Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Journal - November 26th, 2014 - birthday

Daddy, You have blown me away again!!!!!!!!

I opened Jesus Calling for yesterday and today's devotional this morning, and the devo for the 25th, my birthday, was all about giving thanks in all circumstances and to pray without ceasing.  The first verse on the list for that day was 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
 Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for us in Christ Jesus.
These are the verses You told me years ago are my "Life Verses", and the very same 2 verses I put up on my wall 3 or 4 years ago!

Daddy, Your ways are so far above my ways that it makes my head spin!  Dad, I love You too!  Thanks for showing me again how much You love me!  That you whispered to Sarah Young all those years ago to make this THE MAIN verse for the November 25th devotional, then whisper to me "this is your life verse Joey," then to whisper the thought of having me put it on the wall of my office - all to show me TODAY to what lengths You will go to to show one of Your kids how GREAT is Your love for us.  I am wrecked by Your love Daddy, in such an awesome way. I recognize and receive Your love, and love You too!!!

                                                                                                 my office wall

Monday, April 7, 2014

What's happened since my 40 day water fast?

As my 40 day fast came to a close, I experienced a lot of emotions.  I felt the high of accomplishing what I believed was impossible mixed with a feeling of uncertainty about what would happen next.  I remember feeling a nervous excitement as I asked God, "What now?  Are all my prayers already answered?"
I sensed Him answer, "Did your prayers line up with My will?"
I answered "Yes sir, to my knowledge of You they did."
"Then you know what My Word says in 1 John 5:14-15:
'This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know He hears us - whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of Him.'
Your fast didn't make Me want to answer your prayers any more than I did before you fasted.  Your prayers were answered when you believed I heard them, but your obedience opened in you a new realm of knowing Me and trusting Me beyond what you were capable of previously.   You cannot yet comprehend the fullness of this new realm, but in time you will.  As for your prayers, trust they are answered in My timing and My ways."

Two days after the fast ended, my oldest son Trey came to me and said he wanted Jesus to be Lord of his life, that he was ready to surrender his will to Jesus' will.  I asked him what that looked like to him, and he laid face down on the floor and began to talk to Jesus like He was standing in the room.  I witnessed my son in beautiful humility surrender his will the best he knew how at that time.  What an honor!  God is so faithful!!!   Thank You Lord!

One morning in my quiet time a couple of weeks later, I sensed Him ask "Do you want to know why I invited you to the fast?" Of course I bit quickly and said "Yes Dad, why?"  What He said next still blows me away and brings tears of joy to my eyes whenever I think about it.  He said, "Because I knew you would say yes Joey." 

It has now been over a year since the fast.  Troubles still come and go just like before, but my perspective is changing.  I'm not saying the boys don't step on my last nerve from time to time, or golf magically became less frustrating, but I am quicker to realize and believe the truth of Philippians 4:5 that "The Lord is near."  The reality of that Truth changes everything when we accept and believe He is who He says He is.  He is near to all of us.  He's not mad at us.  He loves us more than we can imagine.  He loves talking with us.  He loves it when we choose Him over the world's distractions.  He loves it when we choose to believe who He says we really are.  He loves it when we choose to believe who He says He really is.  He loves it when we choose to believe He really sent His son Jesus to take our place in judgement.  He loves it when we ask for forgiveness in humility.  He loves forgiving us!  He loves to take our burdens upon Himself and exchange them for peace (Philippians 4).  He loves for us to give Him the authority to clean up all our messes.  He loves us.

