Making Progress, Not Perfectionism

Summary: It can be tempting to wait until everything is perfect before beginning something new. However, this often is not the case in life. So instead of reaching for perfectionism, reach for progress.

Last month, I felt God challenging me to upgrade the blogging experience I have been doing. Truthfully, I did not have an idea of where to begin. There was a short season where I kept waiting until everything “lined up”, before I would move forward.

I am glad that was a short season because I could have been waiting a long time!

Fortunately, I ran across something called the 30 Day Blog Challenge that has helped to make me recognize the importance of progress and not perfectionism.

Philippians 3:12-14 puts it this way:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I thought I had to have the “perfect” graphics, posts, following, etc to move forward with this venture. By me just taking a step forward each day, I feel momentum building day by day.

How relieving!

When I lie down at the end of the night, if I hear the thought progress come in it has been an great day!

Challenge: Is there something in your life that you are waiting for the stars to align before you make a step? Let me encourage you to take the first step today and trust the Holy Spirit will guide you to where He is leading. I am sure it is exciting!

Prayer: Father, I thank you that you don’t want perfectionism, but are so pleased when we take steps of faith. And Holy Spirit, I pray that you instruct us and teach us in the way we shall go and to counsel us with your loving eye upon us. In Jesus name. Amen.

Comments: What is something God is calling you to take a step in today. I would love to hear about it in the comments below..

P.S. I purposely left two periods on that last sentence to break perfectionism ūüėČ

Praising God in the Midst of the Storm

When people hear of a positive medical report, a frequent phrase a Christian will say is something like, “Praise God!”

Someone gets a promotion? “Praise God!”

Restoration of a marriage? “Praise God!”

But what about when your world is “seemingly” crashing in around you? That “Praise God!” business can have the tendency to get thrown out the window.

When someone gets cancer, I normally do not hear “Praise God!”

When someone loses their job, I normally do not hear “Praise God!”

When someone is sitting in emotional pain, I normally do not hear “Praise God!”

We have been going through the Book of Psalms at church for the past month or so. A lot of David’s cries to God are not when everything is going great.

Psalm 102:1-2 says, Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you! Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!

When I read these verses, I hear a deep cry from David’s heart for answers. It almost even sounds demanding to me. But even in the midst of pain and suffering, David remembers that praise moves God regardless of circumstances.

Here was an example of that cry to God I experienced in the past week,

I have been working for the first time in several months for about the past month and was scheduled to receive my first paycheck.

I was so excited!  Then payday came around and I got word that the company messed up my paycheck and may be another two weeks before I get paid. So that would be 5 plus weeks without getting a check!

Can you imagine my initial anger? I was furious! I let God have it! And in the midst of it God comforted me.

And I felt the Holy Spirit say, “Let’s find the golden nugget of wisdom in this situation.”

Quickly, I responded “Well I am tired of living paycheck to paycheck! No more of this!”

It was that red hot anger and cry to God that I needed to experience to say “Enough of this way of living!” And I offered God a sacrifice of praise in the midst of the situation.

And the next day I went into work holding no resentment against the company and actually blessing the company.

There is something about worshipping God in the midst of the storm that I cannot fully describe. I can cast all my worries on Him and focus on Him while it seems like everything is falling apart. (1 Peter 5:7)

And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) is priceless to me and grows each time I offer that sacrifice of praise regardless of circumstances.

Challenge: Next time something goes wrong, I challenge you to praise God anyways. Shift your focus to Him. Your circumstance may not change, but your perspective will.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, I pray that you teach every reader to offer that sacrifice of praise regardless of circumstances. Remind them that your goodness is not dependent on when only “good” things happen. That your goodness is when we our on the mountain with You or in the valley. I praise you God! And I ask this all in Jesus name. Amen.

 

 

 

Jesus and Marc’s Trip to Bethel

*A trip like this requires a longer post!

Back in late January, the idea of going out to Bethel began to surface on an unconscious level.

