Born to be Brave

What’s holding you back?

What’s holding you back from the life Jesus died to give you?

Let’s ask another question first: Have you had a glimpse of the life Jesus died to give you?

So many times we are caught in the whirlwind of our days that we lose sight of Jesus’ plans for us: He came to save us from empty lives and give us lives full of heaven’s resources, purposes, power, and joys.

I don’t want to miss all that because I get so distracted by the temporal tempests that can blow away my days like the wind dispels smoke.

I have been thinking about the few small loaves and fishes that a nameless, ordinary boy gave to Jesus. When that boy offered his lunch to share, he could not have imagined the outcome. He only knew that he was willing to let Jesus have his lunch and Jesus could do whatever He would with it.

Most of us probably feel like that child, with so little to offer that we think it will make no difference or have no impact. Our little bit is indeed insignificant. But what Jesus can do with our little bit– that is what will make all the difference!

I don’t believe I’ve ever heard anyone speak of God giving them a clear, fully detailed vision of the life He has planned for them. He does show us the next step on the path. He knows where He intends to take us, even though we can’t see it. He knows how He is putting together His masterpiece.

He knows what He intends to do with those loaves and fishes. We can’t see the whole picture. We just need to be willing to take the next step into that life.

What’s holding us back?

* What’s keeping us from following Jesus’ commandment to pray for and do kind things for that person who has hurt us so deeply?

* What keeps us from helping foreigners in our midst as God has told us to do?

* In this season of lilies, what keeps us from trusting God to provide everything we need?

* What keeps us from putting aside things in our lives that take our focus off God?

* What keeps us from declaring our citizenship in the kingdom of heaven while we live in a kingdom hostile to God’s children?

* What keeps us from believing that God can use our little loaves and fishes?

What keeps us from taking the next step toward the big, unlimited life He has for us?

As we take each step, He’ll unfold that life. And like the lunch for thousands of people, what He does will be beyond anything we imagine now.

What holds us back?

In Bob Goff’s book Everybody Always, he wrote, “Jesus never asked anyone to play it safe. We were born to be brave.”

Scripture says our new birth and life came from the Spirit of God—and yes, we were born into this new life to be brave.

At this birth, you inherited the Spirit of the One who gave you this life. And that Spirit is not one of fear or insignificance or helplessness. The Spirit in you is one of power, love, and self-discipline.

Following that Spirit brings life and peace.

What’s keeping you from taking that next brave step?


Scriptures: 2 Timothy 1:7; Romans 8:6; John 10:10; Ephesians 2:10


Photo Credit: Emily Leonard

Prism of the Spirit

It was an ordinary kitchen. Nothing unusual or spectacular about it. But I walked into it and was dazzled.

A prism hung in the window, catching the early morning light and throwing spectacular colors and shapes across the kitchen. Swatches of pure hues moved slowly across ordinary things: dishcloths, countertop, curtains, carpet, calendar, and even trash can.

The prism turned the mundane into an oasis of rainbows.


This was the Spirit’s lesson for me that morning. I had just read this passage in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11:

But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.

The Spirit leans in and whispers the secrets of God to those listening. Doesn’t that astound you?

Here the word secrets does not mean some knowledge that will be kept from all but a chosen few. It refers instead to things that have previously been hidden or unseen or unknown. The Spirit tunes us into things we cannot otherwise know about God’s thoughts and ways.

Even though God’s ways are so much higher than ours, He gives us this connection to Himself. He wants us to know Him. The Spirit tunes us into His thinking. The world’s spirit would like to fill our ears and minds and wills and hearts, but the Spirit of Jesus Christ lives within to fill us with Himself.


Now to the lesson of the prism.

This always amazes me: The light, to which we normally give little thought or attention, holds a treasure of delightful color. The hues are there all the time, they surround us completely and constantly, yet we do not see them or delight in them until the prism shows what is there.

Here’s the next verse in 1 Corinthians 2 (verse 12):

And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

The Spirit hangs a prism to open our eyes to what we would otherwise miss. Like the colors in light we ignore, God’s hand is in every moment of our lives. The psalmist says that God’s blessing goes in front of us and behind us, and this 1 Corinthians passage tells us that one of the reasons God gives us His Spirit is so that we can see all the “wonderful things God has freely given us.”

