings often attach us to roles within the local church and we tend to grip those roles tightly. WAY TOO TIGHTLY.

From the perspective of attachment to our roles in the church and how unhealthy that can be, Lisa whittle in her book, (W)hole, said something that blew me away. she penned the following thought:

“Losing our dependence on a role is the birth of true identity.”

-Lisa Whittle

Now that’s some solid preaching! I don’t believe we can fully live our purpose when we depend on the design rather than the designer. Living out our calling doesn’t make us who we are. It’s the God we serve with our callings – He makes us who we are. When we grasp this concept, we begin a life-giving process of transformation. Lisa Whittle, through pain and family devastation that was no fault of her own, had to come to this conclusion early on in life. It wasn’t her role that fulfilled her; it was being God’s child that fulfilled her.  We ALL need to arrive at this same conclusion in order to grow.

  1. Am I willing to give so much of myself, that I become emptied of everything I have when I’m there?

My personality, when hurt, is to construct walls. I want to build them tall, all the way around my heart, and then take pride in my own personal fortress. And God, in the entire forty-four years since placing me on this earth, has had the audacity to keep making me tear those walls down. It hurts every single time. After all these years, you would think I would have learned my lesson and quit building them, but it took this quote from Rebekah Lyons, which practically punched me in the gut, to help me understand:

 

“You cannot self-preserve and give freely.”

-Rebekah Lyons

He uses others who have gone where they were sent, stayed there, and given everything they had until they were emptied, just to reach me and so many like me.

  1. Can I depend fully on who He is, and allow Him to work in my life, even when it doesn’t feel good?

Most of us are broken women with whole callings. That is not a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s part of the Designers design. It’s learning how to tap into that brokenness from a place of humility that honors God and allows wholeness to flow. Our pain causes us to connect with others and minister genuinely from one broken life to another. Through this, He makes a way for us to live wholly and freely, giving everything we’ve got for His glory. And, yes, sometimes it will hurt. My advice: Go anyway, stay anyway, and give anyway. I know I will.

My new prayer:

Father, God, because I’m being honest and know I have many years left to live, there will probably be another time in my life when I’ll forget all this and start construction on another wall around my heart. When I do, please knock it down swiftly in Jesus name.

And all the self-preserving women shout, “AMEN!”

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

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 I’ve never understood before. It’s changed my life, literally.

Jesus prayed these words:

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

-John 17:3

As a mother, I want to give my children the best of me, modeling love and godliness. As a wife, I want to fill my husband’s heart with joy, be his supportive counterpart, and faithful intercessor. As a friend, I want to be filled with life, an encourager, someone my community wants to be with and knows they can count on. As a daughter of the Most High, I want to make my life count for more than I can see with these human eyes.

And right before our human eyes, in black in white, we have a prayer that Jesus spoke to His Father. We have a glimpse of a private moment between Himself and The Creator – an inside track on what our purpose is intended to become and the gift He gives us in return.

To live fully, and to reap eternal life, is choosing to know God.

Life is that we would find our purpose in serving a God who owns the definition, love.

Living life here and continuing life eternally would mean understanding His grace is sufficient and His truth endures. There’s mercy in his wanting us, and truth in His love for us – even when our lives seem mixed up and upside down, topsy-turvy in a world that’s anything but our home, we can find life and purpose in our heavenly Father.

When we know God, we find life.

“This is life, “Jesus said, “That they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

This is life… that we find purpose.

This is life… that we pursue hope and holiness in a way that sets us apart in newness.

This is life… that we would be transformed by making the decision to know a God who already knows every detail about us.

We can all have life, and when we look at this perspective on purpose, hope happens and healing begins.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

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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You Can Do Hard Things – Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

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Part of my purpose is writing books. It’s hard. I’m continually learning the same lesson repeatedly:  God calls us to do hard things – Tasks that seem overwhelming and meant for someone else. And it’s not just using our gifts that can be hard. He calls us to forgive each other, start clean, and humble […]

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A Purposeful Prayer – Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

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The road to purpose is paved with a willingness to know and believe in a God who has everything held tightly in His hands. Through the first half of this series we talked a lot about understanding we have purpose in both good and bad times. We’ve also discussed how those bad times can shape […]

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Learning to Press in Rather than Give Up – Activating Your Purpose Through the Power of Scripture (A 31 Day Series)

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible. But with God all things are possible.” -Matthew 19:26 Breakthroughs happen when persistent prayer warriors press into the only One who can intervene. There are many issues I’m asking God to intervene inside. I’ve spent time on my knees making my […]

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