What to do when your God-calling feels stuck

What is something that God directed you to do in your life? Take a moment and think about it. Maybe it was a business decision. Maybe it was a relationship decision. Whatever it was, you felt God calling you to do it, and you did it. What happened?

Did it turn out for the better? Or has it turned out yet at all? Maybe all it’s done is make life more difficult for you.

I feel like that’s where I am right now, where I’ve said yes to what God was calling me to do and all it’s done is make more work for me. There’s so much to do and no time to do it in, and on the days I’ve got the time, I’m so exhausted from everything else that’s happening, I don’t have the energy. And in those moments you’ve got to ask yourself how sure you are that God called you to do what you’re doing. Because there’s always the chance you’re getting frustrated because you’re trying to force your way down a path that isn’t meant for you.

But if you’re confident? If you’re certain? If you know without a shadow of doubt that you’re doing what God would have you do, how do you manage? How do you keep hoping that what you’re doing for God is going to be successful when you can barely manage to get your everyday tasks done, let alone the ones God’s called you to?

Today’s verses are Haggai 2:3-5.

437922_60330474_heapofstones‘Does anyone remember this house—this Temple—in its former splendor? How, in comparison, does it look to you now? It must seem like nothing at all! But now the Lord says: Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.’

Haggai is one of those little minor prophet books hidden at the back of the Old Testament, so not a lot of people have heard of it. In that portion of the Old Testament, reading the Bible isn’t very much fun. I mean, reading the Bible is always wonderful, but sometimes the content is depressing. And for me, minor prophets are depressing. Because it seems all they do is warn of judgment coming. Over and over and over.

That’s not all they do, but that’s what it feels like.

It’s a broken record. The prophets warn of danger. The people ignore them. God sends judgment. The people beg for help. Over and over and over again. And it’s just so much like America right now, it’s only uplifting for the fact that we’ve got to be close to the end, which means we’re one step closer to going home.

But Haggai was a prophet during the time that a dude named Zerubbabel was trying to rebuild the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. I posted some time ago about a guy named Nehemiah, who was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Zerubbabel was his predecessor. And Haggai came to Zerubbabel and Jeshua, his partner in crime, many times with messages from God. That’s what today’s verses are. A message from God to two men trying their best to fulfill their calling.

Think about the path these men agreed to follow. Rebuilding the Jewish temple after it had been annihilated. I’m not going to take the time to go into its dimensions, but the temple was HUGE. It was a massive, intricate structure with so much national significance. It was an enormous responsibility, not only to the people of Israel but also because God had called Zerubbabel to do it.

Take a pile of rocks and turn it into God’s holy temple again.

It wasn’t going to be easy. It wasn’t going to be fast. Not everyone was going to work their hardest, and not everyone even wanted it to happen in the first place.

In our soft American culture, we get this crazy idea from somewhere that when God calls you to do something, it’s going to be easy. And, folks, that’s just not true. If it were easy, anyone would do it. If it were easy, anyone could do it. But God called a Christ-follower to do it so He could give you His power–God’s supernatural power to overcome all obstacles. If God’s going to help you overcome the obstacles, that means the road won’t be smooth.

No, following your God calling isn’t easy. And it doesn’t happen overnight. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the temple wasn’t finished in a day. It took a lot of days, long days with hard labor and the impending threat of failure, to complete the work. And that hasn’t changed just because it’s AD 2014 and not 520 BC.

But God’s Word hasn’t changed either. And His instructions are as clear as ever. If you’re sure of your calling, if you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, be strong and get to work, because God is with us.

Whatever you’re doing for God doesn’t depend on your strength. It depends on His. You just have to keep working. You don’t have to be afraid because God is right by your side cheering you on with every step. You know what you need to do. So just do it.

You won’t succeed overnight. You’ re going to have days when you work really hard but you see no noticeable improvement. And in those moments when you’re threatened to despair, remember what God said. Be strong and get to work. He’s with us, so we don’t have to be afraid of failure as long as we follow Him.

A penny I dropped in the Epic Center parking garage two weeks ago, Wichita, KS

Find a penny, leave it there?

