Some thoughts I’ve put into words so you can put them into action.

Discipline Leads to Discipline

A friend of mine is working on his doctorate. Okay, a lot of friends of mine are working on their doctorate. But this story is about a particular friend of mine. His wife told us that he takes one day a week – one full day – usually Thursday, and spends the entire day on his school work. He doesn’t go into the office, he doesn’t take a meeting in the middle of the day. It’s just sun up, sun down, read and write – get that doctorate done.

I admire that. First of all because he took a dream, turned it into a goal, then scheduled it and did it. But also because that sort of commitment takes discipline. And discipline is something I often lack.

But one trick I’ve been learning to be more disciplined is this: discipline leads to discipline. If you want to be disciplined in one area of your life, get disciplined in another area of your life.

Here’s how that works. With a tight budget, our family is often scraping by at the end of the month. That’s led us to make use of some fancy tools to keep our budget straight: a pen and paper. We write down every dollar we spend every day. That way we can keep better track of our spending and we won’t go over our budget…at least that’s the hope.

But being disciplined in that area of our life has made us more disciplined in other areas. We find ourselves more willing to wake up early and work out. We have more time to read more, to spend with the kids more. We’re more disciplined about our spiritual lives. Discipline leads to discipline.

When you’re disciplined in one area of life, you’ll develop disciplines in other areas of life.

Sometimes I’ll be working on a project and I’ve just hit a wall – I’m frazzled, I’m frizzled, I’m…just making up words now, aren’t I? You get the idea, I’m out of energy. So I get up and start working on something else – like straightening the books on my bookshelf or clearing out the clutter from my workshop.

I used to think those sorts of things were just distractions. Nope, Twitter is a distraction. Twitter is bad. But those other things are actually helpful. I’ll be working on another project and all of a sudden I’m filled with writing energy again! Here I go!!! That other act of discipline helped me better disciplined about another act I need to do.

Discipline is tough. But, discipline is healthy. And it’s also contagious. If you’re wanting to get disciplined in one area of your life – say, eating healthier – then try working on another discipline that may come easier – like limiting your time watching TV. Discipline leads to discipline.

What disciplines do you need to work on in your life? What areas of your life are easier to discipline than others?

 

A Person, Not a Project

I tried growing a beard one time. Tried.

Let me just say, I’m not sure what kind of genes kept me from sprouting a full on beard, but I suspect it’s the 1/16 Native American that all of us Oklahomans claim to have in us. And it’s not like I’m all peach fuzzy or anything. I’ve been shaving since I was eleven years old. I was shaving every single day of the week by the time I was in middle school. But the beard on my face was a bit…spotty…a bit…blotchy.

I kept with it. I grew that thing all during No-Shave-November. I kept going all the way through the middle of December when my wife said, “I know what you can get me for a Christmas present: shave your face.”

So, my beard was a failed project. I’m not a “beard guy.” That’s genetic proof that I’m not a hipster, in my opinion. Good enough for me. I can wear my skinny tie with pride now knowing that I’m not a hipster. And like most failed projects, my beard taught me a few things – like who my real friends are (those that told me I looked ridiculous) and that a beard can get stuck in the zipper of my coat (ouch!).

I used to feel like a failed project a lot of times. I felt like the scattered whiskers on someone else’s face. I felt started and stopped, like I was doomed to a cycle of try – fail – repeat.

About a year ago I hit a wall. I realized that I couldn’t keep going if I really thought of myself that way. So, I got real deep down inside of myself and took a look around at some of the dark corners of my life, places where I hadn’t been in a while and had closed off and stopped thinking about. I found shame. I was ashamed of who I was.

And then I talked to God about it. Know what? He told me he wasn’t ashamed of me. He told me he was happy with who I was, even in the dark corners. He told me that I wasn’t a failed project, but that I was a fully formed, whole individual.

There’s an old song that says, “God’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be.” That’s song is fine, as long as we understand that God’s never finished with us. He’s such a perfect builder, but he never stops building our lives. That tells me one thing: He doesn’t think of us as a project or a check on his To-Do list. He thinks of us as individual people whom he loves. We don’t have to achieve anything in order for him to love us.

God doesn’t view us as a means to an end – we are the end. He doesn’t view us as a prospect or a project. We are the product of his great love.

