surrender

Letting Jesus Be Your King

kristenquote1-apr15-fbThe guitarist started to strum the background music. The pastor was closing the first message of the conference on Lordship—surrendering full control of your life to God. I’d zoned in and out the whole time. I knew the information already. I’d been doing the Christian walk for over half my life. I’d worked through the study and attended the same conference before. In fact, I’d taught at it.

So, my mind wandered. God had been Lord over my life for a long time…or had He?

I caught something he said along the lines of, “Maybe you’ve surrendered some of your life to Jesus, but not all of it. Maybe you’ve yet to trust Him with your family, or your marriage, or maybe your career. Maybe today you need to fully give Him all of it, not just certain parts.”

Tears flowed. I’d been really good at relinquishing my family and marriage to Him, but it hit me then that I’d held on to my career with a death grip. When it came to my writing profession, I didn’t fully believe He could keep His promises. I still tried to forge my way, relying on my strength to propel my career to another level, a bigger platform, and to an income-producing job my family could count on.

How could I have missed this? I told Jesus often I believed His Word and the promises He’d spoken to me over the years, but the truth was, I didn’t.

Moments after my realization, it was prayer time, and I knew I needed it. I hadto surrender my career to His Lordship, to allow Him to be my King in all things. I went to my conference prayer partner and could barely spit out that I needed to relinquish my career to Jesus, and she started to pray.

There, in the quiet presence of God, words poured out, then she said, “God, You will use her writing for You. She will pen Your words for all to read.”

Here’s the kicker. I hadn’t told her anything about me. She didn’t know I was a writer. But that didn’t stop God from using her to speak promises over me once again. He is thatfaithful. Even in my weakness, He was there, waiting to bless and love on me.

In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will save it.” In fact, a version of this verse is found in all four Gospels, and in two of them more than once, making no other saying more emphasized by Jesus. (Luke 17:33; Matthew 10:39, 16:25; Mark 8:35; John 12:25) God needed me to get this Truth.

When we take up our cross & surrender our whole life to God, He gives us the abundant life He’s promised. Click To TweetWhen we hold tightly to parts of our life in an effort to make our own plans happen, we inevitably fail at all we’ve strived for. But it is when we take up our cross (v.23) and surrender our whole life to God, that He gives us the abundant life He’s promised. This is not a life without problems, but one full of peace in the circumstances because He’s on our side, leading the way like only a King of Kings can.
kristenquote2-apr15-i

Months later, I find that my mind doesn’t drift to the “what ifs” or “whys.” I don’t dwell on if one of my novels will be published, or how and if my platform will grow. I just take steps with Him, striving each day to let Him be my Leader and King. Living without the weight of anxiety and fear has blessed me with a worry-less attitude, a joyful spirit to love my family, and a fresh mind to write those words God needs me to pen.I take steps with Him, striving each day to let Him be my Leader and King. Click To Tweet

Maybe you find yourself as I did, having given Him control over only parts of your life but not the whole? Or maybe you’re needing to submit it all to Jesus? You can do so easily. Pray earnestly to Him. Repent for not giving Him your entire life and begin today a new path following your King.

Let’s talk about this! Share your thoughts in the comments below, or join the conversation on social media!

Faith

In God’s Wisdom — Of Greater Consequence Than What We Do Today

Woman walking on planked walkway with quote pulled from text

I have a tendency to focus on all the problems and opportunities in front of me. To plan and plot and scheme and strive. But I’m learning, God is more concerned with what is going on within me than anything going on around me.

God is more concerned with what's going on within me than anything going on around me. Click To Tweet

He’s much more concerned with my growth, in wisdom and character, than any role I fill or opportunity I accept. As a result, He rarely tells me what’s up ahead. Instead, He gently whispers guidance for today.

One summer, I found this particularly frustrating. I was wrestling with some career decisions, feeling as if I needed answers immediately. I wanted to follow God’s wisdom, to yield to His guidance, but He appeared to be silent. Feeling discouraged and unsettled, I met with a friend for coffee.