I dropped a penny in the parking garage two weeks ago. And it’s still there. What does that tell you? That I didn’t care enough to pick it up? That nobody else cared enough to pick it up? I think it’s a little bit of both.

Pennies aren’t worth much. At least, not to an American.

Isn’t it funny what we put value on? Because that’s really how money or other items of value work. That show everyone loves, Antiques Road Show, is only interesting because people find old junk in their attics that turns out to be worth a fortune. Why? Because someone is willing to pay a fortune for it.

Something is only worth as much as the value people place on it. And when you look at worth in those terms, it might change your opinion on the value of a lot of things—and people—in your life.
How much is your car worth? How much are your clothes worth? How much is your relationship with your best friend worth? How much is your peace of mind worth?

How much do you value those things, those people in your life?

Worth is a tricky subject because it’s different for everyone. We all place a different value on different objects and people. To someone who’s used to living in a city, a dishwasher is probably worth a lot. To me, who’s been fine without a dishwasher for years, they don’t matter a whole lot.

But if a random person sees a Trixie Belden book at a garage sale, they probably wouldn’t even stop to look at it. Me? I’d pay a good price to buy a Trixie Belden book I don’t already have. Because it’s worth something to me, even if it’s not worth anything to anybody else.

Today’s verses are 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

A penny I dropped in the Epic Center parking garage two weeks ago, Wichita, KS

A penny I dropped in the Epic Center parking garage two weeks ago, Wichita, KS

Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.

We should be very cautious about how we establish or decide what something or someone is worth. So much of it depends on your perspective. This is one of the ways that Christ-followers really stand out from people who follow the world’s philosophy.

People in the world place high value on money, on fame, on self, on happiness, on doing what feels good. But that’s not the kind of life Christ-followers are called to live. That’s not to say that obtaining money and notoriety and happiness is wrong. But what are those things worth to you?
Are they worth more than your soul? Are they worth more than the people around you? Are they worth more than peace with God?

God has a different perspective, and we are called to look at our lives and our world through His eyes. So what matters to God? What has value to God? The example in the verses is mostly symbolic because generally you aren’t going to build a building using materials like gold and silver. But if you’re going to build anything, you want to use materials that will last. And that’s the point.

If you think about it, the things that are worth the most to God are the things you can’t quantify. Love. Faith. Peace. Trust. Obedience. Humility. Can you even put value to any of those? I don’t think you can.

Money is a tool as far as God is concerned, but it’s not something of great value. Think about it. The streets of heaven are paved with gold. Why would we need money in eternity when we’re going to be walking on gold and precious jewels? It doesn’t matter there. It’s not worth anything there.

The same is true of fame. What good is fame going to do you in eternity? Even if you’re the most famous person in the world, you can’t compare to the Famous One. Jesus Christ. God Himself. Your fame will mean nothing in eternity.

You see what I’m getting at. The things that the world tells us are important and valuable and essential to obtain during our lifetimes really aren’t. You can’t take it with you when you go. You realize that, right? So no matter how much notoriety and money and possessions you stockpile, you don’t get to take a trailer with you when you die.

So you’d better stockpile the things God says are valuable. If you’re a Christ-follower, your physical needs will be met in eternity. So it’s the other parts of your life that you need to cultivate—the relationships, the emotional wellbeing, the spiritual health—if you want to have something to say for yourself in the life to come.

The point, friends, is to put value on what God says is valuable. Don’t waste your time chasing what the world says matters because those goals will ultimately pass away. Pursue what God says is important, and it will pay dividends that will never run out.

That’s what true worth really looks like.

A pickle in a bowl on a table at Judgement House, NewSpring Church, Wichita, KS

How comparing yourself to others puts you in a pickle

Have you ever sat and watched someone else do your job better than you? Don’t say you haven’t because we’ve all been there. We’ve all watched someone else–someone younger or less experienced or weirder or whatever–do what we do best better than we can do it.

If you’re a performance-driven perfectionist like me, it’s mortifying. Because nobody should be better than me. If it’s my job, I should do it the best in the world.

Yes, that’s the way I think. Yes, I know it’s crazy. Yes, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. There’s always someone out there better than your best. Whether they actually are or not may be a matter of opinion, but from your perspective, some young whipper-snapper just bopped into your world and upstaged you.