The process of growth in our lives involves us being honest about what’s wrong with us. But so often the process gets stalled and we’re left focusing on what’s wrong without any movement towards what’s good. We need a little boost, a slight shove into the goodness that we all contain as image-bearers of God. I hope I can be that boost or shove for people, because I can remember vividly many times in my life how I needed it.

Do you need a boost today, to remind you that you aren’t a project or prospect but a person? Who can you help shove back towards the goodness inside of them?

A Lesson from the Dancing Girl

A couple weeks back I took the family to the Springfield Cardinals game for July 4. Not because of my family’s love of baseball, but because there was a free concert and fireworks show afterwards. (Though the point of calling a concert “free” for people who have already paid escapes me.)

Following the last out, everyone was invited down to the field to get a better view of the band and the fireworks. So we made our way down to the outfield grass with our blankets and $4 bottled water.

On the field I noticed kids running around. And I don’t mean they were playing, I mean they were running, as in a dead-sprint., hair-on-fire running. Sweaty-hot-July-night running. Their sweaty faces looked like glazed donuts.

“Where are their parents?” I thought indignantly. “My kids won’t be doing that,” I added self-righteously.

Then I saw her. She was probably in her mid-twenties, though she was too far away for me to tell. But she was close enough for me to see her dance. And dance she did! She was herking and jerking, all appendages akimbo. Elaine Benes had nothing on this girl!

She would pause before each song to see how she wanted to proceed. “How’s the rhythm? Is it fast or slow? Is this really my jam?” But those pauses seemed irrelevant as she danced the exact same way with each song. At one point I think I saw her air drum and air guitar simultaneously – a site I had only seen once before, at a Friday night worship gathering in the 90s.

She was dancing as if no one was watching. But we were! And I did what any American would do in that situation – I took out my iPhone and started filming.

I was embarrassed for her. I really was. But later on the car ride home I thought “Why?” Why should I be embarrassed for her when she wasn’t embarrassed for herself? In fact, I should be jealous – jealous that she enjoys dancing in the outfield more than I enjoy anything in my life.

I’ve often had a skewed view of what it means to enjoy life. Take church for instance. I used to think that in order to enjoy church you had to feel real bad about yourself. You had to feel awful about all the dirty sinning you did during the week. If you didn’t feel bad at church, then God probably felt bad about you.

When I first started preaching I never smiled. Smiling was for frivolous stuff – NOT for preaching! This is serious stuff! You better not enjoy telling people about Jesus!!!

How wrong I was. In fact, if you don’t enjoy telling people about Jesus, how are they supposed to know that he wants us to enjoy following him?

God wants us to enjoy life. Life is a gift from God. Wouldn’t you be offended if someone didn’t enjoy the gift you gave them?

I look back on that hot July night with a bit of regret about my attitude. I missed out on letting my kids run around sweaty faced. I missed out on making a fresh fool of myself by dancing. I missed out on an opportunity to enjoy life.

I hope my kids don’t inherit my sensibility when it comes to enjoying life. I hope they feel free to dance like lunatics at minor league baseball games. I hope they let their kids run sweaty-faced on hot July nights. I hope they enjoy life a lot more than I have.

But it’s not too late for me. I’m going to start enjoying life more. I think I’ll go try out some new dance moves. But please put away your iPhones before I start.

How do enjoy God’s gift of life? When have you missed out on enjoying life because you thought you weren’t supposed to?

I’m Rooting for Alex Rodriguez

I’m rooting for Alex Rodriguez. He’s batting .284 with a .513 Slugging Percentage. He has 16 home runs to go along with 12 doubles at the halfway point of the season. The Yankee’s designated hitter should be an All Star, but most think he doesn’t deserve to even play the game.

But not me. I’m rooting for him.

Alex Rodriguez has a troubled past. An admitted drug user, his legacy tarnished by PEDs. He has lied, cheated, and denied the charges against him. But he finally relented, admitted, and accepted his punishment. He sat out an entire season to atone for his past sins. And now, fully rehabilitated, he rejoined the New York Yankees in their pursuit of an historic 28th World Series title.

But still, most baseball fans don’t like Alex Rodriguez. They boo him any chance they get. They call him a bum, a cheater, a steroid bloated junkie.

But not me. I’m rooting for him. And here’s why.

