More and More

One of the major lessons that I’ve learned in the year I have been writing grant applications is that this line of work is a continuous cycle of research and writing/submitting applications.

The more I research the more grant applications I submit and therefore the more funding the agency receives.

Grant research is not always easy though. Sometimes you get stuck and can only search for funding so many different ways until you completely run out of options.

But I do it nonetheless because if I stop researching then I won’t produce any results and therefore grow stagnant in my profession.

1 Thessalonians 4 encourages us to continue on with the good already instilled in us; to do more and more of what good we have been and are currently doing.

…brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more…(vs. 1 and 10).

Do so more and more…

That sounds exhausting.

I struggle with growing idle in my faith because I often take on the ‘diet’ mentality – I do good one day so I relax in my efforts the next and eventually this cycle turns into a ‘one-step-forward-two-steps-back’ routine, ultimately cultivating a complacent heart.

This is the exact mentality that Paul warns us against, encouraging us to combat these complacent behaviors by way of continuous growth and continuous development in our faith.

John 15:4 explains that in order for us to produce; in order for us to avoid complacency, we must remain firmly attached and grounded in Jesus Christ. We are stagnant and dying only when apart from Him. It is when we remain in Him and in His Word that we grow in faith, produce fruit, and continue to do so more and more.

However, if we fail to remain in Christ as John 15:4 instructs us to, we eventually forget where our true ability to produce fruit comes from.

Take Deuteronomy 8:10-18 for example.

Verse 18 sums up this passage by instructing us to remember the Lord our God, for it is he who gives us the ability to produce, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to our ancestors, as it is today.

It is only in and through and for Jesus Christ our Lord that we produce fruit.

However, it is in pride that the wicked man does not seek him [Jesus]; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.  – Psalm 10:4

A complacent heart is rooted in pride. When we start believing it is from our own doing that we can produce any kind of spiritual fruit we will eventually grow stagnant because we detach ourselves from the only true source of Life.

When there is no room for God there is no room for growth nor is there room for a spirit that does good and continues to do so more and more.

Jeremiah 10:21 says that the shepherds are senseless and do not inquire of the Lord; so they do not prosper and all their flocks are scattered.

Tying in directly with John 15:4, when we are not inquiring of the Lord; if we are not rooting our lives in Him, we become senseless in our pursuits and do not prosper in our actions.

I’m learning this very lesson today as I continue growing in my writing.

In order for me to produce any kind of Godly wisdom or understanding, I must first remain completely dependent on Christ and the only way to do that is to eliminate any trace of pride that I may have in connection with my writing.

If I am at all prideful in my work, it won’t be very long before I begin relying on my own abilities, forgetting to inquire of the Lord and therefore growing complacent in my faith.

If our work is not done in and through and for Jesus Christ, then it is void of divine impact and everlasting hope.

No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  – John 15:4

Only in connection to the Lord our God are we able to produce any kind of good work and it is only by continuous growth in Him that we are able to do so more and more.

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing

The whole idea of starting my own blog came from a small email chain between several close friends of mine. Since my nose is constantly in a book, I decided to start sending out daily emails with encouraging tid-bits that I had learned from the previous night’s chapter.

This was manageable.

With an English minor in my back pocket, I knew how to write, I knew every person who read my writing, and I knew how to tailor my writing for each of them.

Though it was all Scripturally-based, it required very little faith on my end.

Everything fell within my control and my understanding.

When God laid it on my heart to start expanding my reach from a few emails to blog writing, I was really excited.  I had grown to love sharing stories, lessons, and Biblical wisdom and couldn’t wait to start sharing that on a larger platform.

Eventually though, as I started taking the first steps toward this change, I began to recognize my own capabilities, which were nowhere near enough for this kind of ministry.

I couldn’t do this.

I didn’t have it within me to continually pump-out Godly wisdom week after week.

I had no idea what I was doing.

Believe it or not though, my own inability has turned out to be the best part of blogging for me and the only part that keeps me coming back week after week.

I have no idea what I’m doing, and that’s okay!

In fact, it’s more than okay because it has opened up my heart in such tremendous ways. It has allowed the Holy Spirit to flow through me in ways that are nearly impossible to explain, but I’ll do my best.

All of my blog posts are inspired by someone or something. Most of the time I’ll get ideas from church services I attend or sermon podcasts I listen to. Other times, it will be through simple conversations with friends and family (that is why I always have a journal and pen on me).

The fact that I have to rely on God’s daily inspiration and intervention to provide me with the wisdom and insight I need for my next blog post has stimulated a whole new approach to life and dependence on God.

I see circumstances – good and bad – in new ways. I see people and my conversations with them differently.

Everything is inspiration, and I truly believe that is how God intended us to live our lives here on earth – in full anticipation of being inspired each and every day by His marvelous glory!

He is everywhere and in everything if we’ll only look to see. We can ‘see God’s heart ten billion different ways’ in His creation of man, not to mention in all of nature; earth, water, and space.

Once God plants an idea in my heart, I start formulating it through rapid note taking, doodles, and exploring different avenues until I eventually land on a solid platform.

Once I have my format, I start writing. I do what I like to call ‘word vomit’ (gross, I know, but it’s the best way to describe it). I just write and allow the Holy Spirit to take over.

By the end of my writing session, I’ll look back at what I’ve done and see a mess of ideas, but when I read through it, I see unbelievable beauty; as if I’m reading each piece for the very first time.

Each blog post is new to me; a new story, a new idea, a new facet of faith.

When I sit down to write, very rarely do I have a complete – beginning to end – idea laid out. I usually know how I’m going to start, but have to trust God to guide me to an end, and without fail He always produces a lesson that I need to learn.

God has spoken to me through my own work because I have to be unreservedly dependent on His wisdom flowing through my fingertips.

In other words – none of this is me. I am but a tool in His hands writing what He speaks to my heart through whispers of inspiration.

The God of all glory speaks when we completely depend on Him.

I literally sit down to an empty slate and fully expect Him to show up…

…and believe me, He does.

I recently had a friend describe to me her first experience with this kind of writing. She explained that once she started, she just kept going on and on and on and by the end of it, she looked over what she had written and didn’t see her words, but rather the words of God.

She looked at me with amazement in her eyes and asked, “is that what it feels like when you blog? Because if so, I now see why you love doing it so much, because the Holy Spirit moves so powerfully through that kind of unrestricted writing.”

I just smiled and nodded because that is the exact experience I get every time I write.

I get to feel the Spirit move through my fingertips; orchestrating a beautiful string of letters into words that inspire with wisdom and understanding that are far beyond my own capabilities.

It is an experience unlike any other.

Now, don’t think for a second that you have to write to experience this though.

Absolutely not.

I’ve just discovered that writing is my way of worshiping and drawing near to Christ.

There are so many other ways of doing this!

Music.

Art.

Creativity.

Dance.

Even exercise and working out.

The list goes on and on. God has created each of us with a unique trigger in our hearts; that thing we do that is our own personal act of worship to God Almighty!

When we fully embrace this kind of personal worship and follow its guiding to the point where our ‘faith is without borders,’ we experience the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit, molding our passions into a purpose that will glorify God to the fullest and inspire others to do the same.