So what do you do? How do you handle yourself–your identity, your life’s purpose–when someone comes along who’s better at being you than you are?

A pickle in a bowl on a table at Judgement House, NewSpring Church, Wichita, KS

A pickle in a bowl on a table at Judgement House, NewSpring Church, Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Galatians 6:4-5.

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

Did you know that you’re the only you in the whole entire universe? There’s not another you out there. So the first thing to remember is that nobody can be a better you than you–because you’re the only one in existence. God made you exactly the way you are, knew every inch of you before you were born, understood every ridiculous personality quirk before you were even aware of yourself. So whenever you hear those devious whispers that someone else is better than you, recognize them for what they are. Lies. And don’t waste any time on them.

Secondly, who told you someone else does a better job at your job than you? Is that your own opinion? If it’s your own opinion, take a moment and just be real with yourself. Are you doing your best? If you aren’t, then change. If you are, stop worrying. You can only do the best job you can do, so stop trying to do the best job your coworker can do.

Are you catching a theme here?

There’s something in each of us that demands we compare ourselves to the people around us. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know where it comes from. It’s probably pride, because we want to be able to say we’re the best.

But you can’t compare yourself to someone else.

I snapped today’s featured photo at Judgement House last night. In case you can’t figure it out, it’s a pickle. A whole dill pickle. But it’s short and squat. See, whole dill pickles are one of the best sellers at the Judgement House concession stand. They get wrapped in foil and we go through gallons and gallons and gallons and gallons of whole dill pickles every night. It’s ridiculous.

So why, when we can consume that many pickles, is there one little short, squat pickle leftover? I can only assume that it wasn’t good enough to sell. Or maybe nobody wanted it because they assumed it would taste funny because it looked different than its full-size pickle siblings.

Not to anthropomorphisize a pickle (which is precisely what I’m doing), but that’s what we do so many times with our own opportunities. We get this idea in our heads that because we look different or sound different or work different or just are different that we can’t do a job as well as somebody else who is “normal.” And that’s just silly.

Comparing yourself to somebody else is a waste of your time, your emotions, and your resources. It gets your focus off what matters–the fact that God put you right where He intended you to be.

So knock it off.

Stop comparing yourself to other people. If you’re an actor, stop thinking someone else is a better actor than you are, and just do your best. If you’re a builder, stop thinking someone else builds better houses than you do, and just do your best. If you’re a writer (yes, talking to myself here), stop comparing yourself to other writers, and just do your best.

What’s important is that you do your best to the glory of God. Period.

That way, you won’t get caught up in the drama of who did what or why or when, and you can look at what you’ve done and be satisfied. And, honestly, there’s nothing better than being satisfied with a job well done.

So the next time you feel so inclined to compare yourself with someone else, think pickles. Because even a short, stubby pickle is still a pickle.

Would you support a new devotional book?

First of all, this post is not a devotional. If you want today’s devotional, that happened at earlier today. This post is a question to anyone who’s enjoyed reading my devotional blog posts.

Surefooted

Surefooted

I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately for another published AlwaysPeachy devotional book, one that has more than 30 devotionals in it. So I’ve been considering putting a whole year’s worth in one book, but financially I’m not at the point where I can fund it from my own bank account at this point.

So I’m testing the waters at this point to see if any of you awesome readers out there would be interested in participating in a crowdfunding campaign to help me put another book together.

If you don’t know what crowdfunding is, let me give you a little background. Crowdfunding is basically a group of fans or supporters who sponsor a specific project financially in return for some product or service. In this case, if you agree to sponsor a new AlwaysPeachy project, you’ll be guaranteed a copy. It’s sort of like paying for your copy in advance. But you won’t just get a copy. I’ll make sure you get a signed copy, an acknowledgement either on the blog or inside the book, and maybe even a plate of no-bake cookies. (I’m not above shameless bribery, and I do love to make cookies.)

Crowdfunding has been around for a long while, and there are many legitimate sites online that provide crowdfunding services. I would be using www.PubSlush.com, which is a site specifically for independent authors and small presses. It comes highly recommended.