Alex Rodriguez’s story is so similar to every story I’ve ever heard before. A person’s sins are uncovered. They deny it. They negotiate. They plead and beg and lie. And then finally, they relent. They confess their sins and pay the cost.

Once our sins are uncovered and confessed, how long must we suffer? I’m not talking about excusing illegal behavior. But once the full debt has been paid, and in the case of Alex Rodriguez it has – a full season of lost wages and playing time. Once a person has paid for their sins, how long must they suffer?

The story of Alex Rodriguez is one of brokenness, but it is also one of redemption. The contract he signed in 2007 specified certain bonuses for breaking certain baseball records. The Yankees indicated they would renege on their promise due to Rodriguez’s admitted PED use. The two sides recently settled their dispute with a payment of $3.5 million going to charity instead of the slugger’s pocket book. That right there is a picture of redemption. Let me explain.

In Luke 12, Jesus tells a story about workers who diligently await their master’s return. They keep their lamps burning all through the night. The implication is obvious – keep doing what you’re supposed to do, because we don’t know when Jesus will return. He ends the story with this lesson:

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.

Luke 12:48

In other words, those who are faithful are faithful because they have been given much by the master. Part of the gift from our master is grace – forgiveness and favor that we don’t deserve. Since we’ve been given grace, we must give grace.

Alex Rodriguez doesn’t deserve to play baseball. He broke the rules, lied about it, tried to cover it up, and disgraced an entire organization. But he is playing baseball now. He was given grace to return to the game he once loved. And now he’s returning that grace by giving to charities.

That’s the essence of redemption. We don’t receive forgiveness to wipe our slate clean so it can be dirtied again. We receive forgiveness so that we’re changed. And since we’re changed, we act differently. Since we’ve been given grace, we show it everywhere. I’m rooting for Alex Rodriguez because I’m rooting for grace. And his story is a picture of what we should all do when we receive grace.

The Strong Struggle

I recently started working out…again. This is about the 38th time that I’ve started. But this time I’m committed…to last at least a week.

I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle at it. I struggle with lifting weights and the proper form. I struggle with motivating myself to go down in my basement and actually do it. I struggle most of all with not eating every single cookie in the house as a reward for a 30 minute exercise.

I struggle. But if I’m struggling, that at least means I’m not quitting.

The strong struggle. Every strong person you know in your life has struggled with something. In fact, every strong person you know continues to get stronger because they continue to struggle. The opposite of struggle is to quit, to give up, to throw in the towel. The weak quit, but the strong struggle.

I struggle with God. I struggle with the idea that God is all powerful and all loving but there is still such devastating disaster in the world daily. If you don’t struggle with that, I don’t think you’re human. I struggle with reading my Bible all the time and praying. Oh, do I struggle with that. I have such an active mind it’s very difficult to sit still for 20, 30 minutes at a time.

But I struggle, I don’t give up.

The Bible is full of stories about people struggling with God. The most famous is the story of Jacob wrestling God all night long (Genesis 32). When dawn broke, God gave in and blessed Jacob, turning him from a liar into a prince.

This story of physical struggle represents a lot of mental and spiritual struggles we have with God. And a lot of those struggles happened in the Bible too.

  • Job struggled with defending a God who would allow his whole family to be wiped out.
  • David struggled with those who ridiculed him for trusting in a God who seemed to abandon him.
  • Elijah struggled with depression and isolation.
  • Daniel struggled with those who tried to kill him for following God’s word.
  • Even Jesus struggled on his last night on earth when he asked, “Can you take this cup from me?”

It’s normal and natural to struggle. We shouldn’t be surprised when we struggle. If you’re not struggling with something in your life, you’ve likely given up. Whether it’s the struggle to stay spiritually disciplined, the struggle against a particular sin, or struggles in your relationships with others, you’ve got a fight on your hand.

But the strong struggle because to give up would be weakness.

Isn’t it Ironic…Dontcha Think?

Back in 1995, Alanis Morissette sang Ironic. Unfortunately, the only ironic thing about it was that it wasn’t ironic. Take a look at some of the lines:

It’s like rain on your wedding day – That’s an inconvenience, not irony

A free ride when you’ve already paid – Just ask for a refund

Good advice that you just can’t take – Then it’s not really good advice, is it

A traffic jam when you’re already late – That’s just poor planning

Ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife – I don’t even know what this one means

Irony is not an overabundance of cutlery. Irony is when you expect one thing but get something else. It’s a literary technique, a way to tell a story. It’s not a rainy wedding, it’s an unexpected turn of events – sometimes good, sometimes bad.