Wow. The Almighty Lord and Creator of the universe gives us this intimate connection to Himself that helps us understand His thoughts and see what He is doing in our lives and in the world. He wants us to know Him. He wants us to see Him.

And the sight the Spirit gives us transforms our circumstances. Where others might see ordinary and even drab, or troublesome and painful, eyes opened by the Spirit see God’s gifts, His goodness, His love, His mercies, His blessing. We see God’s hand where we have not realized it before. We enjoy His presence where we have ignored it before. We find His blessing splashed over even our struggles and sorrows.

When the Spirit starts to show us God’s goodness and love over every bit of our lives, coloring every day on the calendar and drenching even our trash cans,

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then we begin to see and know what is always there—the goodness and mercy that follow us all the days of our lives.

When Jesus Comes

Imagine the sensation he caused. Word spread through Jerusalem and Judea like wildfire. An eccentric loner who lived out in the wilderness and ate bugs was now preaching the one message Jewish people had for centuries longed to hear: The Messiah is coming! The one who will deliver us from foreign rulers and set up His own kingdom is coming. Get right with God, because it is happening now!

And they did get right with God–at least, as they understood the process. Rich and poor, young and old, strict religious leaders and those who had been slacking off in observation of religious traditions—they flocked out to the wilderness to hear the preacher, throngs believed his message, and they confessed sins and were baptized in the river as a symbol of their “rightness” with the God who was going to come and establish himself as their king.

Some were even talking about the possibility that this man in the wilderness was in reality the Messiah himself.

“No, I’m just the messenger,” the preacher said. “I’m baptizing you with water to show that you’ve asked God to forgive your sins, but someone is coming who is much greater than I am. And when he comes, he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”

The preacher in the wilderness baptized, but it was a mere hint of what was to come. The baptized walked into the river as an act of faith, hoping to show they were right with God. The water washed down over them and then dried as they made their way home. For many, once they were back in their everyday world the power of the moments in the river wore off. John’s baptism was an outward act on the part of sincere but unaware and too fickle men and women.

When the Great One did come, He didn’t live up to expectations. Many found it difficult to believe and accept Him for who He was. In spite of their hesitation, though, large crowds came to hear what He had to say. And one thing He said was this:

“If you love me and follow what I say, my Father and I will come and live with you.”

When someone comes to live with you—spouse, baby, parent, roommate, pet—your world changes! You change. Your thinking changes. Your schedule changes. Your commitments change.

Jesus baptizes those who believe and He comes to live with them.

His baptism is not a symbolic human gesture to represent what might or might not be going on internally. It is not an act that is soon forgotten, “dries off,” or becomes ritual and loses its power.

He baptizes with His Spirit to transform every aspect of our lives.

This is a deep, soaking, penetrating baptism.
    an act of the living God
    to do away with the old life and create a completely new life
    and seal a new relationship.

Everything depends on this:
When Jesus comes, He baptizes those who believe and makes possible all we are powerless to do.


Scripture: See Mark 1:1-8 and John 14:23

To read about how life changes, click on “The Spirit” category in the right panel.

Rejoicing in the mysterious companionship

A friend just sent me 2 Corinthians 13:14.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (NLT)

Oh my, oh my! The richness of a life filled with these three things! Nothing I write could ever plumb the depths or heights or breadth of such richness. I think the only way we can even begin to know and understand what such a life may be is to walk confidently into it, building our lives on that grace and love and fellowship.

“The fellowship of the Holy Spirit.” In my Greek word study (don’t be too impressed with the depth of my knowledge… this is just a dictionary of sorts at the back of my study Bible, but it is very helpful), the word translated here as fellowship is koinonia. (See?  I don’t even know how to put that line above the “o” where it properly belongs…)

Koinonia, this study says, is “an association of close mutual relationship and involvement with another; it is an alliance with another person or group, formal or informal. There is an implication of intimacy, singleness of purpose, trust of one another, sharing of material goods, and harmony rather than hostility.”*

Wow. This is the way I want to live–in koinonia with the Holy Spirit! In intimacy, singleness of purpose, trust, and harmony with Him. Jesus said because He is no longer in this world with us, He would send the Spirit to live in us … teaching, guiding, reminding, comforting. God’s presence within us! The Spirit living in koinonia with us is the evidence that we are His.