AlwaysPeachy Devotionals

AlwaysPeachy Devotionals

Basically, how this would pan out, is I release how much it’s going to cost for me to produce a book with one year of devotionals, plus the production costs and the legal costs, and people have the opportunity to sponsor the project financially, in amounts ranging from $1 to $100 each. As soon as I get the amount necessary, I’ll produce the book and make it available for everyone, and if you’ve already sponsored the project with a high enough amount, you won’t have to pay for your copy. You’ll get it automatically.

This would be a whole year’s worth of devotionals, a single page, Monday through Friday, January through December, with a different theme each month. I’ll probably produce it both in physical and electronic versions.

Anybody game?

Ministry team assembled from the US and Guatemala to reach the Kekchi, Peten, Guatemala

How paintballing taught me why teams matter

I don’t remember how old I was when I went paintballing for the first time. I think I was in high school. If you’ve never been paintballing, you should go. Just for the experience. It’s one of those ridiculous things people do–running around shooting each other with air-powered paint pellets. I thought it would be like a water gun fight, but it isn’t. Oh, no, it’s so much better.

But it hurts. Not going to lie.

I think we were supposed to be on teams, but I’ve never been really good at competing in a group. I’m not coordinated at all, and I usually have to move at my own pace, which is significantly slower than other people. So I don’t like being on a team with others because I slow them down, and that makes me feel guilty. It always has. So I prefer to be on my own.

But in paintballing…. well, let’s just say it’s better to have a team mate. Because when you end up charging at someone, your partner can take them out … just not before they shoot you three times point blank in the chest …. I won’t mention names (*cough-cough-Jimmy-Dinsmore-cough-cough*).

It’s better not to charge into battle without someone who’s got your back. You’ve seen in all those movies where the hero tells his sidekick to cover him? It’s like that. Somebody to help you out in the heat of battle so you can accomplish more than you could alone.

And maybe the paintballing metaphor is a little much, but it still gets the point across in my brain. If I’d had backup that day, sure I still would have gotten shot (three times point blank in the chest, Jimmy Dinsmore) but I would have had somebody behind me to pick up where I left off.

Today’s verses are Numbers 11:16-17.

Ministry team assembled from the US and Guatemala to reach the Kekchi, Peten, Guatemala

Ministry team assembled from the US and Guatemala to reach the Kekchi, Peten, Guatemala

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you. I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.”

Moses is regarded as one of the greatest leaders in the history of the world, even by secular scholars. But even he wasn’t above his fair share of whining. Just being honest. And Numbers 11 is one of those chapters where Moses has had it with Children of Israel, and because they won’t quit whining, Moses takes it up with God.

And God, instead of smiting Moses for complaining, gives him this advice. God tells him to gather a certain number of people who are recognized and respected, and God would appoint them as rulers over the Children of Israel along with Moses, so Moses wouldn’t have to do it all by himself.

Aren’t you glad God understands our need for teams, even if we don’t? Honestly, I think Moses probably could have elected those 70 elders without God’s permission. He didn’t need God to tell him that it was allowed. He just wasn’t used to working as part of a team, I’m sure. Or maybe he wasn’t used to delegating. Or maybe he had my problem and didn’t want to slow others down because he couldn’t move as fast as they wanted.

In any case, Moses couldn’t manage the entirety of the Israelite nation by himself, and that’s why God told him to get a team together. And that principle is still good to remember today. Or do you think you can handle your life by yourself?

God has put some amazing people in our lives, and they’d probably be thrilled to death if you asked them for help. Don’t believe Satan’s lies that you have to do everything alone. That’s not true, and that’s not what God intended for you.

So what great challenge are you facing right now? How about next week? Or next month? Maybe even next year, if you’re planned out that far in advance. What do you have to do that is too much for you?

Yes, God is on your side. He’ll never leave your or forsake you. He’ll give you supernatural strength to be able to do things beyond your own capacity. But He’s also put people in your path to be on your team, people who love you, people who want to help you, people will skills that you don’t have. Don’t forget about them. Don’t cut them out. Don’t deny them the blessing of being able to be a part of what God is doing in your life.

Being tough is fine. Being stupid about it? That’s something else entirely.