He is love.  (1 John 4:16)
He loves us outrageously (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8; many others)
To know Him is eternal life - (John 17:3)
He is our provider - (Phil 4:9; Heb 13:20,21)
He is our healer - (Exodus 15 and so many others)
He is our protector - (Ps 91; Eph 6; Ps 28 and so many others)
He is our avenger - (Ps 94, 35; Romans 13)
He sees all things - (Hebrews 4:13; Acts 1:24; 1 Sam 16:7; Proverbs 15:11)
The Lord is near - (Philippians 4)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Part IV through 40 days

Day 34 - This day I came so close to giving up that it still scares me.  Shari was on a trip and it was a weekend, so the boys were home being boys (amplified by what seemed like about 10,000!), running around the house, screaming, fighting, asking for food constantly, and our two year old must have pooped 10 times!  The enemy started whispering in my ear again that this whole fast was for nothing, and this time I was listening.  I heard:
Nothing is going to change. 
Why are you wasting your time? 
God didn't ask you to do this, you made this all up in your head, and NOTHING is going to change. 
You don't deserve this punishment.
Look how far you've gone, be proud of yourself. 
This is long enough.
I opened the pantry door and stared at a beautiful jar of peanut butter - Peter Pan, creamy (for you peanut butter fans you know what I'm talking about).  I pulled it out and set it on the counter.  I was ready to open that jar and dig in with my fingers when a thought entered my head to ask God for a new Word.   There was a part of me that didn't want to ask - I wanted what I wanted!  But His prompt was stronger, and as I asked my Father God for a new Word to stand on, a peace overcame me.   The desire for that peanut butter left as fast as it came, and I heard God whisper to me "Give Me your very best Joey."  Again, my words here can not do justice to how my spirit was renewed and my resolve strengthened - in an instant everything changed.  In a breath I was renewed in my core and I felt invincible.  Then the scene from Facing the Giants played through my mind where the coach blindfolded Brock for the "death crawl" and asked Brock to give him his very best.  If you haven't seen the movie or at least that scene, click here . 
I went to YouTube and watched the clip again and I felt like I could run miles I was so fired up.  In that moment it seemed like I was already in the end zone.  Yes Dad, I can and will give You my very best.  Six more days.  Thanks for saving me yet again!  Psalm 91:14-16 has been a favorite for a long time, but it became so real on day 34:
 "because he loves Me, says the Lord, I will rescue him.  I will protect him for he acknowledges My name.  When he calls on Me, I will answer him.  I will be with him in trouble.  I will deliver him and honor him; with long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation."

I was now seeing from a new perspective, a different altitude - everything had changed, and the next 6 days flew by.  My eyes and my heart were on the finish line, with a fresh Word to carry me through!  On day 36 I left to serve on a men's event with Fellowship of the Sword called Quest.  It is 5 and a half days with God on a beautiful 500 acre ranch in the hill country of Texas, and I was part of the volunteer staff that cooked and supported the men on the event.  I first went on this event back in January of 2008 and it took my walk with Him to a whole new level.  I had never had such frequent encounters with God, nor heard Him so easily as I did over those 5 days.  Now I love to go back and serve and witness others having their own encounters.  God arranging me to finish the fast on this event is another miracle and blessing in itself.  He knew what I would need and arranged it.  He put the desire in my heart and took care of the details.  No electronics, incredible praise and worship, and a lot of time with Father God - can you think of a better way to end a 40 day fast?  Another mind-blowing "coincidence"  I have failed to mention so far is that another friend of mine (Scott) had also been called to a 40 day fast of only eating certain foods.  His fast started EXACTLY when mine did, and he was serving on this event as well!  So we would both be ending our 40 day fasts at the exact time, together, over 300 miles from home.  You can't make stuff up this good - who would believe it?

Those last 5 days He downloaded a lot of revelation that I am still processing to this day, but the last day of the fast is practically a story in itself.  I woke up that morning at 5am full of energy and excitement.  It had been 39 days since I had eaten, and at 6pm that day it would be over!   I went outside to spend my last morning quiet time with Him while on the fast, and the emotions were overwhelming.  I felt His love in such an amazing way and I know it will be something I will remember forever.  I asked Him for a scripture for me, and I heard Him whisper in my heart Psalm 84.  I looked it up and wept.  I cried out with all my heart, "let it be unto me as You have said - I receive Your blessing Dad!"