Then in April, when going through a workshop of “The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind” by Bill Johnson the desire to go began to surface. There were two things that really stood out.

Before the workshop started, I was walking down the streets near where the workshop was being held.  Tucked away in the curb was a fresh $20 bill. It just so happened the books also cost $20 as well!

Also, one week during the workshop, my stomach began to churn in a very unusual way, but didn’t make a connection of what was going on.

I finished the workshop and was very sad when the class ended. I felt fear of backsliding at the time and that seemed to be happening.

Then a few weeks ago, I was meeting with some friends and Bethel got brought up and again things began to churn on the inside. The next day I decided to act somehow, so I began filling out the application for the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Almost immediately, there was such a deep spiritual hunger pain that came up.

And that was the tipping point, I knew I wanted to check out Bethel and see what was up. I made a decision if I was going to go I would be all in. Forget the plans I had and dive in.

The trip itself was full of highs and lows, but overall left very encouraged that God was up to something fantastic in my life.

I purchased a one way train ticket with no intention of coming back until I got the answers I was seeking.

So early Wednesday morning, I left via Megabus from Cincinnati to Chicago for the train ride. Armed with my small red backpack with the Bible, a few books, few sets of clothes and toiletries I was off!

While in Chicago, I began second guessing myself, because I did have a nice weekend getaway planned with friends and missed the first train.

As a sat in the train station, I did not like the idea of coming out and going home. I was hearing “miracles” from God if I went. I sure liked that!

So I got on the next train that left soon after the first train.  This was my first train ride outside of the Kings Island amusement park train ride and this was going across the country! I was so excited!

The trip itself went through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and got into Los Angeles. Later, I took a bus and another train ride up to Redding, CA where Bethel Church is.

And on the train ride the miracles began to flow. I was fascinated by the many different types of people on the trip. The conversations were super encouraging.

Now I really didn’t have a lot of funds when I left so I was curious as to how God would provide. In one day God sent three people to provide food for me without me describing the situation. One a sandwich, another an afternoon snack, but the cream of the crop was a steak dinner!

The train has a dining room cart and I wanted to eat there at least once. I felt God saying go in and order what I wanted so naturally I ordered a steak dinner. There was a mother and son sitting across the booth from me, but then another man that came and sat down. He said he was blessed by God and wanted to pay for everyone’s dinner at our booth! I was amazed at the goodness of God through His people!

I was also amazed at the beauty of the trip. It was amazing to be in New Mexico and the train itself would be in a desert, but to look out and see snow capped mountains! How is that possible?! The beauty of God is amazing.

We got to Los Angeles and had some time to walk around. I was saddened by the amount of homelessness in the area. There was a row where there were tents set up and inside were many homeless people.

On the bus and train ride to Redding, CA, I had an opportunity to sit next to a sweet lady. We struck up a conversation and the rest of the time it felt like a mini-date! But alas, when it came to eating, she offered to pay for the food!

Finally, Saturday morning, the train rolled into Redding, CA.

After arriving to Redding, I began asking people how to get to Bethel. It ended up being  about a 5 mile walk. I went up there and there was an event going on. The presence of God was very thick around me during the trip and this was no exception. I struck up conversations with people and had a nice afternoon. Later I went to stay with a friend of a friend for the night.

When I woke up on Sunday, I decided to go to all four services on Sunday! What a treat! Bethel has an amazing worship team.  The worship by everyone is so contagious.

During the worship, my mind began to race, and I felt God say, “Do not worry”, “Seek Me” “Seek my face”. It helped to center myself and I began to experience “the peace that surpasses all comprehension (Philippians 4:7).

All my worries about how I was getting home, my future and all the cares of the world faded away (Matthew 6:25-34). A truly magnificent time in the Presence of God.

There were many times throughout the trip where the Holy Spirit was comforting me, but this was the time that stood out the most.

The next day, I woke up disappointed not thinking I received the answers I was looking for. But as I write this, I feel like God did answer questions that I was seeking whether it was a relationship question, work or finances.