And with that, I want you to think about this. Read more

How Revenge is Like a Sriracha Quesarito

I hit the Taco Bell drive thru the other day. Why? Because of the Sriracha Quesarito of course! If you know me, then you know I like spicy food…even if my stomach doesn’t always like it.

As the cashier handed me my food, she cordially said, “Enjoy your meal!”

“You too!” I shouted back with a big smile and wave.

You too…really?

It wasn’t until about three blocks down the road I realized what I said. “You too?” She wasn’t eating, I was! You too…come on, brain.

I replayed that over and over again in my head for the next four hours. I almost went back to Taco Bell to explain myself. “I know you’re not eating right now…that ‘you too’ was for later…I’m not an idiot…really.”

Oh well. That’s not the first – or last – time I said something idiotic at a Taco Bell. And with that, I want you to think about this. Read more

Faith to Fail, part 3

Faith to Fail 3This is part 3 of a 3 part series on the topic of faith and failure. It was originally published on theChurct.at Glocal blog over at Glocal.theChurch.at You can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

Joseph’s life was full of fail. First, his brothers hated him and plotted his death after he told them about his dreams, dreams that God had given him. Then, he was sold into slavery. Though he was prosperous in the house of Potiphar, he was tempted by his master’s wife. He was faithful and resisted the temptation, but he was thrown in prison anyway. He made friends while in prison, but was quickly forgotten. Over and over again, Joseph’s life was showing a pattern of coming up short when it mattered most.

Then one day his friend remembered his uncanny ability to interpret strange dreams. And Pharaoh was having some pretty strange dreams. There were these seven fat cows eaten up by seven skinny cows. What could it mean? Joseph knew.

Joseph was finally able to use his God given gift of interpretation to his benefit. Pharaoh showed him favor and made him second in command over all of Egypt. And though the road was littered with constant falls, he was finally standing tall. So tall in fact that his own family would eventually bow down to him just like those dreams God had given him years earlier.

Now, when you look at Joseph’s life it’s pretty easy to pick out all the times he had enough faith to fail. He kept his head and increased his faith in God, knowing that obedience was the true mark of a follower.

So let’s say that you were writing a book on faith. You’ve reserved one or two sentences for each of the Old Testament saints. You get to Joseph. What would you write? That his faith led him to divine interpretation? That his faith was most magnified when he resisted temptation? That his faith finally led him to success in the end?

Well, if you’re the writer of Hebrews that actually was your job. And guess what he chose to write about when he got to Joseph:

It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.

Hebrews 11:22

Wait, what? That’s it? His example of faith was that he believed God would make sure his bones were buried in the right place. Sure his confidence in the exodus was commendable, but trusting in his final resting place? That’s not too exciting.

But think about this. Looking over Joseph’s life the only constant was inconsistency. Just when everything was going great, the rug would be pulled out from under him. And that’s just the stories we see in Genesis. What about the things that happened after Genesis 50?

I wonder if his life kept going up and down like the roller coaster it had been. Maybe he had problems with his kids. Maybe there was some in-fighting amongst the Egyptians. Military reigns are full of backstabbing and coups and I bet Joseph was squarely in the middle of a couple of scandals while in power.

Joseph’s life was a constant back and forth between success and failure, failure and success. He would fall down and pull himself back up…just to be thrown down again. And if we’re honest, our lives look a lot like that too. But through it all, Joseph held onto one promise: That he would eventually end up right where God had promised him.

In fact, he held onto that promise so tightly that he gave careful instructions about his very bones. For Joseph, success wasn’t about how much food was stored up in the barns of Egypt or how high up he had risen in the ranks. Success for him was gauged by his final resting place in the promises of God.

None of us have been promised smooth sailing on this side of eternity. In fact, the examples we see in the Bible lead us to believe it’s going to get a little bumpy. “What we go through right now,” Paul wrote to the Romans, “is nothing compared to what we’ll see on the other side.”

We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28

Paul is talking about our future resting place. He’s not guaranteeing success or perfection here on earth. He’s saying that when bad things happen don’t worry, you’ve got a spot reserved for you in eternal glory.