The day surprisingly went easily and quickly, fortunately there is always a lot to keep you busy on these events.  Scott and I felt He wanted us to take communion as our first meal, and to dedicate back to Him the first meal sure seemed to line up with His ways, so as 6pm drew near I got a tortilla and a small smoothie my friend Norm had made me and headed outside.  To my amazement, Jeff, my friend who sent me an encouraging text EVERY day of my fast was waiting there.  He had driven 5 plus hours to be there when we finished the fast - I was blown away again!  As he prayed over us we broke fast.  I know most of you would not rank tortillas as incredibly flavorful, but I can tell you I tasted flavors I never remember being in a tortilla.  Texture, and even the simple act of chewing brought incredible pleasure.  I took very small bites, and chewed them for what seemed like minutes in utter joy.  I had felt led to ask God a couple days earlier to begin to wake up my digestive system, and unlike what happened the previous time I took communion (without His permission), this one went easy causing no problems.:-)

 After we went back inside I noticed a friend of mine in a lot of pain due to his back, he said it had caused him problems for years.  I felt compelled to pray for healing and to tell the pain to go away.  When I obeyed God's prompting, the miraculous happened - all his pain went away!  Thank You Lord! He told me years ago He would heal His kids through me, I've just always struggled believing it.  Not anymore!  I now realize it has NOTHING to do with me EXCEPT Obedience!  When He prompts, I'll say yes. And when I obey the miracles follow.  I don't know how to explain what happened the rest of the night because it doesn't make sense in the natural.  Within a couple of hours of eating, an overwhelming sadness came over me, and I just wanted to be alone.  I could not figure out where it was coming from until I asked the Father.  I heard Him whisper it's okay, your spirit is mourning this season coming to an end, it has to happen, let it.  With that I sat there and cried on and off for about an hour remembering the last 40 days.  What an incredible journey He just walked me through!  Then He whispered, your next season has already begun...

For you nutritionists out there, just as God carried me through the fast, He also carried me through coming off the fast, and it was effortless.  Mostly juices, soups and soft foods for the first week, then it was back to normal.  I had lost a total of 45 pounds, and now it was time to start putting it back on, and in the right proportion!  God had taken me to my foundations both spiritually and physically, and the journey of re-building was about to begin.

I want to acknowledge and thank my incredible wife Shari for everything she did and persevered through during this fast.  She covered me in prayer, spoke life and truth into me, and handled issues that came up without me evening knowing.  There were so many times I had to retreat to prayer and she must have felt like a single parent, yet I never heard her complain.  Her faith and trust in God's goodness and faithfulness is like a 300 year old redwood with a giant sycamore canopy.  The unity we had during the fast and have today stems from her burning desire to obey our Father God.  Thank you Shari, what an incredible wife and mom you are!  I love you so much!  One day she might share what this experience looked like from her side - closet eating and all :-).

Sunday, January 19, 2014

40 days - Part III

This is part 3 of the journey God invited me to in 2013 - a 40 day water only fast.

The 3rd week of the fast went by in a blur, and it was hard to watch but I was right on track for the pound a day I had read about.  I had gotten in a routine of getting in the Word, praising, praying or journaling at the first signs of hunger pains, and I was drinking what seemed like gallons of water.  Amazingly I still had energy, but I could tell my stamina wasn't what it used to be.  Fortunately, my job mostly involves a phone, a computer and the internet, but this month for some funny reason had more lunch meetings scheduled than any of the previous twelve.  You would think sitting there watching someone else eat and smelling the food would almost seem like some cruel punishment, but it wasn't at all.  The smell of food actually started becoming satisfying and filling (I took it as a gift from God!).  At first it would typically be a little awkward for whoever I was meeting, but I would just let them know I was fasting that day and most didn't say another word about it.  The ones that dug deeper I was able to share the story with, and usually gained another prayer warrior.  It was really cool how telling the story would give me new strength and energy to carry on.  God is so incredible how He brings just the right people into your life at the right time - I truly stayed amazed.