On Tuesday, I left for Cincinnati and God was teaching me so much during the trip. It was overwhelming at times. There were many delays, almost stranded in Los Angeles, but whenever the temptation to get angry, my mind changed and said, “No, I am going to praise God in the midst of this 3 hour delay, this 4 hour delay and this 5 hour delay!

By the end of the trip, I felt that there were 8 people that offered food to me without saying anything! One couple was in California and God brought us together again later in Dallas on separate busses! Again, Praise God for those people who were obedient to His voice and thank you to all of you! 

After about three in a half days, I made it home and was ready for bed.

As I laid in bed, I felt like I had truly fallen in love with God for the first time in a long time. I was like God, I do not even want that financial blessing, that work breakthrough or that relationship. Have it all.

But deep down inside, I was feeling God saying, “Perfect, I want you to have all these things. I just wanted you first.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be¬†added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

And to add to the humor of God I came back with $3 and change in the bank account. Now this is personal to me because it was this time 2 years ago where my bank account had $3 and change and a large check came in the mail to help out.

God I have seen you move in my life in fascinating ways in my life in relationships, work and financial blessing and I know you will do it again and again and again because it who you are.

You are a Good, Good Father. It’s just who you are!

Glory to God for this amazing roller coaster trip!

My encouragement and prayer to anyone who wants to do something that feels reckless is this. Do not worry about what others think about you. Do not make excuses of why you cannot do it. Focus on the nature of God. Find a few trusted friends that will give you wise counsel.

Be who God created you to be! He wants you free. And there is an incredible of amount His Grace when pursuing God with your whole heart.

After all, He is a rewarder of those who seek after Him (Hebrews 11:6).

God Bless you all!

 

Finishing What You Start

Most of my life, I start things but never finish them.

Probably, the most prominent example of this in my life is my goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which means I need to run a marathon in under 3:05.

Back in 2013, I ran four marathons and got closer each time. Charleston Marathon 3:22. Toledo Marathon 3:09. Traverse City Marathon 3:09. And the oh so close Columbus Marathon in 3:07. Then my depression got the best of me and I stopped running.

What happened? Well, I got scared of accomplishing a goal of mine.

The good news is that God will NEVER give up on you. Even when you don’t feel like you can go any further the Holy Spirit will push you through.

Phillipians 1:6 states, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”.

There has been many times during my depression that I wanted to give up. But each time, God was pushing me along telling me that He had a plan for my life. I didn’t understand it, but I kept pushing forward.

Now I am excited to say that I will be starting an internship at my local church next year. It’s a place that has invested so much in me, and I now look forward to giving back.

God has a plan each for each and everyone of His children. I pray that you take that first step and ask God what to show you what it is. It might just change your eternal future.

The God Who Keeps Me in the Valley

Being in the valley doesn’t sound like a very fun place to be and also doesn’t sound very safe. But it is. ¬†This is how God can operate at times. ¬†Sure I would rather be in on the mountain top right now, but God is still refining me day by day, hour by hour and minute by minute.

Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” It’s a verse that gives me great comfort even though all hell SEEMS to be breaking loose.

As I continue to work through the trauma in my life more and more unpleasant feelings are naturally coming up, I MUST maintain my presence on the Lord. It is very easy for me to drift off to a place where I feel like God is abandoning me.  It is a feeling I am starting to learn to embrace instead of trying to push it away.

Pushing away the negative thoughts only invites them to come back. Often more forcefully. By embracing and experiencing the negative thoughts/emotions, I can finally set them free.

While I am in the valley, I can’t help but thank God for protecting during this process. He has always provided for me even when my limited mindset tries to tell me otherwise.

He has always comforted me. Again, even when my limited mindset tries to tell me otherwise. I’m so grateful for this process. Even though breaking out of this cocoon I am in can be painful, it is turning me into a Godly man.

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

I want to share a song with you that has kind of become my anchor song during this valley experience for me. Take a listen: