This Year: Dream Bigger, Start Smaller

This Year: Dream Bigger, Start Smaller By Steven Furtick

I’ve met a lot of people who knew what it was to burn plows and set  out to live for God but didn’t know what to do next. They prayed, they  made a commitment—and they got stuck. As a pastor, I’ve seen it over and  over again. As a man trying to live for God, I’ve experienced it over  and over again.

I’m guessing you’ve made plenty of resolutions about stuff you needed  to start doing or stop doing. Maybe you were going to start praying or  reading your Bible more.

Or maybe you were going to stop smoking or boycott carbohydrates or  stop looking at pornography or stop saying mean things about family  members behind their backs. Maybe you decided to break away from a  relationship you knew was unhealthy for you.

The way I see it, there are two major reasons why well-intentioned people like us get stuck after we burn our plows.

One, we don’t think big enough. Two, we don’t start small enough.

I’m not trying to talk like Yoda here. Thinking big enough and  starting small enough are two sides of the same coin. So I not only want  to motivate you to dream bigger dreams for your life. I also want to  challenge you to take realistic steps of obedience that can actually  make God’s vision come to pass.

After all, our God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask  or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). It is true that we often settle for dreams  and visions that are far less than those God has for us. And He wants  us to experience much more. If I didn’t believe that, the title of this  book would be Samer.

So of course God wants you to believe big—it’s in His very nature.  I’ve devoted my whole ministry to inspiring people with this truth.  Preacher Dwight L. Moody made a statement that I love: “If God is your  partner, make your plans big.” That way of thinking makes my heart race.

But we’re not going to see God’s bigger vision fulfilled in our lives  just because we spend more time thinking transcendent thoughts. We  don’t attain greater things simply by lying on the couch and  concentrating on the possibilities of a better life. Alas, sitting for  thousands of hours with my headphones on listening to Guns N’ Roses and  imagining I was Axl Rose didn’t translate into my being the lead singer  of the world’s most dangerous rock’n’roll band.

You do have to be willing to think big. But the active ingredient of  God’s greater work through us is our willingness to start small.

I want to show you an incredible image in one of the first main-stage  miracles Elisha performs after Elijah departs and leaves the ministry  in his successor’s hands. It demonstrates the principle that small steps  and hard work precipitate a move of God. That human action prepares the  way for supernatural favor.

It comes from 2 Kings 3, and it goes like this:

King Joram is ruling over Israel during the years when the kingdom is  divided. When the king of Moab rebels against him, the frightened king  enlists King Jehoshaphat of Judah and the king of Edom to help him.  Their combined military force should be fearsome against the  Moabites—but they almost immediately run out of water for their armies  and animals. Now they are preparing to face a terrifying foe while  facing an even more terrifying fate: dying of thirst.

Par for the course in Israel’s history, the crisis drives King Joram  to look for divine help. He isn’t desperate for God, but he is desperate  for a solution. King Jehoshaphat asks if there is a prophet who could  consult God for them. A servant reminds him of Elisha, the artist  formerly known as Mr. Plow. So the three kings and their entourages go  looking for Elisha.

Elisha confirms to the kings that water will flow from Edom by the  time the sun comes up the next morning. Their armies and their animals  will have plenty to drink. The drought is almost over. God is going to  deliver Moab to His people just as they prayed for. Hallelujah,  somebody?

But he tells the kings to take a small, ludicrous step first.

This is what the Lord says: Make this valley full of ditches. (verse 16)

Why would anybody in their right mind dig ditches to hold rain that isn’t even in the forecast?

Because that’s the way faith works. When you know God has promised  you greater things, you don’t wait for a sign to appear before you  respond. The kings wanted a miracle. They would get their miracle. But  first they got a work order: This is no time for the power of positive  thinking. Tie a bandanna around your head and pick up a shovel.

It would have been great if all the army had to do was sit around  thinking hydration-related thoughts or had a few guided exercises to  help them visualize the water. But that’s not how God operates.

It’s as if God says, “If you really believe I’m going to do what I  told you I would do, get busy. Show Me your faith, and then I’ll show  you My faithfulness. Do your part. If you will do what I asked you to  do, I will be faithful to My word.

“If you’ll dig the ditches, I’ll send the rain.”

The entire nation must have pitched in and dug all night, because  they got it done. The next morning the water arrived. As promised. As  always. The newly installed ditches were full of water, the armies and  animals were refreshed, and the joint army easily overtook the Moabites.

I think Elisha used the process of ditch digging to teach Israel this important paradox of great faith:

Only God can send the rain. But He expects you to dig the ditches.

It really comes down to this: What small steps and practical  preparations is God asking you to make for the greater life He wants you  to live? What ditches is He asking you to dig?

You can’t expect God to entrust you with a big dream if He can’t trust you to make a small start.

You can’t have the apostle Paul’s walk with God overnight. Big dream.

But you can pray ten minutes a day beginning tomorrow. Small start.

You can’t entirely mend a broken relationship overnight. Big dream.

But you can have a conversation and open the door, write the letter, make the call, say, “I’m sorry.” Small start.

If your kid is far from God, you can’t bring him back overnight. Big dream.

But you could start praying for him every day. Small start.

Notice what Elisha doesn’t say; he doesn’t tell the kings to dig one ditch. No singular ditch digging on this prophet’s watch.

Instead, make this valley full of ditches. Plural.

Believe that God is going to send a lot of rain.

If we really believe God is an abundant God, ready and willing to  bless our lives in greater ways than we could ever imagine, we ought to  be digging all kinds of ditches. In our relationships. In our careers.  In our ministries. In every area of our lives, there ought to be  heavy-duty equipment on site. Moving dirt. Making preparation.

And we ought to dig ditches using every means available. We can dig  ditches with our words. With our prayers. With our expectations. Even  with our thoughts.

How many ditches are you willing to dig? How deep will you dig them?  You’re not digging alone. And it’s not in vain. God has a downpour  scheduled in your near future. The deeper you dig, the greater the  rainfall has the potential to be.

Adapted from Greater by Steven Furtick with permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Resolve to Love

Resolve to Love by Kerry and Chris Shook

Right now, there are three relationships in your life that trouble  you. Perhaps a good friend said something to you yesterday. It felt  critical, but you’re not sure what she meant. The two of you used to be  so close, but lately you’ve been drifting apart. Something’s not right.  Oh, and your mother called. There’s that. You know you should return her  call, but you haven’t. Why? You know there are things you should have  said before, you avoided them, and now you feel it’s too late. It’s  always so hard with her. Always messy. And then…your son has been  missing. Not missing physically, but he’s been distant, quiet, silent.  Missing emotionally. What’s that about? What’s going on in his life? You  want to reach out, but he pushes you away. It worries you.

Maybe the relationships in your life aren’t exactly like these, but  I’m guessing these remind you of someone close to you, a problem  relationship in your life right now. Maybe it’s not your mother but your  father, perhaps not your son but a daughter-in-law. It could be your  best friend. Whoever it is, he or she is someone who matters to you—or  else the relationship wouldn’t trouble you, gnaw at you on the inside,  make you question and grumble, or even bring you to tears.

So take a moment and think, who are these three key people in your  life? Which meaningful relationships are troubling you? Relationships  you wish were closer. Relationships you’d like to be deeper and richer.  Relationships that trouble you, bother you, even make you a little crazy  right now.

Seriously, think about it. Who are they? And now take a moment to name these three key relationships out loud.

Trust me, this is important for you. In fact, this may be the most significant thing you do in your life right now. Why?

Because life is way too short. At the end of the day—at the end of  The Day—in this all-too-short life we share, all that really matters is  relationships. Our relationships with the God who created us and with  the people we love. Compared to these relationships, the job or career  goals we set now aren’t really so important, the ladders we try to climb  don’t matter so much, and the objects we long to own and possess seem  utterly trivial.

What really counts in the end is that special knowing look you share  with your spouse, the arms of your child reaching up to you, or the  quiet comfort of a friend who stands by your side in a difficult time.

Think about the possible loss of the relationship with one of those  three people you named. You can’t do anything about death and the  physical departure of one of them from this earth. That’s in God’s  hands.

But you can do something about your relationship with them in life.

Much of what you’ve been told about relationships is upside down and wrong. Researchers tell us that a baby sees everything upside down for the  first few days of life until the brain can adjust the visual picture to  right side up. Most relationships today are stuck in this same infant  stage; we tend to see relationships upside down, and our culture only  reinforces this view. The concept of love at first sight permeates our  music, movies, television, and books. What we learn as children and  continue to believe as adults is that a fairy-tale relationship somehow  just happens. Now, I’m not bashing romance, but meaningful relationships  depend on seeing other people as they are and looking at them right  side up.

Real love—whether romantic love, a close friendship, or a  family relationship—happens long after first sight. It shows up as  people get to know each other more deeply and often after they work  through tough things together. Real love in relationships isn’t a  magic act; it’s a journey. When people say, “It was love at first sight,” what they really mean  is “I was attracted to that person the first time I saw them.” There is  nothing wrong with being infatuated with someone at the start of a  relationship. The real question, however, is, do you have a love that is  growing stronger and deeper every day?

I don’t believe in love at first sight; I believe in love at last  sight. Each of my relationships has the potential to be better the next  time we’re together than it was the previous time so that the last time  we see each other on this earth we’re closer than ever before.

I’d like you to join me in the Lasting Love Relationship Challenge. The book One Month to Love is the challenge, and you can do it on your own. Just read a chapter  each day. There are thirty chapters, they’re short, and you can probably  read one a day pretty easily. At the end of each chapter you’ll find  the Lasting Love Relationship Challenge, which is designed to help you  take the insights from that day and apply them to your key  relationships. Also you can log on to onemonthtolove.com each day to  access our personal coaching and get extra encouragement and advice or  share your story. Our goal is to come alongside you to help you create  the very best relationships possible. Let’s resolve to love this year!