Joseph understood that. He knew how inconsistent and unpredictable life could be. So he looked forward to a time when he could finally be in God’s presence forever.

No matter what happens in this life, we can be sure that God’s got a plan for everyone of us. That plan is for us to be with him forever and ever. Along the way we’ll encounter all kinds of good things and bad, failures and successes. But each of us that love God and are called by him will end up in his rest forever.

Faith to Fail, part 2

Faith to Fail 2This is part 2 of a 3 part series on the topic of faith and failure. It was originally published on theChurct.at Glocal blog over at Glocal.theChurch.at. You can find part 1 here.

We took a step of faith…and fell flat on our faces. We followed God where he directed us and ended up debt-ridden and dejected. So we moved back to Oklahoma, licked our wounds, and tried to rebuild.

Starting out a marriage with over $21,000 in debt was never in the plans, but it happened. And it happened as a direct result of a step of faith. So the next step was to pay off all that debt and get back on track. I got a job (not in ministry) and we set a budget. I worked hard and month by month we started paying off debt in big chunks. In less than two years we had done it. We paid off all that debt!

Then one day, while I was talking with God, I told him, “It’s too bad that it happened this way.”

“What do you mean, Chris?”

“Well, here was this opportunity for you to do something miraculous and answer our prayers and pay off our debt. You could have gotten all the glory for this. But now when I tell people about this, I’ll tell them that God got me into debt and I got me out of it.”

“Really, Chris?”

“Well, that’s the way it happened, right?”

“Let me ask you this…who helped you get that good paying job?”

“Well, you did. I prayed and you answered that prayer.”

“And who was it that gave you favor so that you got raises and bonuses that went a long way to paying off that debt?”

“Well…you.”

“And who was it that gave you the skills and abilities you used at that job? Who was it that gave you breath in your lungs and strength in your bones to get out of bed each day and go to work?”

“That would be you, God.”

“Okay. Do you want to go back and rethink that whole idea that you did it and not me?”

And there you have it. That was a real conversation that I had with God. And it was one of the most honest conversations I’ve ever had with anyone. The truth is that God did intervene. The same God that led us to take a step of faith was the same God that watched as we failed. And he’s the same God that picked us up, dusted us off, and pointed us in a new direction.

One of my favorite verses is this one, a little verse I sort of stumbled onto in Colossians one day:

I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.

Colossians 1:29 (emphasis added)

The struggle is mine and the work is hard, but it’s Christ’s power and not mine that works within me. My faith is not in my own abilities or powers; it’s in Christ’s power within me. The same faith that is big enough to fail is big enough to get back up again. Why? Not because of success, but because of the source.

Too often we think that faith depends on success. If you have faith, it will be reflected in whether we win or lose, fail or succeed. Take a look at these verses:

I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (and ensures that I won’t fail).

Philippians 4:13 (additional, incorrect words added by me)

 

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people (and God will ensure you don’t fail).

Colossians 3:23 (again, that’s not what it says)

Those phrases in parentheses are what a lot of people (myself included) read into those verses. The promise, we think, is that if we have enough faith, if we rely upon God, if we do it with enough passion and perseverance, then the outcome is guaranteed success.

But the truth is our faith is not founded on a positive prospect, but on the one who has called us, the one who has empowered us, and the one who holds us all together. In the book of Philippians Paul tackles this directly. He lists all these things that were great in his life: his education, his heritage, his relationships. Then he talks about the bad stuff that’s happened to him: loneliness, bankruptcy, failure. But he puts all of that stuff on one side of the faith ledger and this on the other:

Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.

Philippians 3:8

It takes more faith to fail than it does to succeed. And it takes even greater faith to get back up again. The only way that’s possible is if our faith is grounded in Jesus Christ. The only way that’s possible is if our focus is knowing him.

We step out in faith every time because we are obedient to him. Whether we fail or succeed, it’s all about obedience. And when we get back up, dust ourselves off, and follow him again, it’s all because of him.

Faith to Fail, part 1

FailThis is part 1 of a 3 part series on the topic of faith and failure. It was originally published on theChurct.at Glocal blog over at Glocal.theChurch.at.

We give Peter a hard time, don’t we? But I’m not sure he deserves it. We paint him as hot-headed (John 18:10), prone to putting his foot in his mouth (Matthew 16:22-23), who denies his best friend Jesus (Luke 22:61-62). But he was also the chief disciple (Matthew 16:18-19), founding Apostle (1 Corinthians 15:5), and leader of the first church (Acts 2:14). Not such a bad resume.

One story in particular is used to give Peter a bad name. In Matthew 14 we see the disciples heading out across the lake while Jesus stayed behind to pray. In the middle of the night, while the sea was tossing back and forth, Jesus came walking on the water. Peter calls out to him, “If that’s you Jesus, call me out and I’ll walk to you.” Jesus says okay and out walks Peter. But he sees the waves and he gets afraid and he starts to sink. Jesus grabs him by the hand and pulls him back in the boat and says:

“You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me?”

Matthew 14:31

The sermon I’m sure you’ve heard over and over again is that if your faith is little, then you’ll see the waves and waver, your knees will get shaky and your feet will get wet, then fear will overtake your faith. O ye of little faith!

But I think there’s a better sermon in this verse. Let me show you by telling you a little bit of my story.

When my wife and I were newlyweds and just graduated from college, we made a big step of faith and moved to Salt Lake City, UT to help out at a new church plant. We had friends and mentors there to encourage and support us. We had a new church that was exciting and dynamic. But we didn’t have jobs. And we didn’t have a lot of money. So, against our better judgment and everyone else’s advice, we racked up some debt. We didn’t use the plastic to buy fancy dinners or big screen TVs. No, we used our plastic to pay for things like rent and electric and groveries. But at the end of four years in Salt Lake City we had racked up over $21,000 in credit card debt. Not quite the way we wanted to start our marriage.

During that same time I took over as youth pastor at the church. I inherited a group of 7 teenagers. Through much effort and a lot of hard work, four years later we had grown the group to…8. Not the rousing success I had dreamed of while taking church ministry classes in my college days.

So, we eventually left Utah and move back to Oklahoma, dejected and debt-ridden. We had stepped out in faith believing that God would take care of us. And we ended up falling flat on our faces. It was like I was pulled through the gravel. I felt like Peter being admonished by Jesus. “O ye of little faith!”

But several months later, after I sorted through my negative ministry experience, I saw things differently. Jesus told Peter that he had little faith. But Jesus explains little faith elsewhere, too:

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

Matthew 17:20

Mustard seeds are about 1 mm in diameter. You don’t have to be an herbalist to know that’s little. So mountain moving faith is little, but I think faith to fail may be a little bit bigger.

Let me explain it this way. Let’s say you have a business opportunity that’s virtually guaranteed. You have an airtight business model, several financial backers, and a list of sure prospects just waiting for you to open your door. How much faith would it take to start that business?

Now let’s say that your business opportunity is a little less secure. Your friends give you a 50/50 chance of surviving, and other people in the field are trying to talk you out of it because several of them have gone bankrupt. Heck, let’s say that you’re guaranteed to fail. Now, how much faith would it take to start that business?

We think of Peter’s faith as little, but it was bigger than eleven other men in the boat. He had enough faith to take a step out onto the water. Every fiber of his mental being would lead him to believe that a man can’t walk on water. His physics-bound body was not created to tread on top of waves. He was guaranteed to fail.

But of all the people who have ever existed, we only have record of two men walking on water. One is Jesus, of course. But the other is Peter. He did something that no one else not named the Son of God did. He may have fallen flat and gotten wet, but at least he stepped out of the boat.

When we hear testimonies of people stepping out in faith it’s usually success stories. There are plenty of stories about the opposite, but we don’t give them a microphone. That’s probably because failures aren’t good motivators, sure. But when we hoop and holler over every success, are we giving a false sense of security?

Because of our preoccupation with success, I’m afraid we’ve put it in people’s minds that all they need to do is step out in faith and everything’s going to be shiny happy! We’ve elevated the expectation and given them a false faith. If we’re honest, the chances of failure are as great as success in a lot of what we do for God. But our obedience is not determined by the prospects of success. Our obedience is based on his word. We step out of faith – move from the boat to the water – because he tells us to.

And if we fail? Well, in the end it only matters that we were obedient. Obedience is the true measure of faith for the life lived following hard after Jesus. And it takes more faith to fail than it does to succeed.