I shared with her all my concerns, all my options, and of course, all of my confusion.

“Well,” she said, “What’s God saying to you?”

I sighed. “Nothing. Other than character-growth stuff.”

She smiled. “Then that’s what He wants you to focus on.”

Later that afternoon, as I puttered around my house, tidying up (also known as allowing my thoughts to stew), realization hit. My personal growth would have far greater benefits, not just in terms of my faith and relationships with God and others, but also in relation to future success, than any momentary decision I could make.

We don’t need to have everything figured out. We simply needed to follow God’s guidance, trust in His wisdom, & lean into His strength.

Scripture and experience tells me my view is faulty and distorted on my best day. But God’s wisdom is perfect and infinite. He knows everything I’ll face tomorrow and precisely what I’ll need, internally and externally, to overcome every challenge.

Foggy road with quote pulled from postIn His wisdom and infinite love, God was preparing me for what lay ahead. This understanding lifted my heart and stilled my swirling, chaotic thoughts. I didn’t need to have everything figured out. I simply needed to follow God’s guidance, trust in His wisdom, and lean into His strength.

We don't need to have everything figured out. We simply needed to follow God’s guidance, trust in His wisdom, & lean into His strength. Click To Tweet

The rest would come, in His perfect timing. And it did. With each opportunity, and endeavor, God showed me precisely what steps to take, leading me in a direction I hadn’t known existed but proved far better than anything I could conceive on my own.

He’ll do the same for you.

Let’s talk about this! Are you in a period of waiting? Are you tempted to jump ahead, to make things work out according to your plans and wisdom? Do you trust that God truly does want to guide you toward His very best? How might focusing on that truth give you the courage to yield to Him–His timing and will? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

 

identity

God’s Plans Versus Mine

I sat in the dusty Zimbabwean earth, peering up at the nowhere-near-ready church, and fumed. Our construction mission trip had just turned on end.

We’d traveled thousands of miles, spent thousands of dollars more to come this far, and now we were forced to face the hard fact: None of the building materials had been purchased. We had nothing to do but wait.

Anger coursed through me, and frustration. I looked down at my just-purchased work boots and gloves, eyed our unused tool belts stacked in a heap. What a waste!

But our team huddled and prayed, determined to give our work to God anew. And in the waiting came fresh blessings.

Helping the women of the village cook, shop for groceries, draw water from the well, braid hair. Playing soccer and King of the Mountain with a horde of barefoot children. Learning the native language while getting to know the bored men hired on for labor. Shining God’s light in spite of setbacks.

Two days later, we were working again. The plan had changed, and we didn’t leave with the completed frame of the new church as we’d hoped. But we left with friends and a heart for the people and the nation of Zimbabwe we probably never would have formed otherwise.

God’s plan had prevailed, after all.

When we set ourselves to doing God’s work and our plans fall apart, it’s hard to see the big picture. Our pride makes us think our plans are His.

The Bible has so many examples of God using the difficult and even catastrophic for good, and then we realize—He was there all along. Click To Tweet

For example, in Genesis, a Hebrew teenager named Joseph is sold into Egyptian slavery by his brothers, a terrible betrayal. Joseph was the son most beloved by his father Jacob, also called Israel, and his brothers hated him for it (Genesis 37:4). But God’s plan was always at work. Not only did Joseph cling to God and rise to Egyptian leadership in spite of his shackles, but he eventually saved both Egypt and his family during a time of severe famine.

When his brothers realized their transgression, they fell down before the brother they had once despised. Joseph wept and responded, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20 ESV).

Sometimes, heeding God’s will means letting go of our own plans. Click To Tweet

I imagine Joseph, stripped of everything and cowering at the hands of his brothers, didn’t have any idea the God of the universe had a master plan to make all this good. But he trusted God anyway. Though all of Joseph’s hardships, the Bible tells us, “The Lord was with him” (Genesis 39:3). And after Joseph died, his bones were ultimately carried out of Egypt by Moses, the man God called to liberate His people when they, hundreds of years later, endured their own slavery, and buried in his people’s new home, Israel.

When I look back on my time in Zimbabwe, I don’t much remember the church we helped construct, but I do remember the people—their faces, their dreams, their songs, their laughter. I remember and celebrate our connection as Christian men, women and children united in a common goal.

I’m certain that was God’s plan all along.

Have you ever struggled to accept God’s plan over your own? How did it turn out?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below and make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram!

And before you go … have you grabbed your free ecopy of our Bible study yet? If not, you can do so HERE! (You can get a print copy for just $5 HERE.)

Also, make sure to visit us on Crosswalk to receive daily devotions sent directly to your inbox. You can find our devotions HERE. 

obedience

Fearless When Ill-Equipped

woman with sunset behind her and the text of Zech. 4:6

God wants those who belong to Him to be brave and fearless. He Himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by the courage of the Spirit. ~ Tertullian Click To Tweet

I felt squeezed. In every direction. Sleep deprived and with more on my to-do list than I could possibly accomplish, pressing deadlines, and an upcoming speaking engagement I hadn’t begun to prepare for, I felt ready to explode. Or hide.

My brain, held captive by my insecurities and fears, refused to function. When I most needed it to shine.

My fear—that I’d fail, and in failing that I’d let everyone down. The conference director who had already purchased my plane ticket. Her team who had already sent out their promotional material, listing me as one of the keynotes. Their attendees, who had spent good money on the conference and were expecting to hear a fresh word.

And more than that, I was afraid I’d look stupid. As I stared at a blank computer screen, my eyes gritty from lack of sleep, my nerves tightly coiled, I worried I wouldn’t come up with anything.

I had nothing. No words. No thoughts.

I suppose much of that came from mounting stress, and sheer exhaustion. In the middle of taking accelerated classes and with an already booked summer, God called my husband and I to something incredibly difficult. Something that took every ounce of strength we had and left me in tears daily. We knew this task was from God. But … what about all our other commitments?

I couldn’t simply walk away. But neither could I, it seemed, walk forward. My insecurities, my fear of failure, my mounting negative thinking, kept chipping away at my strength.

So what’d I do? I stepped away. To pray. To give this thing, this task I felt ill-equipped and ill-prepared for, to God. And as I sat in His presence, His peace overshadowed my anxiety, and His truth stilled my fears.

I knew He’d called me to this engagement, so I decided—yes. I made the choice to trust God to give me the ability to fill this role--as He desired. And I reminded myself that this wasn't about me. Click To Tweet

quote pulled from post with background image of pastel colorsNor was it up to me. It never is. In fact, it’s when I’m resting fully in His grace and leaning deepest into Him that I find my greatest strength.

This is a choice we all must make, whenever our fears and insecurities begin to turn our ears from God’s call, whatever that call may be.

Consider Francis Chan’s words, taken from Forgotten God:

“How much it grieves [God] to watch His children ignore the promises He’s made. Throughout Scripture due to fear that those promises won’t be kept! Empowering His children with the strength of the Holy Spirit is something the Father wants to do. It’s not something we have to talk Him into. He genuinely wants to see us walk in His strength.”

Walking in God’s strength. Listening, with a surrendered heart, for His guidance, then stepping forward in faith, trusting Him to come through.

Is there something God has called you, something that makes your stomach tighten and your knees wobble? Maybe to initiate conversation with a new neighbor or launch a women’s Bible study? Maybe share your faith with a friend or coworker? If so, how does remembering God will be strong on your behalf, that you don’t have to be, give you courage? What are some ways you can lean into Him and rest in His strength? How do our thoughts play into that?

We all struggle with negative thinking, and so often, we become our own limiting factor. We allow our insecurities and fears to hinder our obedience and to prevent us from living out the awesome and life-changing role God hand-crafted each of us to fill. God calls us to greatness. To live courageously. To be life-changers. Click To Tweet

Join us for one of our Bold and Brave conferences to learn how to live intentionally and courageously. Share your thoughts here in the comments below or engage with us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. And contact us HERE to have our team or one of our speakers join you for your next women’s event.

surrender

Big Me, Little God Syndrome–Guest Post

text from post and image of woman looking up

There’s a way to guarantee our misery. To necessarily create an ever-increasing bad attitude. But there’s also a way to grab hold of joy. And herein lies our daily battle, a battle that must be fought and must be fought well. A battle we absolutely have the power to win, if we’d but engage.

As today’s guest, Jennifer Henn, shares in her poignant and transparent post, the choice is ours.

Big Me, Little God Syndrome by Jennifer Henn

I’m too big again. My frustration grows, I’ve taken over and I’m miserable.  I told myself to be careful. I even used to think this could never happen to me again, but it has, and I’m sorrowful. Saddened. Thank goodness there’s a remedy for every time I’m the biggest thing in my life.

In my journal, I circle “ME” and draw a line through it, hoping a visual will help. I go to my Bible and look up the words of John the Baptist, He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30. This verse reveals a certain road to peace in every situation. Click To Tweet.

Making my life about me causes Big Me, Little God Syndrome. This syndrome comes on every time I make my circumstances bigger than God. Then overwhelming feelings of worry and doubt take over.

Then I remember, more of You Lord and less of me.

The thing I’ve spent the most time worrying about are my children. We are a homeschool family and like other homeschool moms, there have been times I’ve wondered if I was doing enough. Times I doubted whether my kids’ academics were up to standard with public school kids. Also, there’s the whole socialization thing. Are we weird homeschoolers?

When my sons were middle school aged, and my daughter upper elementary, my health failed. We had no choice but to enroll the kids in public school.

Now I would know if my schooling measured up.

I went from total control of my kids’ curriculum and activities, to no control. I loved schooling my kids at home, but I held on too tight. I craved homeschool success complete with learning, fun activities, and a fairly clean house. I also thought middle school would be the worst time to enroll your kids in school for the first time. My plan fell apart and God gave me the gift of letting go.

There were lessons in letting go. The basket of my life was turned upside down. I learned to trust God with an open hand. A “God is with me no-matter-what-the-circumstance”, kind of trust. The basket of my life was turned upside down. My circumstances were beyond me, but God remained the same. Click To Tweet

The balance was turning in the right direction, more of God, less of me. For two years, I struggled with multiple health issues.

The situation was beyond me, but never God. My kids went to public school. God’s grace was sufficient for the adjustments they had to make, and they did well academically.

That was seven years ago. I went back to homeschooling and two have graduated. I, too, had a sort of graduation. One day another homeschool parent said I was the most laid back mom she knew. What a surprise, I had changed. Laid back is not my natural tendency.

However, the battle isn’t over. I fight a continuous habit of making my life too much about me. The remedy comes by looking closer at who God is. God is my Rock and Salvation, my Lord and King, the one I put my trust in. I think of these things in practical terms as I go throughout each day. My part is small, God’s part is big.  I need to make God the center of my prayers, not me. When I remember who God is, once again, I become smaller and Christ bigger.

***

Let’s talk about this!

We all struggle with Big Me, Little God Syndrome from time to time, but the more we focus on ourselves, the more miserable we become. It’s when we die to ourselves (surrendering our dreams, our will, our desires to God) that we truly come alive. That’s when we are freed to live authentically, to be the women God created us to be. Share your thoughts here in the comments below or engage with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Get to know Jennifer!

Jennifer Henn is a blogger and speaker who has a passion to help homeschool moms balance their days. She shares with transparency the fun, failures, and heart-aches she’s had while homeschooling her three children.

After 18 years of homeschooling, she’s on to her next career as she writes, speaks, and leads a Word Weavers critique group.

Her heart and home are full where she lives in metro Atlanta with her husband of twenty-six years, two of her three adult children, and two cats.

Visit her online at JenniferHenn.com, on Facebook at The Well-Adjusted Homeschooler, and on Instagram at welladjustedhomeschooler

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.