Adapted from One Month to Love by Kerry and Chris Shook with permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Are You a Parked Car?

A Journey of Faith

Something that I’ve always mentioned to God is the importance of me glorying Him in everything that I do, in the little or big things. That was my number on priority, especially in my career. So in my first 2 years of school, I was always praying and crying out to God to speak to my heart on where He wants to take me. In this third year of high school, my cries became more desperate as I needed to make countless decisions on my future education, scholarships, etc.

I was just waiting. Like a parked car, I was completely still, not moving, not going anywhere. I did not fully understand this until I spoke to a very close friend of mine about my recent career choice. She told me that although, it is important to wait upon God; we must make sure that we’re not parked cars because God cannot…

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Reblog…Learning to Think Like a Reviewer

Yesterday, I realized that the book reviews I have been posting have not been very informative. Meaning, in most of the reviews that I’ve posted they followed a general excitement of how I loved the book and just recommending it for others to read. It was only my review of Karen Kingsbury’s novel, Longing – was that a proper review. Yes, it was my very first negative review but I actually took the time to write my thoughts down on paper, editing it, before actually publishing it on this website.

I owe it to all who visit my website to give you a very informative review of these novels, so that it pushes you to read the book and form opinions of your own about the novel, and share them on this site.

Even going through the monthly archives, my first post on this website was meant to be a place where I share tidbits about my journey with the Almighty Father. I do not at all regret reviewing books but I realize now that I did not understand fully the purpose of being a book reviewer. For me at that time, it was to get amazing books for free. Even as I do this reblog, I am also going to shift my focus on the real reasons why I started this blog in the first place – my journey of faith. So stay tuned for more on that.

Thanks so much for your love and support!

Stay blessed,

– Manuela

Are You a Parked Car?

Something that I’ve always mentioned to God is the importance of me glorying Him in everything that I do, in the little or big things. That was my number on priority, especially in my career. So in my first 2 years of school, I was always praying and crying out to God to speak to my heart on where He wants to take me. In this third year of high school, my cries became more desperate as I needed to make countless decisions on my future education, scholarships, etc.

I was just waiting. Like a parked car, I was completely still, not moving, not going anywhere. I did not fully understand this until I spoke to a very close friend of mine about my recent career choice. She told me that although, it is important to wait upon God; we must make sure that we’re not parked cars because God cannot do anything with us. He will never infringe upon our free will that He gave to us. That is why when we’re waiting upon God, we must take that leap of faith so that when we do put our cars in drive, God is able to steer our directions, to help us either avoid the plans of the enemy as well as opening doors of opportunity to lead us into something we would have never dreamed possible.

Take a moment now and truly think about this. Are You are a Parked Car?

God is absolutely loves that we’re waiting upon Him, and seeking His opinion and counsel in decisions but He also needs us to take a step of faith, and trust that even though we cannot see where our feet are landing, He is always with us. As a child of God, we are given His promises in the Word of God. This tells us that He will always make sure that our feet are planted upon a solid rock and foundation.

After taking this step of faith in my life, I told God that even if this is not where He wants me to go, I know that if He changes my plans, it’ll always be for something better. Am I saying that when He does this I will be all glad, and all smiles – not at the very beginning, because of course I am human too, I will be frustrated, angry, but once those emotions fade away, I know who my God is. He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, all that I could ever think or dream of.  I am praying that God will use this to bless you,

I am just a messenger, giving forth His message.

– Manuela

Give Thanks to the Lord for He is Good !

Hey everyone !

We have reached the end of another week, hope you all had a blessed day, this Friday. If you have visited my ‘About Me’ Page, I mention that I am currently living in Canada. We are celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, and I encourage all of you whether or not you are celebrating it this weekend – just allow the Holy Spirit to make you even more grateful for the things we have.

After speaking to one of friends on a bus ride home telling her of my recent move to a new house – I explained to her that this was long coming. At one point, my brother, sister and I all had to share one room, as other family members were living with us at that time. It really dawned on me that sometimes God makes us go through tough situations to test our faith and character and in the end will reward us for our faithfulness. I know that God has been so Good to me – the list is so long that if I continue this blog post will be endless!

I am wishing you Canadians and others celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend – Happy Thanksgiving ! 😀 And for those who are not, I pray  that you have a fruitful weekend and that the praises of God will be continuously upon your lips – that the joy of the Lord will be your strength, and will be bubbling within you that others will see you and say, “I want what he/she has”:)

A great thanks to Booksneeze.com, I have just put in an order to receive a free copy of His Steadfast Love by Golden Keyes Parsons to review and because it is an international mail, it shall take a while for it to come.

Sorry for the long post, but one more thing! 😛 I just want to give a shout out for my faithful readers who follow and read this blog. May you all be mighty blessed!

Much love!

– Manuela