Here’s a prayer for all of us this weekend, from A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie. (I like to think of the “eventide” that he uses in the first line as the eventide of my life … in other words, till the end of my days.)

O Holy Spirit of God, visit now this soul of mine, and tarry within it until eventide. Inspire all my thoughts. Pervade all my imaginations. Suggest all my decisions. Lodge in my will’s most inward citadel and order all my doings. Be with me in my silence and in my speech, in my haste and in my leisure, in company and in solitude, in the freshness of morning and in the weariness of the evening; and give me grace at all times to rejoice in thy mysterious companionship.

May you rejoice in that mysterious companionship today.


* from The Slimline Center Column Reference Bible, Tyndale House Publishers.

Freed From Human Nature

Joyful are people of integrity,
who follow the instructions of the Lord.

Joyful are those who obey His laws
and search for him with all their hearts.

They do not compromise with evil,
and they walk only in His paths.

You have charged us
to keep Your commandments carefully.

Oh, that my actions would consistently
reflect Your decrees!

Then I will not be ashamed
when I compare my life with Your commands.

As I learn Your righteous regulations,
I will thank You by living as I should!
(Psalm 119:1-7)

Doesn’t this sound like a wonderful, joyful way to live? Keeping the Lord’s commandments, walking only in His paths, our actions living out thankfulness and praise to Him. How wonderful to be able to say we have no shame or regrets when we compare our lives to His teaching. Are we living that life?

Or was there, instead, a little voice in your head that objected when you read those verses? Maybe a whisper, “Yes, but … it’s so hard. That sounds like a perfect life, but no one’s perfect.” Apparently David had those same thoughts, because his next promise and prayer is this:

I will obey your decrees.
Please don’t give up on me!

A prayer for all of us!

I’ve been reading the red print in my Bible and thinking about the things Jesus asks me to do. It’s all pretty difficult stuff for us humans to live out. Here are some of the things Christ asks of those who have set their hearts and minds on following Him:

Don’t worry about tomorrow; trust Him completely to supply what I need.

Pray for people I don’t like and who don’t like me.

Turn the other cheek. (Does that mean when someone hurts me, I’m to keep myself open to being hurt again? Maybe even give them another opportunity??!)

Forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive and …

Bite my tongue and squash judgmental thoughts.

Have faith that mountains can be moved (mountains, mind you!)

Love God more than anybody or anything else.

Love others as much as I love myself.

Go into all the world and be a witness.

Keep all of His commandments. Yes, that’s what He said—“If you love me, you’ll keep my commandments.”

So, how are you doing with all those commands? Every single one of those things are too hard for me.

But I want to live that way.Oh, how I want to! David says people who live according to God’s Word live joyful lives and right living is our expression of thanks to God. Jesus promises, too, that living this way is a blessed life, it shows our love for Him, and gives us full and overflowing joy.

I pray David’s prayer: Oh, that I could do this consistently, Lord! Please don’t give up on me!

Because, of course, all of those things Jesus asks me to do are impossible. Impossible for me. Impossible, unless some power greater than myself enables me to keep His commands. And that’s the really, really, good news —

And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. You are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.)The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. (Rom. 8:2,9,11 My emphasis added)

Isn’t that amazing? The Spirit of God, with a power that can raise the dead to life, now lives in me, lives in you. Just imagine what that kind of power can do in our lives. But wait! (as the commercials say) There’s more!

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. (Rom. 8:12)

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. (Gal. 5:16)

We have no obligation, no excuse, no reason, no compulsion, no necessity to live by our human nature. Wow. Just let that sink in for a moment. Do we believe it? Will we live by that promise of God?

Jesus asks us to live a life by the Spirit, not by our human nature. Galatians 5:17 says the battle between the two is always going on, but the Spirit is powerful and will give us the opposite of what our human nature desires.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and have crucified them there…let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. (Gal. 5:24-25)

Jesus nailed my human nature to the cross and He frees me of its limitations!

Spirit, may your power give me the life Jesus wants me to live. I will obey, Lord Jesus. Please don’t give up on me!