The 4th week is where some cool things started to happen.  The morning of the 21st day I woke up wanting to dance - I now had fewer days ahead of me than behind me.  It may not seem like a big deal while reading this, but to me, in my mindset, it was Mount Everest!  In my mind I had come up with this idea that it would be my strength getting me through the first 20 days, and the last 20 on His strength.  I had made it to His time! (of course looking back it was ALL Him of course - I just played an active role.)  Now, just to set the stage a bit, because of all the water I was having to drink I would wake up 5 to 10 times a night to use the bathroom and drink more water.  I knew when I didn't drink enough water, my tongue would get dry and swell - yeah, fun stuff.  On one of those nights I woke up hearing something I had never heard before.  I don't know how to explain it other than what I felt God tell me it was - I was hearing my spirit singing praise songs to God, and the intimacy brought me to tears.  It was like the feeling of waking up with a song on your heart, multiplied by a million.  I wasn't hearing it in my head, but rather it was coming from my chest.  From that night on, every time I woke, I either heard singing or praying.  I can say without hesitation this gift to hear my spirit sing praise songs to my Father God was the most amazing tangible gift I experienced during my fast.  And the closer to day 40 I got the louder it was.  Yet I never had trouble going back to sleep.  I would sing along for a while then realize I better go to sleep, and I'd be out.

Even though I was experiencing this amazing Praise and Worship every night, I still was not having the intimate conversation, encounters and revelations with God during my quiet times I thought I would be having - and this is now 20+ days into it.  As I was discussing this with a friend on day 24, I felt God drop this Word in my heart:
Joey, if you heard Me extra clearly during this time of fasting, you would believe to hear Me this clearly again you would need to do another long fast.  Then you would formulate it into a law and start telling everyone if they wanted to hear Me clearly they would need to do a 40 day fast.  Hearing Me has nothing to do with your works, but everything to do with your desire to know Me, My promises, My character - son, it's all about knowing Jesus. 
Wow, He knows me so well!  I absolutely love the way He protects us from ourselves, and how He shows us it's not about religion and works, but about getting to know Him, His character, His promises from His Word - about how He rolls, so we can't be tricked by the enemy (satan) who loves to try to blame God for the way he steals, kills and destroys our life (John 10:10).  Just like we enjoy spending time with our friends, God longs for us to desire to spend time with Him - I know now it's all about relationship.

On day 26 I got a pain in the back bottom part of my neck, and it really hurt when I would turn my head.  I journaled a prayer giving it totally to Him to heal.  We went to the Saturday service at our church and Communion caught me by surprise.  The thought of not taking communion just seemed wrong, and I thought with my neck hurting, maybe I should take it, maybe the timing was a sign -  so I took communion (in the natural a piece of cracker the size of your thumbnail and a thimble of grape juice shouldn't be a big deal, right?).  Let's just say it made for a very interesting night in the Borden bathroom - how a cracker and swallow of juice that small can cause the what happened still baffles me.  Needless to say, the next morning in my quiet time I realized I didn't ask Holy Spirit if I should take communion, I just thought I should.  Fear had crept in over my neck, and I thought some religious works could barter me some healing - how foolish!  I quickly repented (asked forgiveness, received forgiveness, and changed my mind to ask Him from now on!) and that was that.  On day 27 it was still hurting, but I refused to give in to fear and praised right through the pain.  Day 28 brought an additional pain in my left side and I knew I needed an answer from God about these pains.  As I pressed in I felt like I heard I wasn't drinking enough water.  So I drank even MORE water than normal, and unsurprisingly the pain went away by that evening.  I learned God really does want to guide our steps (Proverbs 16:9), but I had seldom asked, and even less seldom waited for the answer before deciding on my own.  Lord forgive me for not waiting on You! (Isaiah 40:31; 30:18, James 5:11)  Teach us all what it looks like to wait on You!

That last Word I received had sustained me until day 34, but it felt like it's season was coming to an end.  The enemy was coming at me with temptations from so many directions and I was loosing strength.  Shari was on the 2nd day of a 3 day trip, the boys were wearing me out - I needed a new Word Lord to carry me through the last 6 days!

to be continued next week...

Friday, January 10, 2014

40 Days - Part II

"I'm asking you to take an active role in something you can't do." - the simplicity yet depth of that Word He spoke into me still blows me away.  In that moment I understood what He was telling me, it's His responsibility to get me through this, my job is to listen and obey.  Wow!  The burden is on Him, what a relief!!  After that, my quiet time reading, listening and journaling was fun again, and the revelation came.   I've come to believe it was FEAR that had blocked my ability to hear Him. (might be a sermon there!)
So one morning I heard Him say to me in my quiet time  "ask Me for breakthroughs and victories,"  Initially I thought He was referring to my son with Aspergers, since  I had been praying for him when I first heard the invitation.  But I sensed His request went much deeper this time, not only to my immediate family, but to my whole family, friends and people I haven't even met yet.  Yes Lord, I'm in.  Give me every breakthrough and victory You have in mind.

So some key events that seemed small at the time, but in hind-site were God's loving hand preparing the battlefield:
I found a book on my inlaws shelf by Jentezen Franklin called Fasting.  This book really inspired me and got my wife Shari and I ready for what was about to happen.
Another happened a couple days before the fast was to start, when my best friend Scott moved in with us for a couple of weeks until his new house closed mid January.  As we were moving some of his stuff he lets me know he felt God asking him to fast the first few days with me, and he was even excited about.
Are you kidding me?  Did God really just do that?    Arrange a fasting buddy to actually live in the same house?  Where fear initially resided - now excitement, anticipation and Joy were starting to bloom!
Another key was Jeff, another best friend who sent me a text EVERY morning of my fast with a verse or encouraging word.  God spoke through him so often, and what a comfort it was knowing someone else was thinking of me.
The last was that Shari was so on board with this.  It was going to be impacting her next 40 days tremendously, and possibly forever if I didn't make it through.  She was amazing though, and said "if God calls you to it, He will see you through it."  Boy, did I marry up!

As the fast started, life was continuing all around me.  Shari is a flight attendant who was flying 3 day trips throughout the month; we have two boys who were 10 and 2 at the time that seemed to need to be fed constantly, and then of course I had to work (I help companies find technical talent).  The things I remember most about that first week is how much time I must think about food!  It's amazing how much you can get done when eating is not an option.  No thinking about what to eat, where to eat, or when to eat - with the next meal being over 30 days away it just seemed pointless.  When the family would gather for the meal, I fled to my office and read the Word.  I can honestly tell you that thing Jesus said, about it being bread and living water is REAL.  It would truly fill me up when I read while I was hungry.  Sometimes I just put ear buds in and worshiped, other times I would listen to Samuel L Jackson bringing scripture to life in the Bible Experience.  I'm not saying it was easy by any means, that the hunger would go away every time, but I am saying the hunger pains would.  I remember the one thing that really surprised me during that first week was that I was NOT having the incredible God encounters during worship and quiet times that I was anticipating.  I wasn't "feeling" His presence, although I can say with all certainty I knew He was there.

Things were going pretty well until the 9th day.  The hunger pains came on strong, really strong!  and the thought I still had 31 days to go literally took me down.  On that 9th day I just laid on the couch and cried for hours.  What had been working before was not working anymore.  Hopelessness was all over me.  I cried out to Him for help with all I had.  With my wife being on a trip I knew if something didn't change before I picked the boys up I would be done.  I called my brother for prayer, and he starts talking about a friend of his, Darrell, that had done a 40 day fast, and that I should call him.  I get Darrell on the phone and we start swapping stories.  He recalled his first really tough day (which helped, but not much), and then, out of nowhere he said "you know doing a 40 day fast isn't a defensive move, it is an Offensive ATTACK!  It is to take ground from the enemy, to declare God's Glorious name with His Authority."  I CAME ALIVE!  My spirit jumped inside and I felt like I had to cover my chest to keep it in!  In a matter of seconds the pain and hopelessness vanished!  It doesn't make sense I know, but it did.  I felt invincible, like I had the biggest kid on the playground as my best friend!  In a matter of seconds my whole perspective changed, and I saw from a different altitude.  As he told me other things he had learned about those called to 40 day fasts, and experiences he had, I felt my resolve being renewed and strengthened.  I was doing this for my family's freedom, my friend's salvation, and so much more.
Later in prayer I asked God what was all that that just happened?  Why did I get so weak, start loosing hope and almost want to throw in the towel.  And how did everything change so quickly AGAIN?  I heard so clear in my spirit - the season for the first Word had passed, was over, and I needed a new Word from Him to stand on.  That's what I gave you, a new Word.
I asked how long will this one last and I heard Him gently say, don't worry Joey, you'll know.
I thought to myself, yep, sounds like something He'd say.

to be continued next week...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

40 days - Part I

February 9th 2013 I completed a 40 day water fast.  It was the most terrifying, wonderful, painful, rewarding thing I have ever attempted, much less complete.  It changed me in ways I'm still realizing.  Physically and spiritually I feel reset, taken down to the foundation of each.

My journey began in September of 2012.  I was in my quiet time one morning praying for my family, and specifically my sons when I heard Papa ask me if I would fast for them.  Now, just so you know, I'm no expert faster, but I had done several one, two and three day fasts of just water, and many longer fasts of different things He asked me to lay down at various times like: TV, tobacco, sweets, alcohol, laziness, complaining, etc.  So when He asked if I would fast for them, my initial reaction was "sure Dad."  What, a 3 day?  Maybe 5 day?  Then He whispered to me "will you go 40 days water only?"  I wish I could say I was mature enough to answer Him with a quick yes, but I wasn't.  I was actually mad He would ask me to do something I considered absolutely impossible, and getting more upset the more I thought about it.  Not only did I not respond to His question, I closed my bible and decided that was the end of my quiet time.  Basically, I ran.  I put my figures in my ears humming La La La I can't hear You, and ran - and for about 3 weeks I tried to stay away.

But while I was running from Him, every once in a while I would hear Him whisper "I'm not telling you to Joey, just inviting you to do this with me."  Each time I would think about it for a little while, then refuse to answer Him.  He had already taught me in previous life experiences not to answer Him hastily.  As He continued to pursue me with His whispers my heart softened, and I began a dialog to where my spirit would respond "not my will, but Yours Dad."  After praying with my wife about this and her getting confirmation as well, on my birthday, November 25th, I said yes to His invitation.  In my heart, my saying yes to His invitation meant He was either seeing me through this, or bringing me home.  The way I'm wired, not completing the fast wasn't an option, and for this, going to a doctor would not be either. (not because some fanatical religious reason, but I knew they would tell me I'm crazy and for liability reason they would recommend to end the fast.)  No, I knew I heard God, my wife got confirmation, and if God called me to it, He WILL see me through it!  I got a sense from Him that I was to start the fast December 31st at sundown.

I wish I could say the next 35 days were filled with a glorious anticipation, but that would be far from the truth.  Fear of failure, of letting God down, of not being able to finish what I said I would do began to overcome me.  The enemy started bring up the fact that 40 days is just a hair shy of 6 weeks - so my son would complete a report card cycle before I ate food.  The fear got loud, and my quiet times got really quiet - like all I was hearing were crickets.  And despite my efforts and desires, my worship times were difficult at best.  I felt in my spirit I needed a Word from God, and I needed it quick because the weight of the impossible task I agreed to do with the Creator of the Universe was beginning to crush me.  I called a friend of mine that I knew spent a lot of time with God, and just started weeping, telling him the fears that were so real to me. After letting me cry and complain for a few minutes he said this - "it sounds to me you are focusing on the fast, and not the one who called you to it."  Baam!!!  In that moment I felt the chains of fear break and heard Papa say to me "Joey, I'm asking you to take an active role in something you can't do."
It's still hard to describe, but with that Word I felt a wind of Peace blow over me that sustained me in Joy until the fast.

will be continued next week...

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Life of Expectancy

I ran across this devotional again this morning from Erwin McManus - too good not to repost!
A Life of Expectancy
with Erwin McManus

“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!” (Hebrews 10:35, NLT)

During a casual conversation, a businessman once asked me what kind of books I wrote. Though I described the topics of several books, the one that caught his attention was about character transformation. “What’s that?” he asked.

While organizational change is a common topic for businessmen, character transformation wasn’t a quantifiable concept for him, so I explained. “It is the ability to get up in the morning, look in the mirror and like the person you are becoming.”

He thought for a moment, looked at me and said, “I would like to get that book.”

Sometimes we stop believing that our lives can change and that the world can change. One of the most important characteristics of people who achieve the extraordinary is that they live a life of expectation. They expect the good to happen; they internalize optimism.

The book of Hebrews gives us snapshots of individuals who led lives of faith and expectancy. We are called to emulate these men and women who kept leaning confidently into their future amidst the challenges and life-changes that came with obeying God.

We are given this preface to their epic tales:

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what was seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Hebrews 11: 1-3)

At the heart of their faith, these men and women could see the invisible. At the core, those ancients who walked with God could see that to which most of us remain blind.

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” A life of expectation is the result of living in the dynamic tension that exists between faith and hope. It isn’t so much about having a big idea or how much belief you can muster. It’s the conviction about things unseen. It’s having a foundation of joyful anticipation in every aspect of life.

Sometimes God does so much in our lives that when He wants to work in a new way we resist because we have become too attached to all He has brought to us. The things God has blessed us with can become an anchor that keeps us grounded ashore rather than launching us out into His dream for us. We must remember that the unknown with God is always better than the known without Him.

Faith was never meant to be primarily a noun. It is a verb that denotes action. Faith is about conviction, while hope is about confidence. A life of faith is a life of expectation. It is not so much about what you expect out of life, but what you put into it. Faith grounds us in the certainty of God’s faithfulness. Hope pulls us into the mystery of God’s future in such a way that, no matter how bad things get, when you are pursuing the life God created you to live and the future He calls you to create, you are confident that nothing and no one can stop you. The former is about feeling entitled; the later about living fully engaged. If nothing can stop God, then who can stop you when you are pursuing Him and living for His purpose?

There are some of you who will stand out as extraordinary examples of the power of God to prevail in any crisis. Your lives will be unexplainable. You will conquer kingdoms and administer justice. You will live out promises from God that give us all hope. You will shut the mouths of lions and survive moments where you should have been dead, but you’re not. You will quench the fury of the flames and escape the edge of the sword, and your story will declare that God took your weakness and turned it into strength. You will become powerful in battle and rout armies and thwart death over and over again. Miracles will mark your life that others will find unbelievable, because you expected God to do great things.

This WeekWhat do you expect to become? Do you expect your life, your future, to be different because you are a person of faith? Do you expect the world to be different because of your life? Where does your faith and your expectation stop?

Prayer“Jesus, You came so that I could squeeze all of the joy, beauty, value and importance out of every breath and every moment of my existence. I won’t shrink back but will lean forward and move into a life of expectation. Help me to live every moment of every day in joyful anticipation of your faithfulness to me.”

Erwin McManus' new book is WIDE AWAKE: The Future is Waiting Within You